Center for Internet and Society

Real-Time Rotisserie Responses

Initial Question: Is it the responsibility of law school to teach law students about justice?

* Bonnie Wongtrakool (

I think that depends on what you mean by "teaching about justice." The role of a law school is to enable its graduates to advance the causes of justice. But what constitutes "justice" will differ from student to student. Law schools can and should give students the tools to promote what they conceptualize as justice, but law schools cannot and should not try to define justice. As I understand it, justice is a close cousin of morality. While we can teach different philosophies and frameworks of morality, and how to apply them, we can't teach how to choose a framework. The most we can do is give the student a choice.

Response From Susan Horan (
I agree with you. Notions of justice
will vary from person to person.
Moreover, even where most people agree on
what"justice" is, it will not always
prevail in some cases. The
responsibility of law schools is to
equip their graduates with the
necessary tools to represent clients to
the best of their abilities in the hope
that "justice" will prevail. Law schools
are not responsibile for teaching what
"justice" is.

* lrong (

this is depends on how you define the justice ,how you understand the concepts of justice is deeply rooted in the value system of the individuals.

so in this sense,law school can facilitate the process of the constructions of values of justice that is good to the society and public policies, so in this sense ,law school shares the responsibility to teach about the justice.

Response From Dchoi (

* Dchoi (

Response From Mfontes (50516865):

* Mrader (

No. It is the responsibility of the law school to teach law students the tools they need to pursue justice. However, justice itself is at its core a very personal concept and will depend on the individual's values, religious heritage, etc. For instance, one person in the class suggested that it might be "just" to kill one individual in order to save three (in the Stephens case), whereas my own religious tradition would respond, "How do you know your blood is redder than his?" In my view, taking an affirmative action to end another's life is not excusable on the ground that it saves yours (and perhaps even someone else's).

Speaking more broadly (the lifeboat example is kind of extreme), societal mores are ultimately formed by a melding of various individual wisdom traditions. Those with the most articulate and loudest voices may well shape those mores the most. Law school should help its students to make the arguments which will enable them to pursue justice as they see it -- and ultimately to influence society.

Response From Kwest (

* Karim Kobeissi (

Absolutely, yes.
Law is the tool,
Justice is the goal.

A world without justice is a world in which people suffer
and where the law of the jungle will prevail...such a world
belongs to the strong, to the power, to money, to greed.
Justice is necessary to civil society.

If you think that you can hang out at law school for three
years (or 1 year for us L.L.M.'s)and not learn anything
about Justice, then where can you learn about justice?
We see enough injustice in the "real world." Law school
is a great opportunity to do something about it.
Ulysses von Salis, John Moon, Karim Kobeissi

Response From Manuel d'Empaire (
I absolutely agree that justice shall be taucht in
law school. however, the only problem would be what is
justice about. In my opinion is a subjective concept that is based
upon some moral or principles. This is definately the framework
that shall be taught in law school.
Society does not want to live in the world of the jungle
but what is important is to understand the principles that shall
govern the world of real life.

* Antoun Nabhan (

Yes, it is, and this is a responsibility at which law school (well, Harvard, anyway) mostly fails.

As practicing attorneys, we are stewards of our society, our polis. Our polis will not last long if the state's monopoly on the use of force is used in ways that are at odds with the popular consensus on justice. While it does last in such a state, it is worthless; we would be better off alone and free than together and oppressed.

Thus, justice, and making the law conform to it, is a key component of the lawyer's role, and perhaps *the* key.

But, justice is hard to discern on the margins. We don't all agree on what it is, especially in a diverse society, and even when we all agree on principle the application in a particular dilemma is a matter of some skill - what Aristotle calls "sophia," practical wisdom.

Law school should teach us, first, how to make the law conform to justice, but also how to *discuss* justice, how to *think* about justice. Law education should mature us, because practical wisdom requires us to comprehend the consequences of (judicial and legislative) actions, and understanding of consequences is the hallmark of maturity.

Law education doesn't do this, because, I think, of two factors. The first is the semiotic constraints of legal argument; we aren't "allowed" to just talk about normative concerns, we must always refer back to precendent and doctrine and blackletter law. Hence in Rust v. Sullivan the Court can't say, "we believe in sex. We reject the tyranny of Christian organizational dogma." They have to yammer on about precedent.

The second is the culture of law school, where students and professors tend to be motivated first, by ambition, and second, by a cause. Their ambition, they soon learn, is best actualized by "playing the game," which means adopting the semiotics of legal argument as best we can, and rejecting - consciously or unconsciously - as much as we can of our intuition about just outcomes. We are rewarded for being technicians, not philosophers.

Their causes are part of their identities by the time they get here, so that it becomes nearly impossible to convince, to alter someone's views or even one's own without ignominy. Hence we don't share our personal experiences, we don't "mind meld" on our intuitions of justice.

And so we leave law school with an amputated sense of justice, a machine-like skill instead of a whole grasp of the human condition.


Response From Phil Yabut (
This is similar to what I wrote, though
not as long. I agree that law schools
are not in the best position to teach
"justice." However, I am unsure as to
whether law schools *should* teach
justice. Like the church/state
separation argument, a "foot in the
door," may lead to a debate as to where
you must draw the line. If you can
display the Ten Commandments in a public
school, how much further can you go?
We face a similar dilemma with this

Nice answer, A.!

* Delphine (

No it's not and yes it is. No school (governement, reigion?) should be in charge of teaching values or moral principles. Each human being is responsible for determining his own system of values, at least in my humanistic view. But school can help, by confronting people, teaching reality, and opening students' minds, it favors the development of our notion of justice. Law schools are dealing with law and marginally, to the extent it can, with justice…

Response From Heather Gonzales (
With respect to the first part of your answer, I have to disagree because I think that government does have a responsibility to uphold the liberal ideals to which the Constitution aspires, which is respecting and promoting the equal worth and freedom of all persons. Antidiscrimination law is a perfect example-are you opposed to this kind of government involvement in teaching values? Isn't this teaching by example? Some values (liberty and equality) must be enforced by the government for it to live up to its promise. With respect to your second answer, I again must disagree because I believe that law and justice are intrinsically related and dependent on the other.

* Mari Brito (

I do believe that's extremely importanta to teach justice in the law school. Laws are meaningless without the concept of justice embedded on it. It's so intrinsically related that I can't imagine a legislator or a judge that does his task without taking into consideration the concept of justice. I don't have a strong feeling about whether HLS teaches or doesn't teach justice. I don't think so. I was trained in a civil law system where the very first approach to the law was seen through the lens of justice, not through the lens of contracts, torts or property.

I strongly advocate for a better conveyance of the concept of justice to law students. I don't want to be taken for an extremist but I do believe that universities are turning to be real money machines and money-makers creators. The idea of the lawyer statement like Abraham Lincoln, was lost a long time ago among the L&E efficiencies and Pareto optimalities brought directly from Chicago and the CLS movement's deconstruction born in Harvard.

Response From Jeffrey M. Summers (
I disagree. Justice is the accumulation of a lifetime of study. You can't learn it in a law school; you learn it in practice. You have a chance to see wisdom and justice applied by others and from it you learn to wise and just.

Legislators and judges each have a concept of justice, and the amalgam of those opinions norms the legal system.

The L&E, CLS, and the rest all have their place in describing a concept too large to swallow hole. They each describe a piece of a mosaic. The whole mosaic is what we value.

We also tend to value people who pick up the pieces needed to resolve the dispute dispute before them. When their personal average approximates the whole, we think they are just.

* Phil Yabut (

Yes, no, I don't know, really. This question invokes other,
deeper questions that mankind has been trying to answer
since the dawn of time. On one hand, I feel justice is
necessary for the greater good of society. On the other
hand, I feel that "justice" is too ambiguous to try to
teach uniformly --one person's justice is another's
injustice. I analogize this question to the ongoing debate
over the separation of church and state. If one gets a
foot in the door, where do you draw the line? On the other
hand, where else will law students learn "justice?" Maybe
it should be left to parents...

Response From Daniel Levin (
You're right we can't agree on what's justice, but we can agree on what initial steps we can take to get there (that is, closer to justice). I've suggested 'process' as one value we can share, although we might disagree on what the outcome might be in a particular case. In other words, we might keep in mind that a fair process will help us toward a procedural baseline to talk things out. That's why what preoccupied me with the Stephens case was the 'process' by which the languishing cabin boy was chosen for lunch. . .. If it were lots, for example, that made the choice, that somehow seems more 'just' than if he were chosen because he was defenseless, no?

* Manuel d'Empaire (

Yes! First of all we come to law school to learn the concept of Justice.
I started my legal studies with the aim of learning such
concept and applying it. I had this naive gut feeling that
by pursuing justice we could make the world a better place to live in.
I realize that Justice might not be a unique and agreed concept among
all the law students. Learning the subjective concept of justice
that each stuendt might have should be very usuful. Finding
common ground should prove helpful.

Response From lrong (
i agree with you that finding a common ground is very helpful.common ground is the conner stone of justice system in all types of societies. the agreed standard is the way that justice can go justice carrier of the values that society should run on,with this ,world can be a better place. law school in one way or another facilitate the education and resonsiblities about the justice that is the foundation of the development and constructure.thanks for your comments.

* Daniel Levin (

For me, there's an irony about the question, and that's because my personal sense of justice has a lot to do with process. While most law schools, including Harvard Law School, may teach a lot about judicial process in the content of the courses, it teaches precisely the opposite of process in the way it conveys that content. Preoccupation with end-of-term performance or job search experience makes law school apprenticeship more about result than its process. So you've got this unstapling of result from process in the precisely the place where you should be thinking process the most; or at least that's my opinion. . .

Response From Angie Vincent (
We agree that the preoccupation with result makes the thinking process less engaging or relevant for many participants in a law school class.

We are unclear how you relate the process to the substance of justice. Why is concentrating on process important? Is is going to teach justice to us? Or what is it teaching. Angie says to speak English next time and answer the damn question.

* Kwest (

No because one person's justice is another's injustice. Justice is too close to morality and law school is not the place to teach morality. The role of law schools is to teach tools of argument and the law. Because justice means such different things to different people teaching it would become a study of different professors' views on justice and in the end what each student would learn is nothing more than what he/she believes justice to mean. It would be a fruitless exercise.

Response From McKee (

* Elizabeth Whalley Buono (

It is the responsibility of law schools to education on
historical applications of law, which necessarily
involve the judicial and appellate interpretaion and
application of statute. Judges are hopefully appointed
and selected based upon their moral character, legal
talent and intellectual capability. There exists a
latitude in the law for interpretation and exception.
It is this gray area that justice can be considered.
Here, and in its initial formulation. Law schools need to
education on historical application but their job and talents
lie in teaching black letter law and statutory requirement.

Response From Sergei S. Protzenko (
Black letter law and statutory
requirements are good. But, one has to
aspire to higher goals otherwise one is
merely a scrivener. Law without justice
has no soul. That explains why, other
than psychiatrists, lawyers have a
higher rate of depression than any other
profession. Lawyers that do not have a
sense of justice, however thwarted, are
lost in anomie. The prescription is a
sense of morality which can be
encouraged and taught. Law schools have
a need and a role to play in the
morality play. They have the peculiar
responsibility to teach the component
of law they have competence in: justice.

* Mike Mattock (

It is not the responsibility of law schools to teach law students about justice. This is not to say that law students (or anyone else) should not concern themselves
with justice, however, justice is not inextricably bound up with law. Studying and learning the law requires mastering the process rather than higher notions of what is just.

Response From Antoun Nabhan (
That's like saying that you should learn chemical engineering without learning any chemistry. If you want to design and execute the "process" correctly, you have to understand the "output" or the goal. Justice, I would submit, is the goal of the legal process.

* Heather Gonzales (

Of course it is, otherwise law school perpetuates an emptiness or void in the profession, which otherwise has the potential to elevate humans to their greatest capabilities. Failing to teach justice is a betrayal of the law school promise. One reason that lawyers have such an awful reputation is because they tend to ignore justice for the sake of power.

Response From Ashley Morgan (

* McCormack (

Like the clumsy, human institutions of law, such as courts and their human judges, law schools can not adequately, nor should they, teach students about justice. Or stated simply, law schools could not give "justice" to "justice." The law may have an aspiration to achieve justice, however, that aspiration and its mystery is beyond human mastery. In fact, it would be the height of arrogance for law school's to think that they could do in three years (or a three credit class) what religion/morals/parents/individuals try to accomplish on their own throughout their lifetimes. I think it would do an injustice to "justice" if law school's taught justice because such lesson plans would evitably limit the true reach of this area of human thought and experience. Let law continue its aspiration, as only an aspiration. To demote "justice" to be part and parcel of law would be be justice a disservice.

Response From David Biscan (
I believe that I agree with your overall argument. It is (in my view) similar to what I said myself. Basically, my point was that I would not trust law schools with the job of teaching justice. However, one thing I would also add is that of course people can and should do certain things in their lives in order to further their own perceptions of justice. Many of the things people may do would not be related to law school, such as praying to God. But, the law school is not entirely foreclosed from offering voluntary courses on philosophy of law, or legal history, or whatever that individual students may take to further their own understanding of true justice.

* Susan Horan (

No. Particularly in the area of criminal law, it is not the responsibility of the attorney for the defendant to see that justice is done. It is the attorney's responsibility to defend his or her client to the best of his ability. Because of this, justice is often not done in a criminal case. The responsibility of law schools is to teach the law. Considerations of justice are secondary.

Response From Mari Brito (
One thing is law taught at the law School one thing is law in the practice. We can't generalize and think just about criminal law. Justice is also about values and it's the deepest meaning of the law. I disagree completely with your viewpoint, because if I would have to think according to your reply I would say that also to steal goods and to kill people is ok, because justice is never done.

However, on thing is true: we came with our values and the law school plays a role just reinforcing them or guiding us in how to apply them in conjunction with the practice of the profession.

Maybe I'm naive as well, but I'm better off this way that living with the feeling that I practice a profession which symbol is a scale of balance and justice, just doing the opposite.

Maria Brito

* F Menand (

I will reply by a question. What do you mean by justice ? Justice is an ambivalent notion that can lead to different solutions dependding upon our definition of justice. I suppose that the notion of justice itself should be taught. More precisely the different types of justice should be taught so as to give students the theoritical tools they need to fully apprehend this notion and its relation to the role of the judge.

Response From Jamaal Lesane (responding) (
It is difficult to teach a specific notion of justice without the institution imposing it's values and beliefs on it's students. However, I do agree wiht you in that it is the responibility of every law school to provide it' sstudents with the tools that they need to attempt to arrive at justice. That is, law schools should help students come to their own individual definitions as to what justice is; then, students should be encouraged to question their own thoughts and actions in an attempt to arrive at a notion of justice. I'm being rushed, but basically, there are consequences to all of our actions, and we must be taught analyze these consequences with justice as an end goal.

* Ksenya (

What does it really mean to "teach justice," how can you _possibly_ teach it? We all come in to law schools with our own sense of justice, with our own values, with our own morality. What I think law schools should seek to do is to challenge those values. By putting them to discussion, by making us justify my beliefs, by challenging them from various direction, I belive we will learn immensely, about ourselves, about the law, and about the world. This is a very valuable part of education, that sadly, I find missing from my law school experience here at Harvard.

A current example comes to mind--the course on legal ethics, now a requirement at the law school. Before taking the course, I thought that there, at least at that class is where my sense of justice and morality will be tested and pressed. I would get a chance to re-evaluate my beliefs and become either more convinced in them, or change them. But on the first day of class, the professor made it crystal clear that this class is not about morality. Ethics are rules, either written or un-written. But they are not morality, we hope that they in some way reflect our societie's moral values, but that's not what we learn. So, I was extremely dissapointed. Here it was, in the class that came closest to discussing moral issues, we were again thrust into the purely legal world.

So to answer the question: should law schools teach justice. There is no such thing as "objective justice." In Dialo case, was justice served? Did the legal process work? What about the Simpson's case? This is something that can not be taught; these are our gut feelings. But they can be challenged and tested, and that law schools should do, in order to make us better and bigger lawyers and individuals.

Response From Elizabeth Whalley Buono (
It sounds to me that you are discussing
a career in counseling or in some sector
of actual ethics rather than law. To serve
as a lawyer is not to judge but to present
cogent legal defense. Too much time spent in
the questioning of guilt, innocence
or justice will result in too little time
spent in defense or prosecution.

* Christopher Agresto (

To the extent that "Justice" is a consideration of the
morality of the law, it has no place in the teachings of
a law school. The responsability of the law school is to
teach the analysis of factual patterns so that they can be
applied to the rules which govern us, that which Holmes
ment by the law.

The law school can not teach its students to make moral
judgements as to which laws are "Just." They can only
urge thier students to make the application of their own
personal sense of justice to the law. What law schools can
do is teach evaluation of the law, as for example with
economic analysis.

Justice, as Martin Luther King approaches it, is teachable,
but in teaching it, you assume a certain set of values, a
definition of "Justice" which is not absolute (obviously
Holmes disagrees with King's definition). That can be
taught, but should not be the province of the legal instructor.

Response From Mrader (
I agree with the sentiments you have written wholeheartedly. The role of the law school is to teach students the tools they need to pursue justice -- not the concept of "justice" itself. However, it is perfectly appropriate for the law school to encourage students to engage in a dialogue over what constitutes justice. That way, the law school can give students a taste of their role in the larger society whe they leave the learning institution to "do."

* Nina Jones (

No. I think that justice is such a shapeless concept based mostly on your personal sense of morals.
What your concept of justice is will necessarily change as you grow and it will differ based on your cultural

Response From Ksenya (
I agree, this was the part of my response. But I believe that even though law school can not TEACH justice, they can certainly challenge your beliefs. In classes we can discuss our sense of justice and in those discussions define our values more clearly, or, alternatively, change them. Don't you think that this would help to make us better and bigger lawyers as well as people?

* No Name Entered 1 (

Response From Karim Kobeissi (

* David Biscan (

I believe that if I were going to a law school that I believed would do a competant job of teaching me about justice then I would think it to be beneficial for them to teach me. However, given the large percentage of society that apparently has extremely distorted views of justice (i.e. by saying that it's okay to murder babies through abortion--what kind of justice would permit such an obvious injustice. What is more fundamental to justice than the right to live?) I do not think Harvard is competant to teach me justice. Perhaps a law school following the Holy Catholic Church would be competant.

Response From Christopher Agresto (
Mr. Biscan:

As a fellow Catholic, I share your
opinion with respect to the abortion
issue. However, there is a definite logic
consistant with the Classic liberal model
of law and governance which underlies the
Roe v. Wade opinion.

I also think you are correct that
society has no 1 (one) fixed view of
justice. I think we are a fair bit better
off than I anticipate you do as a society,
but in the end, justice can not be taught.
What can be taught is the questioning of
laws, and thier analysis, as opposed to thier raw
application. Law schools should teach their
students to be critical, and to apply thier own
views of justice to the law they learn. However,
in the end, the law school exists to
teach the student the application of the
rules to fact patterns presented to them.

On an aside, be careful to make a distinction
between Morality and Justice. They are distinct
concepts, which while they do overlap, have
seperate components as well.

* Ashley Morgan (

Response From McCormack (

* No Name Entered 2 (

Justice is a concept that must necessarily mean different things to different people. It is impossible for any one law school to teach individuals justice per se, in that it is not the place (and probably not possible) for a law school to impose it's values on students. However, I do believe that law schools have the responsibility of providing students with the tools to arrive at their own individual "justice". That is, students should learn to question their own thoughts and actions as well as the thoughts and actions of others, and to realize that, as lawyers, there will be consequences to every action. As law students, we should be taught the responsibility of governing our thoughts and actions in a way that we believe will lead to justice.

Response From No Name Entered 1 (

* Sergei S. Protzenko (

Knowledge of justice necessary to be a lawyer?

Justice provides the aspirational goals of lawyers.
Otherwise, law merely becomes formulas to be manipulated.
The rules of law do not spring out of thin air. Justice is
a necessary foundation for laws to have meaning.

Responsibility of law schools to teach justice?

Man does not live by law and economics alone. However,
it does provide a rigorous underpinning to legal thought.
From there one can explore justice. Laws are meant to serve
the needs of people. Law and economics provides certainty
and rationality; justice provides the leavening.

Response From Bonnie Wongtrakool (
I take it from your response that you are a law-and-econ kind of person. So if I could make a simple assumption, you probably make decisions in terms of efficiency and marginal cost. This, however, does not mean that your sense of justice is different from someone who espouses critical legal theory (although perhaps it is likely to differ). In fact, you and the Crit could be aligned on many issues of moral importance. My point is that I agree with your statement that "justice provides the leavening." Without justice, your embrace of law and economics would have no meaning to the Crit. Because of justice, you can see eye to eye, or at least understand each other. Justice is the bond between men.

* Angie Vincent (

The role of a law school is not to impose values, it is to challenge, question, and examine the beliefs that we take for granted. Justice can change with context, culture, and individual experience. Its role is to provide a forum and process where a community can peacefully exchange, discuss, and decide upon the ideal of justice in their communities. Any other method of deciding justice becomes a question of what group has the most power instead of what group has determined what is most just.

Response From Nina Jones (
I agree completely with your idea that justice
is somehow dependent on your culture.
At the same time I also would think that
law school should teach us how to practice
law, instead of just teaching us the philosophy
of law. However, I don't know that law
school is a good forum for the community
to exchange ideas about ideals of justice
but we do need some sort of forum for that

* Jamaal Lesane (responding) (

Response From No Name Entered 2 (

* McKee (

Response From Mike Mattock (

* Mfontes (50516865):

Response From Delphine (
justice is a feeling
to define it is to lose it
solomon, lord of law
in him was the wisdom of god
to do

* dchoi (

It seems very hard to know what exactly "justice" is -- so how can law schools know what to teach? But at the same time, it's very important to know for lawmakers (which law students may eventually be) to something about justice, if "justice" exists, so that they might try to make the law effect justice. It's also clear that there are a few schools of thought on what justice is: Plato says that justice is the health of the soul brought about through virtue and wisdom; Kant says justice is respecting the dignity of each person; utilitarians equate justice with the maximum aggregate utility of all; and some say there is no such thing as justice, but only efficiency. So I think that law schools should expose these students to these major alternatives, letting professors of each major school of thought to present their particular view of justice as forcefully as possible. Now, it happens practically by chance almost whether one gets law and economics professors or postmodernists in various law classes. I think that there should be some sort of required core course that presents all these alternative views of justice and law for law students to hear and judge. Without this part of legal education, law school becomes a vocational school with a sprinkling of philosophy and liberal education. Let's require a part of law school to delve systematically into the deep questions.

Response From F Menand (

* vic (

Yes. Let's consider the Aristotelean-Scholastic
concept of right , which is contextualized as the
object of a moral virtue, "JUSTICE".
In that context the concpet of law has only a
secondary role, is an artefact, a practical virtue,
a medium to achieve justice.
Then the objection to this would be, that we can not agree
on the concept of what a moral virtue is.
i believe that if we can not agree on that ,
then the state would not be legitimized to administered
justice,as it would be discretionary and arbitrary,
and the law school woudl not have authority to teach
about the law.
Again, Aristotles defines the right as the justum, an objective thing that is due
to other.Following this line of thought we can agree on what constitues the justum on a concrete situation./
Naturally, there must be some hard cases where it is difficult to define, or where superior values are invloved,
and in those cases we need to apply equity, which would be the exceptional approach to a concrete and different situation.
if we can not agree on the value of justice, for which we are fighting for ,
tehre is no sense in studying law, as no longer lawyers can be deemed to be "the
priest of Justice" as Ulpiano defined us.

Response From dchoi (

* Jeffrey M. Summers (

Response From vic (

* vic (

Response From (unknown)

* vic (

Response From (unknown)

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