Skip to content

The Law School is Lacking Debate – A Recap

The discussion about how the business of law is lacking and needs to quickly change, hastened by the great recession has expanded in recent months to include law schools.

On Saturday, the New York Times fired the latest salvo in the law-school-is-lacking debate and over the next 24-48 hours the response was swift and pointed. Here’s a recap with links to the blog posts and quotes from the growing chorus:

What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering – David Segal, New York Times, November 19, 2011.

“While most of law schools’ professoriate still happily dwell in the uppermost floors of the ivory tower, the view from the ground for new graduates is growing uglier…Where do these students go?…They can’t hang a shingle and start on their own.”

New York Times: Great Article; Faulty Conclusions About Soloing Out of School – Susan Cartier Liebel, Solo Practice University, November 20, 2011.

“I do encourage everyone to read this article if you haven’t already. But pay attention to what is NOT being said about the majority of lawyers out there, that in spite of the lack of practical training solos succeeding right out of law school are not a novelty.”

Occupy Law School at Solo Practice University – Victoria Pynchon, Forbes, November 20, 2011.

“There’s no better time in America for lawyers to hang out their own shingle than 2011. Not only do lawyers no longer need secretaries or expensive law libraries, they can learn the nuts and bolts of legal practice – as well as the marketing and business management lessons they need – at a two year old enterprise founded by lawyer Susan Cartier Liebel, Solo Practice University.”

Response to the David Segal article, November 20, 2011, in New York Times – William Sullivan, Rebecca Love Kourlis, and Martin Katz, Executive Committee, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, November 20, 2011.

“law schools should address it by developing courses that educate law students on three levels: knowledge, practice and professional identity. By providing experiential learning opportunities that combine these three values, law schools can produce practice-ready graduates, who are able to provide value to clients the day they leave law school.”

The NYT on law teaching – Larry Ribstein, Truth on the Market, November 20, 2011.

“The real problem, as discussed in Practicing Theory, is not that law professors are teaching theory rather than the way to the courthouse, but that their choices of which theories to teach pay insufficient attention to the skills and knowledge today’s and tomorrow’s market demands. Segal’s article, like others in this series, ignores such nuance, preferring to string together well-worn criticisms and to eschew coherent analysis in favor of attention-getting quotes.”

NYT: Law Profs Have Short Legs, Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice, November 21, 2011.

“To the extent that Segal’s article struck a chord (or cut one, as they case may be), it’s nothing that we haven’t known for a very long time. It was a crappy article about a significant problem, leaving tons of reasons to criticize it, but one reason to embrace it. It’s failing. It’s failing to produce lawyers who leave with the knowledge and ability they’ve paid for. It’s failing to produce lawyers who can be entrusted with the lives of other people, despite their ability to recite Kant.”

Solos Don’t Need A Separate Education – Carolyn Elefant, My Shingle, November 21, 2011.

“No, law school isn’t perfect but I’m not so sure that there’s a need for structural overhaul either. Most schools hire adjunct professors who are practicing lawyers and offer opportunities for hands-on training through clinics, moot court, internships and skills courses. Integrating practical skills (for example, contract drafting into Contract Law) would improve law school further, as would incorporating discussion of ethical issues into substantive law classes instead of ghettoizing it as an independent unit void of context. But other than that, we – particularly we solos – need to ask whether in a world where knowledge and judgment command the most value, we really want to focus on skills. In short, we should be careful what we wish for – because we just might get it and regret it.”

And when  you’re checking out these blog posts, scroll down for additional insightful comments.

UPDATE: Additional posts

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jessemichaelnix/1144152067)