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The meaningful application of national security law requires a commitment to substantive knowledge, good process, and a capacity to cope (and indeed thrive) under the prevailing conditions of practice. This paper describes how and why to teach these three essential elements of national security law from an academic and practitioner perspective.

The paper starts with substantive law, placing emphasis not just on the breadth of knowledge and interpretive skills required, but also on the importance of depth, perspective, theory, purpose, history, and legal values in teaching the law. Next, the paper describes the importance of timely, meaningful, and contextual process, explaining why mastery of good process leads to better security and legal outcomes.

The paper also recognizes that national security practice is difficult to teach in law school because it is impossible to replicate the personalities, conditions, and context of practice. To address this, the paper identifies four essential practice traits and techniques for nurturing those traits.

In sum, this paper provides a framework and a checklist against which law schools should evaluate their national security law offerings and programs (see Appendix A). What is appropriate will depend on context: a school's mission, its size, its location, and its commitment to national security. Regardless of context, the paper offers critical lessons on how to more effectively prepare students for the national security field, or alternatively, to serve more meaningful and informed roles as citizen-lawyers as we address the security challenges ahead.

Publication Citation

27 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 163-189 (2014)