Law School Discussion

The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #30 on: January 24, 2006, 08:15:30 PM »
And these facts remain:

1.  Professors do not use the socratic method - stop worrying.

2.  Professors are judged not by how well they teach, but by how publishable is their research.  So whether they actually educate or not is largely irrelevant.  Why do you think that curve is so necessary?  Ever wonder what professional attorneys would think of our exams?  They'd probably laugh.  Does that show a flaw with us, or with how we are taught?

3.  One exam over a year or a semester is inherently flawed as an accurate measure of ability in a learning environment.

4.  Law schools are businesses, and even though the third year's usefulness can best be described as "tenuous," the schools show no sign of giving up 1/3 of that income.  Our debt keeps us indentured servants to law firms.  You guys are excited about those summer associate positions, but once you get out there and start working, and realize you have no time for vacations (or continually have to change your plans); no time to spend with your children; no time to spend with your spouses; no time to find spouses, etc. you will--like almost EVERY law firm associate--start questioning why you ever did this to yourself.

5.  Drug use and alcoholism in the legal community is, as my Professional Responsibility professor said, "Endemic."  Now you know why.  But we don't fix it.

6.  These problems have been known by the legal community for a long, long time, but nothing changes.  Why?  Because they convince law students this is the way it has to be.  But it is all a big business--and a big lie--and the cost is ridiculous.  There is zero justification that our education is worth 30K a year.  Zero. 

7.  Only America educates its attorneys in this manner, at such crushing cost.  The largest and most influential law firms in the world are based out of Europe - I wonder why they do such good jobs, yet don't require their own attorneys to go through such a ruinous system. 

Maybe it is time you all started asking yourselves those questions.  Then ask your professors, lawyers you know, your deans.  Debate with them. Argue with them.  Let them know it is not right. 

Because you know what?  Nobody cares about the lot of lawyers, except lawyers.  We are loathed in society (why?  Because the right wing HATES that we applied the Bill of Rights to the whole country during the Warren era - and they got it into the popular culture to hate us too) and if we are going to fix this BS then we are going to have to do it ourselves.  Problem is, it is lawyers who keep this system in place.  "I have seen the enemy, and it is We."


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Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #31 on: January 25, 2006, 08:37:06 AM »
Chirs, maybe the reason we don't really debate you is because we think your issues are silly and pointless. I for one think law school is fine. LS is like any other profession, there are those who want to be at the top and work 60-80 hours per week and there are the other 90% who don't and work 40-50. Because of the competitive nature of law and the challenge of getting into LS there is probably a bit higher percentage of lawyers who want to be the top then other profession. For this same reason you are likely to find these highly competitive folks over represented at the top schools. But I bet if you look at doctors you would find the same thing.

I for one know of a couple of students at my school who work like crazy and then there are the rest who like me put in around 40 hours. The fact is that most people who work a lot choose to do so because they want to be the top of the class. 

That being said I have never disagreed with you on the cost of law school and the problem of debt. We do need to do something about that, but it is a problem in the whole of academia and will be difficult to solve without adopting a European style college system, which while good, seems unlikely.

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #32 on: January 25, 2006, 09:41:02 AM »
I quit reading it because I felt like I was being preached to. I would have been interested in the substance of it had it not been for that.

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #33 on: January 25, 2006, 02:09:56 PM »
I don't mean for my tone to be preachy.  I suppose the stridence comes from how little I hear my classmates talk about how to fix things.  Not just with law school, but with the world.  With the country.  And there's so much that needs to be fixed, it's almost overwhelming.  I would love for this to be 1988, or 1992 again when it really didn't matter who was running things.  Bush/Dukakis - so they'll each tool with some social policies, but the one party always moderated the others.  Bush/Clinton same thing.  Now a party that half the country didn't vote for gives them no consideration. And that party doesn't even follow the principles of its traditional base!  And the Dems would do the same thing.  It sucks!

But the contrasts seem so stark now; the stakes for our national character so high.  Not in the parties, but in the people.  The people in charge are so unprincipled!  In both parties!  I don't even know if we all know what kind of people we are electing anymore, because we listen to attacks so much and instead of holding them to their words, we convince ourselves of their spin just so we don't feel we made a bad choice.  I see it happen all the time!  And in Bruce Bartlett's case, when he stood up for conservative fiscal principles he was fired!  And David Brooks said, "Bush is the new conservative."  Conservatives, you guys need to be careful because his policies aren't conservative and they are proving very unpopular.  You guys are going to have your policies tarred, which sucks because generally you all are theh smartest economists.  We love the thrill of the argument, but we aren't discussing enough.   

And when I sat through Constitutional Law and the professor would ask the class for opinions, nobody would give them.  It can't all be out of shyness.  Many of the people in the class were moot court competitors.  I knew who the Federalist Society guys were, and they never spoke either.

Our professor would raise historical facts that contradicted both Originalist doctrine AND broad constructionist doctrine, and nobody would say a thing.  I wish they would have.  I would like to hear conservative viewpoints and liberal viewpoints debate Constitutional Law with each other.  What a benefit that was supposed to be to law school!  Nobody speaks.  I did, but I did not want to be "The Talker" or the "Free Space" on law school bingo.  Outside of class I didn't have all that much time attend debates and lectures.  I was also working 25 hours a week.  Besides, I wanted to hear a group of my peers volly with each other, moderated by a knowledgable moderator.  He tried.  We just didn't respond.

I wish he had been socratic!  I wanted to hear perspectives. 

But then my Con Law professor would sometimes make fun of students in front of the class.  Often it was good natured and fun, and we all had a kick out of it.  But often, too, it would be cruel, and it was certain to keep hands down.  Because it was only the people who raised their hands he called on.  And it bothered me, because I didn't pay to have this short man use his tall brain to make himself feel good at the expense of learning students.  And it was nothing socratic. 

There's the activists on campus, but it always seems to be the same 30 people.  What I mean to say, is my stridence comes from wondering if anyone is paying attention?  I'm not saying they aren't, but I am saying I don't see it in class, or when we all go out. 

But it's not 1992 anymore, and that's how I was back then when I first started undergrad; but we all still talked casually about politics.  People who go to law school are supposed to love history, philosophy and/or politics, because that's all we study. 

And it seems like the problems we face--that we are going to be FORCED to face--are right around the corner.  And it's going to be all of us--you too giffy, and me--who have to deal with the consequences.  And our kids.  Whether it's Avian flu (or another contagion), a hurricane or earthquake levels another city, or Asia stops buying our debt, or what if millions and millions of us all of a sudden reached a point where we could no longer pay our debt?  That has profound implications for the economy, for our jobs.  For our families.  And it seems almost likely.  Because the credit faucet never ends anymore, and people put their basic needs on cards.  It's not just medical or law school, but it's almost every effective institution for bettering ourselves has become super-costly.  We are endangering future prosperity. It's like the Goya painting of Saturn devouring his own son.  The baby boomers are only in it for themselves, and they only care about getting re-elected and doing whatever it takes in the short term.  There's no long-term thinking anymore.

So I don't mean the tone to be preachy, but almost like "oh my God! what are we going to do about all of this?!  how are we to make sense of all this?!"  And then we are advocating torture, killing kids and retarded people; and we keep secret jails; and so few people don't mind that we have kept people imprisoned for FOUR YEARS with no access to courts, or even charging them.  And we shrug off our government shrugging off the 4th Amendment, and spying on us.  And the Incorporation Debate is coming back, and that's going to be major.

And people say "terrorism" and I want to be safe too.  I mean, I live in New York City.  But it's strange that the city that lived through 9/11 never agrees with how that event is used politically.  I don't know what that means.

I don't know what any of it means.  But I do know I don't hear many people my age (31) and younger talking about it.  And it kind of scares me, because we seem so unprepared.  And we know about these things.  Just like we had a red flag about bin Laden and FEMA had a red flag about New Orleans.  New Orleans.  One of the funnest, most unique cities we had.  I spent a month there one year.  It was so fun.  And it seems to be dying and choking.  And all the money goes to a war, that I supported in the beginning too. But what do I know?  It seems like our leaders should have known more than they did before undertaking a war that is now projected to run a Trillion dollars!  Trillion!  It's like, nobody thought ahead that there might be bigger problems.  Remember how the oil from Iraq would pay for itself?  I mean, what is going on with us?!  Why are we electing these people?  There are so few Democrats and Republicans I like, and I don't see why other people can't put aside their local pork-barrelling and elect some people to fix things!

We have no money for all these problems we have to deal with.  And God help us, Iran.  I'm not preachy, I'm scared.  Because so far two major disasters with two warnings.  What's next?!  There's so much we haven't prepared for.  And my place to start is where I'm at:  law school, and thinking about how to fix that, because I think there's a better way.  Because if we could come up with a system where people could choose how many hours they wanted to work, that would allow for more options.  But Giffy your wrong - law firms all have a minimum billable hour and it is usually 2000.  CLIENT billable.  There's a lot of time in the office you can't bill.  That's why you have to stay late, just to get that minimum BILLABLE time.  And you work for a cheap client or one that's important, there may be some hours you have to work on a matter you can't bill.  It's just the game.  And we can't afford not to play it.  Not with our debt.  And it seems like citizens are going to have to start putting their heads together more to solve some problems, because our leaders are sh*t at doing so. 

We lawyers are going to have to be in top shape financially, spiritually and emotionally because if you guys haven't checked, our ranks run everything.  That's just a fact.  And the solutions are going to have to come from our ranks.  And it's going to take a lot of us to spend a little spare time thinking like citizens again.  And I don't see it happening.  Maybe it's just my school.  That's why I came on here.  To see if these things resonated with anyone else.  I admit, my tone sounds preachy, but it's not meant that way.  Maybe declarative to provoke response, but that's not always the most effective method, I concede.  My voice is distorted by frustration, and I need to work on that.  Plus, people think I'm partisan, and I'm not.  I just think our leaders suck.  We can keep the exact same numbers, but my goodness can't we fill the seats with some thinkers and compromisers, and all agree to a truce on the social issues tearing us apart.  All sides?  Gay marriage, abortion, prayer, right to die, medicinal marijuana, etc.  Can't we just put those aside, all of us, collectively make some determination to keep the status quo on those isues, and deal with the immediate problems facing us? 

I just...don't have any answers myself.  I suppose this was my way of yelling it without actually doing so physically in the midst of these large classes, where nobody will even raise their hand to say whether they think Alito should or should not be confirmed.  Because the future don't seem so bright right now...and I guess I just wish we'd all start talking about how to fix it, and stop listening to the generation that f**cked it up.  And stop hating each other so much.

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2006, 01:11:40 AM »

You are very preachy in your tone and demeanor. You are like the fire and brimstone priest I remember from the first church my parents took me to in Brooklyn. It scared the hell out of me. I avoid Catholic churches to this day.
Do you really expect your classmates to have the same attitude about the world as you? Some will be happy to graduate with their JD, some will be gone next year breathing a sigh of relief, and some will silently kick everyones academic ass and be totally unknown. How can you fault them for handling law school in their own way? You are obviously passionate about what you believe, in a slightly zealous way. Can't you come up with a plan to accomplish what you need to without turning off everyone you come in contact with (on this board)?

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2006, 06:21:21 AM »
Just stick a fork in Chris's ass - he's done.

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2006, 08:45:20 PM »
Wow, this is pretty pitiful. Chris is definitely the party who is in the right here. For all you law students: are personal attacks the only way you can think? Chris has some valid points, and is being pretty reasonable, and the best arguments you can make are little more than name-calling. Is this what law school teaches? If so, even more reform is needed than what Chris recommends.

Yes, he pounds the points over and over again (although this somewhat necessary in the politics of today.) Yes, his posts are like books when simple sentences would do. Yes, he mixes his point and his political views unnecessarily. But he does make valid points, and the best that the rest of you can do is "I bet you go to a crappy school." Come on! You are offended by his views and the best responses you can come up with only serve to feed his logic!

I bet you are going to make poor lawyers if you can't see the illogic in your own responses.


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Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2006, 08:52:26 PM »

Two quick points because I am tired and have had some wine tonight.

First, Just because some of us don't see the problem with LS does not mean we are not engaged with the world. I follow the news quite closely,, have friends in elected office, and am involved with many groups (from abortion rights to environmentalism). I am actually looking to possibly run for office in either 08 or 10.

Second, Not every attorney goes to work in a big firm. I donít have the numbers but I bet it is much less than 50%. Plus there are firms that have less than 2000 billables. I now of at least a few in Seattle that are around 1800. Even still I donít know of any real job (outside entertainment and sports) were you can make 80k plus to start and work less than 50-60 hours per week.

The problem I see with the way you come across is that you act like caring about your issue is a prerequisite for being a good person who is engaged with the world. You also seem to think that people who disagree with you or who don't conform to your expectations are not good or fulfilled people. I am not sure if you really feel this way or if it is just your writing style.

Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #38 on: January 27, 2006, 08:10:26 PM »
Interesting responses, and aside from Lincoln, well-thought.

Giffy:  "The problem I see with the way you come across is that you act like caring about your issue is a prerequisite for being a good person who is engaged with the world. You also seem to think that people who disagree with you or who don't conform to your expectations are not good or fulfilled people. I am not sure if you really feel this way or if it is just your writing style."

Not at all.  I am not talking about any issues that don't affect ALL of us.   Although I propose changes to the JD program, I otherwise am only arguing our generation is not focusing on the problems we MUST deal with.  Thereís a lot of problems facing us. 

Yes, my writing style is too wordy.  I agree.  I am too lazy to edit posts.

Giffy, I currently am in law school and I do not feel the program accurately measures our abilities. I feel it is too expensive, which keeps qualified (but poorer) people out, or makes us incur incredible debt.  Those who take on the debt often are forced to work for the highest bidder. 

I am not anti-large firm, but there is no variance in work schedules.  So an attorney who wants to make partner yet, can bill 2200 hours a year to the client, but an attorney who wants to work a traditional schedule does not have that option.  They are given projects that require them to stay in the office.  Or they are senior and juniors can't do the work, or their minimum billables (2000) are low and that spells trouble for them.  This is a fact not only in New York, but Denver, Colorado Springs, Houston, Austin, etc. (I personally know for those). 

I would not argue what I argue if we could elect the track we wish to work.  But law firms see your first three years as a time to squeeze as much work from you as possible.  Whoever handled it best is seen as partner material.  The others can languish, or are asked to leave.  For instance, Hunton & Williams will ask any attorney who does not want to make partner to leave.  I was told this at one of their socials.

The cost to educate ourselves limits our choices or limits our lifestyle.  Or both.  Then we are worked crazy hours.  It's not 100% true, but it is indeed the norm. 

I argue against this because 1. I see what it does to my friends and what it did to my sister before she left a large firm to work for the city prosecutor.  She has had to default on her debt off and on it remains always over her head.  But she wanted a family.  2.  I'm not saying we are "Golden Children" but the reason we run almost everything is because we learn the history of the system, the reasoning behind it, and why some things are the way they are even if they seem unfair.  For instance, we have always felt we would rather let a guilty murderer go free than execute an innocent man.  It's a principle.

I make the connection between law school and the country for several reasons.  First, there are very serious problems we have to confront, and both conservatives and liberals are pointing them out.  It's just our leaders--who supposedly subscribe to those philosophies--who aren't listening.  Because they care more about abortion, or gay marriage, or other social issues.  That's fine, but right now there are more pressing issues.

My tone is more alarmist than preachy.  I genuinely don't understand why we don't see how severe are the problems we face.  Governor Corzine says, "It'll take a tragedy before they monitor the chemical storage plant."  We learn there were red flags to prevent both 9/11 and N.O.  I'm not blaming any political party.  I'm blaming us.  WE aren't focusing on these issues and forcing our leaders to deal with them.  NARAL and Operation Rescue and Jay Sekulow and these other groups keep us distracted from problems that could kill people we know.  It's happened twice already.  I don't know why I come across as crazy or a henny-penny.  I don't think it has anything to do with political parties.  I just am surprised that in law school, an atmosphere MOST suited to discuss these threats, nobody will even register an opinion.

Like I said, I am not preaching because I am not telling you guys you are wrong or right.  Just that I don't see us focusing on problems that could possibly hit us at any moment.  It feels like we care more if we are "Democrat" or "Republican" and will listen to whatever those labels tell us, but those guys really have messed the country up for ALL OF US. 

I'm not advocating anything.  I began these threads with ideas and proposals.  Sorry if I sound hellfire and brimstone, but it's not like the sources who are warning us are conspiracy theorists and fringe activists.  Greenspan, in his last speech, cautioned the economy.  So did The Economist.  But Bush thinks all is good.  It sucks, because conservative fiscal policies worked for us for so long, and they aren't enacting them.  Our politicians not only lie, but go completely against what they espouse.  Yet they say their ideas get them elected.

I'm just surprised others aren't as concerned.  Because this problem is going to land right in our laps.  We laugh about how we'll never see Social Security as if it's a joke and doesn't matter...I've done it too.  But we do nothing about it.  We demand nothing to fix it.  I just don't get it, is all.  It's not preachy - because I don't have any answers myself.  I just wish we'd start thinking about it.


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Re: The Fact Is, Profs Don't Use The Socratic Method
« Reply #39 on: January 27, 2006, 10:19:55 PM »
chris i think your right about how apathetic this generation is to politics. one of the reasons i want to start law school in august is to find educated people who care about world events. i have been told by lots of people that im out of luck. Since u have been worrying about how to fix problems i will tell u how to fix one. all u have to do is raise the social security tax by 3.8 percent today or cut benefits by 12.9 percent today and social security will be saved. ah the joys of a degree in economics.