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An opening musing on legal education

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5 Responses

  1. A.J. Sutter says:

    Great post. Maybe it’s a little too optimistic about a couple of minor points, though.

    First, where you say that it’s not a crazy option to teach doctrine and analytical skills, and “leave the rest to the first years of practice,” you forget about the economics of law firms. Clients don’t want to subsidize on-the-job training of associates anymore. And law firms obviously lack the financial competence to know how to absorb those costs themselves (witness the financial whizzes at Dewey), even if they wished to.

    Second, this managerial hubris may eventually weaken your premise that grads from the top 20 or 30 schools don’t have to worry — things will catch up with them in either the short term or the long term. When I graduated in 1983, being a big firm partner seemed the obvious road to happiness, and was a lot more accessible than it is now; yet how many folks in our cadre have had their lived upended by the Deweys, Brobecks, Hellers, Thelens etc. etc.

    And finally, while hiring more people with real-world experience would be a terrific start, it’s in no way sufficient for improving legal scholarship. At least for transactional practitioners, student-edited law journals simply are not credible. A comprehensive reorganization of the organs of legal scholarship would also be necessary to achieve your goal (though maybe a big step in the right direction could be as simple as giving more weight in tenure decisions to articles published in bar-sponsored journals).

  2. Jeff Lipshaw says:

    Yes, nice post.

    I haven’t exactly commented, but more like riffed off of this at The Legal Whiteboard.

  3. Doug Richmond says:

    You are the rare faculty member with substantial practice experience. Regrettably, law school faculties as a whole will never re-think the constellation of preferred qualifications for entry-level faculty in any material fashion. I do not begrudge law professors their salaries and, in my opinion, the salaries at some schools are too low. As you point out, however, teaching loads are also too light at many schools–and that is before we even get to the value of some of the courses being taught.

  4. Jack says:

    Professor Bowman has been cited over 1,000 times in articles and dozens of times in state and federal courts. By any measure, his scholarship has been meaningful and influential. For the group of law professors to which Professor Bowman belongs, why would it be socially useful to write less? Whatever might be true of some other profs, his work has nothing to do with shouting down wells. There are many other like him, whether you think it is 15% or 50% of the professoriate. The problem is not that there is too much scholarship, it is there is not enough assurance that every faculty member does a full measure of useful work.

  5. BL1Y says:

    The solution to the teaching load problem is to base the student:teacher ratio on credit hours taught rather than tenure status.