Against Practice

This Review examines the theory/practice dichotomy in legal education through the prism of the Carnegie Foundation’s Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law. Descriptively, it argues that the Foundation’s investigation of law school curricular deficiencies in the areas of clinical-lawyer skills, professionalism, and public service overlooks the relevance of critical pedagogies in teaching students how to deal with difference-based identity and how to build cross-cultural community in diverse, multicultural practice settings differentiated by mutable and immutable characteristics such as class, gender, and race. Prescriptively, it argues that the Foundation’s remedial call for the curricular integration of clinical lawyer practices similarly overlooks the utility of critical pedagogies in teaching students not only how to understand difference, but also how to represent difference-based clients and communities here and abroad. The Review is divided into two parts. Part I explores the Carnegie Foundation’s assessment of law schools in preparing students through contemporary case dialogue and in integrating alternative-practice pedagogies. Part II analyzes the ramifications of the Foundation’s report for the application of alternative curricular frameworks, particularly critical pedagogies grounded in difference-based identity and community. These frameworks are briefly sketched in a study of the West Coconut Grove Historic Black Church project at the University of Miami Law School’s Community Economic Development and Design (“CEDAD”) Clinic. The case study demonstrates both the difficulty and the necessity of developing theory/practice pedagogies effective in dealing with difference-based identity in the context of representing communities of color.