Since 1966, Lino Graglia has been teaching the same two courses: constitutional law and antitrust. But consider the course names misnomers, he says, for they are far too narrow to describe what actually gets discussed in the classroom.
“What are you going to teach in law school?” Graglia asks. “Law? There’s too much of it, you couldn’t make a dent! If all you teach is the laws, you could get that education in six weeks at a library.”
When Graglia came to Texas from Columbia Law, he told UT Law dean Page Keeton he wanted to teach something like philosophy or economics.
“The dean said, ‘Fine, teach that in law school,’” Graglia says.
So for 45 years, he’s been doing just that, avoiding rote case law and broadening class discussions toward underlying questions. Instead of constitutional law, it’s political science. Antitrust is really economics. Graglia does it to keep his students—and himself—interested.
“Law has a huge potential for boredom,” he says. “I try to connect to subjects which involve jurisprudential questions: To what extent is law possible? To what extent is it desirable?”
His alternative approach has resonated with law students every year.
“He is the only professor who actually taught a different way of looking at things in the whole law school,” wrote Aaron Blades, BS ’04, JD ’07, Life Member.
In the end, Graglia says, his intention is to prepare his students to think like a lawyer.
“Law is more of an art than a science,” he says. “I argue, then I tell them how to argue, and that socializes them to legal arguments. If nothing else, I teach skepticism and how almost everything in law can be challenged.”
Colby M Harmon:
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