Law Day and its purposes are welcome companions to the aspirations of legal education. Law schools have a special role in advancing the rule of law in our society; they educate the next generation of lawyers.
At the University of Chicago Law School, our teaching of law includes an unabashed enthusiasm for the life of the mind — the conviction that ideas matter and that a single viewpoint or style of thought should not be imposed. Instead, we seek to expose law students to contrasting views on important questions of law.
In this endeavor, we are guided by our university’s commitment to freedom of expression and our values of diversity and inclusion. We believe ideas and ultimately laws are made better by discussing and debating them, and students and faculty should be free to ask any question. Discussions about ideas and laws are more meaningful when they include a wide range of viewpoints and experiences, especially when all feel empowered to participate fully in them.
We seek to model and impart the value of competing ideas through teaching in our classrooms and clinics. In recent years, we have promoted these values and skills in new ways. At orientation, first-year students participate in a workshop called “Hearing One Another,” which introduces practical approaches to develop effective communication and listening skills. Throughout the year, our Nussbaum Student Roundtables bring together faculty and students with differing viewpoints for civil and vigorous debates on pressing legal controversies. Our Kapnick Leadership Initiative introduces students to relationship-building, conflict management, interpersonal communication and team problem-solving.
Robust conversations about common challenges and respect for each other, even when we disagree, make for a transformative legal education — and as today’s students become tomorrow’s lawyers, such conversations advance the rule of law.