Sunday , September 20 2020
Practicalities are downplayed in law school.

The Practice of Law

I hope you’ve never had an auto accident or any such problem and never will. But if you do, you might find you need to consult with an attorney, and likely you’ll want one who specializes in a specific area, like auto accidents. If and when that time comes, you may find yourself facing a daunting task, because unfortunately law schools don’t prepare lawyers to practice law in the real world. Why is that, you ask? Because law schools tend to emphasize the purely theoretical instead of the useful.

The problem is that law schools are turning out lawyers who are not capable of being counselors. Technically, they are lawyers, because they have law degrees and have passed the bar exam, but they don’t know what they’re doing. They have no practical experience.

Adding to the dilemma is that fact that over the past three years, the legal services market, just like the rest of the economy, has gone through a slump. The top law firms aren’t hiring many new associates.

The reason law schools turn out poorly prepared lawyers is simple: Most of the faculty members at the top law schools know nothing about the practice of practical law. In point of fact, many faculty members have never actively practiced law. All they’ve ever done is teach, and write law review articles, which is like medical schools employing professors who have never seen a patient or walked into a hospital. They know all about the human body and how it functions, and they can convey what they know in a classroom setting, it’s just they’ve never actually applied what they know to a real live person.

What it comes down to is this: law schools are sensitive. They want to be perceived as scholarly. They don’t want to be perceived as trade schools, like car mechanics or hairdressers. And because of this paranoid aversion to being perceived as mere trade schools, law schools dance around the practical. For example, students taking a first-year class in Contracts aren’t actually taught how to draft and file a contract. Instead, contracts are discussed in theory. The same is true in classes about Criminal Law, where case studies are examined in an abstract manner. The professor never brings up the subject of plea bargains, which is the way most criminal cases are concluded.

Law schools don’t hire professors who have real-world experience in the practice of law. Law schools hire scholarly academics.

All this means lawyers right out of law school spend the first few years learning those skills they should have been taught in law school, but weren’t. Essentially, they learn how the justice system really works: how to file motions, draw up contracts, and take depositions, along with how to comport themselves in the authentic classroom called court, which is superintended by a judge who knows precisely just how harsh applied law can be.

About Randall Radic

Left Coast author and writer. Author of numerous true crime books written under the pen-name of John Lee Brook. Former music contributor at Huff Post.

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