February 8, 2012
Legal Ethics Forum: Law School Has A Legal Research Mission Too
Earlier this week, I mentioned the forum on Legal Education's Response to Economic Realities Facing the Profession. Brad Wendel has an interesting post on law schools' legal research mission on that forum.
Professor Wendel argues, "it’s a good thing that law professors conduct theoretical research, for two reasons." "First, a society is better off if it supports institutions in which scholars can explore ideas for their own sake. In a pluralist, relatively secular liberal democracy, the law is one of the most important means of social control and even a thicker sense of citizenship and solidarity. Not only is a great deal of public policy enacted through legal institutions such as courts and administrative agencies, but the law also serves as a resource for understanding our rights and duties as citizens. Accordingly there is a need for sustained reflection on the role of law, including concerns that are within the purview of humanities scholars, such as legal history, the normative status of the claims the law makes on us, and literary considerations such as the multiple levels of meaning contained within trials, judicial opinions, and other legal texts."
"Second, it is good for the legal profession that the training of lawyers take place in the university. Law school is a time not only for learning practical skills but for reflecting on one’s chosen career. Lawyers love to say they belong to a learned profession, and in my experience many practicing lawyers do return over the course of their professional lives to the kinds of questions a graduate education, with a healthy dose of the liberal arts, encourages reflection about."
He concludes, however, "just because university-based legal education is justified in general terms does not mean we should not be concerned about its ever-increasing cost."
I basically agree with Professor Wendel. While we need much reform in legal education on both the macro- and micro-levels, as I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, this does not mean that we should discard legal education's research mission. Our universities, including our law schools, have a duty to advance knowledge, as they have for centuries. Law professors who write articles on esoteric subjects can still teach basic courses, as do professors in other university departments.
I also agree that law students should be exposed to "humanistic and social-scientific perspectives on law." However, this should not be done at the expense of learning basic skills that students will need in practice. Law schools can do both, especially considering that law school is three years.
February 8, 2012 | Permalink
Entering law school is no joke. Law students have to be at their best while surfing the deepest areas of law. They have to competitive even as law students in order to gain trust from other law professionals. They have to be constantly exposed with the actual flow inside the justice system. Only the best of the bests could withstand law school.
Posted by: California Criminal Defense Attorney | Mar 10, 2012 7:07:02 PM