Article: Values Training and Cultural Competency

 

Beverley I. Moran, “Disappearing Act: The Lack of Values Training in Legal Education – A Case for Cultural Competency” – Abstract: A renewed movement of curriculum reform is growing within United States law schools. This new curriculum reform movement is based on two important reports – one from the American Bar Association commonly known as the MacCrate Report, issued in 1992, and the second from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching known as Educating Lawyers, issued in 2007. Both the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers condemn modern legal education and offer blueprints for improving the law school curriculum. Each report recommends training law students in such values as nondiscrimination and inclusiveness based on gender, race, ethnicity, and class.After reviewing the history of legal education and the case method that is the target of both the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers, the article goes on to critique six reason why law schools might not respond to a call for integrating values training into the standard first year curriculum. Two of these reasons are in direct response to objections to all values training and four are based in less direct assaults on teaching values. After showing that these six objections taken together are not strong enough to support leaving the curriculum devoid of all reference to gender, race, ethnicity, and class, the article concludes with suggestions on how to make the law school curriculum more responsive to the concerns raised in the MacCrate Report and Educating Lawyers.  

The MacCrate Report’s and Educating Lawyers’ recommendations regarding gender, race, ethnicity, and class are not based on charity or social justice. Instead, both reports see cultural competency as a key part of the professional compact to serve society in exchange for a monopoly on the practice of law. Yet, despite the two reports’ emphasis on gender, race, ethnicity, and class in the law school curriculum, the new curriculum reform movement either sidesteps issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and class, or treats discussions of these topics as “add-ons” for interested students only. 

By failing to integrate gender, race, ethnicity, and class into the fabric of the first-year law school classroom curriculum, this new curriculum reform movement fails both law students and the communities that practicing lawyers serve. Why law school faculties might fail to respond to the MacCrate Report’s and Educating Lawyers’ concerns, and how to broaden what takes place in the first year curriculum are two subjects this article addresses. 

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