Thursday, February 9, 2012
Tax Prof Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington), The Long-Term Damage From the Assault on Law Schools:
It is hardly news that the legal academy has been under sustained assault for the last few years. ... My overall reaction to the public discussion is that far too many people are launching broad, baseless, ill-informed attacks on an institution that is both fundamentally well designed and essential to the maintenance of a civilized society.
This raucous atmosphere might have the effect of reducing the number of people who are potentially interested in attending law school. We have, in fact, seen a pronounced drop in law school applications this year, which could certainly be a response to the idea that law school is nothing but a "scam" or a waste of students' borrowed money. Of course, there are multiple explanatory factors at work, most obviously the continued recession-level employment prospects for far too many law graduates. Potential students need not believe any of the nonsensical attacks on the case method, nor pay any heed to the false claim that law professors are writing useless articles, to conclude that their individual best choice today is to delay applying to law school (or even to choose never to attend). ...
The New York Times and other news sources are doing serious damage to the long-term prospects of the legal academy, and ultimately to society as a whole. That damage, however goes far beyond the possibility that our future client pool is being drained on the basis of over-hyped claims. The future of intellectual inquiry is at stake, and there is good reason to fear that the damage being done now will have serious consequences well into the future.