Learning to “Think Like a Lawyer”
This work is an initial ef- fort to investigate the distinctive shape of a core U.S. legal worldview, empirically grounded in the study of the language through which law students are trained to this new approach. During the first year of law school, students are reputed to undergo a trans- formation in thought patterns—a transformation often referred to as “learning to think like a lawyer.” Professors and students accomplish this purported transfor- mation, and professors assess it, through classroom exchanges and examinations, through spoken and written language. What message does the language of the law school classroom convey? What does it mean to “think” like a lawyer? Is the same message conveyed in different kinds of schools, and when it is imparted by profes- sors of color or by white women professors, and when it is received by students of different races, genders, and backgrounds? This study addresses these questions, using fine-grained empirical research in eight different law schools.