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Do Debaters Make Better Lawyers?

Read the full article at Forbes.

Conventional wisdom says that competitive debate is excellent preparation for the practice of law. However, do debaters make better lawyers? Former policy debaters, and lawyers, Tom Fulkerson and Wes Lotz — writing in the Houston Law Review – took a look.

Their introduction to the activity is a must-read for those unfamiliar with the workings of a policy (a.k.a. “C-X”) debate tournament. While there are two other popular forms of American debate – the more philosophicalLincoln-Douglas (LD) and the Crossfire-like Public Forum (PF) – both pale in comparison to the time, strategy and research demands of policy debate.

Fulkerson and Lotz’s conclusions, while by no means comprehensive, are a mixed bag. The authors note that “Competitive debate is just that – highly competitive. It tends to attract highly motivated … type A individuals who are highly structured, motivated and intense, and for whom the competitive debate environment is a good outlet.” The same could be said of many attorneys…

…In this regard, competitive debate is excellent preparation for law as it is generally practiced. This is because debate, at its best, teaches how to marshal evidence and synthesize arguments behind a singularly persuasive narrative. A narrative, or “story,” that enables judges and juries alike to vote against their own notions of right and wrong for what is the best-presented case.