Mercer Law Review
Deborah J. Cantrell and Kenneth Sharpe, Practicing Practical Wisdom, 67 Mercer L. Rev. 331 (2016), available at https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/faculty-articles/1.
Wisdom is not an innate character trait; no one automatically is wise; wisdom is learned and acquired. More importantly, one can learn and acquire wisdom intentionally and skillfully — one can practice it. And, if the practice is structured in particular ways, the practice will improve one’s capacities to act with wisdom. This article clarifies theoretical muddiness and pedagogical imprecision by bringing together two important and robust strands of legal ethics literature. The first strand focuses on what the appropriate role of a lawyer is in a just society, while the second focuses on how a lawyer learns to be, or is formed into, a professional. Neither strand regularly considers the other. By putting the two strands into conversation, we demonstrate that a lawyer can learn to be wise, but that such wisdom must be situated within a normative end goal. The idea of practical wisdom has its roots in Aristotelian traditions. Much of the discourse about practical wisdom has focused on it as a desired end state. While that is an important inquiry, it misses a key question — how does one become practically wise. Our article offers a new answer. It describes a set of processes and capacities to develop practical wisdom — what the authors call “practicing practical wisdom.”
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