Several posts on the mobblog about legal education at Madisonian have grappled with the basic structure of law schools. Al Brophy evokes the idea of a mini-university. Nancy Rapoport has offered that a required pre-law curriculum would improve law schools as students would have better interdisciplinary training and better writing skills. Mike Madison has asked “Why not offer undergraduate and graduate legal education programs in the same school?” Christine Hurt has challenged the liberal arts idea behind law school and suggested that schools could become specialist or generalist schools. Orly Lobel has argued that a split between the training of future professionals and future educators would better serve and reflect what law schools do. Frank Pasquale has asked whether the market has shifted such that schools need to focus on higher-level critical skills.
One idea might lurk within these views: is the undergraduate system failing such that many law students have aptitude but did not receive the training they may have received in years past?
Now, many say all law professors think law students cannot think or write well. Given that law school is supposed to push a student’s abilities to think and write to a higher level that view makes some sense. One would expect a certain amount of “we need to improve what you do” in the air. (This view can be constructive or condescending. Constructive is the way that the view makes sense). Yet, in talking with many people at a range of schools, it seems that the move to rote learning and regurgitation has produced a generation that is less armed for law school or any situation that requires independent thought and analysis. As such rather than teaching how to write a legal argument and analyze a case, many law professors may have to accomplish that task while also pointing to ways for a student to improve more fundamental skills. I could be dead wrong here. So, feedback on whether others have encountered this possibility is most welcome.
cross-posted at Madisonian