Disrupting Doctrine at Penn Law

This post continues our series featuring efforts to organize LPE student groups at several law schools. You can read the rest of the posts here.

Domenic Powell —

Screen Shot 2019-10-28 at 2.34.10 PMWhy do people who believe in a more just, egalitarian society go to law school? Some of us hope to learn how the law can be used to disrupt the status quo. At the very least, we hope to get the training that will let us “uphold the law” which, in theory, protects the marginalized.

Unfortunately, for students like us, those first weeks in law school can be deeply alienating and disappointing. We learn to “think like a lawyer” in a classroom shaped by decades—if not centuries—of doctrine favoring the rich and powerful. Very quickly, students are introduced to Law and Economics, which is presented not as a jurisprudential fashion or ideology, but as the inevitable, rational, scientific answer to what law must be in a modern society. In classrooms where “efficiency” is elevated over fairness, how could students committed to a democratic society not feel out of place? Students who believed that law might be a tool for achieving social change quickly learn that the law itself stands in the way of a more just future.

Instead of becoming disillusioned with the law, several students at Penn Law chose to join a movement to question the dogmas presented to us. We started Law Students for a Democratic Societywhat we’ve named our campus LPE groupto cultivate humanistic, politically conscious, radical lawyering at Penn Law.

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