Aspects of the Traditional Law School Experience Which Inhibit or Divert Law Students From Careers Serving the Legal Needs of the Public.
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.
7. THE LAW SCHOOL’S PREOCCUPATION WITH THE US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT’S ANNUAL RANKING CRITERIA RESULTS IN ITS ALLOCATING TOO MUCH FINANCIAL AND STAFF SUPPORT TO PLACEMENT AND. ON-CAMPUS INTERVIEWING WHICH PRIMARILY SERVES LARGE LAW FIRMS AND IS NOT IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF ITS STUDENTS.
The purely analytical education students have received at the theory based schools has prepared them for scores of years to practice in the major law firms of American Indeed “the elite law schools grew alongside the burgeoning corporate law firms” it is “the metropolitan prestige firms where associates are recruited from the prestige schools and the top graduates of other superior quality schools.” The firms and schools each feed off the prestige of the other, and to this day schools hunger for the prestige of having their graduates hired by the major firms. MSL p. 157
(O)ne frequently heard plaint is that law schools in preparing students for practice give greater attention to the needs of those lawyers entering practices in which they will serve the business community than to the needs of’ those entering practices in which they will provide legal services to individual clients. The transition from law school into individual practice or relatively unsupervised positions in small offices, both public and private, presents special problems which the law schools and the organized bar must address. MacCrate p. 47
(E)stimates of the percentage of lawyers who practice solo or in small firms of five or less have generally been in the neighborhood of 50 to 60 percent. There also, of course, have been many lawyers working in government services and within corporations. As Talbot D’Alemberte (former ABA President) has said, “So we have designed this enterprise to train people to think like law professors or to go to large law firms that say they will train the law graduates. That’s not what they do. Our students go to government offices, to small law firms – many become sole practitioners.MSL p. 157
8. THE UNWARRANTED HIGH COST TO ATTEND LAW SCHOOL CREATES ENORMOUS DEBT AND GREAT PRESSURE TO TAKE HIGH SALARY POSITIONS WHICH PREDICTABLY RESULT IN CAREER DISSATISFACTION
Law schools …have “participated fully.., in the runaway increase in costs…. (From) 1956 … the median budget increased by 4,700 percent ..to 1990…although the consumer price index increased only 500 percent.. and though law school enrollment would not seem to have increased more than 400 percent… Dean White, the ABA’s Consultant, attributes the staggering increases to such factors as …. the transfer of numerous tasks from law faculty to administrators whose positions were created to relieve the faculty of responsibility. MSL p. 243
Another reason for the sustained growth in costs …is that faculty members…, do not do work that contributes to meeting the needs and goals of their institutions, but instead concentrate exclusively on personal career advancement, often for the purpose of trying to garner more lucrative offers from other schools. Focussing solely on self, faculty members do not participate in their schools administrative work and teach as little as possible, all of which increases academia’s costs by making it necessary to hire more administrators and teachers…. MSL p. 240
Law schools …can no longer financially support their traditional research libraries. Law schools spent 189.2 percent more on their libraries in the 1987-88 academic year than a decade earlier … more than double the rate of general inflation for the period…And since the money, to pay for such increases had to come from somewhere, tuitions in that decade also rose at a rate far exceeding inflation. They are still rising. MSL p. 397
Clinical costs in fact rose more slowly during that period (1977 to 1991) than did any other segment of the law school budget. MacCrate p. 249
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)