Title

Writing the Law: Developing the 'Citizen Lawyer' Identity through Legislative, Statutory, and Rule Drafting Courses

Document Type

Article

Abstract

At the time of the American Founding, Thomas Jefferson, among others, viewed lawyers as the class of citizens most suited to lead the American institutions of government, as well as preserve and protect them. Jefferson valued the ideal of the "Citizen Lawyer" who would have a broad liberal education, experiential learning, and be capable of using knowledge of the law to promote the public good.

In more recent years, American law schools have been criticized for failing to achieve many of these goals first envisioned by Jefferson. Particularly, law schools have often failed to promote strong public service identities in students, failed to provide students with extensive experiential learning, and neglected to provide courses in public policy, legislation, and lawmaking.

Today, our nation is once again in need of strong lawyers who can work for the public good, to protect our system of government, preserve the rule of law, and promote the positive reformation of law when needed. Through the teaching of more robust legislative and policy courses that include experiential learning components and consider issues of social justice and public policy, law schools can support the needs of law students and society. Such courses can help law students develop their "Citizen Lawyer" identity, and our society will be better off for having more lawyers who take their role of public service as a professional duty.

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