Since in so much I have written I have taken quotes from the ABA’s MacCrate Report and one issued by the Mass School of Law, both in 1992, I decided to publish (in three parts) a handout I distributed at a panel I moderated for the National Lawyers Guild in 1993 which is primarily quotes from both.
Aspects of the Traditional Law School Experience Which Inhibit or Divert Law Students From Careers Serving the Legal Needs of the Public.
4. THE FACULTY. AND THE DEANS HAVE LIMITED OR NO EXPERIENCE IN THE PRACTICE OF LAW, LACK THE KNOWLEDGE OR INTEREST TO PROVIDE COURSE AND CAREER ADVICE TO STUDENTS AND ARE GENERALLY UNAVAILABLE
Although law schools exist to train persons to practice law, ,.. It has thus been correctly said that in no profession has there been a greater gulf between the academic and practicing sides. This gulf has increased because law professors have largely been individuals with little or no experience in practice and disdain for it; they have thus lacked the knowledge and experience needed to impart practical skills and still less have they desired to .do so. MSL p. 41
There may also be a lack of interest on the part of some faculty in either learning new teaching methods or in the nature of the skills material. MacCrate p. 240
(Law review articles are) … mainly produced by persons who “are in greater part .,. competent enough teachers without anything original to write, doomed to scholarly mediocrity by academic imperative …urged to jump through hoops help up by the local promotion and tenure committee…fueled by faculty self~studies, administrative mission statements, and fiats laid down by the Association of American Law Schools ..Analysis, research, and writing are overblown, while classroom competence, community services, and non-law review scholarship are under-credited The system is askew. The academy has a problem.” MSL p. 193 citing Kenneth Larson, 103 Harvard Law Review 928
Many “elite” law faculties in the United States now have significant contingents of “impractical” scholars, who are “disdainful of the practice of law.” The “impractical” scholar ,… produces abstract scholarship that has little relevance to concrete issues, or addresses concrete issues in a wholly theoretical manner. As a consequence, it is my impression that judges, administrators, legislators, and practitioners have little use for much for the scholarship that is now produced by members of the academy. Edwards p. 35
5. THE LAW SCHOOL FAILS TO TEACH OR STRESS THE FUNDAMENTAL VALUE OF THE LEGAL PROFESSION – “A LAWYER SHOULD PROMOTE JUSTICE, FAIRNESS AND MORALITY IN ONE’S DAILY PRACTlCE” NOR DOES IT MAKE STUDENTS AWARE OF THE REALITY OF THE MALDISTRIBTJTION OF LEGAL SERVICES IN SOCIETY.
Law students need concrete ethical training. They need to know why pro bono work is important. They need to understand their duties as “officers of the court.”…as law firms have become increasingly materialistic – as pro bono work has been displaced by profit-maximization, and the “officers of the court” by the “hired guns” – we can no longer count on the law firms to be “law schools.” Edwards, p. 38
Julin, (former ABA Section of Legal Education Council Chair) believes that law schools must change drastically if they are to be socially responsible. “(Our suggestions) represent a recognition that law is still a profession, that lawyers must be educated to service public needs competently yet at an affordable cost, and that legal educators have a most fundamental public responsibility to create the appropriate education programs to achieve the delineated societal roles for law trained individuals. MSL p. 150
(T)he Statement of Skills and Values identifies, as a fundamental professional value, the need to “promote justice, fairness and morality.” Law school deans, professors, administrators and staff must not only promote these values by words but must so conduct themselves as to convey to students that these values are essential ingredients of our profession. Too often, the Socratic method of teaching emphasizes qualities that have little to do with justice, fairness and morality in daily practice. Students too easily gain the impression that wit …. and dazzling performance are more important that the personal moral values that lawyers must possess and that the profession must espouse. The promotion of these values requires no resources and no institutional changes. It does require commitment. MacCrate p. 236
6. THE LAW SCHOOL IS INDIFFERENT TO STUDENTS’ POST-GRADUATION PLANS; IT PROVIDES LITTLE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND FAILS TO MAKE STUDENTS AWARE OF, OR PREPARE THEM TO PRACTICE IN, THE MANY SETTINGS OPEN TO THEM.
Career education should be taught as an integral part of the educational process …. Teaching law students about the variety of legal careers and employment prospects in these careers is integral to the academic program of the law school. Munneke p. 82
(T)here are many career skills that are commonly not developed during the education process..(L)earning how to make career decisions and look for a job involves an entire set of skills that the formal educational process frequently does not address. Munneke p. 22
As a member of a learned profession, a lawyer should be committed to the value of “Selecting and Maintaining Employment That will allow the Lawyer to Develop as a Professional and to pursue his or her professional and personal goals.” In order to find employment that is consistent with his or her professional goals and personal values, a lawyer must be familiar with the range of traditional and non-traditional employment opportunities for lawyers, MacCrate p. 220
Greater knowledge of what lawyers do in the various sectors of practice can be useful to legal educators in better preparing students for the realities of practice…. The great diversity in practice settings and in what lawyers do challenges law schools to identify the skills and values which are common to lawyering in all its settings, to provide a rational and effective beginning for their students’ professional development, and to mpart to their students the legal knowledge which each will need to have upon entering practice. MacCrate p. 35
The Deeply Unsatisfactory Nature of Legal Education Today – A Self Study Report on the Problems of Legal Education and on the Steps The Massachusetts School of Law Has Taken to Overcome Them, Massachusetts School of Law, 1992 (MSL)
Munneke, Gary; The Legal Career Guide: From Law Student to Lawyer, American Bar Association Career Series, 1992 (Munneke)
Legal Education and Professional Development – An Educational Continuum – Report of the Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap. The American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar, 1992, “The MacCrate Report” (MacCrate)
Edwards, Harry T; The Growing Disjunction Between Legal Education and The Legal Profession. 91 Michigan Law Review 8478, Oct 1992 (Edwards)