DEAN GERSHON RESPONDS

April 17, 2012 § 5 Comments

I posted here about the disappearance of Evidence from the subjects required to graduate from law school, and sent an email to law school deans at Ole Miss and MC, inviting any reply. 

Dean Richard Gershon of the Ole Miss School of Law sent this …

 Judge,

Thank you for your email, and your blog post. I will share it with our faculty.

One thing you should know is that 90% of the law students at the University of Mississippi School of Law take Evidence, even though it is not required. Also, we are adding a required skills curriculum starting with our 2012 entering class. This program will be taught by lawyers and judges. It will take place the first two weeks of spring semester all three years. The first year they will take contract drafting and negotiation. The second and third year, they will choose from a selection of courses, many of which will have elements of trail tactics and evidence.

The truth is, I didn’t learn evidence in evidence class in law school. I learned it in trial advocacy class. That is where it made sense, because I was applying it.

All best wishes,

Richard

I. Richard Gershon,  Dean and Professor of Law,  University of Mississippi School of Law

If I receive a response from Dean Rosenblatt of MCLaw, I will publish it.

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§ 5 Responses to DEAN GERSHON RESPONDS

  • […] I posted here on April 12, 2012, about what, to me, was the startling discovery that Evidence is no longer a required course at either MCLaw or Ole Miss Law. The post prompted quite a response. Ole Miss Dean Richard Gershon submitted a brief reply here. […]

  • Jon says:

    Isn’t evidence to law what the english language is to . . . whoops – I forgot! We’re not allowed to say that english is the official language in the US anymore.

    In evaluating every case, the better lawyers all analyze what admissible evidence they have to present in court. Evidence is a must-take in law school – no ifs, ands or buts about it!

    What chaos will ensue when lawyers start trying cases without having a clue what evidence is admissible and inadmissible? That’s as bad as lawyers not reading, not understanding and improperly utilizing Rule 4 process to Rule 81 matters.

    90% doesn’t cut it for me.

  • Larry says:

    I don’t think that Dean Gershon intended his response to be an in-depth analysis of the issue.

    His response does raise a hopeful point about the practicum courses that will be required in all three years. That’s a positive development, from my experiential perspective.

    Also, he said he would pass the link on to faculty members. That hints to me that the curriculum is not set in stone, but that there is some dialogue continuing. I hope so, because I stand by the proposition that the law of evidence has a rightful, if not crucial, place among the required courses to graduate.

    One thing we must not lose sight of is that the legal profession enjoys a state-protected monopoly. In order to retain that status, the profession needs to ensure at every level that its practitioners are what we hold them out to be: learned, ethical, competent and professional. We hold out to the public that law school graduates are learned and competent, and that they have been trained to be, and hopefully will prove to be, ethical and professional.

    To me, a JD behind your name is a proclamation to the public that you have been thoroughly trained and have proven your proficiency in the core knowledge and skills that you will need as a lawyer, provided you pass your bar exam.

  • Stewart Parrish says:

    Really??! That’s the best he can do? Answer the question! Wonder how many jury trial he has had? Bet it ain’t many if any!

  • Anderson says:

    That’s an unfortunately weak response.

    (1) Most students take Evidence anyway. Great, but presumably they would take Civ Pro anyway – it’s required, right? If the idea is to require only those classes that students might skip (Con Law?), then is the school doing so consistently?

    (2) A “skills curriculum” will teach legal practice. Great, but “many” will have “elements” of Evidence. Not the same thing as a required course.

    (3) Evidence is better learned in a trial-advocacy setting. Great, but that’s irrelevant to the question of whether to *require* Evidence. It may indicate a better way to *teach* Evidence – maybe Evidence should be taught in a mock-trial fashion, at least in part. In practice, I think in-trial settings are only part of the story – much of evidentiary practice is done in motions in limine and motions to strike, and that can be handled like any research assignment. It’s not all knowing about when to pop up and say “I object!”

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