112 Nw. U. L. Rev. Online 161 (2017-2018)
How Do Lawyers Think Differently from Stem Professionals When Approaching Problems and Risk

handle is hein.journals/nulro112 and id is 161 raw text is: 






Bridges II Special Project: Responses


Bridges II: The Law-STEM Alliance &

      Next Generation Innovation


                                                        Jessica Silbey*


     How  do lawyers think differently from STEM professionals when
                    approaching  problems and risk?
     Although  I hesitate to generalize, historically the training of lawyers
and STEM   professionals aimed to cultivate different kinds of thinking about
the domains   of their expertise, and thus the scope of problems  those
professionals are capable of solving. Lawyers are trained to teach themselves
new  areas of law by reading statutes, regulations, and cases. Because of our
broader understanding of the institutions that adjudicate legal disputes, such
as  arbitrations, mediations, courts, administrative agencies, we   feel
comfortable predicting the application of the law by other lawyers and the
way  a legal dispute will proceed through resolution. We are comfortable as
generalists within the law, to an  extent, and are trained to be  quick,
competent  studies when we  encounter something new. We   also encounter
many   industries, actors, and organizations within a general practice of
business consulting or dispute resolution, and thus have the experience of
wide  and detailed exposure  to these essential elements of society. Yet
whether that experience translates into particularly useful knowledge beyond
law is a contested question among our clients, I think.
     STEM   professionals circumscribe their expertise more narrowly,  I
believe. They are trained within disciplines that respect boundaries and defer
to (or defend)  those boundaries  as meaningfully  separating roles and
functions within, for example, science and engineering. Interdisciplinarity
within science and engineering may be embraced through collaborations by
adding parts to each other brick by brick, but laboratories and experiments
that seek to answer questions or test propositions tend to rely on constrained
and unitary disciplinary methods. Facts or knowledge produced in science
and  engineering may  be perceived as  less constrained by social factors
(although I think that is a misperception), and they are perceived to be more
durable because by definition in science and engineering facts or scientific
knowledge   are reproducible, predictable, and objective. There  is less
inclination for cross-disciplinary knowledge production, I believe, because

   * Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law, co-director of Northeastern University's
Center for Law, Innovation and Creativity (CLIC) and faculty at NuLab for Maps, Texts and Networks.


161


112: 133 (2018)

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