Paul L. Caron

Friday, July 13, 2012

Reactions to Yale's Ph.D. in Law

Yale LogoFollowing up on Wednesday's post, Yale Launches Nation's First Ph.D. in Law:  here are some law professor reactions:

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I believe there was no law school of any kind anywhere in the U.S. until the 1830s. Prior to that, and for some time after, the practice of law was a craft. I think we would be better off it still were. Abraham Lincoln, for example, never attended law school, served an apprenticeship (common in his day) or took any bar exam. Yale's Ph.D. in law is the ultimate credentialist B.S. and will hopefully be a short lived exercise in self aggrandizement by academia and one of the first entries into ephemera when the "education bubble" either pops or, more likely, leaks harebrained programs into oblivion. I say this as a law school graduate (from an unranked and non ABA-certified school) who passed the CA bar exam (unlike former Stanford Law School Dean Kathleen Sullivan) on my first (and only) attempt). More practicality in the law, less academic BS - not to say it's not intellectually challenging, just that the cream will rise to the top regardless of credentials e.g. Honest Abe.

Posted by: G. C. Andersen | Jul 13, 2012 9:12:11 PM

As someone who was - once long ago - dreaming of someday growing up and becoming a law professor, this subject interests me... even though today there is literally zero percent chance of that dream now coming to fruition. So I have to ask: what is the real value of ANOTHER advanced degree in law, when Yale already has an S.J.D. program, on top of its LL.M. program, which purport to allow exceptional students to concentrate in a specialized field of legal academic scholarship? And Yale is hardly alone (although it may be alone "at the top") in having advanced legal scholarship programs. Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, Duke, Georgetown and other top tier schools have S.J.D. programs already. And that's just top schools with S.J.D. programs. Many more offer an LL.M., and not just the program for foreign lawyers to learn American law. Many schools offer LL.M. programs focused in a specific field of legal work, such as law and economics, international law, tax law, environmental law, intellectual property law, and more. So what is Yale really bringing that's new to the table here?

Posted by: Gullyborg | Jul 13, 2012 10:53:17 PM

I assume the real purpose of this idiocy is to give Yale grads who cant find jobs something to do, and to allow Yale to say that all of its grads are employed

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Jul 14, 2012 9:28:27 AM

I just finished reading "Failing Law Schools," by Brian Tanamaha. Although I found flaws in some of his chapters and disagreed with some of his conclusions, it seems to me the Yalies ought to read and try to understand his many valid points. And as with several of the other writers here, I fail to see any substantial difference between a Ph.D. in Law and an S.J.D. Nor do I see any ultimate benefit to the direct and indirect consumers of the product of the legal academy--future law students and their clients, respectively. In summary, I agree with Brian Leiter that this is a truly bad idea.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jul 16, 2012 8:25:39 AM