Legal Education in Search of a New Meritocracy and Values for Admissions, Grading, and Pedagogy: A Personal Reflection on the Importance of the Temple Graduate Fellow Program
Paul J. Zwier, Professor of Law, Emory University
Throughout its history, including through its placement of Graduate Fellows into the ranks of higher education professors, and even in its closing conference, the Temple Law School Graduate Fellow Program has played a provocative role in leading US legal higher education into an examination of its core values. In this essay I want to reflect on how the program centered me on a career of teaching and scholarship that explored the relationship of merit, skills and values. I was taught, or, perhaps better, caught, during my time at Temple and continue to explore in what follows from the program’s mission that my particular role in legal education is to disrupt hierarchies through how legal educators decide questions of merit in three contexts. First, how should law schools decide who gets admitted? Second, how should I, as a professor, judge the performance of my students once they are admitted? Third, how will I teach values: the value of fealty to the rule of law, and at the same time the need for lawyers to argue for its change? Moreover, of key importance, how will I, as a legal educator, help contribute not only to the quality of the skills possessed by lawyers when they enter the practice of law, but also to their character, having formed attitudes that put service of client and institution above self?