Articles Posted in Teaching Fundamental Skills

This morning as I reflected on the rescue of the miners in Chile, I thought about the miners in the musical, Billy Elliot, so I played the CD. Below are some excerpts. As I was drafting this message, I thought about two issues that have puzzled me for years, Why do associates not organize and stand together to oppose inappropriate and unprofessional actions of the partners and others at their law firm which can have a serious negative effect on their careers; for example, not providing them with meaningful substantive work, training and feedback? Why do law students not stand together to oppose actions by law school faculty and staff which will likely divert them from satisfying careers; for example, not training them for the practice of law and not reducing the high cost to attend law school? Your thoughts and comments of this would be appreciated.


“And the stars look down at their reflection

Law schools have failed their students and the public but college graduates continue to apply and attend without having the facts or information needed to make an informed decision.

I request that you read this post and, if appropriate, forward it to any college students considering going to law school as well as any of those, such as pre-law advisers, who advise such students.

This is a unique, almost chaotic, time in the legal profession.

When I read a the United States Government Accountability Office Report to Congressional Committees on HIGHER EDUCATION Issues Related to Law School Cost and Access October 2009, I was not impressed. Those drafting the report seemed to simply accept the statements of law school officials that ABA accreditation has no affect on the cost of law school but the change to a more hands-on resource-intensive approach to legal education has affected cost. The law school officials also said that competition among schools for higher rankings reportedly have affected costs. Admitting that they strive for high ranking in this defective and highly criticized magazine’s attempt to compare law schools is hard to believe.

After I read the report I drafted this Memorandum which has been forwarded by my Congressman to the above committees.


A proposal for a new public law school for Massachusetts, one of only 7 states in the country not to have a public law school, has generated an enormous amount of controversy with many saying that there is a need for a school with a reasonable tuition and others saying there is at this time no need for a school that would add more lawyers to an overcrowded field. Prominent among the opponents, shocking as that may not be, are the local law schools. What is shocking is that I find myself agreeing with the stand of the law schools.Over a week ago, I submnitted what follows as a proposed op-ed to the Boston Globe. I welcome your comments.


What’s missing from the discussion about the need for a new public law school for Massachusetts is any consideration of the failure of the existing law schools to serve not only the educational needs of their students but also the legal needs of the public.


After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1963, I worked for a large law firm, served in the US Army JAG and worked in an insurance company. After two years as an associate for a sole practitioner, I founded two small law firms representing individuals and community groups and became one of the first lawyers in the country to offer divorce mediation. Concerned about the issue of the unmet legal needs of the public, I served on the boards of legal services programs, created referral programs for the Massachusetts Bar Association and the National Lawyers Guild, started an association of legal clinics, and served as president of a family mediation association.

In 1983 I returned to Harvard Law School as its public interest adviser. On August 9, 1989, my position was eliminated by a recently appointed dean of that law school. I have reprinted below some material related to the elimination of that position.

I had the opportunity and the privilege yesterday to make a presentation entitled “Think Small: Learning About and Locating Positions in Small Law Firms” for the New York State Bar Association. About 30 who registered were “live” in the “studio” at the law office of Lauren Wachtler, the chair of the Committee on Lawyers in Transition. An additional 175 registered for the webcast



A week ago today, I submitted the following to the New York Times with a request that it be considered for an op-ed stating, as required, that it had not been previously published. The paper’s guidelines state that if you receive no telephone call or e-mail within three business days, you should assume that the paper has decided not to print the submission.With that in mind here is the comment I sent to the paper.

The Light at the End of the Funnel

By Ronald W. Fox

For information on the genesis of these posts and on who “Debra” is, click here and read the intro to “Debra and Ron Post 1.

 Ron: As I have mentioned often, 95% of the women (and the men) who have graduated from “selective” law schools (not the best, just the ones difficult to get into) start out overrepresenting the 1% wealthiest of society while most of society has no access to lawyers.

Debra:  I’d like to see the data supporting that statement, which seems unlikely to me.  Even if you’re correct about that, however, there are plenty of lawyers in the US and plenty of law students in US law schools.  Different societal incentives – like decent paychecks, prestige, availability of training, etc. – would benefit public interest law positions just as they would benefit teachers, social workers, day care workers, nurses and every other underappreciated career in our overly money-focused society.  But the choice of where to devote one’s career efforts remains, thankfully, a personal one.  Requiring anyone to pursue a career path he does not want to pursue is as wrong and short-sighted as barring him from going after one he does want to pursue.

As many of you may know, in July 1992 the ABA’s Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap issued what came to be called the “MacCrate Report”, a withering critique of traditional law schools. In substance, the task force compiled a list of the 10 fundamental skills and the 4 fundamental values needed to be taught in order to be a trained member of the legal profession. It found that law schools teach only 2 of the skills and not well at that.

 While it did not make specific findings about the deficiencies in teaching the values, it suggested more emphasis on them including a recommendation that law schools should be concerned to convey to students that the professional value of the need to “promote justice fairness and morality” is an essential ingredient of the legal profession. .

 At the heart of the report is its “demand” that: law schools affirm that “education in lawyering skills and profesional values is central to the mission of law schools”; they should use effective teaching methods, and they should make students aware of the full range of opportunity for professional development in the rich variety of private practice settings.  

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.