Paul L. Caron

Monday, October 22, 2007

How to Fix Law School

Jim Chen (Dean, Louisville) has a great summary of pointed advice by Scott Greenfield on how to "fix" law school, aimed at three distinct audiences (read the posts in their entirety; here is a taste):

  • Professors:  "Lawprofs need to get out of the ivory tower where they hide from the vicissitudes of real law and spend some time in the trenches, where their students will soon be heading. . . . No student cares how many law review articles you've published. Actually, no one cares, except you and possibly your tenure committee. If you want to teach law, know law. If you want students to listen to you, have something to say. If you want to engage your students, stop being a bore and start earning your salary by teaching them what they've come to law school to learn."
  • Students:  Students are operating under the very mistaken impression that law school owes them a fascinating time and more. Wrongo. They are owed a legal education. This isn't a Broadway show, designed for the entertainment of the student consumers. This is professional school. There are things to be learned which are boring. So what? Grow up and learn what you need to know to be a lawyer. And please, stop whining.
  • Law Schools:  "Not to slight scholarship, but the notion that law professors' primary function is legal scholarship is repugnant. True scholarship will happen regardless of whether law schools promote it. Ideas cannot be thwarted. Forced scholarship, on the other hand, brings us such genius as law review articles on Due Process at the Ministry of Magic. And you wonder why courts no longer look to law reviews for inspiration? This pressure on law professors to produce scholarly works has two bad outcomes. First, it means that law professors no longer care about teaching, for there is no reward to being a good teacher. This failure is clearly reflected in law students' complaints about law school. Second, it has reduced law professors to fashion designers, moving hemlines up and down every year, just so they have something to say."

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