American legal education – scientifically proven to be worthless, law professors jam heads up asses in response

I have written previously on the Worthlessness of American Legal Education. That ruffled a few feathers among legal academics who didn’t like being called a “circle jerk.” In response to that critique, legal academics decided to disband the circle jerk and actually focus on practical training of lawyers in both business, law, and ethics.

HAAAA…. had you going, didn’t I?

No, the legal academy didn’t give a shit about my piece (well, I did get some crybaby emails from do nothing blowhards, but nobody did anything but bitch).

And now… Bob Ambrogi brings us a report that shows:

Sixty-five percent of law students (and 90 percent of lawyers) say law school does not teach them the practical business skills they need to practice law in today’s economy. More than a third say they do not feel adequately prepared by law school to succeed in the marketplace. Given the changes in the market, a fifth of all law students now say they regret going to law school in the first place. (source)

Wow! Lexis Nexis did an actual scientific study that produced data to back up my assertion that American legal education is a ball of shit! And in response, NOW the legal academy is ready to change…

BAAAAA…. Got you again.

No, instead they are ruminating on whether law professors should have PhD degrees… you know, to make legal education even more useless. I’m not saying that PhDs are useless. The best law professor I ever had didn’t even have a JD, he only had a PhD. But, he was something special.

Greenfield had this to say:

For practicing lawyers who think that lawyers fresh out of school lack the skills needed to practice law now, the future may be far more dim. A lawprof with a PhD is likely to be far more entrenched in the theoretical than the practical, and far more likely to have had no experience in the actual practice of lawyering. If you think lawprofs today fall short of the qualifications to teach students to be lawyers, imagine what a future of teachers without any practical experience at all will mean. Oh, the weather outside is frightful.

One shining hope seems like a possibility however. As law schools continue to compete for students, perhaps this will present an opening for those schools that aren’t likely to be the top draw for the brainiest PhDs to counterprogram themselves as the practical law schools, “the law school where you actually learn how to be a lawyer.” We can dream, can’t we? (source)

Yes, Scott, we can dream. But, for as long as the legal academy is run by people who wash out of practice after 16 months, the ABA keeps accrediting every head injury clinic that calls itself a law school, and the government keeps backing loans so that the morons who attend them can sit at the roulette wheel, the market isn’t likely to correct the mess any time soon.

26 Responses to American legal education – scientifically proven to be worthless, law professors jam heads up asses in response

  1. dave says:

    It surprises me that someone who practices law for a living can be as bad a reader as you apparently are. Read my post again. Am I really “ruminating” on whether PhDs “should” be a requirement? No. I’m providing advice to entry level candidates on what kind of credentials they ought to get if they want to be hired as a law professor in 2015. Distinguishing the world as it is from the world we want is supposed to be a pretty core lawyer competency. Maybe it’s hard to focus when you are getting ready to rant?

    A smaller point, Lexis’ survey wasn’t scientific. There’s no evidence that the surveyed population was representative, though of course the results are a nice fit with your prior beliefs, so that must be comforting.

    • Thanks for coming by, Dave. Shouldn’t you be at an international association of crybabies meeting or something like that? Some male-feminist omega candlelight vigil or something of the sort? Or perhaps a colleague is looking for a hand job, go get your lotion, boy.

      Half a worthless dipshit with 18 months of experience practicing law. There’s a lot you would be surprised about if you ever had exposure to actually doing the job.

      • dave says:

        Is this supposed to be a defense of your silly post, or simply more evidence in support of my comment?

        • No, it was just supposed to be me telling you to go shit in your hat, a demonstration of a complete lack of respect for you and your position. I’m surprised that you didn’t pick up on that.

        • Halcyon 1L says:

          “[G]o PhD or go home”–didn’t I get enough of that in my relatively worthless undergraduate degree? Do lawyers “do” or do they “ruminate.” With all due respect, I think the former–and the teachers should model the same.

  2. D says:

    I’m too early in my law school career to judge the entire structure, but there’s definitely a marked difference in effectiveness between the profs who spent significant time in practice and those who did not (though admittedly, I’m working with a single data point on the non-practicing prof).

  3. mespo727272 says:

    In your previous post, you lamented that your Georgetown Law degree didn’t prepare you for creating billing invoices or drafting a notice of appearance. It did seemingly prepare you to write persuasively; cite relevant authority; and use some wit and verve in your advocacy. All worthless and easily attainable skills I am sure when compared to the intellectual challenges of counting up hours and multiplying by dollars, or asking your paralegal to copy from a form book. Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much–and too loudly. You stand as the perfect counter-example to your argument, counselor.

    • Mespo,

      I didn’t get those skills at Georgetown. I got them in my Umass journalism program, and honed them in my University of Florida (yes, Flori-duh!) masters program. I appreciate the deep compliment from you, but I think that you need to look at all the data. My Georgetown degree got me a couple of things: 1) my right to take the bar (but any school could have done that), 2) access to some really cool people who I remain lifelong friends with (as did every school I attended), 3) the ability to make some people go “ooooh! very nice” when I tell them where I went. That and 99 cents will get you a footlong hot dog.

      • Harry D. Mauron says:

        Marco – You shoulda been a Section 7. We got all the good “adjunct” (a/k/a employed in lawyering) professors.

        Even though Prof. Dave hangs in N. Philly, Roger Adelman could kick his a$$ while eating a Zabar bagel.

        • You’re right… if I had only known then what I know now… I would have been a Section 7 (that’s the night program for those of you who didn’t attend GULC).

          Of course, if I had known then what I know now, I would have taken one of my multiple free-ride offers at lower ranked schools.

          And you’re right about Adelman. Hoffman isn’t qualified to shine Adelman’s shoes.

          Finally, don’t get me wrong.. we NEED theorists in law school. I think that we even NEED Phds in law schools.. but, when you pick through the average law school faculty roster, you’re going to find, again and again, a bunch of dipshits with a summer associate position and 14 months in private practice as the only real job they’ve ever held. That has not been good for the profession, and stacking more Phds in the deck will only exacerbate the problem.

  4. blueollie says:

    I don’t know anything about law and therefore won’t comment on law education. But I can say that, at least in the technical fields, things are changing so rapidly that if one gets *too* practical, what one learns will be obsolete very quickly. Hence the more abstract “learning how to think” is the function of the educational process.

    I suppose it is the “training” versus “education” thing in at least some disciplines; I am not sure about how that works in law.

    • I would hope that you could “think like a lawyer” or “think like an engineer” or “think like a spaceman” after one class in your undergraduate program.

      Trust me, the whole “think like a lawyer” mantra is complete bullshit, fabricated by do-nothing jackasses like Hoffman (above) who need to defend the fact that they are a big part of the problem in both legal education and the legal profession.

      Theory is nice… theory is even important… but theory is also the thing that these dipshits cheer because it is all they will ever know.

  5. Halcyon 1L says:

    I chose my school because of the numerous skills based courses and clinical opportunities. I can take meaningful clinics/externships every semester in 2L and 3L, and there are a number of seminars in trial practice with practicing attorneys and sitting/retired judges. I’m looking forward to several advanced legal writing classes, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution, and similar skills-based courses. There are certainly vanilla academics here too, and they are the majority, but even in my 1L year we have a very experienced, practicing, respected litigator for a class–he teaches only one class each semester–and in another class a professor has done both significant litigation and extensive research on juries. I am not unhappy with my choice of school. There are a number of professors here with 15-20 years of litigation experience.

    Of course, as a former teacher, I recognize that I learned more in my student teaching than anything in a college classroom, so I planned my legal education accordingly. I wasn’t interested in a school of legal philosophy.

    Nearby there is another legal institution, and I wonder if many of those graduates would know how to draft a motion or could be comfortable in mediation. (Having spoken with attorneys in the area at networking events, they tell me that most of those graduates lack these skills.) But the market will still pay top dollar for graduates of that institution. . . . The model doesn’t make much sense to me.

  6. Mike says:

    Well I’m also in the technical field as well and would agree that rapid change can make a particular knowledge obsolete, still it seems like the best way to train. So what if my Computer Hardware Design class had me wirewrapping custom cards for an old PDP-11 which was 10 yrs obsolete when I was in the class, It still taught me a particular technology, and the methods to go about learning a particular technology without reverting to theory. This will remain useful as you have to learn about new technologies after graduation.

    I work in embedded SW/ASIC design and it is personally disappointing to me when interviewing college candidates with a 4 yr computer science degree (that are interviewing for an embedded SW position) that they can not answer me when I ask them what happens when I push the ‘1’ key on my keyboard. Theres too much theory in the Technical field as well in my opinion.

  7. ResIpsaLAC says:

    I agree wholeheartedly with this ridiculousness.

    1) When I got my legal education, all of my profs (except for my ethics prof and my research prof) were actually practitioners for a long time before they ever started teaching, and about 90% of them were great/a bit inspiring. I will say that the people I thought to be the worst profs were those who had become pretty famous for whatever reason and had no ability to bring the level of discourse down to basic as a place to start, which I’m sure is similar to the way career academics teach.

    2) I have a JD from a high TT school and an LLM in Tax from one of the best programs in the country. From my JD program, about half of my friends are still unemployed with triple-digit debt. From my LLM program, there were more than 100 students in my graduating class and I can name literally about 10 who are now employed. I think, if we’re talking about graduates from 2007-now, 1/5 being regretful would be insanely conservative. All of us leave school (and frankly the Bar exam) feeling woefully unprepared for actual practice. There is a good percentage of fairly new lawyers who went to law school in an effort to bring ourselves and our families out of poverty via what we were led to believe (from the media and academia) would be a stable, at least somewhat lucrative career choice–this could not have backfired more spectacularly given that being on Welfare without a grad school education would actually put you in a better financial position than being unemployed and $100k in the negative.

    I love the substance of my chosen profession: the law. But, the road to get there is a straight-up racket. Please explain to me why tuition at any institution of higher education should be $40k/yr, or why law schools don’t seem to mind churning out ever more lawyers each year knowing the market can’t support that many new hires nevermind that (especially now) no one is hiring entry-level attorneys because they don’t know how to do anything! And why do I need a Bachelor’s degree to go to law school when just about every other nation trains lawyers from the get-go AND requires them to apprentice?

    In my LLM program there was never a class that did a “this is how you fill out a tax return” lesson, just as in law school there was maybe one class (advocacy) that required knowledge of everyday things like drafting a complaint.

    None of it makes any practical sense…unless you own a law school or a student loan company. Then, of course, anything that makes a profit makes sense…

    • Christopher Harbin says:

      “Please explain to me why tuition at any institution of higher education should be $40k/yr,”

      This is an easy one. Because they can. It’s not a perfect market because almost anyone can get loans to go to law school. Unlimited access to this money coupled with nonproductive tenured professors drives prices higher. Students are duped into attending with the promise of 160k median salaries that schools report, even when this might only represent the 25% of students who actually reported their income. Toss in some gambler’s bias and it’s a perfect storm. To recap:

      1. Easy to obtain nonchargeable student loans.
      2. Tenured profs that teach one class (maybe) a semester. Requires more profs, driving up costs.
      3. Opaque or misleading employment data from law schools.
      4. Snowflake students who think they’ll always be in the top 10% of their class and snag the lucrative 160k job.

  8. Terrie says:

    I attended a law school that has a local reputation for producing lawyers with actual, practical skill. (The required skills classes averaged out at around 12 credits, but three of those classes were both 4 credits work for 3 credits, so it’s more like 14 or 15 credits worth.). Our national ranking? Is as a third-tier law school. That says somethign about the value placed on skills teaching.

    • I’d like to think that if the complaints grow from just my curmudgeonly ravings to a chorus and a clamor, things might change.

      Maybe you could join the choir?

      • Terrie says:

        Ironically, I work at a law school, but teach… skills classes. Trust me, I’m already singing the tune of how important skills are.

        • You poor thing! You must be forced to eat your lunch in the storeroom.

          Seriously though, good for you. That takes some stamina, swimming against the tide to actually deliver something useful to your students.

  9. ChadKnowsLaw says:

    Law school was like a fraternity initiation. Pointless and meaningless but what we had to do to get in the club.
    You want to start a raving chorus? Yeah, I’ll join that. Put me down for baritone.

  10. marty d. says:

    Did A. Lincoln go to law school? Why was the old way so terrible? Actually working in a practice to learn your skill. Guess everything old will be new again does not apply to lawyering. Perhaps certain areas of legal practice could go back to the old system.

  11. […] likes to post about the worthlessness of legal education yet never outright addresses the underlying reason it is worthless.  The reason is simple:  Legal academia is run by and large […]

  12. andrews says:

    I would not object to more skills. Of course my job involves reading and pushing a lot of paper. I see paper from what I must presume to be other lawyers who seem unfamiliar with the English language.

    Sure, I have an unfair advantage: I was writing for real readers before I was a lawyer. I’m not asking for that. I would like to see a coherent memo from one of these foreclosure mills, though.

  13. […] Marco & Co. do it regularly enough that I don’t have to.  (See here, here, and here.)  On the whole, my law school experience was a good one.  I took as much […]

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