Linda Morton


There exists a historic conflict between the more traditional Langdellian philosophy of legal education, and the experiential philosophy of apprenticeship programs, now known as field placement programs. The conflict is most recently apparent in the American Bar Association's (ABA) attempts to impose a more traditional classroom format on field placement programs through its regulations, guidelines, and instructions pertaining to law school accreditation. The ABA argues that law schools need to allocate greater instructional resources toward their field placement programs, particularly programs that provide more than one-half a semester's credit. Such programs should include a classroom component that meets ABA guidelines. Clinical faculty who administer field placement programs argue that such regulations place unnecessary restrictions on their programs, show insensitivity toward program goals of self-learning, and are an ill-disguised attempt to fit field placement programs into the more traditional models of in-house and simulation clinics. Unfortunately, a traditional Langdellian classroom component is philosophically inconsistent with self-learning and pragmatic program goals. This article proposes a feminist model for field placement classes that helps resolve the conflict between clinic faculty and the ABA and, more important, enhances the objective of students' self-learning. The model works because of the complementary relationship between the field placement goal of self-learning and certain principles of feminist pedagogy. Self-learning means learning how to learn from experience, or taking responsibility for one's own learning. Through self-learning, students develop moral awareness of role identity as well as proficiency in the context of law practice. To reinforce self-learning during a field placement, students need a forum in which they can continually examine and critique their goals, methods, and lawyer identities." Feminist pedagogy emphasizes contextual reasoning, collaboration, and perpetual questioning; it provides an ideal environment for student interns to engage in the self-learning process. Feminist teaching methodology creates a student-facilitated, non-hierarchical atmosphere in which students learn about the practice of law by sharing their own experiences in the field and listening to those of others. Most of the feminist literature pertaining to law school pedagogy discusses its theoretical basis, or its specific use in Women and the Law or other non-clinical classes." A recent article by Professor Phyllis Goldfarb begins a valuable application of the feminist model to law school clinics by describing the similarities of clinical education and feminist jurisprudence on a theoretical level. Goldfarb rejects the artificiality of the theory/practice dichotomy, proposing instead that theory and practice interact as a spiral. On a less abstract level,"' this article will demonstrate the complementary relationship between field placement goals and feminist pedagogy through a personal account of my use of a feminist teaching approach in my field placement class.

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