Brian Tamanaha

Professor Brian Z. Tamanaha is the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law at the Washington University Law School and is the author of Failing Law Schools. He is the author of six books, including Beyond the Formalist–Realist Divide: The Role of Politics in Judging.

Reasons to Be Gloomy About Legal Education

I agree with much in Dean Andrew Morriss’ Liberty Forum essay. And I endorse his hope that, in the future, legal academia will have greater differentiation. Yet my take on legal education’s prospects is much gloomier. Dean Morriss writes mostly about what should occur going forward, whereas I am watching what is happening right now. What I see gives me little reason for cheer. The greatest force for reform in legal education is the stunning decline in law-school applicants, falling to lows not seen in decades. The good news, as Morriss says, is that law schools compete for students through heavy…

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The Non-Virtuous Circle

Dean Morriss’ essay, “Reasons to Be Cheerful: The Future of Legal Education,” is a welcome addition to the growing literature on what the present and future hold for law schools. He rightly emphasizes the role of competition and the need for greater diversity. And the stakeholders at Texas A&M University School of Law are indeed…

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The “Blue Ocean” for Law Schools

During the five years of the decline in JD applications, law schools have moved from self-defense to increased innovation and even restructuring. Within this emerging paradigm, Andy Morriss’ Liberty Forum essay offers some reason for optimism. Originally, when JD applications shrank and criticism grew, and the JD job market declined, law schools defended their traditional student-value…

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Still Cheerful about the Future of Legal Education

It was a privilege to have three such eminent commentators on my Reasons to Be Cheerful essay. Brian Tamanaha deserves enormous credit for being among the first to sound the alarm on the financial problems of legal education. Sam Estreicher is not only a pioneer in bringing bench, bar, and academy together through his programs…

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Failing Law Schools

Failing Law Schools.2The next Liberty Law Talk is with Brian Tamanaha on his important book, Failing Law Schools. This discussion focuses on Tamanaha's claim that legal education is the victim of regulatory capture by the ABA Legal Education Committee. This has led to the imposition of a one-size model for legal education, resulting in a product that is good for professors and their salaries and for administrators, but laden with problems (debt and unemployment) for many students. Additional items at Law and Liberty: Andy Morriss reviews Failing Law Schools in the essay, "Two Cheers for Failing Law Schools"

Legal Education at the Intersection of Two Guilds

Jim Chen is right.  Contrary to the mythical image repeated in the past two decades—exemplified by Anthony Kronman’s The Lost Lawyer and Sol Linowitz’s The Betrayed Profession—the American legal profession has never had a golden age.  As preeminent scholar of the legal profession Marc Galanter wryly remarked, “We are surely living in the literary Golden Age of nostalgia for the Golden Age of lawyering.” What was true several generations ago, but is now deteriorating at a rapid rate, is that our professional guild once held a strong monopoly on the delivery of legal services.  As Jim points out, this monopoly is…

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The Self-Sustaining Guild: American Lawyers Will Still Own the Future

For decades it seemed as if the demand for legal services would keep growing indefinitely, and the prosperity of the American legal profession would keep mounting year by year. Then in 2008 came the smash-up, and boom gave way to sudden bust. Does this sequence of events relate to the loosening of the legal profession’s…

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