What might it mean for a law school to share this Mercy charism? More broadly, what would it mean for a law school to share the spiritual DNA of a female order, seeing the world from historically female perspectives and motivated by historically female concerns? More broadly still, in this #metoo era, in which women make up the majority of American law students, should it simply be business as usual at religiously affiliated law schools, or should we seize the opportunity to consider seriously, and in the light of faith, women’s perspectives on legal education, law, and justice?
This article is my attempt to grapple with these questions. My interest is, of course, personal. I am on the faculty at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Our institution enjoys both a Jesuit and a Mercy identity. The Jesuit brand of legal education is well known and has its own distinctive flavor—of that, more later. But this school is the only Mercy law school in the United States and one of only two religiously affiliated law schools sponsored by a female order. What might legal education be like, especially at Detroit Mercy, if we took our Mercy identity seriously? As a faculty member, a feminist, and a Christian, I believe our Mercy identity presents an opportunity to reimagine and reinvigorate legal education and law in ways that extend well beyond the walls of my own institution.
This article begins to imagine such an education. The preliminary sections examine the major sources that inform my vision for law school “in a different voice,”18 that is, for legal education in the Mercy tradition. Parts II through IV explore the life and values of Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy; the current values, priorities, and educational mission of the Mercy Institute within the United States; and scholarship on Mercy identity in higher education. Part V turns to religiously affiliated law schools, with a special focus on Jesuit identity in legal education. Each of these sources constitutes a building block for Part VI.
Part VI articulates my vision for legal education in the Mercy tradition. Such an education is defined by two special commitments: first, to mercifulness; second, to women and girls. Part VI explores what the two commitments mean within the context of legal education.
Pamela A. Wilkins, Law School in a Different Voice: Legal Education as a Work of Mercy, 63 St. Louis U. L.J. (2019).