a propósito de la enseñanza del Derecho


Dentro de poco comienza un nuevo año académico y en cada comienzo, cada año, cada semestre (y durante éstos), hago todo lo posible por dedicarle el tiempo suficiente a hacerme y contestarme varias preguntas: ¿porqué enseñamos Derecho? ¿Cómo enseñamos Derecho? ¿Cuáles son nuestras concepciones del Derecho y de la educación jurídica? ¿Cuáles son o deben ser los énfasis? ¿cuáles las metodologías? ¿Qué perseguimos como profesores/como institución/como la única institución pública del país? No es que estas preguntas no se hayan atendido antes, por supuesto que sí. Tampoco es que esten ausentes de nuestro entorno. Pero sí, en estos tiempos, vale la pena regresar una y otra vez a las preguntas y nunca, nunca dejar de hacérnoslas y contestarlas. Las contestaciones no serán las mismas siempre, pero la necesidad de la pregunta es y debe ser de carácter perenne.

Bueno, pues hoy, buscando algo sobre esto, di nuevamente con este artículo del profesor Owen Fiss de Yale Law School.En Yale tienen una línea de educación jurídica que Fiss define según transcribo abajo. Creo que es pertinente tener el tema hiper-consciente, por eso aquí lo dejo, como referencia…

“The subject of study at Yale is law, not political philosophy. Yale adamantly adheres to the view that law is a complicated blend of the academic and the professional, but seeks to forge the identity Rostow so celebrates by emphasizing the academic. Yale’s preeminence stems from the fact that it is an academic law school. In describing Yale as an academic law school, I am not referring to the career patterns of our graduates. An enormously large number of the law teachers in America have come from Yale, and the Law School accepts a special responsibility in preparing people for a teaching career, but the would-be teachers represent a relatively small portion of the student body. The vast bulk of our graduates become practicing lawyers. For them an education in an academic law school consists not of teacher training, but developing a broad and critical perspective on the law—the kind of perspective we often associate with the academic.

The assumption of an academic law school is not one of non-engagement. We assume our student will spend their lives fully engaged in the process of exercising the power that will devolve on them through the law. But we also believe that lawyering takes many forms. Advocacy in behalf of a narrow set of interests—lawyering in the style of Perry Mason—is only one among many concerned with proposing and drafting legislation; some will be government lawyers, prosecuting cases on behalf of the United States or managing the vast prosecutorial agencies of the modern states; some will construct the great private enterprises and associations of the day; some will be engaged in international trade and will be trying to secure World peace; some will staff and lead administrative agencies; some will be so-called “public interest” lawyers. In any of these endeavors a lawyer must be able to manipulate the levels of power, which are often shrouded in technical detail, but he or she must also be able to reflect upon the ends of the legal system and design organizational structures to fulfill those ends. Can it be any wonder then that our curriculum –to take a sampling from this year´s catalogue –includes such courses as Tragic choices, Federal Tax Policy, The Political Philosophy of Hannah Arendt, the Limits of Law as an instrument of social control, Nuclear Arms control, Theories of Contract, Immigration and National Purpose, Public Order of the World Community, Alternatives in Enterprise Organization, Psychoanalytic and Legal Perspectives on Attorney-Client Relations, Toxic Chemicals and Myth, law and History?

 We are not unmindful of the advocacy role, but even here the academic perspective seems essentials to a proper legal education. Advocacy is more than a mere manipulation of a set of technical rules and doctrines on behalf of certain interests.First, it is often necessary for the advocate to define and identify the client’s interest, especially when de client turns out, as is usually the case with the graduates of Yale, to be a large-scale organization or the social group. The lawyer must decide who speaks for the organization or the social group, and how the various conflicts of interests that divide the client are to be resolved.Second, effective advocacy requires an understanding of the purposes of the rules or doctrine the lawyer is seeking to invoke on behalf of his client (or to protect his client from). A lawyer cannot, for example, effectively represent a client in an antitrust case without fully understanding economic theory and the history of the Sherman Act and the politics of the 1890s. Third, the kind of advocacy society allows a lawyer is a limited one.  Some of the limits on what a lawyer can do or say on behalf of a client are imposed by criminal statutes, liability rules, or professional canons; other by personal scruples; and still others by a true understanding of the purpose of the legal system and the role of the lawyer in that system. All of these limits vary from time to time, and from context to context; they cannot be understood without a regard for the teachings of moral philosophy, economics, sociology, history—and probably theology.

The point of Yale, however, is that although training in the skills of advocacy might be necessary, it is not sufficient, and even more, that it should not be the emphasis of a first year procedure course.Education in the art of rulesmanship should be only one part of a larger, more intellectually ambitious course…

-Owen Fiss, The Law According to Yale, in Power and Policy in Quest of Law 417 (Myres S. McDougal and W. Michael Reisman, eds., 1985); El derecho según Yale, La Enseñanza del Derechoel Ejercicio de la Abogacía, P. 25, (M. Bohmer, ed. Gedisa) (1999).

Érika Fontánez Torres

Érika Fontánez Torres es Catedrática de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. Enseña los cursos de Derecho civil patrimonial y Teoría General del Derecho. Trabaja temas relacionados al Derecho y la Teoría Social y Política, la Sociología y la Teoría General del Derecho. Ha hecho investigación socio-jurídica aplicada a los temas de Propiedad, Género, Democracia y Medioambiente. Es abogada colaboradora de la Clínica de Asistencia Legal de la misma Escuela. Visita sus blogs y Observando al Derecho: Miradas desde la Teoría Social.