February 22, 2011

"[H]ow do we make sure law schools can teach people to think like lawyers when our hiring criteria increasingly privilege people who do interdisciplinary and empirical rather than traditional legal scholarship?"

Asks lawprof Stephen Bainbridge (via Instapundit):
When we hire people with mediocre law credentials just because they're good at running regressions or have a PhD? Or when the PhDs we hire went the law route either because law schools pay more or because they didn't have the chops to get a top job in their home discipline. Or when the PhDs we hire went the law route either because law schools pay more or because they didn't have the chops to get a top job in their home discipline.

If we were still trying to hire folks because they were EIC of a top law review, head of their law school class, had a good clerkship, and some experience in a top law firm doing real law, I'd be more confident of our ability to teach people to think like lawyers instead of teaching them to think like mediocre statisticians, sociologists, philosophers, economists, or what have you.
A question that hits hard here in Wisconsin.... where, incidentally, we're involved in a big dean search and — check it out — that salary is excellent. And you may have heard about the pension and health insurance benefits we've got here....

But wouldn't it be funny to test the dean candidate with Bainbridge's question?

51 comments:

Triangle Man said...

Traditional legal analysis is so "old media". Law schools should hire more bloggers, but only those who enable comments. Same goes for Deans.

Michael K said...

Well, it certainly worked well on Wall Street. See The Formula that killed Wall Street. What could go wrong?

Obama was EIC of the law review so there goes that criterion.

Medicine is going the same way, which is why you see no ethics any more.

Kevin said...

Hey, David Friedman is available!

From his web page:

I am an academic economist who teaches at a law school and has never taken a course for credit in either field. For more details, see my web page.

He's a fine economist, too...

Chip Ahoy said...

Hire, chops, home discipline. That déjà vu thing is happening all over the place again.

Ann Althouse said...

"Obama was EIC of the law review so there goes that criterion."

So... you think we'd be better off with a sociology PhD?

traditionalguy said...

This analysis presumes that Law Schools still train hired guns we call lawyers that will shoot it out case by case in an adversarial court system. BUT WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE? The ratings of Law Schools now lean hard toward the faculty renowned for its teaching about the latest theories for redress social grievances.

Shouting Thomas said...

I suggest you make Diversity one of your most important criteria!

Diversity is our greatest strength!

jimbino said...

Well, one big problem with "thinking like a lawyer" is that lawyers are mostly ignorant of not only STEM, but economics.

SCOTUS, for example, has only only one justice, Breyer, who has a clue about science, math or econ.

Of course, POTUS and COTUS are far worse!

The last thing we need are more legislators or even judges who are trained to "think like lawyers."

Richard Dolan said...

"... to think like lawyers instead of ... like mediocre statisticians, sociologists, philosophers, economists, or what have you."

You hear this a lot, mostly from academics, but not usually with the sneer at other disciplines. There's less to the dichotomy he's drawing than Bainbridge thinks.

Lawyers use the same 'thinking' skills as anyone else -- it's all about knowing what is relevant and what isn't, and being logical and clear when explaining it all. Lawyers have their own jargon and technical language, but it's easy to learn and best used sparingly. When in doubt, stick to English.

And look at the criteria he suggests for picking lawprofs: "EIC of a top law review, head of their law school class, had a good clerkship, and some experience in a top law firm doing real law." (Sounds like Ann's resume.) Note that "some experience ... doing real law" is the last and the least on his list, which would be quite odd if teaching students how to "think like a lawyer" were the point of the exercise.

It seems to me that Prof. Bainbridge is talking about teaching law students to think (and write) like an academic specializing in legal subjects. That's very different from thinking like a lawyer -- if you have any doubt, just look at the stuff academics publish in the law reviews and compare it to real legal writing (take any brief by the Solicitor General as an example of the latter). Law schools teach law students the conceptual lay of the land as well as the jargon. Students end up learning to think (and write) like a lawyer after law school, not in it.

traditionalguy said...

Jimbino...You are off base when you say most lawyers are uneducated. Once a lawyer has a case in a field he masters the body of knowledge he needs to master, much like a civilian enlistee thrown into combat will quickly master combat, or else. In other words we are not dilletantes in the areas in which we practice.

EDH said...

Unfortunately, thinking like a lawyer often means thinking with a Lawyer-Judge Bias.

I'd much prefer lawyers that had real business experience creating jobs and surviving in a competitive market.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

So... you think we'd be better off with a sociology PhD?

I'll ask my barista tomorrow morning.

That said, I've always leaned more towards 'applied' learning than anything else - have a degree, and experience working, in the discipline you are teaching.

But that is merely my own prejudice.

bagoh20 said...

I always thought that lawyers generally worked as just that: "mediocre statisticians, sociologists, philosophers, economists, or what have you."

I'd call it a success.

Pangolin said...

If this blog is an example of what "thinking like a lawyer" leads to then law school should probably be taught by PhD's in science.

The only thinking I've ever noticed lawyers doing is whatever it takes to maximize their fees and screw the clients; facts, law, morals and ethics be damned.

bagoh20 said...

"So... you think we'd be better off with a sociology PhD?"

Sure, as long as he had experience in anything, like having a job or leading anyone.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'd be more confident of our ability to teach people to think like lawyers instead of teaching them to think like mediocre statisticians, sociologists, philosophers, economists, or what have you.

Just to restore his confidence a bit, I'd point out that mediocre statisticians, philosophers, economists, etc., can all think better than lawyers.

Wally Kalbacken said...

For that coin, I'd consider returning to Madison. But only for 6 months out of the year.

Roger J. said...

Interesting thread--am enough of an academic to think the each branch of specific knowledge requires detailed study--there is no way, for example, that my degree would in any way shape or form prepare me for a career in law and even more important to teach it.

That said (if Volokh Conspiracy is any indication) those folks with JDs seem to think their JD qualifies them to opine authoritatively on any subject outside the law.

Lets bring back the LLB and stop awarding a juris doctorate--doctorate for a lawyer is not the same as a doctorate for a physicist.

Fred4Pres said...

Shouldn't professional schools rely more on professionals who have real world experience? For example, hire a successful practicioner to do a few year stint teaching contracts, civ. pro., etc. and then go back to work.

David said...

Meanwhile, Somali pirates slaughter four Americans on captured yacht. Obama, Clinton preparing stern warning.

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dose of Sanity said...

Meanwhile, Somali pirates slaughter four Americans on captured yacht. Obama, Clinton preparing stern warning.

Nothing like using the death of 4 americans at the hand of criminals to make a political joke. Classy.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

Nothing like using the death of 4 americans at the hand of criminals to make a political joke. Classy.

Oh. It was a joke? Weird. I thought it was serious - and accurate.

wv: giarhea - what comes out of the mouths of extremist environentalists

lucid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger J. said...

Lawyers are nothing if not self indulgent--as trooper would say the only thing worse than a lawyer is a journalist.

Triangle Man said...

--as trooper would say the only thing worse than a lawyer is a journalist.

So, UW Law should hire a journalist as Dean then.

lucid said...

Actually, I have often wondered how "traditional legal scholarship" qualifies one to teach and train lawyers.

"Traditional legal scholarship" consists of writing articles for journals edited by 2nd and 3rd year students, who could not possibly be qualified to assess or critique the work they are publishing.

I mean, hell, they are your students--and your qualification to teach them is publishing in what they edit?

I guess there are peer reviewers for the journals are there?) who are other law profs (are they?), but I still don't see how publishing in a law journal qualifies one to each law.

How does writing articles qualify to teach in a profession that is a form of action in the real world? We ain't talking about literature or history here.

It is as if the qualification to teach at a culinary institute was that you ate dinner with your students (and had them pay the check).

Shouldn't a teacher of cuisine be an actual accomplished cook? Shouldn't a professor of law be an accomplished lawyer?

It would make more sense if, as in medicine, the profs had to have significant achievements in the actual practice of the profession.

But a lot of law profs seem to disdain practice.

If they really disdain practice, then at least they should do some some kind of research or writing that could be published in actual scholarly journals edited by scholars rather than in law journals edited by students.
Or they could write books published by real publishers.

Shouldn't law professors have major accomplishments as LAWYERS?

From the outside, it all appears a bit self-indulgent and even solipsistic.

Roger J. said...

Triangle man--precisely--they couldnt do any worse

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

Clinton condemns killing of 4 Americans by pirates

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called the act "deplorable." She said in a statement that the killings underscored the need for international cooperation on fighting the scourge of piracy in waters off the Horn of Africa.

She urged international partners to provide material, financial and logistical support to an African peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the country the pirates use as the launching point of their attacks.

Roger J. said...

Triangle: Kieth Olbermann might be available--

Roger J. said...

Shark--ms clintons statement is an abdication of power--I would suggest President Roosevelts approach (not FDR, TR)

Station the US navy off the coast of somalia and blow up any vessel leaving the coast--problem solved

Roger J. said...

And that would I think qualify as a blockade--an act of war, of course, but these pirates are not a nation--they are pirates. so no harm no foul

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

ms clintons statement is an abdication of power--I would suggest President Roosevelts approach (not FDR, TR)

She said it in a very stern manner, though.

Station the US navy off the coast of somalia and blow up any vessel leaving the coast--problem solved

Works for me. No argument here.

(Plus, as a shark, that means more food for me.)

former law student said...

"Traditional legal scholarship" consists of writing articles for journals edited by 2nd and 3rd year students, who could not possibly be qualified to assess or critique the work they are publishing.

Why not? The barriers to enter legal academia are surprisingly low.

David said...

From Politico's Daily Diary of the Obama Presidency (today's edition):

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Air Force One that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will speak about Libya at 2:30 p.m. He referred questions on Libya to "earlier statements," the pool reports.

Carney added that he didn't anticipate Obama speaking about Libya.

More notes from the pool report: President Obama authorized the use of force over the weekend against the Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden if a threat to hostages was imminent, Carney said. Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan told Obama of the four hostages' deaths at 4:42 a.m., he said.

On the budget, Carney said the White House budget office has had contingency plans since 1980 for a government shutdown, and that the administration is optimistic that an agreement can be forged to prevent one.



wv="crock" (not making this up)

former law student said...

Why did these kindly older folks sail through waters infested with Somali pirates? I wouldn't have done it without naval escort.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk
/news/article-1358538/
4-US-citizens-SV-Quest-yacht-
hijacked-Somali-pirates-
Were-targeted-retaliation.html

David said...

Nothing like using the death of 4 americans at the hand of criminals to make a political joke.

It wasn't a joke. It was a prediction.

An accurate prediction, it turned out.

David said...

Nice blaming of the victims, FLS.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

Why did these kindly older folks sail through waters infested with Somali pirates? I wouldn't have done it without naval escort.

I know, right? And did you see what they were wearing? They were asking for it.

lemondog said...

Dean Althouse?

Roger J. said...

If the government of the United States of America cannot bring these rag headed pirates to heel there really isnt much to back up our foreign policy is there. I am sure Ms Clinton's pronoucements will strike fear into the heart of every somali pirate-- my solution will work considerably better, but then I am not the fat assed secretary of state or the douchenozzle that is president. (oooo--did I comment on thunderthighs?)

Michael K said...

So... you think we'd be better off with a sociology PhD?

No, I think it would be helpful to have a few professors who have had ten years plus experience in law practice. This is increasingly considered old fashioned and unscientific.

I considered a career in medical research when I finished medical school but most basic fields of study were so primitive at the time that I chose surgery and spent 30 years at it. I had also been an engineer and was older than many classmates, not to mention married.

Ten years later, after doing 10,000 operations or so, I would have probably accepted an offer to go back and teach and do research. I didn't get it although I did teach part time at my medical school in the surgery department. Then a new chair came in with his people and he wasn't interested in "clinical faculty". It didn't matter to him that Mass General was largely run by clinical faculty. Times were changing.

I believe that much the same thing applies to law school. Certainly, you want some theoretical people but for god's sake, not all. My two oldest kids are lawyers. One is taking the Nevada Bar this week as his national firm wants him to run both the San Francisco and Las Vegas offices of the firm. The other one is an FBI agent. She is trying to recruit her sister because my middle daughter, starting a PhD program this summer, is pretty fluent in Arabic, along with four other languages.

BJM said...

Criteria is irrelevant; the successful candidate will be in sync with the hive mind.

End of story.

I'm a Shaaaaark said...

I think this would be a good time to talk about Hostis humani generis, and other yummy creme-filled treats.

wv: Hootsult - saying bad things about breasts

BJM said...

@fls

You're obviously not a blue water sailor, pirates are everywhere, including the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and off our southern/gulf shores.

I know a couple who were robbed at gunpoint by masked men in a charter off the Yucatan. It was pretty much the same as a street mugging, they took valuables, wallets, phones, a laptop, navigation electronics.

There are very few places one can sail alone or berth overnight safely nowadays. Even in US waters one must take care about berthing or anchoring overnight. It's not just salt water either, the SF delta, for example, is a very dangerous place to overnight alone.

Boaters/sailors can't just put in to any marina and assume they are safe. Burglaries, robberies and boat invasions are not uncommon, especially at night.

Same applies to land yachts, RVers convoy, especially older Snowbirds, and pass along which RV parks are unsafe.

former law student said...

Nice blaming of the victims, FLS.

Yeah, that's what I do. I blamed James Kim for not backtracking to a road kept open in winter, too.


"This life's hard, man, but it's harder if you're stupid." -- Jackie Brown, The Friends of Eddie Coyle 1973

pavlova8 said...

Is this blogger incest - Althouse cite's Instapundit's blog but Instapundit is really quoting Professor Bainbridge's blog, who is quoting a paper: The Value of 'Thinking Like a Lawyer' by Michelle M. Harner of the University of Maryland School of Law - ????? Its a messy Medusa Head of snakes feeding on each other.

paul said...


Degree At Home

abeer ahmed said...

For the latest news visit us on cnn.com
http://whois.domaintasks.com/cnn.com

stacy said...

clip in hair extensions
=============================
Champagne Gifts

stacy said...

Professional indemnity Insurance : If you need Professional indemnity Insurance click Professional indemnity Insurance and get a quote from the specialists.