12 Dec Why Did the Justice Advice the Boy to Forget about His Technical Preparation for the Law
Law students have often been told how long it takes to study and memorize the laws and their provisions, and the effort it takes to leave the educational institution as an effective lawyer. But the author`s point of view is different. He suggests that one should learn to appreciate painting and music and to be empathetic towards others and learn to be creative, rather than simply insisting on the persistent study of law. This type of advice can be called unorthodox because it is different from the usual advice. I agree with Justice Frankfurt. A friend of mine told me that when she was doing Erasmus in Spain, she asked her teacher for books for the course, and he replied: “Are you Italian?” I know that our approach in Italian universities is mainly theoretical and technical, perhaps too much, but I think it is very important to have a complete and accurate education. Of course, in Italy we need to improve the practical side of our studies. And a practical approach to how to write or learn a plot, read a verdict or simulate a case becomes fundamental. Justice Frankfurter is right when he says that a lawyer must be a cultured person. A lawyer, like a doctor, must remember that he is “playing” with other people and touching on very important aspects of personal life, so he must remember that his behavior has many effects on the lives of others.
In fact, a lawyer must be well prepared in the technical aspects of the law and very sensitive and emphatic thanks to his cultural interests and preparation. What do you think? In the first sentence of the letter, “No one can be a truly competent lawyer unless he is a cultured man”, Mr. Felix Frankfurter refers to a person who is already a lawyer and shows the reader what makes a lawyer “competent” in his opinion, namely to be a cultured person. For this reason, it seems simplistic to recommend to a 12-year-old boy to forget all technical preparation to become a lawyer. Obviously, reading a good book or poem, looking at important paintings, and listening to good music makes life more interesting and engaging. Knowledge (culture), enriches the soul and an educated person is certainly more fascinating. For example, the books we read have the power to reveal elements of who we are and what kind of person we are trying to be. Some of them can even change our views or lifestyles. We should not assume that an extremely wealthy person is also so educated, and lack of good reading can often become his weakness. What I think is that to be a “competent lawyer” you need proper preparation and therefore you need to undergo intensive study, as the Italian university system offers.
The starting point should be a very thorough theoretical preparation, including courses that do not deal with the law itself, and at the end you should also have a more practical preparation. Throughout the 19th century, it was completely different. Lawyers could choose whether or not to go to law school because they had the opportunity to become lawyers anyway. In my view, Frankfurter J. is partly right. Certainly, the importance of reading, opening our minds through the experiences and stories written or told by different authors, is crucial for a person who will face society and the life of an adult, just as important is to explore the beauty of works of art such as paintings and music, according to what the judge says. But to be honest, I don`t believe that anyone can exclude the part of the legal preparation: to be as complete as possible, of course, we need a proper “background” and social opinions that explore the world and its art in its various forms, but someone who wants to become a legal expert cannot exclude a deep preparation in a more technical way, to see the world. In my opinion, it is undeniable that a 12-year-old must first broaden his horizons, but if he is interested in a legal career, perhaps he should also immerse himself in something more specific about the law, perhaps start to see a little bit how the world he lives in legally works. Anyway, I think 12 years is a bit early and maybe he should ask for it again in a few years. Felix Frankfurter`s answer is very impressive to me and in my opinion, you can see in these few lines why he made such a career.
He was not only an excellent judge, but also an intellectual. And that`s exactly what he`s trying to get the 12-year-old to understand. He explains that he must open up to literature, art and culture. The ideas you get from a poem or by looking at a painting, for example, are not learned in law school. Reading is therefore the door open to knowledge and a later career, especially for children. Frankfurter makes it clear that it is not important for a 12-year-old to think about a possible career as a lawyer, but it is important for a child to acquire knowledge about the world, literature and spirituality. Because it`s the cornerstone of everything that comes later. Whether you want to pursue a career as a lawyer, doctor or teacher. Thinking outside the box makes a difference for narrow-minded people who only think about how they can learn everything about a particular area. I study art history and I know a lot of law or economics students who are not interested in literature at all (outside of specialized literature) or art. You would never voluntarily go to the museum or the opera or read a novel that has nothing to do with studies. It`s great that we have this course to reflect on the closeness of law and the humanities and the fact that one could not exist without the other.
Nowadays, in universities, law is taught in a masculine way from a positivist perspective. On the other hand, the context in which it materialized remains marginal for these studies. For this reason, students often learn things in a mnemonic way, and in my opinion, this approach does not improve their critical skills. The judge`s letter is helpful in criticizing this modus operandi. In fact, law concerns the rules of society, so it must be written and applied according to the social context: for this reason, a lawyer must address the different aspects of reality that surround him. A literary or artistic movement is often a political and social expression of the people: lawyers cannot therefore distance themselves from it. We cannot simply think of the humanities as hobbies, and that is because they are very important to the cultural growth of people, especially those who deal with laws. The authors of the Italian Constitution were not only experienced jurists, but also cultured men, which played a key role in the quality of our Constitution. For all these reasons, I agree with the judge`s position: the lawyer`s skills cannot be only technical, because cultural background plays a key role in their work.
As we have said in our lessons, there are several ways to analyze the relationship between law and literature; For example: law in literature, law as literature, law on literature. Very down-to-earth advice for our young people, our future leaders. I agree with Mr Felix Frankfurter. I think what he says about a man who has a legal career and is a cultured person is true. The process itself, as our teacher Eligio Resta would say, is a matter of words and language: they play a big role, and a lawyer must be able to understand not only the word itself, but its meaning in each individual case. I once read a wonderful book by Gianrico Carofiglio, one of my favorite writers, called “La manomissione delle parole” (“The free setting of words”), in which he also writes about a judge and how he should use words and listen very carefully, because sometimes we manipulate words and are not really aware of their power. I disagree with Mr. Felix Frankfurter when he says that “for a lawyer, it is no less important for a lawyer to cultivate imaginative skills by reading poetry, seeing large paintings in the original or in easily accessible reproductions, and listening to good music.” I think cultivating imaginative skills might be important, but not too much. A person who cannot necessarily appreciate a good painting is a good shift or a good judge; Even a person who does not appreciate art and poetry is not necessarily a bad judge. Certainly, reading poetry can be very important for a teenager to develop an emotional sensitivity that will be useful in his future career in law: but it is not an essential condition. Federico Baffa But I also agree, because as a lawyer, you have to read a lot to better understand society.
As I mentioned in the last blog, by reading, you create empathy for others and you better understand what situations people live in and how they behave/act. By reading, you appeal to your imagination. So if you love music and art, understand why it`s so important for people to do it in their spare time: it distracts you from your busy/hectic work, it helps you relax so you can then see things in a different light because you`ve opened up your creative side. And it gives you energy to get back to your hard work. You have to be a little “creative” to be a lawyer, because each case is different and requires a different approach. A cultured man will be able to better understand society. And the more you read, the more you learn what is the best way for you to react / or act in this case. Here I also see a connection with history: we learn from what was done/how people acted before.