Monday, December 05, 2011

The Lost Lawyer

Guest Blogger

Bruce Ackerman

Balkinization has been the site of three responses to the New York Times’ harsh critique of modern legal education – all largely apologetic. Come to the modern law school, David Levi and Jason Mazzone tell us, and you will see that the Times’ critique is out-of-date -- proliferating clinics and internships provide precisely the sophisticated practitioner-training that the newspaper is calling for. We live in (almost) the best of all possible worlds.

Sandy Levinson adds a characteristically iconoclastic note by putting Milton Friedman onto his list of intellectual heroes. He suggests that law schools be stripped of their monopoly on bar admission: it should not be necessary “to invest in three years of legal education” before a professional should be licensed to engage in “basic areas” like “uncontested divorces, simple wills, basic landlord-tenant,” among (how many?) others, which don’t require a three year “investment.”

This collective apologia represents a striking confirmation of Tony Kronman’s brilliant Lost Lawyer, and its diagnosis of the decline and fall of the lawyer-statesman ideal in America. My Kronmanian dissent, published as a letter in today’s Times, serves as a counterpoint. The truth is that, even in elite schools, it is astonishingly easy for law students to lose themselves in clinical work and avoid the sustained, and multi-disciplinary, course-work that should be required for the leaders of the next generation. We are adapting all-too-well to the temper of the Times – generating increasing numbers of anti-intellectual lawyers to express the growing anti-intellectualism of American politics.

Older Posts
Newer Posts