Review: Disappearing Act

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By Tonya Kowalski from Washburn University School of Law

Beverly I. Moran, Disappearing Act: The Lack of Values Training in Legal Education – A Case for Cultural Competency, __ Southern University Law Review __ (2011) [Read fulltext at SSRN]

Professor Beverly Moran of Vanderbilt Law School has written widely on the many intersections between tax, race, and social justice. As many law schools across the nation engage in post-MacCrate curricular reform, her call to train students in cultural competency skills strikes a timely chord. Professor Moran reinforces the mandate in MacCrate and Educating Lawyers to inculcate values such as social justice, pro bono, law reform, and effective client communication. She then explains why cultural competence training plays a key role in achieving those ends. She also observes that the most recent educational initiative, the Legal Education Analysis and Reform Network (LEARN), fails-at least so far-to sufficiently consider those core skills in its models. Carefully probing the possible reasons for these omissions, Professor Moran offers persuasive reasons for maintaining a commitment to those values, as well as several very concrete ideas for incorporating culturally literate values and training into that project.

Further reading and action:

  • Charles R. Calleros, In the Spirit of Regina Austin’s Contextual Analysis: Exploring Racial Context in Legal Method, Writing Assignments and Scholarship, 34John Marshall Law Review 281 (2000)
  • Nelson P. Miller and Tracey Brame, Equality as Talisman: Getting Beyond Bias to Cultural Competence as a Professional Skill, 25Thomas M. Cooley Law Review99 (2008)
  • Margaret Montoya and Christine Zuni Cruz, Narrative Braids: Performing Racial Literacy, 33American Indian Law Review 153 (2009)
  • Aliza Organick, Tribal Law and Best Practices in Legal Education: Creating a New Path for the Study of Tribal Law, 19Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy 63 (2009).
  • Antoinette Sedillo López, Making and Breaking Habits: Teaching (and Learning) Cultural Context, Self-Awareness, and Intercultural Communication Through Case Supervision in a Client-Service Legal Clinic, 28Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 37 (2008)
  • Legal Writing Institute Diversity Initiatives Committee,
Institute for Law Teaching and Learning