Friday, December 26, 2008

Marquette LAW (Not Lawyer) School

Recently, a member of The Florida Bar Board of Governors was telling me he wants to begin a conversation about what our law schools are doing to prepare graduates for the "real world" of lawyering.

You know, mundane things like getting and dealing with clients, running a small practice, handling judges who could give a crap about all the law you learned, and communicating with dip shit lawyers.

We discussed that the biggest objection would come from law professors who believe that law schools should not participate in this "clinical" type education. Why teach a law student how to use their degree to represent people when you can educate them on the history of the Rule Against Perpetuities, and encourage them to participate in the wholly irrelevant law review?

Actually, I take that back. Law Review is relevant in that BigLaw loves it and law schools love when their graduates go work for BigLaw.

So I was fascinated today when two of the wisest bloggers in the criminal defense blawgosphere, Mark Bennett and Scott Greenfield picked up on a comment posted at the Marquette Law School Faculty Blog by Marquette (we teach law, not lawyers) Law School Professor David Papke in reference to a post on Gideon's blog

"We don’t want law school to be lawyer-training school. When we cave in to demands of that sort from the ABA and assorted study commissions, we actually invite alienation among law students and lawyers. Legal education should appreciate the depth of the legal discourse and explore its rich complexities. It should operate on a graduate-school level and graduate people truly learned in the law."

When I went to law school, my school had the highest Bar passage rate in Florida. Professors lamented that Stetson was a "3 year Bar Examination review course." I thought "that's OK with me, I need all the review I can get." I also participated in trial team, which was poo-pooed by the law review and moot court (read: appellate argument) group.

This argument has been around forever, and will continue.

Teaching law is important, so are lawyers.

In medical school we teach students about the body, its organs, how it works, how it reacts to certain factors, and what causes disease and sickness. Then the "doctors" do a "residency" where they focus on the practicalities of "doctoring."

In law, we give "lawyers" a degree, that they can immediately frame, hang up in an office and greet unknowing clients. The law school having "done their job." Some law schools embrace clinical programs and practical education, others, believe that a practicing lawyer is evidence of the failure of the law school's education.

Apparently the people trying cases and arguing motions are not well versed in the law.

They're just lawyers.

Located in Miami, Florida, Brian Tannebaum practices Bar Admission and Discipline and Criminal Defense. Read his free ebook The Truth About Hiring A Criminal Defense Lawyer. Please visit


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If I had learned in law school even simple things like how to prepare for, take, and summarize a deposition, it would have saved my firm a lot of money and me a lot of anxiety. Why should my firm or me have to pay for that training when law school tuition is so high?