Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sequelae to "Law School & Law Practice"

I have gathered together some of my comments to my original post "Law School & Law Practice":

Comment 1:

from the same NYTimes article: "'Where do these students go?' says Michael Roster, a former chairman of the Association of Corporate Counsel and a lecturer at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. 'There are virtually no openings. They can’t hang a shingle and start on their own. Many of them are now asking their schools, "Why didn’t you teach me how to practice law?"'"

Comment 2:

... but I am a fervent believer in interdisciplinary scholarship ... I believe in a triad: (1) Theory 1 (legal theory); (2) Theory 2 (other theory -- e.g., probability, neuroscience, physics, information theory); and (3) Practice (private law practice; drafting legislation; etc.) ... cf. the statement on my personal web site: "The Golden Triad: Theory, Law & Technology," ...

Comment 3:

the same NYTimes article: "Still others crossbreed law and some other discipline, a variety of scholarship that seems to especially irk John G. Roberts Jr., chief justice of the United States. 'Pick up a copy of any law review that you see,' he said at a conference this summer, 'and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th-century Bulgaria, or something, which I’m sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar.'"

This sort of anti-intellectualism is most unfortunate (and, in the case of Roberts, surprising). The fact is that _good_ theory is not incompatible with practice. And learning to be a bit reflective wouldn't be bad for lawyers.

Comment 4:

This is the NYTimes article:
Law schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful, leaving law fi...rms fairly resigned to training their hires how to actually practice law.
Comment 5:
Oh, by the way, Mr. Justice Roberts: Thinking hard about Immanuel Kant's seemingly-odd dictum that it is better for the world to perish than for one innocent person to suffer punishment might be a fruitful way to attack the riddle of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt." It might even be useful to know what befell a country (Bulgaria? really?) that tried to put Kant's dictum into practice. (A long-ago conversation with some South American legal scholars leads me to believe that Chile or Argentina might be a more apt case study.)
Comment 6:
I am thinking about Roberts (Justice) and the NYTimes article once again: Why is the debate over teaching Theory or Practice so simple-minded? Have Justice Roberts and the NYTimes ever heard of "necessary but not sufficient" or of the fallacy of the excluded middle? Is it not possible to say (as I suggest), not only that (some) "theory" is is part of effective training for law practice, but also that law schools can teach BOTH practice and "useless" theory, that they can prepare students sufficiently for law practice even if they devote some energy to teaching stuff that does not demonstrably improve "practice skills" as commonly understood? If so, is there not a case for teaching stuff that, e.g., gives law students a general vision or sense of the nature of the rule of law or the function(s) of law in society? (Yes, there is.) But I don't want to be a Pollyanna: It is probably true that there is a tradeoff between teaching students "useless" theory and teaching them how to be effective members of the "bar" (in Justice Roberts's sense). But perhaps some tradeoffs are acceptable for the sake of training "broad-minded" lawyers: perhaps it's OK to give students a pinch of "useless" theory at the price of a mote of preparation for law practice, yes? (That being said, law schools perhaps should not ignore the needs of law practice to the extent that some of them perhaps do.)


The dynamic evidence page
Evidence marshaling software MarshalPlan
It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.
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