Training Lawyers Across Borders: How Film & Documentaries Promote Law, Morals & Professional Responsibility

I have been teaching International Law Students at Yale University for 20 years. I teach a basic Introduction to the U.S. Legal System course that meets for at least 20 hours per week for six weeks. For approximately the last 8 years, I have also taught a course title: Law, Morals & Professional Responsibility: Media Reflections of the Legal Profession – Myths & Reality (hereinafter Media Reflections). It meets for 2 & 1/2 hours each week over the 6-week period. The international law students (by the way, approximately half of them are practicing lawyers, judges and academics) are wildly enthusiastic about the course. The Media Reflections course enables students to examine in an interdisciplinary and comparative way (sometimes for the very first time in their careers) what it “means” to be a lawyer. In this course, students have a special opportunity to explore the complexities of: legal education, the profession, the criminal justice system, the challenges of daily practice, the lawyer discipline system and other regulatory regimes, and the courts. The non-traditional nature of the course has a special way of connecting students to their thoughts and aspirations about the legal profession and justice. Students inevitably students draw comparisons between the U.S. Legal System and its legal profession with their own. As a result, they gain a better understanding of both systems and professions and come to appreciate how global the practice of law is today. I propose to briefly describe the benefits and possible risks inherent in teaching such a course in a 15-minute individual presentation. On the other hand, I can certainly speak longer on the topic if the Planning Committee so desired. During my presentation, I plan to share some of my pedagogical approaches (e.g., guest speakers, small group exercises) in teaching Media Reflections and to note some recent additions (and deletions) to the course’s film list. I will also very briefly discuss my use of the Media Reflections’ textbook, Professor Anthony Kronman’s The Lost Lawyer. I have attached below a more complete description of the Media Reflections Course as well as some additional comments.These should provide the Planning Committee with additional information about the course.