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Current Law Students / Why is law school taught the way it is?
« on: February 18, 2006, 02:14:00 AM »
I’m interested to hear what people think about the way law school is taught.  I initially contributed to this subject in a different thread, the following is essentially those thoughts, but updated. 

I feel that the pedagogy of law school is so completely screwed as to be next to unbelievable if you weren't seeing it yourself.  You spend an entire class mostly listening to classmates say nothing at all with a professor that usually gives no indication of what the hell is good info and what is bad.  The result: you figure it out yourself.  Law school, at least the 1L year of it, is essentially self-taught.  I have no doubt you could do just as well by reading primers and E&Es on each of the subjects and then just bouncing hypos off your classmates.  If you listen to most of your prof's you'll see they are saying a whole lotta nothing about the nuts and bolts of most of the subjects.  Those of you that have yet to take a test may be surprised to find out that taking notes of everything that came out of the prof's mouth was a complete waste of time.  I don’t advocate merely “teaching to the test” but I do advocate not wasting hours of students study time reading cases when they could be used for doing hypos or updating outlines.

In any other subject, including med school, the profs actually attempt to teach you the skills needed to do well.  They teach them right there in class... by lecturing... by telling you things that you can write down and remember and then use to understand, by doing lab work.  Not by making you read 12 pages of case to learn a one-sentence rule.  Sure case briefing is important at first... but it quickly becomes a waste of time for any purpose other than being able to look smart when you get called on. 

As for the theory that it needs to be this way to keep all the toms, dicks, and harrys, etc, out of the field of law - I don't see why.  The GPA/LSAT hurdle narrows the field down and the school's pickiness does as well.  The people that get in after that, are you seeing a lot of them fail out??  Cuz I'm not.  Pretty much you get into law school and hang in there and you will graduate it.  It is not weeding people out, so there is no reason to think that if the classes actually tried to simply give you the information you need, that less qualified lawyers would be the result.  In fact, I'd argue the opposite would be. 

If you haven't ever read an Aspen Examples and Explanations book on one of the core 1L subjects, take a look.  Listen to the "lectures" on a given topic and then read the chapter from the book.  See if it doesn't make you wonder why they couldn't "have just said that".  It’s “hiding the ball” at it’s finest.

Course this doesn't apply to every single prof, some are a better at trying to teach, or at least trying to be better at it.  But it is a pretty universal observation of the field.

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I'm wondering if there are any past or present police officers on the way to law school?  I'm 35 with 9 years experience in a major city police department and making the switch to law school.  I'll be starting this fall.

If not a police officer/deputy/etc.  How many other people are in fields that bring them in contact with attorneys/judges/courts and decided to go to law school. 

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