Monday, December 19, 2005

Envisioning Lawyers

When I was a law student, lo many years ago, I looked for role models. I wanted to see from my professors, what I would looke like as a lawyer. I was totally shocked and taken aback when I, at a more traditional school, discovered that not one of my professors had ever practiced in a real sense, as a lawyer!

I think our students are still hungry for this. They want to know what it is like to be lawyers. They look for role models. If you are at a school, like Suffolk, that hires former practicing lawyers as full time faculty, your students are ahead of the game in this one way. If your school has practitioners as adjunct faculty, you may notice students clustering around those folks like bees around honey. They are so hungry for some image to help them shape themselves into lawyers. Unless they come from a family of lawyers, they NEED role models like these, as much as they need those first year courses.

Law schools have ill served the legal community and our students by clinging to this specious division of the theoretical and the practical. I have been stunned, watching otherwise wonderful and rational law professors, of whom I am very fond, become absolutely defensive over the concept of teaching skills in law school. They are, I suppose, concerned that law schools might devolve into mere technical schools without high theory.

BULLSHIT, if you will excuse my outspokenness. You are protecting your pride of position, but you are not fooling anybody, friends. The rest of the university faculty know that our publications are edited by our own students, not peer-reviewed, no matter how many footnotes we shove in!

Please, stop while there is time. The MacCrate Report long since begged law schools to address the needs of the practitioners. Law students have for years been begging for a taste of reality in their schools. Now, law schools are under threat by online law schools and for-profit law schools. If the ABA ever authorizes an on-line, for-profit law school, which will cherry-pick the favorite lecturers from all law schools nationwide, we will all be left as teaching assistants in bar prep courses. Please, please, move your heads around and move into the 21st century. Let's start talking about what our students need to learn!

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