Evidence Law as Pragmatic Legal Rhetoric: Reconnecting Legal Scholarship, Teaching and Ethics

Eileen A. Scallen, William Mitchell College of Law


The three dimensions of epistemology, pedagogy, and ethics are central to the notion of pragmatic legal rhetoric as I understand and practice it. In Part I of this article, I try to define, as succinctly as possible, what I mean by “pragmatic legal rhetoric,” and argue that understanding this concept has utility not only for scholars, but also for professors of Evidence, advocacy, procedure, and, perhaps, even for law professors generally. Throughout the article, I have made a “rhetorical” choice to keep philosophical jargon to a minimum. However, if the somewhat philosophical discussion of Part I is not of interest to the reader of this article, one can easily skip to Part II, where I explain how I teach particular aspects of the Evidence course from a perspective of pragmatic legal rhetoric. In the Conclusion, I suggest the consequences of a pragmatic legal rhetoric perspective for teaching Evidence, or any law school subject.