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Current Law Students / Re: Legal Reasoning
« on: February 22, 2006, 03:50:43 PM »

Shouldn't then law school be abolished altogether? After all, no other legal system in the world requires 3 years of postgraduate schooling before one can undertake the most routine matter of client representation or courtroom advocacy. Indeed, the maverick presidential candidate Morry Taylor made a pledge to close down American law schools for 10 years, a major proposal of his quixotic campaign. Why not make the study of law an undergraduate program, or a college major followed by some sort of postgraduate apprenticeship -- this would surely be a quintessentially rationalist response to an institution that survives, and even thrives, because it fills a deep cultural need for the maintenance of some atavistic set of rituals that will obscure the inescapably troublesome and often tragic relationship between moral belief, political science and social power.

Indeed, in UK to study law you go to college, that is not after earning a bachelor's degree.

The undergraduate law degree is the most common form of entry into the legal profession, followed by a 1-year professional course and examination (the professional stage). The academic stage usually consists of an undergraduate degree which is offered in any of the 89 UK universities. Entry is decided by reference to "A-Level" points -- "A-Levels" are examinations students take in the 2 years prior to entering university and each grade is worth a different level of points. Only a few law schools interview candidates before admission and some Oxford and Cambridge Colleges also set entrance exams. There is not an LSAT or similar. The majority of programs, commonly leading to a Bachelor of Laws or a Bachelor of Arts, joint honors degree, last 3 years. The study of law at undergraduate level is, as you can see, significantly different from the US where law is a postgraduate discipline. At the end of three years students are awarded a bachelor's degree in law and they must then decide what to do next. A large proportion -- possibly around one-third -- will decide not to enter a career as a lawyer. The others must choose between becoming a barrister (essentially, a courtroom litigator) or a solicitor. Students who do not have a qualifying law degree (either because they have not studied one of the subjects listed above, or because they have read for another degree) but who nonetheless wish to enter the professions must do a one-year course called the Common Professional Examination and then they too have to choose which profession to enter.

- Solicitors

The Law Society, the professional body representing solicitors, requires those who wish to qualify to join a Legal Practice Course (LPC). If they successfully pass this they will have to obtain a Training Contract from a solicitors' firm which will provide another 2 years training, before a successful law student is finally 'admitted as a solicitor' or entered on the Roll of Solicitors. The Law Society has franchised about 10 university institutions and two private education institutions to provide the course which it supervises closely. The Legal Practice Course lasts 1 academic year. Upon successfully completing the LPC a Trainee Solicitor enters a firm and continues on-the-job-training for 2 years. This period includes formal training in advocacy.

- Barristers

The General Council of the Bar has franchised a 1-year program and examination for those wishing to become barristers. Called the Bar Vocational Course (BVC) it was introduced in 1989 to emphasise the practising skills required for court work. The course utilises practical exercises for the DRAIN competencies (Drafting, Research, Advocacy, Interviewing and Negotiation), and its early development owed much to North American experiences, especially Canada. Substantive courses in crime, common law, and taxation are taught as well as civil and criminal procedure. Upon successfully passing the Bar exams, a student can be called to the Bar by her/his Inn of Court. All those wishing to become barristers have to join one of the four Inns of Court (Gray's Inn, Inner Temple, Middle Temple or Lincoln's Inn), which basically involves paying a membership fee and eating a number of compulsory dinners. Call to the Bar however does not entitle a barrister to practice and s/he must then complete a further 12 months "pupillage" in a group of barristers' offices or "set of chambers". A pupil in the first 6 months of pupillage will be assigned to an experienced barrister. The system is intended to introduce the novice to the forms and procedures that constitute a barrister's work. During the 'second 6 months' a barrister can appear in court, but is technically still under the supervision of a more experienced barrister.

Thereafter a barrister wishing to practice on her own account must find a 'set of chambers' to join as a 'tenant'. The biggest hurdles for trainee barristers are obtaining a pupillage and finding a 'tenancy'.  There is a restricted number of vacancies each year for pupils and far more students pass the exams than there are pupillages. There are still fewer tenancies available and as a consequence each year many more barristers qualify than are needed to practice in the courts. Many find employment in corporations, government, or court administration.

Current Law Students / Re: What's good about being an attorney?
« on: February 22, 2006, 03:23:34 PM »
Are we limited to describing, for example, enneagram work as a 'scientific' endeavor? Many practitioners in the area of psychology (including some giants in the field - Freud and Jung amongst them) desperately sought to have their work confirmed as 'science', which implied (and continues to do so) a 'rational-empirical' approach. Jung, for instance, seemed to want to be considered an 'empiricist' (and sought to avoid the label of 'mystic'). But at what cost? And what, indeed, is the price that we pay for conceiving of enneagram studies as primarily a matter of 'science', to be conducted first and foremost by scientists, according to the prevailing (rational-empirical) model of science?

Well, at one level, the answer is obvious: matters that the empiricist finds it most difficult to deal with (such as spirituality) will tend to be ignored or undervalued. While, for instance, we may become progressively more absorbed in the finer details of 'consistency in typing individuals' (as this is something that 'scientific' psychology appears to be suited to address), we are likely to steer away from discussions of the 'spiritual' uses of enneagram studies (as science typically avoids what it construes as 'metaphysical' concerns) and downplays the use of the enneagram as a means for developing compassion between individuals.

One has only to look at what happened, as a matter of historical record, when the MBTI replaced the original Jungian typology. Whereas Jung (and the Jungians) describe one type (the 'introverted intuitive') primarily in terms that make it clear that this type is most at home with mystical experience (Jungians characteristically use Boehme and other mystics as typical of that type), the MBTI fails to mention, let alone highlight, this connection. Apparently 'mysticism' is not a legitimate endeavor, at least in the organizational context in which the MBTI is characteristically utilized. Might the 'introverted intuitive' argue that the MBTI has thrown the baby out with the bathwater? Is the Enneagram in for a similar 'dumbing-down' at the hands of science, with its empiricist bias?

In contrast to emphasizing 'consistency and uniformity in typing', could one envision someone arguing that the most important effect the enneagram (or any system of typology) has is in heightening our capacity for self understanding and for empathy with individuals of a different persuasion? From this perspective, the important thing may be the struggle that we actually go through in attempting to perceive things from radically different perspectives, for it is this struggle that builds our 'empathic muscles'. Let me try to make an analogy - Jung somewhere said that each time a therapist took on a new client, she (the therapist) was better off dropping theoretical assumptions and building a totally new theory around the individual, in his/her uniqueness. From this perspective, would it really matter if every individual that uses the enneagram arrived at an understanding of it that was peculiar and unique to that individual?

Does it really matter if individuals see radically different things in the enneagram, and use it for different applications? Sometimes novels and/or poetry or other forms of art are judged by the degree to which they continue to generate new interpretations and insights. Why not ask for as much in a theory of personality? Perhaps personality theory (and maybe even psychology) is, in the final analysis, actually more akin to 'art' than 'science'. Ancient wisdom is often cast in ambiguous terms that defy easy analysis, and resist consistent and uniform explanation, forcing us to go deeper and deeper - this is part of the charm, the beauty, the wisdom of such systems. Why settle for the linear and easily understood where one can have such richness and dimensionality, complexity and depth?

Current Law Students / on the "professionalism" of these tests
« on: February 22, 2006, 03:23:19 PM »
Great article. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is actually really well-founded and is a useful tool.

What's your type?

Vivian, INFJ  :-*

The Pitfalls of Professionalism

A certain amount of specialization is necessary to handle any large task, or any large body of knowledge. But the barriers we set up between specialties tend to become overdeveloped. The professions acquire an inertial mass that deadens everything they touch. We confront a proliferation of disciplines and -ologies, most of which function primarily to protect their own professional turf. We fragment learning at the expense of the richness and flexibility that should be inherent in a living body of knowledge.

It is difficult, in the present climate in this country, to come out against professionalism in any field. The prevailing culture in our organizations and institutions is strongly biased toward a deeply embedded 'rational/empirical' approach that favors professionalism. We glorify science and technology, opt for increased role specialization in all fields of human inquiry and put our faith (more or less blindly) in credential-granting institutions and hierarchies. We increasingly believe that if we are to be taken seriously we must acquire (a proliferating array of) 'professional' credentials, and pursue status in 'the professions', often at the cost of neglecting the pursuit of 'truth'.

In every field of human endeavor we seem to see increasing professionalism - even in those fields where this development is particularly suspect. For example, we expect our elected officials to be 'professional' politicians, in contrast to valuing increased democratic participation of the citizenry at large, despite the fact that this often puts us at the mercy of 'experts' and despots. Last night I heard a TV commentator suggest that in our justice system juries should be replaced by judges, as judges are 'professionals' who would better 'understand' the 'scientific evidence'. This is truly dangerous stuff.

Because there is such a strong bias in favor of professionalism, because it is so obviously and indisputably good in our society, we may feel hard-pressed to conceive of its alternative. What might we suggest in lieu of 'professionals'? Surely not 'amateurs', a word that evokes a peculiar and unacceptable image of science as a 'pastime', and the scientist as dilettante.

Contrasting professionalism with 'amateurism' merely stacks the deck in favor of the 'professional', as far as I am concerned. It is my contention that what we should be comparing the 'professional' scientist to is not the amateur, but the real scientist! And, as a matter of fact, this is basically what Thomas Kuhn did do, quite some time ago, in his seminal work in the field of philosophy of science -- he distinguished between 'normal' science and 'revolutionary' science. Let me briefly explain this distinction. Part of what it is to be a 'professional' is to 'profess, declare, or avow an opinion, belief or practice'. It involves a 'declaration of belief in and obedience to' a particular paradigm and its associated matrix of theories and practices. And declarations of belief in prevailing paradigms and obedience to the specific rules established within such paradigms can be anathema to the search for truth.

The normal scientist (who might also be called the 'professional scientist') works within a given paradigm, according to the rules of that paradigm - whereas the revolutionary scientist struggles to work with competing paradigms (and hence often with ambiguity and paradox), facilitating shifts from one paradigm to another. The revolutionary scientist, in order to do her job, must be able to step out of the current paradigm - no easy task. Because it is so very difficult for someone who is immersed in a paradigm to transcend it, as Kuhn and many others who have followed him have pointed out, revolutionary scientists are usually outsiders. They are not the 'normal' scientists, who have established themselves so deeply in the prevailing paradigm that they have difficulty identifying and challenging the tacit assumptions associated with that framework. The outsider, precisely because she is not wed to the prevailing paradigm, is not limited to 'professing' the theories that that paradigm judges to be 'valid' and 'relevant'.

Theories are paradigm-specific entities; theories relevant in one paradigm are irrelevant in another. For instance - what appeared 'relevant' to Einstein were treated as 'anomalous' facts, totally irrelevant, to propents of the prevailing paradigm of the day. When one announces that there is only one set of 'relevant' theories which everyone should learn, he is tacitly coming down on the side of the 'normal' scientist, who (by definition) is more concerned about 'professing' the views of a particular paradigm than facilitating shifts in paradigm (ie, 'scientific discovery'). The 'revolutionary' scientist, who is almost always a paradigm outlaw, is more likely to balk at the word 'relevant' employed in this way, as this very word is often used in the attempt to discredit his or her best work. [To see how this happens you have only to look at recent biographies of the pioneers in 'chaos science' - many of whom had trouble in acquiring credentials in their 'professions', as a result of their pursuit of what was seen as 'irrelevant' interests by 'the professionals', even while they were making their most significant scientific discoveries!]

The difference between amateur and professional is that professionals are taught to be highly self-critical. The hallmark of a real scientist is to doubt one's own most cherished ideas and theories. It is mainly the revolutionary scientist, the outsider, who characteristically demonstrates this capacity for self-criticism. The 'normal' scientist, our 'professional', characteristically does not. For the epitome of self-criticism is the capacity to shift paradigms, to uncover deeply rooted paradigmatic assumptions, to question the 'relevancy' of seemingly relevant facts, and notice the significance of seemingly 'irrelevant' facts. And this capacity is the hallmark not of the normal scientist, but of the revolutionary scientist.

It may be the case that all scientists, whether 'normal' or 'revolutionary' types, are critical (for, after all, they are mainly 'thinking' types - predominantly 'NTs'). But most direct their criticism to others (and characteristically put themselves in the position of defending, not criticizing, the 'professions' to which they have gained admittance at great personal expense).

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