Articles Posted in Those Considering Law School

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.


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.

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


Spirit means life, and both life and livelihood are about living in depth, living with meaning, purpose, joy and a sense of contributing to the greater community. A spirituality of work is about bringing life and livelihood back together again. Page 2

All work worthy of being called spiritual and worthy of being called human is in some way prophetic work. It contributes to the growth of justice and compassion in the world; it contributes to social transformation, not for its own sake but for the sake of increasing justice. Page 13

The following is from this webpage

“Matthew Fox is author of 28 books including Original Blessing, The Reinvention of Work, Creativity, and A New Reformation. He was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years. He holds a doctorate (received summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Seeking to establish a pedagogy that was friendly to learning spirituality, he established an Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality that operated for seven years at Mundelein College in Chicago and twelve years at Holy Names College in Oakland. For ten of those years at Holy Names College, Cardinal Ratzinger, (Ed.Note on 19 April 2005 he became Pope Benedict XVI) as chief Inquisitor and head of the Congregation of Doctrine and Faith (called the Office of the Holy Inquisition until 1965), tried to shut the program down. Ratzinger silenced Fox for one year in 1988 and forced him to step down as director. Three years later he expelled Fox from the Order and then had the program terminated at Holy Names College.

“Rather than disband his amazing and ecumenical faculty, Fox started his own University called University of Creation Spirituality nine years ago in Oakland, California. Fox was President and a member of the Board of Directors for nine years. He is currently lecturing, teaching and writing and is President of the non-profit that he created in 1984, Friends of Creation Spirituality. The principle objections from the Congregation of the Faith to Fox’s work were that he is a “feminist theologian;” that he calls God “Mother” (Fox has proven the medieval mystical tradition did exactly that); that he prefers “original blessing” to “original sin;” that he calls God “child”; that he associates too closely with Native Americans and people of the wikka tradition; that he does not condemn homosexuals; that he has replaced the naming of the spiritual journey as Purgation, Illumination and Union with the four paths of Creation Spirituality: The Via Positiva (joy, delight and awe); the Via Negativa (darkness, silence, suffering, letting go and letting be); the Via Creativa (creativity); and the Via Transformativa (justice, compassion, interdependence).”

“A review of catalogs and entries in the Official Guide to U.S. Law Schools, published by the Law School Admission Council in cooperation with the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, provides evidence that schools are not doing a good job distinguishing themselves from one another. Many appear to be all things to all people.” The MacCrate Report

Maybe that’s because, for the most part, law schools are doing the same thing (they are certainly not all things). Law schools teach you how to think like the proverbial lawyer. There are no majors. When you leave, you seek a position somewhere “in the law” and begin to learn what to do.

What I propose is that law schools promote something unique; i.e, a specialty, an area of concentration or an approach, something that will make the law school stand out and appeal to many considering law school and a career in the law. Think PierceLaw’s IP reputation and Vermont’s environmental niche.

For many years I have taken excerpts and quotes from the powerful devastating criticism of legal education called The MacCrate Report.

The official name for it is Legal Education and Professional Development – An Educational Continuum, Report of The Task Force on Law Schools and the Profession: Narrowing the Gap, American Bar Associatioin, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, July, 1992.

While the report is 414 pages long, one way to summarize it is by saying that the task force stated that there are ten fundamental skills that a lawyer needs to practice law and that the law schools teach two of them poorly. There are four fundamental values of the legal profession and while the report does not analyze the performance of the law schools, there is evidence that the law schools do not teach them well either.