Sunday, November 23, 2008

Who Will Teach Law Schools to Teach the Obligation to Strive to Promote Justice, Fairness and Morality?

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

Today's topic is about justice and the traditional law schools.

I just found something sent to me from the Progressives' Election Coalition (PEC) some time ago. PEC was formed to work to elect progressive candidates. PEC's goals included

Ending the US occupation of Iraq
Universal health care
Combat global warning
Election integrity
Pubic financing of federal campaign
Fast-track, alternative energy programs emphasizing renewable
Reform corporate media
Institute corporate social responsibility
Equal rights for all US residents
A national living wage and support for the right to organize
Fair trade
Restoration of our Constitutional rights
Open and honest government
Strenghthen public education
Fair and simplified tax code
National security based on diplomacy and elimination of root causes of
Perhaps most importantly, buidling a culture based on peace, social justice
compassion and generosity, rather than fear, greed and aggression.

Millions of Americans hope that the election of Barack Obama will mean that steps will be taken to reach these goals.

According to the MacCrate Report one of the four fundamental values of the legal profession is "Striving to Promote Justice, Fairness and Morality. As a member of a profession that bears special responsibility for the quality of justice, a lawyer should be committed to the values of .. promoting justice, fairness and Morality in One's Own Daily Practice."

Does or did the law school you attended teach you that?

Does or did your law school rely on on-campus interviewing to funnel its students to large law firms representing large corporations?

Based on the election of Barack Obama and his platform to the extent we know it, will your law school substantially restructure its curriculum and its career office so that its graduates will be prepared to take positions which will help to attain the goals above, many of which strive to promote justice, fairness and morality?

ONLY FOUR (4) out of 2500

So, one day in 1989 just after my position as public interest adviser at harvard law school was eliminated because the new dean said that there was insufficient interest among its students to warrant having such a position, I reviewed the first position taken by its graduates over the last five years.

What struck me (but did not shock me since I was generally aware of what I would find) was that of the 2500 graduates of that law school - men and women who had during the previous decade or so of their lives had lead organizations, created works of art, had traveled around the world, had written articles, had started businesses - ONLY FOUR (4) out of 2500 had NOT taken JOBS - ONLY FOUR (4) out of 2500 had NOT become employees - ONLY FOUR (4) out of 2500 had maintained or kept the confidence they had when they entered law school that they could do something on their own. Two started City Year and two started a legal services program in Texas.

What Harvard Law School (and other selective law schools) did was to do the opposite of what medical schools seem to do. While the medical profession seems to build the future doctors' confidence by teaching them how to treat patients, the legal profession does the opposite. Beginnin with its law schools which systematically erode their students self-confidence and their sense of self-worth by failing to teach them how to represent their clients

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Jobs of Their Dreams (or Their Nightmares)?

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

Here's a research project for you.

Are you attending a hard to get into law school (notice that I did not use the descriptive words "good" or "best" or "tier x")?

If yes, what percentage of the Class of 2006 graduates took positions initially in large law firms or did so after a judicial clerkship?

What percentage of the Class of 2006 dreamed of such positions when surveyed during their first year of law school?

Is there a significant disparity between these two percentages?

If so, what steps has the law school taken to remedy this?

What does it mean if there was no survey taken to find out what the law school's students wanted to do with their legal education and who they wanted to represent ?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Yes You Can

I just posted this on my Center for Professional Development in the Law website

The election of Barack Obama was a victory for those who believe that there are serious problems facing our society and a critical need for changes in the way our country is governed. In addition, Barack Obama is a role model for those who entered law school hoping to use their legal training either to serve the legal needs of the public or to simply find satisfaction in the practice of law. Most of us know that upon graduation from Harvard Law School as the President of the Harvard Law Review, he returned to Chicago. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago and joined Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, a twelve-attorney law firm specializing in civil rights litigation and neighborhood economic development.

While, as he says, there can only be one President of the United States at a time, and that position is not presently available to you, what his campaign does say is that “Yes You Can”. While your law school experience may not have made you aware of your options, you do have them. While your law school experience may not have taught you how to plan your career, there are guidelines and practices you can use to search for and locate positions consistent with your professional goals and personal values.

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama

Do We Need Law Schools?

One assumption of this blog is that the failures of traditional law schools are the cause of the dissatisfaciton of lawyers as well as the inability of most of the public to obtain the services of a lawyer.

With that in mind, I ask, "Do we need law schools? If you believe that they serve a purpose, tell us what that is."