Tuesday, May 23, 2023
What Law Schools Must Change To Train Transactional Lawyers
Stephanie Hunter McMahon (Cincinnati), What Law Schools Must Change to Train Transactional Lawyers, 43 Pace L. Rev. 106 (2022):
Not all lawyers litigate, but you would not know that from the first-year curriculum at most law schools. Despite 50% of lawyers working in transactional practices, schools do not incorporate its legal doctrines or skills in the foundational first year. That the Progressives pushed through antitrust laws and the New Dealers founded the modern administrative state reframed how people use the law, particularly in transactional practices, and should be given equal weight as the appellate-based common law in any legal introduction. Nevertheless, the law school model created by Christopher Columbus Langdell in the 1870s remains dominant. As this review of fifty-four law schools’ required curricula shows, law schools have largely retained Langdell’s curriculum. This negatively affects young transactional lawyers because their critical first year does not show them the law as a preventative, problem-solving practice.
This Article proposes fundamental changes to the way law schools prepare students to be transactional and other types of attorneys by reframing the first year from various common law topics to a focus on practice areas. This Article argues that it is faculty, fear, and funding that prevent fundamental change to the first year and other required curriculum even as change is necessary for the health of law schools and the legal profession. This Article concludes that, in the face of curriculum stagnation, the ABA accrediting body and bar examiners should recognize these changes by requiring and testing these “new” areas of law.