Wednesday, January 4, 2012

If law schools took the medical school model seriously

A very interesting comment from Matt Spitzer (Texas), the former Dean at USC, over at Dean Rodriguez's new blog:

Much of the current disenchantment stems from the enormous economic downturn and attendant layoffs and failure-to-hires of recent law school graduates. This produces a demand for both better information about placement (and, perhaps, bar passage), as well as heartfelt but unfocused requests for training that will enable graduates to function as lawyers. If and when the economy improves, these feelings will not disappear, but will become less intense. To the extent that we take the latter request seriously, it will not lead, by and large, to doing a lot more public interest work. Although that work may produce some generalized skills training (e.g. how to draft a complaint), there is precious little paid work in public interest. Rather, taking the demand for skill seriously leads down a path to law schools having a law firm (just as medical schools have hospitals) where students start to learn how to practice under lawyer-professors, who both provide training and who charge clients for their services. We would need to work hard to make the position of lawyer-professor prestigious, so that we could attract the best and the brightest. Law school might become 4 years instead of 3. And there will be negotiations between the lawyer-professors and the Deans of law schools about how to split fees. Deans of law schools will need new sets of skills, akin to managing partner at a large law firm.

Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

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