August 28, 2011
More On LawProf and Legal Education
LawProf is at it again; this time he is criticizing legal education as having little connection to what lawyers actually do. He states: "Law schools don't teach people how to practice law, except by what appears to be accident." He quotes Duncan Kennedy, who said: "This procedure disables students from any future role but that of an apprentice in a law firm organized in the same manner as a law school, with older lawyers controlling the content and pace of depoliticized craft-training in a setting of intense competition and no feedback." He adds: "There is a certain value to teaching somebody the basics of doctrinal case analysis, especially if, like approximately .1% of attorneys, that person is going to spend his or her career arguing or deciding appellate court cases, but that can be done in three months not three years. "
Mr. Campos is obviously ignorant of the changes that have taken place in legal education over the last twenty years. All law schools now require intensive legal writing courses in the first year, usually taught by full-time (although sometimes underpaid) professionals. Most law schools have clinics, which allow students to work on real cases. Also, most law schools offer other skills courses, such as trial practice, advanced legal writing, contract drafting, and transactional skills. Even many doctrinal teachers include practice skills in their courses.
The above is known by almost everyone in the legal academy. I cannot understand how Mr. Campos has missed these changes.
The first comment after the post calls out Mr. Campos for his post: "I got a shitload of practice stuff taught to me in law school, I would say the Langdellian stuff criticized here and practice stuff was divided maybe 60-40 in terms of how I spent my time? Maybe more like 90-10 in 1L. But we were standing in front of profs and arguing a position for a fictional client from week two. I'm shocked to learn this is not how other schools did it." He adds:" I think the "law and" classes derided here have an effect beyond mere (?) study in the grad school style and beyond vocational education. The ones I experienced covered two areas that turned out to be useful. One was ethical. The other was filling in gaps in my undergraduate experience. I went into law school with a mathematics degree, for chrissakes, what did I know about drugs, the War on (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs, or the realities of child abuse? Nothin'. Do those things effect my daily practice? Oh my god. Unbelievably so."
As I have written frequently on this blog, I believe that legal education needs more changes, especially more skills exercises in doctrinal courses, writing in every semester, and more transactional courses. However, ignoring the changes that so many have worked so hard on, as Mr. Campos has done, is insulting.
P.S. I wonder if Mr. Campos has read the Carnegie Report, the McCrate Report, or Best Practices? Has he read the many articles on legal education?
August 28, 2011 | Permalink