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Justice Alito Wants People to 'Think Like a Lawyer'

By George Khoury, Esq. on September 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

In a recent speech this past week at the dedication of the new University of South Carolina School of Law in Columbia, South Carolina, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito may have expressed a rather unpopular opinion. After comparing law schools to mosquito breeding pools, the jurist said that he believed it would be good for society if more people thought about issues like lawyers do.

Justice Alito explained that thinking like a lawyer involves looking at all sides of an issue in order to arrive at the truth. He believes that lawyers are good at understanding when they are wrong, and coming to terms with changing their positions based on logic and reason. He believes that this sentiment is dire in our current society due to the divisions that currently exist over certain issues.

Only Lawyers Are Reasonably Prudent People

In law school, law students get the privilege of not just learning about the reasonably prudent person, but the law school process should, if successful, slowly convert every law student into the reasonably prudent person. Lawyers are trained to spot issues and problems. And, being reasonably prudent means not letting small issues turn into big problems. It's simple mitigation, and your friends and family (will) hate you for it, but (will) surely appreciate it nonetheless.

What Justice Alito is getting at, by saying that society would be better off if more people would think like lawyers is that more people would act pragmatically, recognize liabilities, responsibilities, obligations, and when one needs to make amends. More people would attempt to resolve disputes through civil discourse and negotiation, rather than through violence or trickery. These views seem to strike the Emerson-ian ideal of Self-Reliance.

Alito the Articulate

Whether or not it was meant as a backhanded compliment, the former Chief Justice of the State's Supreme Court stated that Justice Alito's comments were a "remarkable articulation." One would hope that any justice, even one in a municipality's traffic court, would be remarkably articulate.

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