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Culture wars Richard Falknor on 20 Jan 2012 02:41 pm

Restoring Learning: Hans Bader on Training Lawyers

Of course, we can’t realistically expect the Institutionalized Left, a.k.a. the Democratic Party, to want to prepare young Americans, K through graduate-or-professional school, for life in a society based on liberty and enterprise. That Party prefers and helps carry out (through sympathetic schools of education) training for collectivism.

But we have every right to expect that the GOP — both through repealing legislation that distorts sound learning and by using their public pulpits to warn citizens of what is going on in their schools — will try to bring all taxpayer-supported education back to fundamentals.

Looking at professional education, Harvard-law graduate Hans Bader in his “Judge Criticizes American Law Schools” (Open Market) declares last Tuesday –

‘A prominent federal judge has added to the growing chorus of criticism for American law schools and their failure to provide practical training for their students despite charging exorbitant tuition:

“Judge José Cabranes of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2d Circuit… noted that law schools are in ‘something of a crisis,’ given the skyrocketing cost of tuition, ever-higher graduate debts and a growing feeling that legal scholarship is of little use to the bench or practitioners.…

To get back on track, law schools should shift their curricula back to core courses and away from the interdisciplinary classes that have grown in popularity, he said; they should introduce a two-year core law program followed by a yearlong apprenticeship, and increase transparency regarding costs, job prospects and financial aid information.…

Cabranes lamented the move by law schools toward specialized, often interdisciplinary courses that can displace ‘black-letter’ law courses — criminal and civil procedure, evidence and federal courts. He related a story about a friend’s child who enrolled in a law school clinic focusing on housing court — but who had never taken a property law course. Core law courses should come before clinics and interdisciplinary work, even if the latter are more popular with students and faculty, he said.…'”

Competitive Enterprise Institute counsel Bader explains

“As I noted in The New York Times, ‘I learned about trendy ideological fads and feminist and Marxist legal theory while at Harvard Law School. But I did not learn many basic legal principles, such as in contract law and real estate law, until I took a commercial bar-exam preparation course after law school.’

Thus, there is no reason to require people to attend law school before sitting for the bar exam. As law professor Paul Campos notes, legal education is a rip-off, since the typical law professor ‘knows nothing about being a lawyer. Hence, he must bullshit — he does not lie to his students about how to be a lawyer (doing so would require him to know how to be a lawyer, while attempting to deceive his students regarding the substance of that knowledge); rather, he ‘talks without knowing what he is talking about,’ when it comes to discussing the legal system or how to be a lawyer.”

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Scroll through our earlier posts on taxpayer-supported education here, here, and here, but particularly read our Radical University Empires vs. Clueless State Lawmakers

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Conservatives must be thinking about the next decade, not just electing well-informed and articulate Republicans in the next election — as important as that is. For example, if we ignore what is happening in education, there will be more than some truth in what one wag says: when the last American conservative emigrates, the Republican Party will still be a thriving concern promising to manage Leviathan more efficiently than the Other Team.

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