Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Poll

Whcih type of school would you rather attend?

Under 28 yrs old - Theoretical
 20 (60.6%)
Under 28 yrs old - Practical
 7 (21.2%)
29 yrs and older - Theoretical
 2 (6.1%)
29 yrs and older - Practical
 4 (12.1%)

Total Members Voted: 33

Author Topic: Theoretical vs Practical  (Read 2086 times)

->Soon

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Theoretical vs Practical
« on: November 03, 2007, 10:40:03 PM »
So, hear some schools curriculum is more Theoretical, some more Practical

how can you determine which is which?  which would you prefer?
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TeresaPinfold

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2007, 10:47:28 PM »
Theoretical, for the simple reason that all the best schools are.

MHLM

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2007, 11:00:17 PM »
Interesting article in the Times earlier this week about this very subject...
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/31/education/31lawschool.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Duke10

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2007, 11:10:35 PM »
People have a lot of things to say about the distinction. But there's a reason why all the best law firms hire almost exclusively from "theoretical" schools.

studymaster

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2007, 12:45:27 AM »
People have a lot of things to say about the distinction. But there's a reason why all the best law firms hire almost exclusively from "theoretical" schools.
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It is whispered that soon, if we all heed the call, the piper will lead us to reason.

big - fat - box

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2007, 06:00:53 PM »
Why the big firms hire from top schools, which also happen to be largely theoretical schools has nothing to do with a theoretical curriculum over a practical one, and everything to with prestige.  There aren't enough big firm jobs for everyone, so the big firms hire from the top schools, or hire the top students from the lower ranked schools as a way of narrowing down the candidate pool, nothing more.

If the top 15 law schools decided tomorrow that they would switch to a purely practical curriculum the big firms would still hire from those schools.

To the 1Ls and pre-laws who are reading this:

Once you see what it is lawyers actually do, you'll realize how worthless 99% of the theoretical knowledge you "learned" in law school is.

I attend a top 15 school, by the way.

philibusters

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2007, 07:46:03 PM »
This is one of the things pre-law students obsess about.  Then when you get to law school and go to choose your classes you will see that all schools probably have both types of classes as electives, so that if you really wanted to a theoretical class, there will a philosophy of the law at your tier III.  I think the top schools probably offer a higher % of theortical classes and probably have the top professors in the field, but I don't go to a Top 10 and we offer some theoretical classes.
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School

philibusters

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2007, 11:53:42 PM »
This is one of the things pre-law students obsess about.  Then when you get to law school and go to choose your classes you will see that all schools probably have both types of classes as electives, so that if you really wanted to a theoretical class, there will a philosophy of the law at your tier III.  I think the top schools probably offer a higher % of theortical classes and probably have the top professors in the field, but I don't go to a Top 10 and we offer some theoretical classes.

No no, the question is whether, say, your first year Contracts class is taught with a practical or theoretical bent, not whether you can take a philosophy of law classes.

For example, in one of my first year classes, we spend a lot more time analyzing things with Law and Econ ideas than we do actually discussing what the law is.  Blah blah this is the rule most places follow, this is the rule some other places follow (2 minutes); Now, which one is better? Why?  What are the costs of each?  The benefits of each?  Is there a third way better than both?  How?  (2 days).

And the answer is... I don't know.  It depends on the professor as much as the school.

Fair enough.  I am a 3L so I was thinking about the question from a standpoint of which classes you take.  There are a lot of policy oriented classes you can choose from as electives, but yeah I see your point, even common law classes can be policy oriented classes depending on the professor.

Theoretical v. Practical is not a good way to draw a distinction, policy oriented v. black letter law is probably a better way to describe the difference because reading appellate cases on a topic is never really all that practical where in real life you will probably focus more on transactional things than litigation and even if you do litigation you will settle most cases before even going to court.

Policy oriented classes make for more interesting discussions and lectures.  They are also easier to prepare for  My school is more law oriented in general, the profs are more likely to ask the class opened ended hypos than policy questions, but policy discussion is more interesting.  Sometimes though you learn more about a topic by getting into the law, sometimes you learn more policy by getting into the law.  By focusing on the law and each individual element, you realize each element has some policy justification, maybe not something broad like economic efficiency, but maybe something less sexy like judicial administrative efficiency and by doing hypos sometimes you see that the law doesn't really work well in certain factual scenarios.  I think the idea class is a mix between the too.

My advice to Piggy Bank is to still learn the black letter law in the class with the prof who ust delves into policy as even if that prof has a lot of policy on the exam, you will still at a minimum need to the basic black letter stuff even if you only covered it for a few minutes in class.
2008 graduate of William and Mary Law School

bass

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2007, 12:05:15 AM »
you will still at a minimum need to the basic black letter stuff even if you only covered it for a few minutes in class.

that's my fear.

This actually varies based on professor pretty widely.  At the very least, what counts as "basic black letter law" can vary.  In my torts class, I could probably sum up everything black letter I needed to know in like 5 sentences.  On the exam, I spent 90% of the time applying various theories/policies and 10% citing legal principles.  The key is to find A answers to past exams, and do whatever they did.

bass

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Re: Theoretical vs Practical
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2007, 12:11:34 AM »
This actually varies based on professor pretty widely.  At the very least, what counts as "basic black letter law" can vary.  In my torts class, I could probably sum up everything black letter I needed to know in like 5 sentences.  On the exam, I spent 90% of the time applying various theories/policies and 10% citing legal principles.  The key is to find A answers to past exams, and do whatever they did.

Uh oh.  Conflicting evidence...

GIVE ME THE EFFING RULE ALREADY!

 ;)

If I wrote it, it's the rule.  Think of me as Justice Kennedy.  In any case, I can't imagine anyone objectively disagreeing with the value of an A exam.