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Author Topic: Why is law school taught the way it is?  (Read 5891 times)

Jumboshrimps

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2006, 07:19:09 PM »
Law school, at least the 1L year of it, is essentially self-taught. 


The fact that law school is essentially self-taught is exactly why it works. "Teaching", in the sense that some expert tells you what you need to know, is not a very good way to learn anything. And the more important the material, the less you want "teachers" telling you what to learn. This is because nothing any of us are told means as much to us as what we DISCOVER. Law professors are there in part to make you doubt your contentions about every issue. If that wasn't the case, you'd never ask the important questions which lead to sound and thorough analysis.

If your contracts prof just told you the elements of a contract and what they are, you'd know the elements of a contract. Big deal. How would you then construct an argument which requires you to appeal to a judge who is looking for a reason to find consideration lacking? The answer is that you guide her through the same thought processes that led you to understand the consideration doctrine, and mold them in the proper direction at each advantageous crossroad. Would you rather be doing this for the first time when your client has millions of dollars riding on it, or would it be better to have done it before as a 1L?   

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2006, 07:23:30 PM »
I think the Socratic Method is very helpful.  Ever watch an appellate case--This is what the judge does to the attorney.  However, I think case books are poor tools.  My suggestion would be to have a textbook similar to Gilbert's, etc. teaching only BLL.  Then maybe some cases as a supplement.

Even if the case method stood as it is, and the case book authors put some better explanation/BLL in bwt the cases to further illustrate the points.


bulletproof

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2006, 01:14:50 AM »
If your contracts prof just told you the elements of a contract and what they are, you'd know the elements of a contract. Big deal. How would you then construct an argument which requires you to appeal to a judge who is looking for a reason to find consideration lacking? The answer is that you guide her through the same thought processes that led you to understand the consideration doctrine, and mold them in the proper direction at each advantageous crossroad. Would you rather be doing this for the first time when your client has millions of dollars riding on it, or would it be better to have done it before as a 1L?   

I see your point, but respectfully disagree (at least a little).  I don't want the prof to simply tell me the elements of a K, I would also like them to tell me how those elements relate to each other and what they mean.  Also, there is value in understanding the reasoning involved in appellate decisions (clearly).  But reading the cases will give that to you, and talking about the doctrine in class will too - briefing them won't, as by time we should all be able to pull the issue out of the reading and see how the rule was applied.  I fail to see how this is a criticism of briefing cases and the fact that many law prof's don't teach you the law.  As for learning how to argue your point before a judge it seems to me legal writing and appellate advocacy classes are on top of this.  You learn to write a brief and defend it.  Along with all the appellate cases you have read you are well on the way to being able to construct an argument to advocate whatever it is you wish to advocate.

As for your final question, I see the point you are after, but I don't think you actually believe anyone, anywhere will allow a brand new attorney to head a multi-million dollar contract negotiation or court action.  No matter how well you learned this in school, you can rest assured you will be taking a back seat to the guys that have done it many times before - before you are expected to take the lead.  A firm has a bank of briefs you can use for templates, and senior associates as well as partners to make sure you don't screw anything up.  There is little need to feel you will take the bar and then be handed the case of a lifetime to prove yourself with. 

I have recently given up briefing and still waiting to see the negative consequences.  I've been called on a couple times since, and survived fine.  I'll admit at those moments I did miss the self sure feeling I had with my (in my opinion) excellent brief in front of me, but it wasn't a life changing event - besides, I was able to watch LOST with some of the time I saved!

jacy85

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2006, 07:42:35 AM »
One more quick point on how law school is taught...

When we take summer positions and jobs after school, it's oftentimes in areas that we know little about in school, unless you've taken a class on it.

So what do you do when you're in a summer position, and a partner asks you to research a memo dealing with employment law, and a suit for tangible employment action sexual harassment.  Are you going to sit around and wait for that partner to tell you what the elements are and how they relate to one another?

No.  You're going to go read a bunch of cases, discern the rule, and figure out how they work together.  Welcome to life as a laywer.  Yes, 1L is trial by fire, because you have an exam grade riding on how well you figure this out in addition to understanding what sort of angle your professor wants.  But I'd say having an exam grade riding on things is much less stressful than knowing your client could lose millions of dollars and you could be sued for malpractice.

majorporcupine

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2006, 05:04:46 PM »
I think law school should teach people how to lie better, because I'm really bad at that and I'm guessing it will hurt my career.  :(

My goal for today is to throw a paper ball at the professor during lecture--very obvious since I am in the front row.  Then I will practice denying everything.  Wishe me luck!

bulletproof

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2006, 04:11:55 AM »
My goal for today is to throw a paper ball at the professor during lecture--very obvious since I am in the front row.  Then I will practice denying everything.  Wishe me luck!

Good luck, I tried this myself.  Only by paperball I mean stern look, and by denying everything I mean pretending I was getting something out of my bag.  I got away with the whole thing!

majorporcupine

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2006, 04:20:23 AM »
My goal for today is to throw a paper ball at the professor during lecture--very obvious since I am in the front row.  Then I will practice denying everything.  Wishe me luck!

Good luck, I tried this myself.  Only by paperball I mean stern look, and by denying everything I mean pretending I was getting something out of my bag.  I got away with the whole thing!

Wow!  That level of prestigious defiance is far above my poor power to add or detract at this moment.  I'm going to take little steps.  Today, I practiced crumpling a paper ball.

LSD

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2006, 06:58:53 AM »
I think law school should teach people how to lie better, because I'm really bad at that and I'm guessing it will hurt my career.  :(

Law school can teach you how to lie better, although the latter is something that law schools think is better self-taught.

bulletproof

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #18 on: March 04, 2006, 12:37:42 AM »
Wow!  That level of prestigious defiance is far above my poor power to add or detract at this moment.  I'm going to take little steps.  Today, I practiced crumpling a paper ball.

I've been practicing that too, I use the appellate brief I'm writing.

majorporcupine

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Re: Why is law school taught the way it is?
« Reply #19 on: March 04, 2006, 02:35:00 AM »
I think law school should teach people how to lie better, because I'm really bad at that and I'm guessing it will hurt my career.  :(

Law school can teach you how to lie better, although the latter is something that law schools think is better self-taught.

My law school doesn't seem to do such a good job...they're all into the "law is a noble profession" route.  Oh for some cynicism! :(

But then I don't want to sell my soul to a corporation either.

Wow!  That level of prestigious defiance is far above my poor power to add or detract at this moment.  I'm going to take little steps.  Today, I practiced crumpling a paper ball.

I've been practicing that too, I use the appellate brief I'm writing.


Good job!  I think I'll do that with my homework as well.