TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Justice Sotomayor's Rx For Law Schools: Emphasize Core Courses Like Tax, Corporations And T&E

JusticeNational Law Journal, Justice Sonia Sotomayor Charms Crowd of Law Students, Lawyers, Judges:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she strives to stay away from politics, but the justice worked the room like a politician while speaking on Friday to law students, lawyers and judges at the University of Houston Law Center.

During an hour-long talk and question-and-answer session, Sotomayor offered her thoughts on what is needed in a legal education, the quality of lawyers who argue before the Supreme Court and the intersection of politics and the law.

For the first half hour, Sotomayor sat on a stage and answered questions posed by UH Law Center professor Michael Olivas, who is a friend of Sotomayor. During the next 30 minutes, she walked through Max Krost Hall and answered questions from law students. ...

Sotomayor, who graduated from Yale Law School in 1979 and joined the court in 2009, has her own specific ideas for improving legal education. She said law schools should start ethics training for law students earlier and should require students to do pro bono work while in law school—something some law schools are doing well by establishing legal clinics.

She also said law schools should emphasize core courses, such as tax, corporate and trusts and estates, to develop well-rounded lawyers. These classes help make sure lawyers “can figure out any situation,” she said. ...

When a student asked her how the court maintains judicial integrity in times of political pressure, Sotomayor responded, “It’s not easy”—a comment that drew a big laugh.

Legal Education | Permalink


Emphasizing core legal courses and clinics seems like a good idea to me. I don’t think much of “lawyers” who spent their time taking “Sexuality & the Law,” “ Corruption, Economic Development & Democracy,” “Capitalism Film Society,” or “AI, Robitics & the Law.” These are all real courses titles taken from the YLS spring semester curriculum this year. They are probably very interesting academic inquiries, and seem well suited for those bright young folks pursuing degrees in poli sci or sociology or film history, but not at all likely to fortify actual practitioners of the law. But then, these courses provide positions for PhDs on law faculties, don’t they? Contracts, property, and evidence–who needs that old boring stuff?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Feb 1, 2018 7:23:04 AM