One mission of the BLE Blog is to highlight recent legal scholarship that addresses behavioral ethics. An example, well worth the read, is Michael Colatrella‘s article, “Learning ‘the True, the Good and the Beautiful’ in Law School: Educating the Twenty-First Century Litigator.” The entire abstract is posted below, but those with an interest in behavioral ethics may find the discussion of the cognitive bias and heuristics literature (in Part II) and the psychology of ethical decision-making (in Part III) of particular interest.
The author uses the ancient Greek ideal of learning “the true, the good and the beautiful” to form a basis from which legal education can produce lawyers who will be more valuable to their clients and more fulfilled in their twenty-first century careers. To begin, the Article advocates that law schools can foster the Greek ideal of learning “the true” by increasing its focus on “collaborative advocacy” in the core curriculum instead of relying so heavily on “adversarial advocacy” that dominates the required curricula at most law schools. To pursue learning outcomes that are better aligned with the skills needed to practice law in the twenty-first century, legal institutions should require courses that teach collaborative advocacy, such as negotiation and mediation. In a profession that is traditionally defined by its winners and losers, the modern legal arena is shifting toward being open to working with one’s opponent to find a mutually agreeable solution earlier in the dispute, which saves the client time and money. Next, the Author discusses how law school students can achieve “the good” through their legal education. Ethical education remains a staple of law school curriculum. Yet, most institutions require their students to learn only the black-letter ethical rules. When encountering difficult ethical dilemmas, however, lawyers often must decide between two or more competing values that require them to make moral choices about which the black-letter law provides little guidance. A law school curriculum that also fosters thinking about the moral dimension of legal ethics and the psychology of ethical decision-making can help aspiring attorneys to become conscientious practitioners who make better ethical, moral and strategic decisions for their client, themselves and the legal profession. Finally, the Article examines how law schools can help their students embrace “the beautiful” in legal practice. Today, lawyers need the ability to propose creative, efficient and cost-effective solutions to their clients’ problems. As intelligent technology and foreign labor performs a growing percentage of routine legal tasks cheaper, attorneys must find new, smarter ways to provide value to their clients. Law schools can help future lawyers succeed in this economically and technology driven atmosphere by embracing the increasing role that creativity will play in modern legal practice and integrating more creative problem solving techniques into their core curricula. By molding their curricula with guidance from the ancient Greek ideal of learning “the true, the good and the beautiful,” law schools can develop lawyers who can more effectively meet the demands of the twenty-first century legal practice.