Thursday, June 18, 2020
William S. Bailey (University of Washington), Scaling Langdell's Wall, NW Lawyer, Mar. 2020, pp. 29-33:
It never crossed my mind in law school that I might teach there one day. Intent on trying to change the world, my main goal in law school was to get in, and get out with a license to practice.
After moving to Seattle, taking the bar exam, and starting at The Defender Association, I was in court every day. I worried that my skills weren’t up to the challenge of the demanding caseload; I constantly sought feedback from judges and colleagues and studied trial advocacy techniques. It bothered me that so little of law school had prepared me for the actual work I was doing. There had been far too much Socratic method and far too little hands-on practice of the actual skills of lawyering. The conventional wisdom at the time, that “you learn how to be a lawyer after you get out,” made no sense to me. I expected law school, like medical school, to be more skills-based.
As I scrambled to fill the gaps in my practical skills, I continued to think about how law school could have been more useful. With youthful arrogance, I became convinced that I could help structure a better curriculum than the one I had known as a law student. ...
[A]fter decades of law practice and some part-time teaching of trial advocacy, I became of a full-time faculty member. This essay chronicles my journey and choices I have made as a teacher.