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July 07, 2015

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Just saying...

How are you defining "quality," Derek? Are you looking at credentials only? If so, some of the best credentialed profs I had in law school were among the worst teachers and also very elitist and arrogant when dealing with students whom they considered beneath them.

I think most law students would gladly exchange credential "quality" for competent and caring people who can really teach.

Derek Tokaz

JS,

I was looking just in terms of whatever quality is reflected in a high LSAT score, since it's high LSAT students who are mostly avoiding law school. Of course, if high LSAT is inversely correlated with professor quality, then it could be a good thing.

Anon

Just saying, that's spot on. The law students I know would gladly trade credential quality for teaching quality. I also think many would trade academic credential quality for law professors with interesting backgrounds outside of academia, eg, government, law firm, solo practice, non profit, etc

confused by your post

I think most law students would gladly exchange credential "quality" or teaching "quality" for professors who are willing and able to help them land a decent job at graduation.

Anon

True but most professors don't have a lot of connections outside of academics and many really haven't practiced law.

Just saying...

Confused: You may be correct that students are only interested in landing a job, but it would be nice for their clients (and them, even if they don't realize it) if they actually learned something in law school. Your comment reminds me of a student many years ago who said that he was not in law school to get an education, he was there to get the degree.

That being said, I think Anon is correct, most profs, esp. those with top credentials, have very little contact/influence/experience with the practicing bar.

Anon

It is too bad that law schools have separate career services departments that operate largely independent of law professors. It would be very helpful if schools could get their professors that have connections to the private bar (even if just a few) involved in the job search and on-campus recruiting process.

confused by your post

JS: My experience is that it is the adjuncts who can be of help to students in landing jobs. Long term tenured professors are typically not much help.

As to law schools preparing lawyers better for practice that's all a diversion from the real issues in legal education. On some marginal level law school can create graduates who are a bit more prepared to perform a specific legal task or to work in specific practice areas by changing their programs to focus more time, money and energy on those specific tasks/practice areas. There are a host of negatives that go along with that which largely indicate such changes are a bad idea. However, that is the immediate future of legal education.

It used to be that law school was largely a place to learn how to think about legal issues and how to learn about the big picture regarding the law; the framework upon which each individual can build their own set of knowledge and skills to fit their specific needs and practice AFTER graduation. We are moving towards graduating students who have not been taught the how to think about the law or taught the framework but instead are learning to perform specific legal tasks. One of the reasons bar passage rates are going down is that many schools are moving away from teaching big picture learning of various basic and important legal topics. Increasingly students are graduating without this knowledge and it puts them at a big disadvantage on bar exams.

If some of these schools want to immerse their students on practice areas immediately useful to their graduates after graduation and make them "practice ready" then they should offer classes on doc review, low end insurance defense and perhaps making coffee.

Just saying...

Confused: I do not think that much will change with regard to the law school curriculum because the tenureds cannot teach practical stuff and the schools cannot afford to bring in adjuncts or clinicians to do so.

Legal education should have followed a medical school model with theory followed by a mandatory internship but that will never happen.

Anon

Just saying, don't you think that law schools have realized the importance of professors having the ability/willingness to teach practical stuff, so a curriculum shift (though pretty slow) may already be occurring?

Taking a Second Look

Here's my concern about about the "practice ready" curriculum: Suppose the lower-tier law schools make a hard shift into teaching practical skills. Rather than Law and Literature and Nietzche and the Law, or even Bankruptcy or Secured Transactions, the law schools start offering lots of brass tacks courses on Divorce Law, DUI Law, Small Business Dispute Resolution, etc., complete with adjuncts working side-by-side with students and showing them exactly how to work cases in these areas. If tens and tens of thousands of students who currently can't get legal jobs flood into this type of work, won't that just destroy the market for these types of legal services?

The legal sector is not particularly robust with which to start. If the thousands of lower-tier graduates who currently can't get any legal job are instead shown exactly how to hang their own shingles, won't they just fail to find legal work after opening their practices rather than before?

Anon

That's a drastic example. The critical thing is to better align law school with the real world, and have the first complement the second, not to make them coextensive. It's as if people are oblivious to the fact that students come to law school to get jobs as lawyers, not to become scholars of law and literature.

antiscammer

Students should not be relying on faculty to get them jobs. It's not the comparative advantage of legal academics and viewed as a distraction by any serious faculty members.

Better that law schools beef up the professionalism of their career development offices by recruiting experienced legal placement personnel (and of course paying them for results).

anon

Why would it be a "distraction" for faculty to assist students in getting jobs? Law schools exist for the benefit of students.

anon

antiscammer

I think you've totally missed the point. Of course faculty are not the placement office!

And the point, taking a second look, is not to train folks to do evictions.

Geez. A tiny tick up in LSAT takers for ONE session, and all the status quo reactionaries come out in full force.

anon law prof

The belief that faculty get students jobs is misplaced. Just like the supposed "promises" that attending law school would guarantee a job. Students who come to school thinking they've been promised something, that the faculty or the placement office will get them a job are going to be disappointed. Students need to be proactive. Maybe a faculty member will recommend a student to people she knows. Maybe that will result in interviews. The onus is always on the student. The jobs go to people who are proactive, not passive. Employers can see that. That's who they want. Those are also the people clients want.

antiscammer

It is extremely rare for any law faculty to make a difference in the hiring process. So rare that it is silly to be pressing in this direction.

anon

antiscammer

No one seriously contends that the majority - or even a significant number of - tenured faculty in the present environment have - or have ever had - any meaningful relationship to the practice of law.

You are completely missing the point.

anon

"It is extremely rare for any law faculty to make a difference in the hiring process."

This is the precisely the problem, but need not be the case at all. Respectfully, you are truly missing the point.

Just saying...

Anon wrote: Just saying, don't you think that law schools have realized the importance of professors having the ability/willingness to teach practical stuff, so a curriculum shift (though pretty slow) may already be occurring?

Anon: Law schools may have realized it, but that does not mean that many/most current long-time tenured faculty have the ability or desire to do so. Are they going to be transformed overnight?? If they never practiced or have not practiced in decades the realization that they should teach practical stuff is not going to make they competent to do so.

I worked at a law school where, before the LRW movement many years ago, the tenureds taught that subject and got paid extra $$ for doing so. Virtually all did a horrible job. They did not want to teach it and only did it for the money and put little time or effort into it. This pattern could likely follow if tenureds are told they must teach more "practical stuff."

Remember, these are the same people who have fought the teaching of practice-oriented skills in favor or more and more Law and.... courses and more courses focused on their often personal research interests.

In terms of faculty involved in getting students jobs... WHY? Why is a job better if a prof helped a student get it or a career services professional did so? What is so special/important about faculty involved in the job search??

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