Chapter 14: Teaching an interdisciplinary law class
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From its inception, the New Legal Realism (NLR) has included a focus on law teaching right alongside its concern with bringing law and social science together in scholarship and in law reform. In all three of these emphases, NLR follows in footsteps laid down by the original U.S. legal realists. In particular, legal realists like Jerome Frank advocated for clinical education as a way of bringing legal education closer to issues of law in action, law in the real world. While this effort was partially successful, the growth of clinical education since that time has generally proceeded in parallel to standard doctrinal teaching, with clinical faculty occupying a separate track from the law faculty who have traditionally occupied the tenure-track jobs, while largely publishing on and teaching doctrinal law. This unfortunate bifurcation replicated the divide between law-in-books and law-in-action described by original realists. This chapter describes a collaborative teaching effort that combined clinical, legal doctrinal, and social science training as an effort to overcome that divide in and through law teaching. Like other NLR scholars, Mansfield and Mertz suggest that teaching can itself be a practice that contributes to important new interdisciplinary knowledge.

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