Paul L. Caron

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Is Law Brain Surgery?

We previously blogged (Law School Should Be More Like Medical School?) the Wall Street Journal op-ed by Cameron Stracher (New York Law School), Meet the Clients:

If law schools really want to change the way they train young lawyers, they would look to medical schools.... They could team with local practitioners and institutions and demand that their students gain sustained clinical experience -- broadly defined to include anyone needing legal help, not just the usual (nonprofit) suspects. The state bars could refuse to license lawyers until they performed at least one year of postgraduate work, as some other countries require.

Law is not brain surgery. It is a skill that can be acquired through practice and repetition.

Boston University Law Professors Tamar Frankel and Wendy J. Gordon have written a letter to the editor objecting to such a practice-oriented view of legal education:

Legal education may need revamping, especially as our economy and technology develop, but going back to an 18th century apprenticeship model is not the solution. We teach future professionals, not tradesmen....

[W]hat about the skills Mr. Stracher mentioned, such as preparing students to speak to clients, to conduct a trial, to cross-examine witnesses, to negotiate and to write contracts? We offer training in these skills in our clinical programs, in extracurricular activities, and in our regular classrooms. But the best practice will come after law school, with maturity, with watching the senior partners and with learning from mentors. The intellectual foundation, the "brain surgery" part of law practice, is gained in the law school.

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Tracked on Feb 15, 2007 3:16:47 AM


All I know is, I came in there with a skull full of mush, and I left thinking like a lawyer. :-)

Posted by: Tim Armstrong | Feb 15, 2007 6:07:18 AM