Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Are Law Schools in an Adversarial Relationship with their Students?

Professor Jerry Organ raised this possibility at the AALS conference in New Orleans last week:

"Mr. Organ, of the University of St. Thomas, said legal educators should pay more attention to their educator role when publishing employment data about their schools.

'One of the problems law schools are dealing with is that we don't think of ourselves as professionals relating to clients,' he said. 'Often we act as trial lawyers and assume we can put out information at the edge of what is reliable and that there will be an adversary putting out information to counter that. That's OK in trial, but our relationship with prospective students should not be an adversarial one.'" (from here)

I don't think that I would go as far as Professor Organ.  However, I do think that it is important that law schools examine their relationships with their students.  The modern law school needs to a student-centered one, and most law schools today are not student-centered.  As Professors Schwartz and Ho have declared in connection with reform at their law school: "Whatever the committee discusses should be evaluated by the single criterion of whether the idea will be good for the students as they prepare to become lawyers.  The way things currently are or what individual faculty members or groups of faculty members want to do or already do cannot be as important as serving student needs."  (Moss & Curtis eds., Reforming Legal Education at 45)  At the least, law schools need to focus more on teaching and be transparent with their students.

I would love to hear some comments on this issue.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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