78 Neb. L. Rev. 113 (1999)
The Decline of the Socratic Method at Harvard

handle is hein.journals/nebklr78 and id is 123 raw text is: Orin S. Kerr*

The Decline of the Socratic Method
at Harvard
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I.  Introduction  ..........................................  113
II. The Debate Over the Socratic Method .................      116
A. The Socratic Method at Its Best ...................     116
B. The Socratic Method at Its Worst ..................     118
III. First Year Law Teaching at Harvard Today ...........       122
A.  Traditionalists  ....................................  122
B. Quasi-Traditionalists ..............................    123
C. Counter-Traditionalists ............................    124
IV. Explaining Differing Approaches to the Socratic
Method: Why Professors Teach the Way They Do ......        126
A.  Traditionalists  ....................................  126
B. Quasi-Traditionalists ..............................    128
C. Counter-Traditionalists ............................    129
V. Rethinking the Decline of the Socratic Method .........     131
I. INTRODUCTION
The Socratic method has long been considered a defining element
of American legal education. Among both lawyers and laypersons, So-
cratic questioning is perceived as a rite of passage that all law stu-
dents endure in their first year of law school.1 Fictional characters
© Copyright held by the NEBRASKA LAW REVIw.
* Honor Program Attorney, Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section,
United States Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. B.S.E., Princeton Uni-
versity, 1993; M.S., Stanford University, 1994; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1997.
I would like to thank Professor Daniel Coquillette for his generous support
and enthusiasm, and the twelve Harvard Law School professors who graciously
agreed to be interviewed for their time and patience. The views expressed in this
article in no way reflect the position of the Department of Justice. This article is
dedicated to the memory of Benedict I. Lubell, Kent Scholar, Columbia Univer-
sity Law School Class of 1932.
1. See Scorr Tuow, ONE L 294 (1977) (For nearly a century now, American law-
yers have been bound together by the knowledge that they have all survived a
similar initiation; it is something of a grand tradition.); John Yeimma, Lawyers'
Adversarial Schooling Undergoes Cross-Examination, BosToN GLOBE, May 3,

What Is HeinOnline?

With comprehensive coverage of government documents and more than 2,400 journals from inception on hundreds of subjects such as political science, criminal justice, and human rights, HeinOnline is an affordable option for colleges and universities. Documents have the authority of print combined with the accessibility of a user-friendly and powerful database.



Short-term subscription options include 24 hours, 48 hours, or 1 week to HeinOnline with pricing starting as low as $29.95

Already a HeinOnline Subscriber?