May 19, 2008
Hierarchy, History & Happiness in Legal Education
Michael L. Rustad (Suffolk) & Thomas H. Koenig (Northeastern) have posted A Hard Day's Night: Hierarchy, History & Happiness in Legal Education, 58 Syr. L. Rev. 261 (2008), on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
This Article presents a social history of the struggles of Boston's nontraditional students to break into the legal profession by studying in evening law schools. Suffolk Evening Law School was founded in 1906 as a counter-hegemonic institution, explicitly dedicated to the democratization of legal education by challenging the pedagogy and recruitment practices of Harvard and the other elite day schools. Twenty-first century graduates of the most prestigious day law schools continue to thrive in a relatively charmed legal environment, but the legal hierarchy has been destabilized by a growing emphasis upon achievement over ascription. Suffolk's evening law students, for example, often have a competitive advantage in fields such as intellectual property because the leading Boston law firms recruit disproportionately from the software engineers, biotechnology researchers, and other scientists who work as patent agents by day and study law at night. While the evening law school movement of the early twentieth century did much to replace ascription with meritocracy, the equal opportunity revolution remains incomplete because of the continuing influence of the legal stratification system upon the careers of the alumni of low ranking law schools.
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