Law Professor Charles E. Rounds, Jr., has a sharply-worded call for a return to the basics in law teaching on the Pope Center’s website–more Socratic method and focus on traditional law school subjects. Here’s a snippet but it is well-worth reading the whole thing:
Common law, of which agency and trust are critical components, is the bedrock upon which all our statutory and regulatory edifices are constructed. Unfortunately, the old required courses in the law—the courses necessary to master the law’s basic anatomy—have largely been crowded out by courses about the law. Almost every self-respecting law professor is now an amateur sociologist engaged in “ground-breaking” and “cutting-edge” scholarship that has a gender, race, or sexual identity hook. Those who are less sociologically inclined are likely preoccupied with some ultra-technical aspect of the Constitution, some piece of legislation, or a regulation. Many professors manage to cobble together entire courses around their preoccupations.
In short, professors mainly teach what they want to teach, which does not overlap much with what prospective lawyers need to know in order to sort out the rights, duties and obligations of parties. Even a negotiation, mediation, or arbitration requires a context, which the core curriculum was designed to supply. Instead, law students at great expense are getting little more than bad sociology.
Professional schools need to strike a balance between book-learning and real-world experience. The American law school now deserves failing grades in both departments.
I’m guessing his critique will resonate with some and infuriate others!