Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Deborah Jones Merritt (Ohio State), Smokescreen:
Anders Walker, an Associate Dean at the Saint Louis University School of Law, has posted a scathing -- and somewhat personal -- indictment of Brian Tamanaha's book, Failing Law Schools. Tamanaha has already responded to the personal element of Walker's attack, and Walker has fired back. (Hat tip to TaxProf on all three posts)
Here, I want to focus on a different element of Walker's posts: The way he uses scholarship as a smokescreen to avoid talking directly about the problem of law school tuition. ... We don't need to save legal history or rescue legal scholarship. I learned from great legal scholars in the 1970s, and my school offered several legal history electives, all at a fraction of today's tuition costs. I'm confident we can cut tuition while preserving plenty of scholarship and interdisciplinary courses; surely we're as talented, frugal, and hard working as professors of earlier generations. We can also have long, interesting discussions with practitioners about the relative proportions of doctrinal, interdisciplinary, and practice-oriented courses we should offer students.
But first we have to confront the economic crisis saddling our graduates: Ignoring that crisis has been irresponsible. We have already graduated years of students with too much debt and too few job prospects. Save our students first; then we can worry about legal history.