Tuesday, April 19, 2011
In his recent article, Professor Richard Neumann chronicles how professional education in these fields developed. “Osler, Langdell, and Atelier: Three Tales of Creation in Professional Education.” The development of legal education does not receive much praise. Here is an excerpt:
The article describes the special conditions needed for paradigm-shifting breakthroughs like the invention of the casebook and the teaching hospital. It explains how architecture and medical education have historically concentrated much more than legal education on the student as an individual, with the consequence that architecture and medical students have an influence over their education and access to information about how their schools spend tuition that law students do not have. Seven years of higher education, more than in any other country, are needed to qualify for admission to the bar, representing an extraordinary financial burden on students. This burden became widespread in legal education not because seven years are necessary to train a lawyer but because of antisemitism and other bigotries early in the twentieth century. The required portion of the law school curriculum today has changed little since 1870, even though law, law practice, and the world in which law operates have been utterly transformed during the intervening 140 years. Styles of casebook teaching and learning today have also changed little in that time. Law school today is largely as Langdell left it.