Thursday, January 17, 2008
Brian Tamanaha (St. John's) comments:
In the elite law school universe--with huge endowments and ample resources, with large faculties, with graduates who become corporate lawyers and donate more money, with graduates who become academically-oriented law school professors--the interdisciplinary movement can be justified.
In the non-elite law school universe--with schools almost entirely dependent upon tuition, with a majority of graduates who do not get corporate law jobs and only rarely become law professors--the interdisciplinary movement cannot be so easily justified.
Let me just give three reasons why it might be a bad idea for non-elite law schools. First and foremost, as argued above, there is no evidence that it will make their students better lawyers. Second, it costs a lot of money to go interdisciplinary, and (because non-elite schools are tuition driven) this money will come out of the pockets of the students. Third, their education might suffer if their faculties emulate the elite law school trend toward hiring JD/PhDs with little or no practice experience (assuming a person with some experience in the practice of law has a bit more insight to impart to students about how to be good lawyers)....
Annual tuition at elite law schools will likely hit $50,000 within five years. This hefty price tag (gulp!) is still a good investment for graduates of elite law schools, who are in line for lucrative (albeit life-draining) corporate law jobs. The same cannot be said for graduates of non-elite law schools. Non-elite law schools must find ways to keep their tuition down.
The bottom line of this post: the notion that interdisciplinary studies within law schools promises to improve the practice of law is an old idea backed up by little evidence. Non-elite law schools might not be serving their students well if they get caught up in this trend.
As usual, non-anonymous comments will be very strongly preferred. Post only once; comments may take awhile to appear.