Monday, December 10, 2012
Jay Sterling Silver (St. Thomas U.), The Case Against Tamanaha’s Motel 6 Model of Legal Education, 60 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 52 (2012):
The radical overhaul of legal education espoused in Professor Brian Tamanaha’s new, widely read book, Failing Law Schools, would represent a disastrous step backward in legal education. Tamanaha and his supporters argue that the current crisis in legal education—rampant unemployment among debt-laden law graduates and plummeting law-school applications—requires a dramatic reduction in law-school tuition by substituting a yearlong apprenticeship for the final year of law study and replacing tenured, full-time legal scholars in the classroom with low-cost, part-time practitioners at non-elite law schools.
This Essay examines Tamanaha’s model in light of the pedagogical needs of law students, the interests of the clients of fledgling attorneys, and the role law professors have traditionally played in championing legal reform and the rights of the disenfranchised through enlightened scholarship. Who will replace the law professor—protected by tenure, unbound to clients or special interests, and able to reflect on abuses of power from the Archimedean point of the academy—as the critic of injustice? I contend that Tamanaha’s argument for apprenticeships disserves clients and is pedagogically unsound. And that Tamanaha’s “differentiated” legal education, with elite, three-year programs training corporate lawyers and less expensive two year schools for local practitioners, would limit the choices and opportunities of law students from the start.
Update: Orin Kerr (George Washington) is not Impressed with Silver's argument:
I think legal scholarship can be extremely valuable and worthwhile. Brian Tamanaha thinks so, too. But making the case that the status quo is the best possible world requires more than just patting ourselves on the back about how society is very lucky to have us.
Other reviews of Failing Law Schools (below the fold):
- Jennifer Bard (Texas Tech)
- Ray Campbell (Peking University)
- Jim Chen (Former Dean, Louisville)
- Chronicle of Higher Education
- Ronald Den Otter (California Polytechnic State)
- Stanley Fish (Florida International)
- Scott Greenfield (here and here)
- Bill Henderson (Indiana)
- Paul Horwitz (Alabama)
- Orin Kerr (George Washington)
- Brian Leiter (Chicago)
- Andy Morriss (Alabama)
- National Law Journal
- Philip Schrag (Georgetown)
- Robert Steinbuch (Arkansas-Little Rock)
- Washington Post