Memo to Future Lawyers

 Posted on December 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Don't go to Marquette Law School.

According to David Papke, law professor at Marquette Law School,

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.

If you want to be "truly learned in the law", Marquette will try to graduate you. Being truly learned in the law is nice. Just nice. Not once have I had a potential client ask me if I was truly learned in the law; my "truly-learned-in-the-law in Houston" webpage never had a hit.

Being truly learned in the law qualifies one to teach other people to be truly learned in the law, just as a PhD in philosophy qualifies one to teach philosophy, but it doesn't pay the bills.

Let's face it: there are a thousand other areas of human knowledge to choose from if one wants PhD-level erudition. Many are more convivial than the law, and I suspect that most graduate programs are less antagonistic (and less expensive) than law school. If you want to be a scholar, there are better choices than law school.

But most people - even the lawgeekiest amongst us - don't go to law school to be scholars. They go to law school to be lawyers. And, clearly, Marquette Law School is not the place for that.

I don't have any problem with Marquette deciding not to train lawyers. Let Marquette Law School be yet another liberal-arts graduate program, but tell prospective students what they'll be getting.

In fact, I propose a new motto for Marquette: If you want to practice law, go somewhere else.

Maybe someone could even translate it into Latin.

[Update: Scott Greenfield beat me to it: "Imagine, the dirtiness of a law school teaching law students how to practice law. Disgusting. Revolting. How beneath the dignity of such a distinguished scholar. Instead, they should be taught... what?"]

[Update 2: Gideon S. Trumpet himself, who started this discussion with his "10 Things I Didn't Learn in Law School", wonders, "Will I get a pass when I won't know how to pick appropriate jurorsbecause I will enthrall them with anecdotes from the Federalist Papers?" in his "One Thing Law School Isn't Meant to Teach You"; Miami criminal-defense lawyer Brian Tannebaum, at his My Law License blog, comments:

In medical school we teach students about the body, its organs, how itworks, how it reacts to certain factors, and what causes disease andsickness. Then the "doctors" do a "residency" where they focus on thepracticalities of "doctoring." In law, we give "lawyers" a degree, that they can immediately frame, hang up in an office and greet unknowing clients.


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