Amongst the doom, gloom and pronostications around the Browne Report yesterday, I also learned of the passing of the University of Pennsylvania’s Professor Alan Lerner. Alan was an enthusiastic and brilliant clinical law teacher, and a committed advocate for children’s and civil rights, a passion that dated back to his experiences as a law student and activist in the mid-60s when he spent a summer in Mississippi helping black residents register to vote – an activity that cost several other activists their lives at the hands of the ku klux klan.
I don’t think Alan was particularly widely known in the UK, which is our loss. I first met him about ten years ago, when I was working with colleagues on the Gage project, looking at the implications of the neurosciences for our understanding of learning and teaching law. At that time Alan was one of very few legal academics to have written in this area, so there was a shared spark of interest, which flowed through into our more recent involvement in the Edinburgh Beyond Text project, and the book on legal education and the affective domain, edited by Caroline Maughan and Paul Maharg. Sadly Alan’s contribution to the latter will now be a posthumous memorial to his engaging and deeply interdisciplinary style of scholarship, and his love of teaching. Alan, you will be sorely missed