May 9, 2005
Law School Graduation
The act of sending one's graduates out into the market should have a sobering effect on law school faculties. It should be a time for evaluating whether a school's education adds value.
Many schools are pursuing an "interdisciplinary" approach. Like chocolate cake some, for dessert, is tasty but it ought not be the main course. Those schools dominated by the approach favor hiring faculty members with PhD's in non law subjects, stuff their upper class curriculum with courses on cultural analysis, and staff faculties with members who teach "main-line doctrinal" courses only as a "teaching load" filler so they can do research in other, more policy-laden, subjects. Skills courses turn into courses on cultural analysis. Seminars are -- well -- a mess. Students game their upper class years for good grades, attend fewer classes and read even less. Law firms respond by focuing on first year grades, to the exclusion of the upper class grades, as the preferred measure of a law student's capabilities. First year courses are more or less standarized and contain an emphasis on traditional doctrinal skills. And students who become lawyers report back from work that they could have been better prepared.
Business schools are ten years ahead of law schools in addressing the problem. Ten years or so ago a study showed that MBAs did not do any better in business than those without MBAs and business schools have since taken major steps to "become more relevant." Their efforts have not all succeeded but at least they are trying.
May 9, 2005 | Permalink
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