Sunday, March 7, 2010

UT student newspaper declares "Law students need a practical education"

Apropos to the story below, the University of Texas' student newspaper, The Daily Texan, recently ran the above Op-Ed headline. It's a call by students for more legal writing and other skills courses in the UT curriculum.  At one point, the Op-Ed quotes a "well-known" practitioner who complained to UT's dean that he would never hire another grad because they can't write.  Here's more:

Lax institutional standards have marginalized the law school’s role in society of preparing its students to be competent, ethical lawyers.  Institutional indifference to students and the school’s role in society as a whole is nothing new.

Several years ago, Judge Harry Edwards criticized our law school in a now-famous article in the Michigan Law Review. Edwards revealed that a well-known UT constitutional law professor confided in Edwards, saying he is “unwilling to redirect” his activities in “useful ways.”  Edwards charged that this “so-called elite” law school is primarily dedicated to work that serves “no social purpose at all.” Of such professors, Edwards concluded, “We do not give tenure to stamp collectors, or to light readers.”

The late professor Charles Allen Wright found these arguments persuasive. At an American Law Institute conference, he presented Edwards’ criticism, commenting, “In the academy we are tending too much to pretend that we are a think tank and a graduate school and forgetting that the high percentage of our graduates are going to go into the practice of law and ought know at least a little about what lawyers do and how they ought to do it.”

But the criticism has changed nothing.

Consider Edwards’ comment that the law school is “insufficiently clinical” and suffers from a “lack of good training in legal writing.” Last semester, a well-known lawyer wrote to law school Dean Lawrence Sager, charging that UT graduates are incompetent legal writers and that he would never hire a UT Law graduate again.

You can read the full story here.

Hat tip to our commenters for alerting me to the story.

I am the scholarship dude.


NEW:  Click here to see a response from the UT Writing Faculty.

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