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美国法律教育简析(P. Gewirtz and J. Pres…  

2010-06-02 16:47:00|  分类: 无法归类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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美国法律教育简析
本文来源于《中国改革》 2010年第6期 出版日期2010年06月01日财新传媒杂志订阅http://service.caing.com/magshop/

葛维宝  蒲杰夫

美国民众普遍认为,政府高官多应是名牌法学院的毕业生。现任美国总统奥巴马、副总统拜登和国务卿希拉里均拥有法律学位。奥巴马内阁里40%的成员都拥有法律教育背景。事实上,在历任的44届美国总统中,25位都是法律人。美国公司首席执行官中相当一部分也是律师出身,而许多社会组织的创立者或领导者同样也接受过法律教育或训练。在美国,大学法学院的教育目的不仅仅是培养毕业生具备法律执业或是传道授业的能力,更重要是让他们具有在政府、商业、外交以及所有能对公共政策和社会具有影响力的机构中的领导能力。

随着法律和律师在中国经济和社会的发展中发挥越来越重要的作用,对中国法律教育和法律院校的日益关注自是意料之中。显然,在目前中国为培养新一代的法律专业人才而进行的法律教育制度改革的过程中,广泛的争论,大胆的尝试和创新的思维是必不可少的。也许我们从美国法律教育改革经验中得出的一些想法,可供中国参考借鉴。

法律教育为何重要

美国的法律制度远非完美,但在我们眼里,法律对于促进国家经济繁荣、维持社会稳定、保障公民自由权利以及构建一个更为公平公正的社会发挥着关键作用。法律院校的重要性源于法律和法律制度的重要性。美国的法律教育是国家未来的练兵场。

法律教育应当让人们为毕业后的角色做好准备。这种观念看似简单,实际上是对法律教育者的巨大挑战。法律教育者相信,现行的许多甚至是大部分的法律规则在他们学生的职业生涯中将会被更改,而法律的新领域亦将不断拓展。举个例子,20年前的美国,谁能想象到日后有针对虚拟网络空间的法律,约束当时仍属未知的复杂金融工具的法律,或是规范医疗实践中的生物伦理的法律?同样,在中国,现行的法律与20年或30年前的法律也是大相径庭,并且中国法律仍将继续快速变化发展。因此,最优秀的律师手中的案件往往涉及复杂纠结的法律问题,没有明确的答案,难觅制胜策略,并且具有高风险。这些律师是战斗在法律发展和法律实践的前沿。他们需要成为“问题的解决者”,而所谓的“问题”是由错综复杂的群体、机构以及不断演变的法律规则组成。

因此,美国最好的法学院的培养目标,是要学生具备能力应付未来的不确定性。例如,哈佛大学法学院院长曾说过,“哈佛法学院是喜爱思考的人的乐土,而这些思考能改变世界……这里的人被制度和规则的力量所吸引,同时深知政策改革往往带来难以预料的后果;他们致力于用法律服务社会。”

在耶鲁法学院,我们不局限于培养最优秀的执业律师。借用学校网站的描述,我们同样致力于“培养方方面面的领导人才:国内外法学院校的优秀院长和教研人员,各行业的商业领袖和公司法律顾问,非政府组织和其他非盈利性实体的创办人,企业家,联邦、州及地方政府官员以及法官队伍。”

如何有效开展法律教育

美国的经验是,最好的法律教育是训练学生用律师的方式思考。这就意味着,一个好的法律教育计划应培养学生有效解决法律问题的能力,过往的经验也证明了这一点。这些能力包括:第一,批判性的思考;第二,不仅仅思考法律是什么,更应思考法律应该是什么;第三,以逻辑性的论证说服他人。

首先,优秀的法学院校是帮助学生养成批判性思维。批判性思维意味着对所有事物提出疑问——事实、法律规则、基本前提、隐含的假设、逻辑步骤,什么是不可避免的和什么是可以达到的,什么是最好的结果,别人的想法是否正确,自己的假设是否正确。最好的法律教育会激发学生提出探索性的问题,因为这就是律师所做一切工作的核心。最好的法律教育,不仅是给学生提供确切的答案,更要教导学生如何提出有意义的问题。

其次,最好的法律教育期望学生的职业生涯不应囿于日常性事务。应使学生积极讨论思考他们认为法律应该是怎样的,以及理解法律现在是怎么样的。法律学子需要牢记法律的目的和作用,而不仅仅是法律的形式;还应具备时常反思的能力,思考某些法律的目的是否正确,以及这些目的是否实现。

同样重要的是,优秀的法学院校应当让人探究如何才能实现“公平”和“法治,”因为这些是一个良好法律制度的终极目标。每当人们为新的法律争议寻求解决之道的时候,这些都应是考量的因素,也正是法律改革的动力所在。当然,“公平”或是“法治”的含义复杂并富有争议,但对这些问题的讨论和争辩应是法律教育的一部分。法律教育者应当鼓励学生运用其专业技能为社会进步作出贡献。如果连法律工作者都不以建立法治社会和促进公平正义为己任,试问谁会承担这样的责任?由于律师深受复杂的现实世界的羁绊,面临种种诱惑,成功的法律教育所培养的学生会作出符合伦理道德的行为,思考其间复杂的伦理和道德问题(美国的法律教育是研究生教育,在开始为期三年的法学院教育之前,学生已经完成了其他专业的四年本科学习并取得学位,许多人已有若干年工作经验。因此,接受法律教育的学生具有多元的阅历、价值观和教育经验)。

“用律师的方式思考”的第三个方面,是要认识到别人未必与自己的观点一致。要成为一名成功的律师,必须学会如何通过合理的分析论证说服别人。最好的法律教育培养学生有说服力的推理能力。法律是一种充满争论的文化,在观点的往来交锋之中,律师始终致力于理性的说服别人。要有说服力,必须先了解他人的立场,以便能让自己的说理围绕对方利益攸关立论,而非以自己关切出发。

法学院校是如何塑造这些重要的智力才能的呢?它是来源于课堂教育和学生个人的学习。由于法律教育的核心是培养思考和分析的能力,因此,在阅读、口头语言表达和写作上下苦功夫是培养上述能力的理想途径。最好的法律课堂是积极的对话和讨论,而非知识灌输。在法学课堂中,学生的批判性思考的能力得到锻炼并通过教师的有意识塑造得以成型。学生的个人学习也应是主动而非被动的——应该不断质疑他们阅读的内容,而非单纯的记忆。

美国和其他地方的法学院校已意识到在法律培养过程中为学生提供实践机会的重大价值——让学生有机会接触真实的案件、真实的客户和诉讼事例。这通常是通过所谓法律诊所实现。这些法律诊所是美国大部分法学院的核心部分,它们将学生置于真实的法律生活当中——不仅是观察者,还在学习中实践。诊所式的法律教育有助于建立律师回馈社会的观念,因为诊所的客户通常是无法承担法律服务费用的弱势群体。在美国大部分法学院学生认为诊所式的教育是学习生涯中极有价值的部分,也是对课堂教育的有益补充。

良好的法律教育也包括对研究的重视。法律教学中的学术动力,往往体现在深入思考和批判探索中,即寻求完善法律的方法,而非仅仅对法律进行总结概括。最优秀的法律学者和教师能结合理论和实际。他们将如何完善法律的理想主义与可操作的现实主义结合起来。他们的法学知识常常与其他学科相互渗透,如经济学和政治学。在美国我们有时会听到一些抱怨——估计这些在中国也能有所听闻——即法律学者提出的建议常常是完全缺乏实用性的。但是,法律实施者,包括政府官员,往往过于务实。他们过于关注日常性的事务,以至于没有对如何完善公平制度给予足够思考。

法律教育是重要的也是困难的。之所以重要,是因为法律本身是如此重要并且渗透于公共政策和人类生活的方方面面。之所以困难,是因为解决法律争议并建立良好的法律制度困难重重。对那些从事并努力完善法律教育的人们而言,这些挑战也是巨大的机遇。美国法律教育的目标是巩固社会和构筑国家未来。正因如此,一个强大的法律制度和法治社会也堪称美国的核心国力之一。法律教育是培养未来不同行业与领域内的领导者。他们中只有少数会成为美国总统、内阁部长、首席执行官或是社会组织的领导者,但是他们都应当有能力为社会作出贡献。

葛维宝(Paul Gewirtz)为耶鲁大学法学院教授、耶鲁大学中国法律中心主任
蒲杰夫(Jeffrey Prescott)为耶鲁大学中国法律中心副主任

http://english.caing.com/englishNews.jsp?id=100149077&time=2010-06-01&cl=111&page=all
Point of Order –Why Legal Education Matters
By Paul Gewirtz and Jeffrey Prescott

As law and lawyers are playing a bigger and bigger role in China's development and society, it is not surprising that new attention is being given to legal education and to law schools in China. Clearly a wide-ranging debate, bold experimentation, and new thinking will be necessary as China retools its legal education system to help train the next generation of legal professionals. Perhaps some ideas from the American experience may be worth reflection.

Americans know and expect that many senior government officials will be graduates of leading U.S. law schools. President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Secretary of State Clinton all have law degrees. When President Obama meets with his full "Cabinet" – the heads of all the major U.S. government departments – 40 percent of those in the room have a legal education. Indeed, 25 of our 44 American Presidents were legal professionals. A significant percentage of U.S. corporate CEOs are former lawyers, and many social organizations were founded or are directed by someone with legal training. Law schools in the United States prepare their graduates not only to practice law and teach law, but also to play leading roles in government, in business, in foreign affairs, and in the full range of institutions that influence policy and society.


Why is legal education so important in the U.S.? Our legal institutions are far from perfect, but we see law as central to advancing our economic prosperity, maintaining our social stability, securing our liberties, and building a more just society. Law schools are important because law and legal institutions are important. Legal education in the United States, then, is the training ground for America's future.


Legal education should prepare people for the roles they will play after law school. This apparently simple idea actually creates a daunting challenge for legal educators, and not simply because lawyers play many different roles. Law teachers can be certain that many – perhaps most – of the current legal rules will change during their students' careers. New areas of law are sure to develop. For example, in the United States 20 years ago, who could imagine that there would be laws of cyberspace, laws regulating then-unknown complex financial instruments, or laws of bio-ethics in medical practice? Similarly, in China, the law today is very different from what it was 20 or 30 years ago – and we can confidently predict that the law will continue to change rapidly in China. Thus, the best lawyers usually work on matters where the legal issues are complicated, the answers aren't clear, the strategies for prevailing aren't obvious, and the stakes are high – they work on the frontiers of legal development and legal practice. They need to be "problem solvers" where the relevant factors in the "problem" are not numbers but complex people and institutions and evolving legal rules.


Our experience in the United States is that the best legal education trains students to "think like a lawyer." What does this mean? It means that a good program of legal education should give students skills that, experience shows, will enable them to address legal problems effectively: (1) to think critically; (2) to think not just about what the law is, but what it should be; and (3) to use reasoned argument as a method of persuading others.

First, good law schools help students develop the habit of critical thinking. Critical thinking means asking questions about everything – the facts, the legal rules, basic premises, hidden assumptions, logical steps, what seems inevitable and what is possible to accomplish, what is the best result, whether other people's ideas are right, whether one's own assumptions are right. The best legal education challenges students to ask probing questions because this is essential to almost everything lawyers do. The best legal education is as much about teaching students how to ask good questions as it is about providing specific answers.

Second, since the best legal education anticipates that the students' careers will not involve just routine matters, legal education should engage students in discussing what they think the law should be, as well as understanding what the law is now. Law students need to keep the functional purposes of law in mind, not just its formalities, and should develop the tools to question whether the purposes of particular laws are the right ones and whether the law's purposes are actually being realized.

Just as importantly, good law schools should address questions of what "justice" and "the rule of law" require, since these are the ultimate goals of a good legal system. They should be part of the analysis whenever novel legal issues are presented for resolution, and a motivating force in legal reforms. Of course, the meaning of "justice" or "the rule of law" can be complicated and debatable. But discussing and debating these ideas should be part of legal education. Indeed, legal educators should encourage law students to use their professional skills to contribute to the good of society. If legal professionals do not feel a responsibility to contribute to the rule of law and to promote justice, who will? And since lawyers are deeply enmeshed in the complex real world and are not immune to its temptations, particularly when the stakes are high, the best legal education should prepare students to act ethically, and think about difficult ethical and moral challenges. (In the U.S., this task is easier because law is a graduate education program: law students have already completed a four-year undergraduate degree in some other field before starting a three-year law school program. Many students have worked for several years before entering law school. So students come to legal education with a diverse set of background values and educational experiences.)

A third aspect of "thinking like a lawyer" is to recognize that not everyone starts out sharing one's own point of view. To be effective as a lawyer means learning how to persuade other people with reasoned argument and analysis. The best legal education trains students to reason persuasively. Law is a culture of argument, in which lawyers are constantly engaged in a reasoned, back and forth effort to persuade others. To be persuasive typically requires an understanding of where other people are coming from so that one can shape one's arguments to their concerns, not only one's own.

How do law schools build these important intellectual skills? It starts with the classroom and private study. Since the core of legal education is training in ways of thinking and analysis, hard work in reading, speaking, and writing are ideal ways to develop those skills. The best legal classrooms have active discussion and dialogue, not just lecturing. The law school classroom is the place where the skills of critical thinking can be practiced by the students and also modeled by their teachers. Students' private study should also be active rather than passive – constantly interrogating what they read rather than just memorizing it – and students should see dialogue with their peers as key to the learning process.

Law schools in the United States and elsewhere have also learned that there is great value in providing law students an experiential element in the course of their legal training – an exposure to real cases, real clients, law-in-action. This is typically done by "clinics" [诊所] that are now a central part of every major U.S. law school. These clinics expose students to the real life of the law – not only as observers, but also as practitioners-in-training. Clinical legal education helps introduce the idea that lawyers can make a social contribution, since the clinic's clients are often disadvantaged persons who could not otherwise afford legal services. American law students typically find clinical education an invaluable part of their training and an enjoyable supplement to the classroom.

Good legal education also includes an emphasis on research. The best law teaching reflects the scholarly impulse to think deeply and probe critically, seeking ways to improve the law and not just to summarize it. The best legal scholars – and the best law teachers – combine theory and practice. They combine idealism about how law can be improved with realism about what is possible. Their knowledge of law is often informed by other disciplines, such as economics and political science. We sometimes hear complaints in the U.S., and we are sure they are heard in China too, that legal scholars sometimes make proposals that are not "completely practical." But legal practitioners, including government officials, are often "too practical." They can be so focused on day-to-day practical affairs that they do not think enough about improving the system of justice. Legal scholars are a tremendous resource for a legal system and giving them time and space for free inquiry is very much in society's interest.

Legal education is important and difficult. It is important because law itself is so important and pervades so much of public policy and human affairs. It is difficult because addressing legal issues well and building good legal institutions are difficult. These challenges create tremendous opportunities for those who work in the field of legal education and try to improve it. Legal education in the United States is about strengthening American society and about America's future, for the same reason that a strong legal system and the rule of law have been central to America's strengths. Legal education is about training people who, in many different ways, are future leaders in their society. Only a few will become President of the United States, a Cabinet Secretary, a CEO, or a leader of a social organization, but they all can develop skills that contribute to their society.

Paul Gewirtz is Professor of Law and Director of The China Law Center, Yale University; Jeffrey Prescott is Deputy Director of The China Law Center, Yale University.

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