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August 12, 2014


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confused by your post


I respect your comments regarding "tone." However, exactly what was the "productive exchange of ideas" you speak of? Was there some course of action you or "anon" took as a result of your exchanges that led to a real benefit to anyone? Your example does not do a great job of illustrating your point.

Looking forward to your response.

Ben Barros

Confused, I should have been clearer. I don't think there needs to be a course of action for an exchange to be productive. We actually engaged with each other, and found out that we agreed on some things but disagreed on others. That was a positive step. I wouldn't want to suggest that anyone track through that comment thread - it is long, and Typepad is really clumsy with long threads - but earlier in the thread, we were talking past each other. It also helped me think about how to frame certain issues in this context.


I have two comments, one for Ben and one for Steven.

For Ben: You said "...that students entering law school now are virtually certain to graduate into the best legal job market in recent memory..."

'Virtually certain' is a very strong statement, and to achieve that you'd have to ignore (a) BLS projections and (b) a number of factors affecting legal employment (automation, outsourcing, off shoring, and replacement of JD's by non-JD's).

Steven: "First, that there are no jobs for law grads."

I would love to see cites for this argument being made; I've never seen that argument made.

Ben Barros

Barry, as I said in the post, I'm not interested in re-litigating those issues here. I'm working on another post that will address those issues.

Steven Freedman

@Prof. Barros and the commenters. I think Prof. Barros makes an excellent point. Both sides are passionate about what they believe, and that level of passion shows in the comments. However, if you look over the conversations you can see some real dialogue occurring.

From my perspective, I think it helps to understand that while some people are strictly focused on lashing out, many of the people following these issues are genuinely interested in improving legal education and helping current and future law school grads. I think we all agree that legal education is better when it is affordable, high quality, and leads to good career opportunities. How we get there is definitely a good topic for discussion (one that I don't think we need to re-litigate here). Thanks Prof. Barros for pointing out a good exchange and reminding us why we post here in the first place.

@Barry. Fair enough, I'll re-state that comment to state that we're trying to refute the meme that there are barely any good jobs available for law school graduates.

Citations for this meme...

"So, in theory, all of the BLS-forecasted job openings through 2020 have already been filled, and 59,157 new lawyers are still looking for “real” law jobs.

Yes, of course some of the JD graduates this year and in the years to come will find high-paying, partner-track jobs at big firms and elsewhere. But the scale of the imbalance over a decade gives some indication of just how tough it is — and will be — as armies of newly minted JDs rise every year. By 2020, about 300,000 additional grads will join those 59,157 in a hunt for jobs that, statistically, are not to be found." See also

confused by your post


I would make the observation that your definition of what constitutes "productive" is apparently much more inclusive than that of the average person. Can you expand for the readers on what issues you learned to frame differently and how you will frame them now as a result of the posts you reference?



“anon” here.

Let me begin by stating that your post makes me want to throw off the cloak of anonymity. Thank you for your positive words. But, there are very real reasons for posting under that cloak, as I’m sure you are aware.

I too thought about our exchange long after it occurred, and I too pondered the reasons that the discussion turned to points of agreement - so many others haven’t. So, what was different?

Perhaps, the “truth” almost always emerges from a fray (at least, our jury system assumes so). But, agreement can only supplant rancor if the participants pause to reflect, as you say in the title of this post, in good faith. Sincerity is key here.

So many of the debates we see in the public at large are simply like team sports: everyone is playing the same game, but choosing to support a “side.” When the game is played that way here in the FL, we first decide on whose “side” the speaker comments, then we decide on the merits of what is said. Meanwhile, of course, the trash talk goes on, unabated.

So, what is the “truth,” in this context? The answer: we will probably never know the “truth” but the pursuit of improvement is always valid, for nothing in this world is perfect. When we disagree about a “fix,” we agree to a problem. But, when we, instead, argue about whether the climate will change and imply that these changes in the climate will make any “fix” of legal education unnecessary, we seem to be claiming to be in the “right” on all the other issues that are being debated. That contributes to inflaming the “sides,” I think.

Let me hasten to say that I don’t think that this effect was intended, and, in the true spirit of an educator, Ben, you are teaching and learning at the same time. (If anyone questions the worth of this, one doubts that that person is speaking in good faith.)

My observation and participation in many of these threads has educated me, and reminded me of what so many of us once believed: I believe the goals upon which almost all in legal academia will ultimately agree.

Many of us once believed, and believe still, that those elements of a law school education that most inspire and motivate young people have less to do with money and status and more to do with preparing students in law school to participate in the legal institutions of our country. When we make their aspirations (and our goals for our community to be accomplished with the help of their energy and assistance) to do good (while doing well, of course), we seem to find many points of agreement. Perhaps the legal academy has lost its way in some respects by drifting away from what is central to legal education, and, in so doing, has lost faith with many.

In a recent thread started by Jeff Redding, “Imagining the Impossible in 'Law School' Reform,” a similar theme took hold, at least to some extent. I’ll repeat one comment to conclude: “Once on a sounder footing more in keeping with their tradition and core mission, law schools [can] return to a more lofty goal: promoting the reform and refinement of the legal system in the US. The law as it is experienced by the public today is sorely in need of major reforms.”

Young people in law school want desperately to improve their communities and, although some may attend law school simply because someone claimed it was worth a million dollars (this leads to disappointment!) more will attend to learn to use their position as attorneys to serve, and not to suck.


Steve, you are citing an analogy.

Ben Barros

Anon, thanks! I was confident that you'd understand the post, even if Confused is confused about it.


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