Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Attack of the Law Deans: How Legal Education was Subverted

Well, your cranky librarian has had it up to her eyebrows with law school politics! The ALDA crackpots are passing themselves off to the Secretary of Education and the National Law Journal here as actual representatives of 110 law schools. Phooey on them! They just want to get out from under the Standards where they have somebody telling them they have to actually let clinicians lead a life at their law schools and treat the librarians and the director at least as if they were faculty. Not that ALDA and the deans have been delivering the legal education goods in any way or means.

Take your basic MACCRATE REPORT excerpts here, created in 1992, by a joint committee of legal practitioners and educators to guide law schools. It specifically recommends a lot more skills-based education. For instance, what clinicians teach. For instance, legal research and legal writing. The sorts of things that have become a pink collar ghetto in too many law schools, and is the real thrust of the attack by the ALDA group. AHA! And it also specifically recommends multicultural law schools. This is another thing that the ALDA rump group bucks against.

No wonder the lawyers and judges are wondering what has happened to their MacCrate report. The guys in real power in the law schools have been busy burying it since it came out 14 years ago. They are trying to finish off the job right now, by burying the ABA's standards powers.

If you care about the quality of law as taught and practiced in the country -- and you should! -- you should care about the MacCrate Report and what the ALDA group is trying to do with their comments to the Secretary of Education. For years, lawyers' reputations have gone down the tubes. When was the last time you saw a lawyer depicted with dignity as a good guy? To Kill a Mockingbird, maybe or one of the charming Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn romances like Adam's Rib? They can be good guys!

Law is what separates the United States and other free countries from chaotic places where it is dangerous to speak your opinion, criticize the government or open a business that competes with the mayor's son-in-law. It is a mighty sword and a mighty shield. Even in unworthy hands, it accomplishes much. In the hands of a well-trained person of good intentions, how good a thing it is!

We need excellent law schools that REALLY train lawyers in the skills they need in the real world of today. When was the last time you had a professor teach you how to use computers and software to manage documents? Have you ever had a professor talk to you about privacy concerns with e-mail or computerized searching or metadata tags? These things ought to be taught in law school, for heavens sake! Along with good skills in analysis, research, writing, and oral advocacy or deal-making.

Surprise! Here is the notice in the Federal Register that called for comments -- I didn't know it was there -- did you? And I work in a law library. It's a pretty short notice time, too. I'm going ahead and sending in my written comment, despite the fact that it's past time -- you should, too! It's a pretty minor piece of civil disobedience and the poor person who gets the e-mail is the schmoe who suffers, but she can always hit delete! Here is the citation and the announcement:

[Federal Register: February 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 24)]
[Page 6059-6061]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []



Recognition of Accrediting Agencies, State Agencies for the
Approval of Public Postsecondary Vocational Education, and State
Agencies for the Approval of Nurse Education

AGENCY: National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and
Integrity, Department of Education (The Advisory Committee).

What Is the Purpose of This Notice?

The purpose of this notice is to invite written comments on
accrediting agencies and State approval agencies whose applications to
the Secretary for renewed recognition, requests for an expansion of the
scope of recognition, or reports will be reviewed at the Advisory
Committee meeting to be held on June 5-7, 2006, at the Hilton Arlington
Hotel, 950 North Stafford Street, Arlington, Virginia.

Where Should I Submit My Comments?

Please submit your written comments by mail, fax, or e-mail no
later than March 8, 2006 to Ms. Robin Greathouse, Accreditation and
State Liaison. You may contact her at the U.S. Department of Education,
Room 7105, MS 8509, 1990 K Street, NW., Washington, DC 20006,
telephone: (202) 219-7011, fax: (202) 219-7005, or e-mail: Individuals who use a telecommunications

device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay
Service at 1-800-877-8339.

[[Page 6060]]

What Is the Authority for the Advisory Committee?

The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and
Integrity is established under Section 114 of the Higher Education Act
(HEA), as amended, 20 U.S.C. 011c. One of the purposes of the Advisory
Committee is to advise the Secretary of Education on the recognition of
accrediting agencies and State approval agencies.

Will This Be My Only Opportunity To Submit Written Comments? Yes, this notice announces the only opportunity you will have to
submit written comments. However, a subsequent Federal Register notice
will announce the meeting and invite individuals and/or groups to
submit requests to make oral presentations before the Advisory
Committee on the agencies that the Committee will review. That notice,
however, does not offer a second opportunity to submit written

What Happens to the Comments That I Submit?

We will review your comments, in response to this notice, as part
of our evaluation of the agencies' compliance with Section 496 of the
Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and the Secretary's Criteria
for Recognition of Accrediting Agencies and State Approval Agencies.
The Criteria are regulations found in 34 CFR part 602 (for accrediting
agencies) and in 34 CFR part 603 (for State approval agencies) and are
found at the following site:
We will also include your comments with the staff analyses

we present to the Advisory Committee at its June 2006 meeting.
Therefore, in order for us to give full consideration to your comments,
it is important that we receive them by March 8, 2006.

So there, ALDA! That's where legal education ought to be heading, bei mir. This image of Zeus, getting ready to zap you with a lightning bolt is courtesy of
The site does not credit the photograph of the greek redware vase. But they do include interesting note on Zeus:

Greek mythology tells us that Zeus received his thunderbolt weapons from the Cyclopes, gigantic one-eyed monsters born to Gaea and Uranus, as were Zeus and the other Titans. When Cronus came to power among the Titans, he imprisoned the Cyclopes in Tartarus. When Zeus freed them from their imprisonment, they became his allies against the Titans for supreme power. As a reward for securing their release, the Cyclopes gave Zeus the mighty weapons of lighting and thunder which he used to assume celestial sovereignty among the Titans. Afterward, the Cyclopes continued serving as his smiths, forging his thunderbolts on Mount Olympus. Three -- Arges (thunderbolt), Steropes (lightning), and Brontes (thunder) -- were storm gods.

Zeus had control over all the heavens, and thus governed the sudden changes of weather and power of storms. Zeus the Thunderbolt wielded his power from Mount Olympus; Zeus the Descender came down to earth in each flash from heaven, consecrating spots on the ground with his fiery touch. Although his thunderbolt would kill, they permitted the gods to confer immortality on the victim.

1 comment:

smith said...

This is a very interesting proposal. Two questions occur to me. First, how would this impact, if at all, the issue of cost of legal education ? Second, while I see how it would produce graduates with more immediately useful skills, it is not clear whether it would address the issue of the excess supply of lawyers currently being produced by the law schools.