Monday, March 21, 2011
John O. McGinnis
(Northwestern) reviews the new book by Walter Olson
(Cato Institute), Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America
(2011) in today's Wall Street Journal
Law schools wield more social influence than any other part of the American university. To what effect? ...
One of his themes is that law professors serve the interests of the legal profession above all else; they seek to enlarge the scope of the law, creating more work for lawyers even as the changes themselves impose more costs on society. By keeping legal rules in a state of endless churning, lawyers undermine a stable rule of law and make legal outcomes less predictable; the result is more litigation and, not incidentally, more billable hours for lawyers, who must now be consulted about the most routine matters of business practice and social life. ...
To be sure, intellectual life in the legal academy would be more vibrant if law schools were less lopsidedly left-liberal—if, that is, they encouraged more internal debate. Tenure also permits aging 1960s and 1970s ideologues to enjoy positions of academic power. ... What is novel about law schools today is that, compared with their checkered past, so many more scholars are vigorously returning to the methods that made America.