Does law school have a role in teaching wisdom? Values? Integrity?
Or is the role of a legal education to impart the "doing" of law? Never mind, the "being" of a lawyer.
If the question of the role of law school has been occupying any of your thoughts, this Macquarie University Annual Lecture given by Professor Steven Schwartz may fuel further thought. You may say that he is talking about the role of undergraduate education. If so, are students coming to law school having completed (or begun) a process such as Schwartz describes? If not, is that of any consequence to the profession? To clients?
Does this lecture provoke questions or thoughts in your mind? I found it so rich that I have read the talk a number of times, each time coming away with new impressions and ideas.
The Vice-President of an American university recently asked his students: “Why have you come to university?” The students said, “I want a good job” or “I need a degree to get a promotion at work”. Not surprising. Just what he expected. But, when he framed the question in a larger context: “What kind of life to you want to be leading five or ten years from now?” the answers were different. Students talked about purpose, meaning, identity, integrity and relationships.
There is a hunger for the kind of insight and wisdom that a narrow skills education cannot satisfy.
Whatever profession students choose to pursue, they will benefit not only as professionals but also as human beings from being exposed to the greatest works of fiction, history, biography, philosophy and science.
It is from these sources that they will learn about love and loss, about memory and desire, about loyalty and duty, about our world and our universe and about what it means to be a human being.
The classic article "Neuroscience of Leadership" (strategy+business) is several years old now, but it's still worth reading. Or rereading if you haven't done so recently. I thought of the article last week when I saw someone recommending a management approach based on behaviorism. Specifically, I thought of these words by the article's authors David Rock and Jeffrey Schwartz:
Many existing models for changing people’s behavior are drawn from a field called behaviorism. The field emerged in the 1930s and was led by psychologist B.F. Skinner and advertising executive John B. Watson, building on Ivan Pavlov’s famous concept of the condi- tioned response: Associate the ringing of a bell with food, and a dog can be made to salivate at the sound. The behaviorists generalized this observation to people, and established an approach to change that has some- times been caricatured as: “Lay out the M&Ms.” For each person, there is one set of incentives — one combination of candy colors — that makes the best motivator. Present the right incentives, and the desired change will naturally occur. If change doesn’t occur, then the mix of M&M colors must be adjusted.
Yet there is plenty of evidence from both clinical research and workplace observation that change efforts based on typical incentives and threats (the carrot and the stick) rarely succeed in the long run. For example, when people routinely come late to meetings, a manager may reprimand them. This may
In this slide show, leadership guru Warren Bennis takes us through several movies and gives his thoughts on the leadership lesson demonstrated by each. Click to watch the show and read the commentary "Leadership goes to the movies" (Washington Post).
Some people say there is really just one story with many variations. Joseph Campbell said there is just one myth. Others disagree (see below). Despite which side of the argument you prefer, this short video by Kurt Vonnegut must be watched. In four entertaining and informative minutes, he tells us the shape of stories. Click to watch Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories. H/T: Jon Acuff for the video.
A friend of mine who is very knowledgeable about literature wrote this to me when I asked him about Joesph Campbell's monomyth theory:
His theory is just a modification of the structuralist contention that there are a certain number of plots that are continually recycled. Some structuralists think there are six basic plots; others think the number is twenty-one; and Campbell thinks one. Amongst literary theorists and philosophers these structuralists theories no longer hold much sway. I think Campbell's theory makes for a good crutch for wannabe creative writers, but it doesn't shed much light on serious literature.
How many panel sessions have you attended that were worth your time? I bet your answer is "not many." Why? This post from Scott Berkun's Speaker Confessions to which I link below addresses most of the major problems. And cites some remedies.
Almost every panel I have attended over the decades that was beneficial to attendees was the result of lots of pre-panel planning and discussion. Of course, this prep time is one of the remedies mentioned in the post.
Most training conferences in most industries resort to what’s called a panel session. This is where 3 to 5 experts get up on stage and each one, in turn, bores the audience to death.
Why do panels still happen? One reason. They’re sooooo tempting.
In theory a panel is jam packed with goodness, as it gets more people on stage at the same time, creates something real and spontaneous, and all things being equal more interesting stuff should happen than your average lecture.
If you like the idea that writing can be a contemplative practice, here's another resource. I just finished listening to The Writing Life, an audiobook with Natalie Goldberg and Julia Cameron. For me, driving in the car creates a good time for listening to this kind of book; I enjoyed and recommend The Writing Life. Easy, entertaining listening, yet some gems to make you think about your
What responsibility, if any, do lawyers have to pay attention to concerns of clients other than those legal? How would you answer that question about physicians? Should doctors pay attention to matters other than medical? If you are interested in those questions, you may appreciate this research as at least thought-provoking, if not somewhat persuasive for that question about either or both service professions.
Objective To study how doctors care for their patients, both medically and as fellow humans, through observing their conduct in patient–doctor encounters.
Design Qualitative study in which 101 videotaped consultations were observed and analysed using a Grounded Theory approach, generating explanatory categories through a hermeneutical analysis of the taped consultations.
Setting A 500-bed general teaching hospital in Norway.
Participants 71 doctors working in clinical non-psychiatric departments and their patients.
Results The doctors were concerned about their patients' health and how their medical knowledge could be of service. This medical focus often over-rode other important aspects of the consultations, especially existential elements. The doctors actively directed the focus away from their patients' existential concerns onto medical facts and rarely addressed the personal aspects of a patient's condition, treating them in a biomechanical manner. At the same time, however, the doctors attended to their patients with courteousness, displaying a polite and friendly attitude and emphasising the relationship between them.
Conclusions The study suggests that the main failing of patient–doctor encounters is not a lack of courteous manners, but the moral offence patients experience when existential concerns are ignored. Improving doctors' social and communication skills cannot resolve this moral problem, which appears to be intrinsically bound to modern medical practice. Acknowledging this moral offence would, however, be the first step towards minimising the effects thereof.