Scott Greenfield has a post up this morning entitled The Law Professors’ New Clothes, addressing the continuing running in circles of the legal professoriate – offering vague solutions that dont actually address the problems new lawyers are facing today.
If I recall correctly, the problems facing law schools involve excessive expense, declining enrollment, declining standards, producing many times more lawyers than there are jobs or society can absorb, producing lawyers who are wholly unprepared to practice, producing lawyers who adore situational ethics, serving the population that needs but can’t afford legal representation, and flushing their problems into our profession to deal with.
So while we’re sitting on hard benches wondering whether a new logo will bring us wealth and prestige, the professoriate is vying for the new paradigm without us, hoping that whoever wins the game will get a statue of himself built outside Harvard Law School.
Are any of these schemes going to make a better legal profession? For a bunch of smart people, these schemes strike me as pretty darned inadequate, both for law students, for the profession or, most importantly, for clients. But then, if we leave it up to the lawprofs, what should we expect?
“Though I may not, like them, be able to quote other authors, I shall rely on that which is much greater and more worthy— on experience, the mistress of their Masters. They go about puffed up and pompous, dressed and decorated with [the fruits], not of their own labours, but of those of others. And they will not allow me my own. They will scorn me as an inventor; but how much more might they— who are not inventors but vaunters and declaimers of the works of others— be blamed.”
– Leonardo da Vinci
I think the solution lays outside of law schools. It’s up to the segment of practicing lawyers who care about the future of the profession to become inventors. Find complex, messy, and new solutions to the scores of new lawyers coming into the practice in the next ten years. Traditional mentoring, digital solutions, support groups in bar associations, incubators, and things that haven’t been thought of yet.
It will not go smoothly. There will be failures. But no group is better suited to actively take on risk and embrace change than practicing lawyers. By the time law schools are willing to change, the damage will have been done to an entire generation of lawyers.