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Fishing for Values in Legal Education Nigel Duncan Graham Ferris.

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1 Fishing for Values in Legal Education Nigel Duncan Graham Ferris

2 Fishing For Values in Legal Education Teaching Legal Ethics UK (TLEUK) workshop on 24 th November 2012 at NLS International forum on teaching legal ethics at Nottingham Law School, City Law School, and Higher Education Authority

3 Teaching Legal Ethics UK Report on workshop at Nottingham Law School Three main questions: Why do we want to introduce ethics into the undergraduate law curriculum? Who should we aim to serve through ethics teaching in legal education? What does it mean to be teaching ethics in legal education?

4 Why do we want to introduce ethics into the undergraduate law curriculum? “how to think, reason, feel” as opposed to “what students think” – At least make students aware of ethical strains and issues inherent to the materials involved in their study of law – “empower” students – perhaps by providing tools – preparation for the workplace – To open up a feeling dimension about the subject matter of law – To help prepare students for professional education. – The relationship between general ethics and professional ethics

5 Questions To obtain those aims in practice: 1.What subject matter (content) is suitable for teaching and learning to think, feel, and act? What medium do we use for teaching ethical reasoning, ethical sensitivity, and ethical efficacy? 2. How should we assess these learning outcomes?

6 What do we mean when we talk about ethical education? enabling students to “do” ethics influencing how people feel about ethical values Influencing how people will act in the future making people sensitive to the presence of ethical issues supporting people in learning how to talk and think about ethical issues

7 Who should we aim to serve through ethics teaching in legal education? Students – unreservedly Society – primarily through our students The professions – but not necessarily in the manner anticipated by firms Legal service consumers – primarily through the education of our students The liberal state, justice or general moral progress - through the best possible ethical education of law students

8 What does it mean to be teaching ethics in legal education? 1 Teach ethics well – not preach, but allow students security and some ownership Developing and sharing resources Diverse assessments which encourage feelings of security as opposed to anxiety Can we teach people to act ethically? Would this entail a non-assessable learning outcome?

9 What does it mean to be teaching ethics in legal education? 2 Necessary steps to ethical action: Rest and Narvaez (1991) – Moral Sensitivity – awareness of the moral dimensions of the situation; – Moral Judgement – ethical reasoning, familiar to us from Kohlberg’s work on the subject; – Moral Motivation – wanting to act morally - which may involve putting concerns about ethical rectitude above e.g. money, or professional success, or the approval of superiors; – Moral Character – the ability to see it through. steps (1) – (3) awareness, reasoning, and motivation may all be amenable to teaching and learning and (somewhat artificially) assessment; but step (4) – ethical behaviour in life – is not assessable and may not be something we can be sure of doing

10 What does it mean to be teaching ethics in legal education? Questions How does one teach: – Perception or awareness of ethical issues (Sensitivity) – Reasoning in a manner that encourages developmental growth (Judgment) – Caring about moral (ethical) values (Motivation) – Efficacy in acting upon moral (ethical) values (Character)?

11 Question: How best to introduce ethics into the undergraduate curriculum? 1. Ethics module? 2. Theme or aspect of a few identified modules? 3. Pervasive? Best to combine (1) & (2), so as to address silo risk and achieve a degree of integration. (3) may be achievable in the future.

12 Requirements Commitment by the leadership of the Law School or Department or Programme - or People willing to take some risks? Best to combine the two: Positive support of willing change agents by management that wants to encourage good ethics teaching in the Law School, change led from below but facilitated from above.

13 Concluding thoughts The question: whether students who do not go onto practice should learn about legal ethics to be misplaced. Why would any student not benefit from education in legal ethics?

14 Workshop tasks In groups as directed, please: – Brainstorm ideas for assessing any or all of these learning outcomes. – Note your ideas – Be prepared to report back to the Workshop.

15 Contacts Nigel Duncan Graham Ferris


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