Lawyers serve as problem solvers. They do so in diverse roles, across public and private and civic realms, in this and other countries. The problem solving lawyers pursue inevitably intersects with the problem solving engaged in by others, both those typically regarded as �experts� in their fields and everyone else. To understand how lawyers variously practice problem solving, we must study how assorted lay and expert practitioners (including but hardly limited to lawyers) pursue their work. In recognition of this reality, today�s training of lawyers concentrates (perhaps more than ever before in history) explicitly upon problem solving. In order to help deepen and broaden this focus, this Workshop shall explore (empirically and theoretically) whether or not the problem solving of lawyers (1) markedly diverges from everyday human problem solving, (2) importantly differs from the problem solving of other experts, (3) notably varies depending upon the roles lawyers fill and the institutions within which they function, (4) especially depends upon the nature and quality of the teams (every imaginable mix of teams) on which lawyers may find themselves working.
Drawing upon highly diverse literatures and experiences, the Workshop will examine problem solving engaged in (1) by lay people (thinking and acting in diverse conditions that reveal complex and intriguing patterns); (2) by lawyers (working in corporate transactions (�deals�), as environmentalists, as civil rights litigators, as city attorneys, as scholars); and (3) by other professionals (working in fields such as public health, criminology, social cognition, economics, architecture). As part of this discovery, we shall delve into ways race, gender, and class may influence problem solving within and across particular contexts. Through this examination, the Workshop aims to enhance our ability to describe current approaches to problem solving and to prescribe how those approaches might be improved.
Along the way, our work together should begin to illuminate a range of other important questions still: What explains differences between novices and experts in any problem solving domain? What influences problem solving approaches and practices? What accounts for the similarities and differences we may perceive between experts and lay people, among experts working across different roles and institutions, among experts filling the same roles within the same institutions, among teams of assorted problem solvers? How might we effectively put to use what we already know to improve institutional arrangements and individual practices that mold problem solving? What more would we want to learn about problem solving to help us enhance our individual and collective problem-solving capacities?
This is a graded, five-unit course, with attendance, active participation, weekly written reactions to readings, and a final paper all required. There are no prerequisites. The Workshop meets twice weekly, with one additional time reserved for meetings. Enrollment is limited and admission is by consent of instructor.