I wanted to add my voice to that of my colleague, John McGinnis, who has posted on Law and Liberty about legal education, and, in particular, the one-size-fits-all approach to training lawyers on the part of the Association of American Law Schools. As John noted:
Lawyers working on the latest mergers at Wachtell, Lipton are performing substantially different functions from those writing typical wills or handling landlord-tenant disputes. Legal education should reflect the heterogeneity of the profession which it serves.
John criticized, in particular the AALS’s opposition to “replacing over time some tenured professors with practitioners.” He observed that the practical training many lawyers need can just as easily be provided by practitioners as by professors at law schools “try[ing] to resemble junior varsity Yales in devoting very substantial resources to the production of scholarship.”
It is now notorious that much, if not most, legal scholarship is only read by law professors, and as Chief Justice John Roberts and retiring Court of Appeals judge Richard Posner have both recently observed, is of no use to judges, let alone practitioners. I think, though, that while we’re at it, we might do well to consider more radically reforming legal education.
Philip Hamburger's essay is a simple, elegant, truthful, and noble statement of the judicial role by one of this country's leading legal historians. Over the years, Professor Hamburger has been distinguished for the fearless and wise way he has approached our legal and constitutional traditions, and his ability to cut through currently popular academic cant. It sometimes seems that for most American legal academics legal and constitutional history begins in 1954, with the United States Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, when the Court declared, with alarmingly little basis in Constitutional law, that it had the…