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Friday, August 27, 2010

Garnett: 'Preaching What They Don't Practice'

Following up on Monday's post, Newton: How Law Profs' Preoccupation with 'Impractical Scholarship' Obstructs Legal Education Reform (Aug. 23, 2010):  Rick Garnett (Notre Dame), "Preaching What They Don't Practice" (PrawfsBlawg):

Critiques like this are nothing new, of course, and (just as "of course") have some bite.  But, they can be (and I worry that Newton's might be) overstated.  Sure, we all remember (or know!) legal scholars and law teachers who seem way-disconnected from the practice of law and who we cannot imagine actually advising a client, putting together a deal, or arguing a case.  But, the suggestion that -- even at those awful, top-tier theoretician-factories that Newton has in his sights -- faculty members who are hired not only to teach skills and doctrine but also to investigate and reflect on the history, animating principles, normative failings, etc., of our craft and tradition (our learned profession) "lack the skill set necessary to teach students how to become competent, ethical practitioners" seems too sweeping.  The suggestion reflects, I suspect, a narrower-than-mine view of what it means to be a "competent, ethical practitioner" -- a real lawyer.

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