Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 18, 2020

The Changing Law School Curriculum: More Courses, Less Rigor?

National Jurist, More Course Offerings, But Less Rigor?:

William Carney, a retired University of Emory School of Law professor who spent nearly 40 years in legal education, wanted to know just how law school curriculum has evolved over the decades. ...

The result was a recently published paper aptly called, “Curriculum Change in Legal Education,” which tracks changes from 1973 to 2018. Through his research, he noticed a shift from a number of bedrock law offerings to less traditional ones. ...

Why is this a big deal? Students are still taught core subjects, such as torts and Constitutional law, right? Why can’t they have a little spice?

Well, Carney argues that the changes he discovered may indeed be affecting student success. In 1973, the national average bar passage rate for first-time takers was 82%. By 2017 the passage rate had fallen to 72%. ... Many of these new courses are not covered on the bar exam, so students could jeopardize their chances if they are too reliant on them, he said. ...

He found some new courses that left him confounded. He wrote that they “defy my attempts to rationalize their existence, either because of my ignorance of their content or suspicions about their usefulness in the practice of the profession. In some cases, they appear to represent approaches that are more political and polemic than legal.”

Such courses include animal law and feminist legal theory, he wrote.

That did not sit well with professors who teach feminist legal theory.

Such critical theory courses are an important part of a well-rounded legal education, said Lisa Pruitt, a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law. “These courses teach students how to think critically and they expose many to ways of looking at the world —and themselves — that are transformative.” ...

Cynthia Grant Bowman, a professor at Cornell Law School, also took issue with Carney’s assessment: “Courses like feminist legal theory and critical race theory address issues that are central to our society today and include much more doctrinal law than he might suspect, given his ignorance of their content; they teach critical skills that are central to being a good lawyer, rather than just a proficient practitioner, and to — what should be recognized as the goal of our legal system as a whole — the achievement of a just society.” ...

“My investigation has turned up evidence of poor management of law school economics. The size of the law schools’ entering class in 2017 was almost the same as that of 1973. Given the existence of tenure, law schools are now faced with the dilemma of paying for the faculty hired during the high enrollment years. There was apparently little recognition of business and employment cycles, or the need to be prepared to downsize.”

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Law school classes in feminist legal theory not only fail to teach "critical thinking," they fail to teach even the level of thinking of a typical fourth-grader. Examples include these.

1. Women, never referred to as "mothers" can abort their children, dehumanized as a "fetus," at almost any time during pregnancy, but men, invariably referred to as "fathers," must pay 18 to 26 years of child support for that same child. That means that our legal system assumes that women are so inadequate that nine months of pregnancy will do irreparable harm to the lives while men, clearly regarded as the superior sex, can cope with a much greater burden with ease. That's not only irrational, it downgrades women enormously.

2. In our legal system and under some circumstances, the only valid defense against a murder charge is either rank immaturity or gross insanity. A two-year-old child or someone so deluded they confuse a gun with a banana is not regarded as able to understand the true nature of what they are doing. Our laws apply that same immaturity or insanity principle to pregnant women. They are incapable of understanding what "it" is or what an abortion does. Again, women are degraded.

Feminist legal theory lacks the good sense or the rationality to understand either of those all-too-obvious principles. It's not only of no value to a legal education, it's extremely harmful to the minds of law students forced to take such courses. Dehumanizing the fetus is no different from doing the same to black people or Jews.

Posted by: Mike Perry | Sep 20, 2020 1:24:22 PM