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December 19, 2013

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Pieter Brueghel the Astonished

A law student tells law professors what it is like to think like a lawyer.

Former Law Review Editor

PB the Astonished, law student states that thinking like a lawyer means "feeling a sense of duty to others." He might be on to something, for surely this standard differentiates lawyers from law faculty. Law profs surely feel no sense of duty to others -- such as their students. No duty to report honest employment data, no duty to charge tuition that can reasonably be repaid, no duty to become educated on the state of the legal employment market.

Joseph Slater

The link to the "top ten" list seems to be broken. As someone who did it the other way (law school first and then history grad school), I would be interested in the list.

Josh Stein

Works now. Thanks!

ATLprof

FLRE: "Law profs surely feel no sense of duty to others -- such as their students."

I'm sorry, but that's a load of crap. I can't speak to whoever your faculty were since I don't know who they were, but it is crap for most faculty I know.

FLRE: "No duty to report honest employment data, no duty to charge tuition that can reasonably be repaid,"

Why exactly do you think faculty have any input or control over what employment data is reported? Why do you think faculty have any say in what tuition rates are? These items have never been up to the faculty at any of the schools with which I am familiar. Faculty aren't even asked their opinion on such things. You may need to step back and think a bit about the governance structures of law schools - and even consider that your best ally in those structures is actually the faculty.

FLRE: "no duty to become educated on the state of the legal employment market"

The faculty I know and work with are trying to figure out both the general state of the legal employment market (bad to very bad depending on a number of factors/sub-markets) and trying to figure out the changes in that marketplace that are still on-going (and trying to figure out how to adapt law school programs to meet those changes). Of course, I don't know what your experience with faculty was like at whatever school you chose to attend.

matt

Joshua provides a nice example of self promotion. He's says he's learned how important it is to help others, how admirable. Although, I'll bet this essay for law school was already filled with pablum about how much he wanted to help others, just not as a low paid history professor. I think we all know Joshua is gunning for an easy, high paid job as a law professor, certainly not a job in legal aid or some other capacity where he would be helping the disadvantaged without a high salary of minimal hours. But Joshua must want to help people, why he told so us himself.

If Joshua's post is transparently self promoting, "ATLprof"'s post showing the inability of law professors to think like good lawyers. Good lawyers understand they need to back up their claims with evidence. The only evidence ATLprof provides is are claims about "most faculty I know."

It is of course possible to provide evidence that some law professors care about law students. Paul Campos and Deborah Jones Merritt (both tenured professors at highly ranked law schools) have devoted a great deal of time to pointing out problems with law schools and trying to warn potential students about the excessive debt and poor job prospects of law grads. But these professors would agree with FLRE on the problems of law school.

Ironically, ATLprof admits he has no duty to report honest employment data or do anything to get his school to charge reasonable tuition, his excuse is that he has no control over this. He then claims unspecified faculty he knows are trying to figure out the state of the legal market. Its amazing that he can't understand such unverifiable assertions about unspecified individuals are in any way persuasive. Moreover, its unclear why they would do so if they have no power to change anything.

Matt Crow

Josh, nice post, and congrats on rounding the corner. And belated congrats on the red sox.

I'm unclear on a point you make. Did you not feel that sense of responsibility as a historian, or is it a different responsibility? Perhaps a historian is responsible to a different audience? Maybe a smaller one, maybe a bigger one? What's the shift in "ethics" or maybe "civics" that you name here?

Josh Stein

Matt Crow: I'm certainly not saying one position requires more or less ethics. I would just say there's a different emphasis. In history, you could see your primary duty as one to seek the "truth." This also provides a public good and triggers a responsibility to the community at large. But it's a different kind of service and less personally direct than in law, when you have an actual client.

Bill Turnier

The old cynical joke was that you learned to think like a lawyer once you figured out who to bill for your coffee break.

terry malloy

Pictured is the last time when Return on Investment for a law degree was positive.

terry malloy

"Why do you think faculty have any say in what tuition rates are? These items have never been up to the faculty at any of the schools with which I am familiar. Faculty aren't even asked their opinion on such things. You may need to step back and think a bit about the governance structures of law schools - and even consider that your best ally in those structures is actually the faculty."

Missed this gem.

Law Professors: Mob Wives.

I don't know where Tony gets the money, I just try not to think about it.

Anon observer

Terry Malloy, don't you get tired of your stupid routine? We do. Moderators, could you please ban this clown?

ATLprof

"Ironically, ATLprof admits he has no duty to report honest employment data or do anything to get his school to charge reasonable tuition, his excuse is that he has no control over this. He then claims unspecified faculty he knows are trying to figure out the state of the legal market. Its amazing that he can't understand such unverifiable assertions about unspecified individuals are in any way persuasive. Moreover, its unclear why they would do so if they have no power to change anything."

So much total and complete lack of understanding in that paragraph that it is going to be difficult to unpack it all.

"Ironically, ATLprof admits he has no duty to report honest employment data or do anything to get his school to charge reasonable tuition"

I said no such thing. I pointed out that faculty did not control what law schools do in those areas. Are you suggesting that faculty have a duty, outside of their law school, hire people out of their own pocket to go through bar membership directories and online phone number services to locate contact information on all their graduates, and then have those people contact all the graduates, and keep calling them and keep calling them when many won't return calls or provide information, and then create their own website or other publication with the employment data they find? That seems to be what you are suggesting faculty have a duty to do.

Again, I can't speak to every school or faculty, but faculty at my school have argued repeatedly that tuition should be slashed. The result: tuition remains the same or increases.

"Its amazing that he can't understand such unverifiable assertions about unspecified individuals are in any way persuasive."

Exactly what am I supposed to do? Record conversations with other faculty, faculty meetings and committee meetings and then upload them here for you to listen to? Is the introduction of physical evidence a part of comment discussions on blogs now?

Sure, you have no way of verifying it. But that is no different than the verifiability of FLRE's initial statement: "Law profs surely feel no sense of duty to others -- such as their students." Are you here saying he/she needs to provide verification for that much broader statement?

"He then claims unspecified faculty he knows are trying to figure out the state of the legal market. Moreover, its unclear why they would do so if they have no power to change anything."

Unclear to you perhaps. Faculty try to understand what is happening within the legal market so that they can make changes to their programs of legal education to better prepare their students for that market. When I'm talking about the legal market in this Context, I mean the shifts in the ways in which legal services are offered, the ways in which lawyers organize themselves, etc. In other words, I'm not simply talking about 'how many jobs there are.'

"But these professors would agree with FLRE on the problems of law school."

I agree with most everything FLRE has said on this blog at various times about what the problems of law schools are. Where we disagree is when it comes to identifying the source of those problems and the solutions to those problems.

Law school is much too expensive. It needs to cost half what it does now, at the very least. The curriculum at most schools needs to change, in many cases drastically when we are talking about the second and third years. Plenty of other innovations (undergrad law degrees, 3+3 programs, 2+3 programs, shorter JD programs, apprenticeships, etc.) need to be examined.

Look, you can choose to believe me or not. I'm trying to help you understand how law schools work - with an eye on how to fix them. If you'd prefer to keep lashing out at faculty for whatever reason instead of trying to understand the problems and what to do about them, fine.

Former Law Review Editor

ATLprof,

I'm glad there are faculty like you who embrace reform. The medicine is going to be tough to swallow. The problems are easy to spot. Reform, in the abstract, is easy to identify. The pain comes in the remedies. Getting the ABA to acknowledge problem was a tough row to hoe. Putting the fix in place will be painful. Faculty must be ready for it as they will be hurt by it.

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