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Justice Sotomayor's Rx For Law Schools: Emphasize Core Courses Like Tax, Corporations And T&E

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_ blog/2018/02/justice-soto massivemissive02/01/18
The problem is that most of these professors aren't really q thirdtierlaw02/01/18
I learned more from my bar review section on corporations th 3lol02/01/18
Me too, I also heard the same complaint about people who too thirdtierlaw02/01/18
I can say the same about almost every bar exam subject. Cri shuiz02/01/18
The problem isn't the art and sports law courses -- where yo passportfan302/01/18
T & E? T & E lawyers are having difficulty this days with po nighthawk02/01/18
The future is all about T, not E. E is getting sucked i jackofspeed02/01/18
lol I love that they're asking a SCOTUS judge how to improve onehell02/01/18
As usual, onehell is spot on. You have to remember that even williamdrayton02/01/18
lol yup. Scalia once spoke at American and some kid asked hi onehell02/02/18
I agree with thirdtierlaw. I think law school should be two therover02/02/18
I think you could get away with one year if you include the onehell02/02/18
Legal education does not need to be "fixed" Law schools patenttrollnj02/02/18
I don't disagree that schools should be shut down. Heck, I'd thirdtierlaw02/02/18
Agreed, except with the caveat that every state needs at lea bucwild02/02/18
BLS pretty much sums it up: 1.3m active attorneys, 800k jobs onehell02/02/18
I’d put the number closer to 80 schools remaining. Thus, patenttrollnj02/02/18
"If it’s two years it becomes a masters program, and it ri onehell03/09/18
the problem with law school isn't which subjects are being t dingbat02/03/18
The fundamental problem is not how or what law schools are t frankythefly02/03/18
Esq. Apprentice, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit that pro aknas02/16/18
Just taking Corporations and Tax won't guarantee a job Also trijocker02/16/18

massivemissive (Feb 1, 2018 - 9:51 am)

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2018/02/justice-sotomayors-rx-for-fixing-legal-education-emphasize-core-courses-like-tax-corporate-and-te.html

And give up art law and all those comparative law courses? Yeah, that's never going to happen.

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thirdtierlaw (Feb 1, 2018 - 1:48 pm)

The problem is that most of these professors aren't really qualified to teach these courses. I took corporations in law school and it was a waste of time. Sure you read some caselaw on voting shares, the different type of corporate structures, etc. But if I were to have done a summer working for a small business firm, I wouldn't have had the first clue as to what I was doing or even where to begin my search. Maybe if they made it a two-semester course, mine was 4 credits so more than normal, you could actually dig down a bit into what corporate law actually looks like.

Maybe tax and T&E would be a bit better. I'd like to see more "practical" courses in these 3 areas. I suspect, actually "doing" it would be much more effective than just a normal 3-hour course.


I had to laugh at Art Law. The irony is the "garbage lawyer" doing criminal law is much more likely to find themselves in a position to handle an art law matter than most of the graduates of top-tier law schools that don't end up in an IP field.

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3lol (Feb 1, 2018 - 2:07 pm)

I learned more from my bar review section on corporations than I did from my Business Organizations class.

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thirdtierlaw (Feb 1, 2018 - 2:15 pm)

Me too, I also heard the same complaint about people who took a trust and estate class. And it wasn't like my Corps prof was a know nothing professor, he was a corporate attorney at a major NY law firm for over a decade, who decided he wanted to be an "academic" and had already made a boatload of money, so he became a teacher.

I really believe that law school should be closer to a trade school than what we have now. Just because, "it's always been taught this way," doesn't mean that it is still working. Give us the cliff notes on the black letter law, like bar review does, teach us how to research, and then give us practical exercises for 3 years of school in the different discipline. I suspect that the biggest pushback to that idea comes from these career professors who wouldn't have the first clue what the actual practice of law is like.

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shuiz (Feb 1, 2018 - 8:13 pm)

I can say the same about almost every bar exam subject. Criminal law/procedure may have been an exception, not because of what I learned in class but because I did an internship with a prosecutor's office. That was probably the most useful experience I had.

thirdtierlaw's idea about treating law school like a trade school with early black letter instruction and then two or three years of practical problems is similar to what I've thought many times myself.

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passportfan3 (Feb 1, 2018 - 2:16 pm)

The problem isn't the art and sports law courses -- where you can learn about contracts and IP as applied in real life.

The problem is the professoriate's obsession with the 14th Amendment -- a few ultra-elastic paragraphs which liberals use to constitutionalize their policy preferences.

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nighthawk (Feb 1, 2018 - 5:07 pm)

T & E? T & E lawyers are having difficulty this days with potential clients going to LegalZoom and the like for wills and trusts.

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jackofspeed (Feb 1, 2018 - 5:16 pm)

The future is all about T, not E.

E is getting sucked into family law.

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onehell (Feb 1, 2018 - 5:51 pm)

lol I love that they're asking a SCOTUS judge how to improve pedagogy at a school ranked in the 50s. She's never going to hire any clerks from there, no one from there is ever going to practice in front of her, and maybe only a top lucky few will ever work on even remotely similar issues as the ones she has been exposed to. Of what relevance is she to the student body, really?

And yet, the school puts these sorts of things together that keep encouraging their students to engage in these futile flights of fantasy.

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williamdrayton (Feb 1, 2018 - 8:18 pm)

As usual, onehell is spot on. You have to remember that even the most commodious school has a faculty heavily populated by T14 grads who were federal clerks. They love these dog and pony shows. So what that these kiss-up photo ops are of no value to the students

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onehell (Feb 2, 2018 - 11:42 am)

lol yup. Scalia once spoke at American and some kid asked him what someone in her position could do to potentially become a SCOTUS clerk.

His answer was literally that you cannot polish a turd, with only a very thin veneer of politeness applied by phrasing it in the inverse and in antiquated language: "I’m going to be picking from the law schools that basically are the hardest to get into. They admit the best and the brightest, and they may not teach very well, but you can’t make a sow’s ear out of a silk purse. If they come in the best and the brightest, they’re probably going to leave the best and the brightest, OK?”

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/justice_scalia_tells_law_student_why_she_wont_be_his_law_clerk/

That might be the only useful advice a student at a mediocre law school has ever received from a SCOTUS judge.

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therover (Feb 2, 2018 - 8:10 am)

I agree with thirdtierlaw. I think law school should be two years. One year of core classes. One year of practical non-theory based classes. Clinics or real internships should be required.

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onehell (Feb 2, 2018 - 11:56 am)

I think you could get away with one year if you include the summers. Heck, you could probably just make it an undergraduate major like nursing or the LLB in the UK. All you really need are the 1L subjects plus maybe a few good practice-relevant electives like evidence, corp, IP, trial advocacy.

Screw clinics. Schools will charge full boat tuition for the privilege of participating and the clients are going to be indigent people with problems mostly irrelevant to most areas of private practice. Internships are stupid too. It's usually just some government agency that will never hire you and just kinda lets you hang out there for the summer with no pay and no real duties, or you end up "interning" for some solo who is just using you for your westlaw password, or you pay even more money for what is essentially a summer abroad with the UN or some NGO which will also never hire you, won't pay you, and pretty much just tolerates you hanging around for 10 weeks so you can justify what is otherwise just dicking around in a foreign country while sightseeing and getting drunk with other Americans on the taxpayer-funded student loan dime.

Instead, require a residency like docs have, or like the "articling" system in other common law countries. People who can't get articling slots have to do something else, but if it were just an undergraduate major or a 1-yr masters you wouldn't have become so pigeonholed or spent nearly so much $$, and a lot of schools that couldn't place kids would probably close too.

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patenttrollnj (Feb 2, 2018 - 11:58 am)

Legal education does not need to be "fixed"

Law schools need to be shut down. There is a difference.

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thirdtierlaw (Feb 2, 2018 - 12:03 pm)

I don't disagree that schools should be shut down. Heck, I'd cheer if all but the top 50 (maybe too 25, I have no idea how many new legal jobs need to be filled per year) were to be shut down.

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bucwild (Feb 2, 2018 - 12:46 pm)

Agreed, except with the caveat that every state needs at least one public law school, no matter how lowly ranked. Even North Dakota needs lawyers. But yes, the total number of law schools needs to be capped. We definitely don't need more than 80 total law schools.

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onehell (Feb 2, 2018 - 4:15 pm)

BLS pretty much sums it up: 1.3m active attorneys, 800k jobs, roughly 6500 new jobs created each year. I believe law schools mint about 40,000 new lawyers each year.

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/lawyers.htm#tab-6

I don't know how many lawyers retire or leave the profession each year, but let's optimistically assume it's equal to the number of new jobs created. So that's 13,000 jobs per year that become available for 40,000 grads, without even touching the 500,000 or so that represent the existing delta between number of jobs and number of licensed lawyers.

If we cut that number in half, to 20,000, or so, then it would be 20,000 lawyers for 13,000 jobs. Not ideal, and does nothing to address the glut that has already amassed, but at least in the ballpark. That's why I say that at minimum, we need to close about half the law schools.

As an aside, the ones that remain should cost about half as much (half of 180k is 90k, and half of 90k is 45k, and finaid.org says you should shoot for a debt load that equals starting salary and is no more than double starting salary. Starting salary is often in the 40s or 50s so about 90k of debt would be about the most that is remotely justifiable for a non-elite JD).

Half the schools at half the cost. That's what we need to bring supply to something that even remotely comes close to being in the same ballpark as demand.

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patenttrollnj (Feb 2, 2018 - 5:30 pm)

I’d put the number closer to 80 schools remaining. Thus, 1 to 2 per state on average.

The job market for lawyers will improve considerably if supply of JDs goes down, and maybe “JD preferred” will mean something again too.

Also, law school should stay 3 years. If it’s two years it becomes a masters program, and it risks saturating the market.

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onehell (Mar 9, 2018 - 1:42 pm)

"If it’s two years it becomes a masters program, and it risks saturating the market."

I don't think so. The longer law school is, the more money the school makes. It's the same classrooms and profs, the same structure of "your entire grade consists of a single test" etc. So the additional year doesn't add any cost. It's just more tuition. Taking it down to an MA would actually cut into the margins and make running one less attractive, not more.

There's a reason OCI happens right after 1L. Everything after 1L is just fluff, with the exception of a small number of "hard" classes like evidence and corporations. There's also a bunch of electives and clinics, but those are all worthless too except for main law review and the main moot court team, which themselves have no real value apart from their selectivity.

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dingbat (Feb 3, 2018 - 10:15 am)

the problem with law school isn't which subjects are being taught, but how they're being taught. Just about every class teaches appellate litigation - basically, how things get overturned when you f-ck up. But that doesn't teach you how to do it.

Law school teaches how a contract may be overturned, but not how to draft a contract. It'll each when the corporate veil is pierced, but not how to establish a corporation. It'll teach when a trust will get set aside, but not whether a trust is appropriate.

Law school as a J.D. is problematic, because it teaches "masters" level law, without teaching "basic" level law. It'd be better for basic law to be an undergrad subject and for appellate law to be a masters degree.

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frankythefly (Feb 3, 2018 - 1:59 pm)

The fundamental problem is not how or what law schools are teaching, but rather that they are producing far too many new JDs and have been doing so for decades.

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aknas (Feb 16, 2018 - 10:44 am)

Esq. Apprentice, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit that provides a pipeline to a career as an attorney without law school and without debt. The four-year program trains legal apprentices to pass the bar, connects them with mentor attorneys and legal work—all of which are requirements to become a lawyer. California is one of four states that allow legal apprenticeships, an age-old avenue that became less common with the rise of law schools toward the end of the 19th century.

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trijocker (Feb 16, 2018 - 11:24 am)

Just taking Corporations and Tax won't guarantee a job
Also many snowflakes don't want to take those courses.

Either they want to work in legal clinics helping the poor or go overseas to take fluff courses like International Human rights or International Art and Copyright law.
The problem, as above poster pointed out, is there are not enough jobs for all the law schools pushing out graduates. God help you if you are below top 15, better be good at networking, and just forget about attending a Non ABA law school. Why spend 150000 or more for a law job that someone just posted only paid 1000 base?

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