Over at Legal Profession Blog and Prawfsblawg, they're discussing the WSJ's take on the new Carnegie Foundation report on the training of lawyers. I've ordered, but not yet received, the new report, but that won't stop me from climbing aboard one of my favorite hobby horses.
My proposal: no student shall be awarded a JD, and no person shall be admitted to the practice of law, without having undergone an extensive practical exercise in asking questions. To graduate, students must (1) interview a client; (2) question a witness about what happened; (3) take a deposition segment; (4) question a witness on the stand, or (5) play judge and ask counsel questions about their arguments. (Perhaps they could even have to (6) ask a fellow student socratic questions about case law.)
Students must be taught the "form of the question," the appropriate uses of each form, and the sequencing of questions for particular purposes. Students them must demonstrate minimal competency in asking questions.
That is the ur-skill of the practice of law, because it precedes argument. (Moreover, in the case of leading and closed questions, asking questions is itself one of the most important modes of making an argument.) A lawyer can be completely ignorant of Marbury v. Madison and still be a terrific lawyer. A lawyer who has not mastered the art of asking questions is not much of a lawyer at all, imho.