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Summer 7-26-2012


Thinking Like Non-Lawyers: Why Empathy is a Core Lawyering Skill and Why Legal Education Should Change to Reflect its Importance




This article is an exploration of some of the issues raised by the recent Carnegie Report on legal education, and contains a recommendation that law schools change the way they teach especially first year law students in order to make them more empathetically aware of the circumstances by which the court opinions they study arose and the effects those opinions will have on others. This recommendation is made not just because it will make students better people, but also because it will make them better lawyers; the article analyses in depth the dangers inherent in an overemphasis on the “logical” form of analysis taught in law schools, especially when lawyers attempt to communicate with non-lawyers, something they do all the time. It also offers specific proposals to help ameliorate the dangers of an over-emphasis on “thinking like a lawyer.” Although the article is written primarily from a litigation perspective, it makes clear that these dangers arise in all branches of lawyering practice.

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