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» Law School, Practice in General » The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Read

The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Read

Here it is, a comment a law professor named David Papke posted earlier today:

I’m pleased to hear Andrew Golden has observed only minimal alienation in the PD’s Office. It’s nice to know there are islands of integrity and commitment in the profession.
However, I strongly agree with Chris King’s sense of the proper relationship between legal education and the practice of law. We don’t want law school to be lawyer-training school. When we cave in to demands of that sort from the ABA and assorted study commissions, we actually invite alienation among law students and lawyers. Legal education should appreciate the depth of the legal discourse and explore its rich complexities. It should operate on a graduate-school level and graduate people truly learned in the law.

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating. Maybe it’s not the stupidest thing I’ve ever read, but it’s definitely stupid. You can read excellent commentary here and here and here.

What confuses me most is this sentence: “When we cave in to demands of that sort from the ABA and assorted study commissions, we actually invite alienation among law students and lawyers.” Huh? Really? How? Admittedly, I haven’t researched the alienation caused by law students being properly trained to be lawyers, but I just don’t see how that can be true.

As a lawyer, what at times alienates me from law students is hiring them to do a research project and realizing they know next to nothing about criminal law or criminal procedure despite having gotten excellent grades in law school criminal law and criminal procedure classes. They can, however, tell me about the professor-made-up “toothbrush rule” for Fourth Amendment standing or Justice Black’s arguments in favor of total incorporation. As a former law student, I still remember being alienated from lawyers because my knowledge was so impractical that I had to do a lot of extra-curriculur research just to ask them intelligent questions about their practice and understand their answers.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved law school (most of the time). I love being a lawyer (most of the time). Sure, maybe all any school can do is give you the tools to go out and learn your chosen profession, but do the people teaching you have to avoid giving you practical knowledge about that profession? Do they have to exhibit disdain for practicing lawyers? Can someone please enlighten me?

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One Response to "The Stupidest Thing I've Ever Read"

  1. Richard K. Jones says:

    My brother has been in practice for about 3 years and told me it took him a year to get over the sense that he was a complete fraud who knew nothing of the law. I’m curently a 2L at ASU, and from the little I can see of private practice, the two things I’ll be doing the most of are research and writing. And yet, outside of legal writing, we do little of either of these things. Though, while searching for a jury-eligible common-law antecedent crime, the smattering of law french we’ve been shown may come in handy.

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