Skills Is Not a Dirty Word

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Missouri Law Review


Today, legal education continues to resist the practical and is becoming increasingly more academic,' focusing more on theoretical analysis than on the process by which a legal result is actually accomplished. By way of illustration, when confronted with a problem of learning how to ride a bicycle, academics start by studying the principles necessary to master bicycling. They visit the library and check out numerous books about bicycles, wind velocity, balancing, and equipment in an effort to learn how to ride a bike. Conversely, many excellent bicyclists simply climbed aboard a bicycle, and with their fathers running and pushing the bicycle eventually, without any understanding of the principles involved, mastered the ability to ride a bike. Complex thinking and analysis can get in the way of performance. Life rewards action; understanding is the "booby prize." The process of doing is a valuable learning experience. When that process is combined with theoretical understanding, the learning experience is enhanced. The aim of this Article is to examine the place of skills in the law school curriculum and to urge that "skills" need not be considered a "dirty word." Rather, "skills" should be integrated with the currently used socratic methodology and analytical doctrine for the betterment of legal education as a whole.

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Publication Date

Winter 1994