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Inside the Law School Scam

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I started a blog a couple of weeks ago regarding the questionable state of contemporary legal education, which I initially authored anonymously, for reasons I explain in a couple of the recent posts. Those interested in the general topic may wish to visit. Those not so interested may still enjoy this Saturday Night Video:

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  • Waingro

    Have there been serious, institutional discussions about severely curtailing law school admissions? I imagine if they made a policy decision for a ten-year reduction in admissions rates by 50% for say, all non top-20 schools it would make a difference. Or maybe not.

    I think the critical issue is the monstrous levels of non-dischargeable debt, which isn’t an limited to law students. It’s one thing to jump through 4-6 years of post-secondary education hoop jumping just for the chance to compete for fairly shitty jobs. Its quite another to require that doing so necessitates often crippling amounts of debt for the privilege.

  • Scott Lemieux

    Now that you’re out of the closet,. feel free to x-post anything here too…

  • Anonymous

    The Leiter mockery is a thing of beauty. He seems less like an actual human and more like a particularly absurd character in a David Lodge novel.

    • If he didn’t exist, we’d have to invent him, no question.

    • bh

      As someone from a completely different field, can I just say how perplexing the whole Brian Leiter Experience is to me?

      I mean, I certainly know some asshole economists, and God knows the discipline has its own problems. But I really can’t think of an equivalent figure who’s (1) genuinely prominent in his field and (2) consistently acts like an ill-tempered 8 year old in public.

      I’m not saying its the biggest deal, but it does seem like a strike against academic law, all things equal.

  • Ed Schneiderman

    This offers a fresh perspective on why Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds continue to burden their respective states with salaries while exhibiting in their blogs the intellectual perspicacity of roadkill.

    • Warren Terra

      You are quite unfair to overlook William Jacobsen’s services to the field of Law Perfesser And Blog Idiot.

    • Brian

      Glenn Reynolds actually publishes scholarship on the 2nd Amendment and many other legal subjects, and is an in-demand speaker in schools across the country. Paul Campos, not so much, at least in the last decade. Campos is good at getting attention, however.

      Look here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=45302#reg

  • pjs

    Nicely done! I graduated from a well-regarded law school about three years ago. You’ve captured one of the most annoying features of my legal education — half of my professors had PhDs in unrelated fields, had never practiced law and were clearly teaching at a law school because the pay and tenure prospects are so much better. I learned next to nothing from those people.

    Law school worked out very well for me. I have a great job and I love the practice of law. But it did infuriate me that my tuition dollars were going to pay the salaries of those who had nothing but contempt for their students and the career choices those students were making.

  • Joey

    You don’t really seem like the poster boy for practical skills training for lawyers.

  • JMH

    What well-regarded law school did you go to where half of the profs had Ph.Ds in unrelated fields. What is unrelated? History is definitely related to law in that helps to be able to teach Legal History, which is a traditional and valid course in law schools.

    • Bill Murray

      depending on the field one wants to practice, science and engineering degrees are quite useful. Patent law is a mess because not nearly enough lawyers know sufficient science to be more than dangerous.

  • John

    I still think the most ridiculous thing about the law school system is that all the journals are edited by law students with no peer review. How can anyone defend such a system with a straight face?

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  • Lamont Cranston

    Things I do on a regular basis as a lawyer, but which my legal education gave me no preparation for:

    Negotiating a plea agreement
    Explaining a plea agreement to my client
    Advising my client whether to take a plea agreement or not
    What to do when a client disagrees with my opinion
    Quoting a fee
    Selecting a jury
    Opening argument
    Closing argument
    Cross examination
    Direct examination
    Documenting a file
    Organizing a file

    I could go on. What did I get from law school? Classes on writing/research, ethics, and evidence. And $100,000 in debt.

    Campos has a different critique on law school, but the total lack of practical education is my beef with it.

  • Randolph P. Jenkins

    Epic take down of Brian Leiter. Thank God someone did it.

    That man is such a bully behind his keyboard, it’s about damn time someone called him out for his ranking “methodologies”.

  • Things I do on a regular basis as a lawyer, but which my legal education gave me preparation for:

    * Analyze case
    * Keycite cases
    * Apply tort, breach of contract, real estate, etc. principles to client’s problems
    * Argue a position
    * Analyze a position
    * Understand civil procedural rules

    etc. etc. etc.

    Of course I did not pay $100,000 for my education

  • Please check out my free download new book,Gaming Emperor Law School: 30+ years of taking advantage of the failure of American law schools — all 200+ of them! — to train lawyers; 30+ years of Wentworth Miller’s Law Essay Exam Writing System (LEEWS), at http://www.leews.com.

    I’m confident I have broken new ground in investigating and explaining just what it is that is wrong with law school instruction, dating back to the origins of the institution. It begins with Blackstone’s lament about lawyers being “mere craftsmen” in need of more liberal arts education, and American colleges and universities running with that ball.

    Law school never really was about training lawyers. (Perhaps training law professors.) However, given the vast disconnect between case method classroom instruction and what is required on exams (basically, function as a lawyer under severe time constraints), advantage of the situation can easily be taken. (Any good lawyer takes advantage when possible, right?)

    Res ipsa loquitor. As a law professor, Mr. Campos, you are already compromised in your notions. However, I think what i have to offer will provide some clarification and ammunition in your admirable efforts at reform. 30+ years of focus on the subject (and well over 100,000 law students later) is bound to result in a few new insights.

    Here’s one I haven’t encountered anywhere that provides a useful handle and beginning — it’s ALL about conflict resolutions. In a nutshell, orderly, predictable, non-violent conflict resolution is the raison d’etre of any system of laws, and anything and everything having to do with laws. This should be told to law students Day One. (Also, “all roads at law potentially lead to a courtroom,” which is always a conflict situation.)

    Thanks for your time.

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