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Brian Tamanaha and Dean Mitchell on Rethinking Legal Education

 

Although you’ve probably heard from both of them before, law professor Brian Tamanaha, and Dean Mitchell of Western Reserve Law School were on WHYY’s Radiotimes yesterday discussing the topic “Rethinking Law Schools.” You can give it a listen here:

 

Here’s the TL;DR:

Tamanaha

Risk in writing book?

  • Back lash from colleagues, but some were supportive.
  • Negative reviews, nasty emails, anonymous responses from law prof blogs.

Economics of legal education don’t work.

  • “It’s broken.”
  • The cost of a law degree exceeds the return of most graduates.
  • Only about 15% hit the corporate/BigLaw jobs that give a good ROI

Why resistance in rethinking the model?

  • If you change the economics, then it hits lawprofs.
  • Generally, 1/2 a law school’s budget is salary.
  • Profs have to take a haricut, they don’t like it.
  • Law schools are run for profs.
  • Teaching loads down, salary up.

Overall Message:

  • Going to law school is a shaky proposition. Go if you get a free ride or get in at a top school.

Mitchell

On detractors of law schools:

  • Thinks Tamanaha is one of the good guys.
  • Takes offense at “law school scam,” treats schools as bad actors.
  • Doesn’t care for anonymous online commenters.

On costs of law school:

  • The education we provide is valuable.
  • Salary is 1/3 of our budget.
  • Other educations and services have increased in costs as well.
  • “We’re a business, a special kind of business.”
  • “Life is expensive.”

Alternatives to current law school education:

  • ABA has accredited too many law schools.
  • One size fits all model needs to be re-examined.
  • Provide future students a variety of options for the types of law degrees offered.
  • Maybe switch to 2 years for people who don’t want to be corporate lawyers or judges.
  • 1 year for people who don’t want lawyer jobs – “Master’s in Law.”

Overall Message:

  • Schools are in transition. Corrections need to be made. We’re trying, stop hating.
[hr]

It’s a pretty interesting listen if you have the time.

Hat tip to my other brother-in-law for the head’s up on this.  [no blog, says med school is too time consuming. Wimp! ;) ]

 

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About Keith Lee

I'm the founder and editor of Associate's Mind. I like to write, talk, and think about law, professional development, technology, and whatever else floats my boat. I practice law in Birmingham, AL.
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