Publication Date


Document Type



This year marks my thirtieth as a legal educator. During that time, I have taught a variety of courses and served in several administrative roles, including seven years as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and six years as Dean. I am now newly returned to full-time teaching after a post-deanship sabbatical. I have served on numerous law school, university, professional, and civic committees and boards, and have attended untold number of professional meetings. From these various perspectives, I have followed closely the debates about what we are and are not doing well in legal education, including such developments as the professionalism movement and its influence on law schools, the MacCrate Report, and the publication of and ensuing conversations around Best Practices and Educating Lawyers. More recent debates focus on justifying the purposes of legal education in the face of a poor economy and uncertain job market.

I have sometimes felt empowered by these discussions and by the richness of thought, debate, and experience that legal educators bring to bear on the best ways to prepare our students. At other times, I have felt weighed down by the challenges of "turning a battleship" or whatever current metaphor is being used to describe the many institutional and psychological barriers to changing a culture as tradition- and rule-bound as American legal education. As I ponder how to use my time and energy for the remainder of my career as a law professor, with the goal of preparing students for the demands of a changing world and a complex and difficult professional life, I find myself more and more focused on pedagogy. But, pedagogy for what purpose?

In this Essay, I want to suggest that we should conceive of our purpose as educating towards the exercise of practical wisdom and that we think about this purpose at the level of pedagogy.