Monday, March 2, 2015

A Treasury of Idiotic Quotes About Legal Education, Vol. 4: AALS law deans declare that law schools are critical to society's well-being.

(Timeless words from the AALS about the sublime mission of law schools: "Law schools are the guardians, cultivators, and transmitters of a body of knowledge and experience that is critical to the well-being and structure of [our] society.")
It has been four and one-half years since Prof. Brian Tamanaha implored legal academia to wake up to the casualties of their enterprise, and three years since the inaugural mandatory annual employment survey of recent law grads revealed the horrific job prospects of newly-minted debt slaves-- I mean JDs. However, if the document quoted below in its entirety ("Statement on the Value of a Legal Education"), is any indication, the ongoing carnage has not disrupted the sweet slumbers of law school deans.

The "Statement" was produced by the "Deans' Steering Committee" of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS), in conjunction with AALS’s most recent annual conference-vacation-extravaganza, which was held at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington D.C., January 2-5, 2015.

Starting with the very first sentence, the AALS deans come close to saying that law schools are preserving civilization itself. So if it helps to reconcile you to your student debt load and dismal job prospects, try to imagine these publicly subsidized rip-off factories as early-medieval Benedictine monasteries, their moldy collections of unread journals and law reviews as neglected literary masterpieces, and non-JD holders as unlettered and helpless peasants. 

The AALS deans also boast about the nebulous, though highly sophisticated and empowering, problem-solving skills that law schools allegedly instill in their students, and the importance of those skills to the structure of our society. Try counting up the number of times the following words appear in this six-paragraph long statement: "empower," "skills," "solutions," "solving," "problem," "structure," "system," and "society." [1] Critical thinking is also referenced multiple times,  and the phrases "agents of change" and “seeds of change” each score a mention. 

Does anybody talk or write that way other than a shill?  Suppose you solemnly introduced yourself at a job interview or at a social occasion as a "critical-thinking, problem-solving change agent who strives to understand public and private structures and cultivates the societal seeds of change"? What would the reaction be?  

Well, in AALS dreamworld, the anticipated reaction might be to provide you with a lucrative job "running a multinational corporation" and "defending the rights of the marginalized and downtrodden" (it is a versatile degree, law grads are equipped to do both), leaving you just enough spare time to work for policy reform, help individuals and organizations reach their goals, resolve global conflict and civil unrest, and determine the meaning and application of the Constitution. 

[1] 37

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Law schools are the guardians, cultivators, and transmitters of a body of knowledge and experience that is critical to the wellbeing and structure of American society. They are the setting for a transformative experience in which students engage with a challenging intellectual tradition that teaches them to question their assumptions and learn how to be creative problem-solvers. Law school empowers students to become agents of change because it teaches students about the legal system of the United States, a system that has the seeds of change built into its structure.

Civil society and its progress begin with the rule of law. The rule of law is the foundation of our society, our political system, and our economic system. It is also a principle that has a history and meaning that must be understood, continually developed, and passed on to the next generation. Law schools have always been the places where students learn about the rule of law by learning about the history of the law and about the United States Constitution and the body of law it has created. This body of law continues to produce the fundamental principles on which all other law in the United States is based. It also produces the structure of our legal system and the conditions under which this system flourishes.

Every important issue that our society, and all societies, are facing at this time in history has important legal aspects to it, whether it is global conflict, food safety and security, civil unrest, human rights, public health, the role of technology and the internet, environmental issues, corporate governance, government accountability, or the migration of populations. Regardless of the root of the problems or the variety of possible solutions, the law, and lawyers, will have a crucial role to play.

Sometimes lawyers need to use the law in order to ensure protection of an otherwise powerless person or group; sometimes they seek to change the law to improve our society and increase prosperity. Every day lawyers use their problem-solving skills to help individuals and organizations resolve conflicts, plan their affairs, and reach their goals.

The primary role of law professors is to teach the next generation of lawyers to think critically about problems, to understand the structure and power of law in our society, and to be thoughtful and engaged with respect to solutions. This is accomplished through traditional classroom and clinical teaching; engagement with the community, the bench, and the bar; pro bono work; and research and scholarship, in which faculty explore, question, and test the boundaries of the law

This broad-based knowledge of the law, its role in our society, and these critical thinking and problem-solving skills give the holders of this knowledge both an understanding of public and private legal structures and the skills to address individual problems in an analytical and rational way. Legal education also trains students in a variety of problem-solving skills that can be utilized in situations within and outside of the practice of law. No other professional training imparts this combination of knowledge and skills and empowers its holders to use them in myriad ways, from defending the rights of the marginalized and downtrodden, to running a multinational corporation; from working for law reform and policy, to continually striving to understand the meaning and application of the Constitution. 

32 comments:

  1. American Law Schools: Holding the Exclusive Lock on Preserving Truth, Integrity, and Enlightement since on or about 1784.

    James Huffman descibed AALS as part of the revolving-door of legal education regulatory capture in his Newsweek piece, so comes as no surprise that they are also masters of shillery. I bet you can get an LLM in that, too.

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  2. The intellectual tradition of molding practice-ready agents of change for reforming international space law for sustainability and defending the marginalized in situations in which the Constitution upholds transformative sports law rights of the downtrodden in transnational context, while exploring migration's systemic corporate governance challenges for pro bono organizations involved in healthcare solutions & innovative gender law approaches of striving for community engagement and leadership for the very structure of American society in circumstances in which the underengaged and deprived apply a myriad of clinically-taught skill-sets for transformative retribution against multinational agents with assumptions that need questioning, against a background of broad-based critical thinking empowerment of entertainment law practice-ready leaders for tomorrow, a tomorrow which will require not only Constitutional reform realized by classroom-taught professionals, but also a tomorrow in which your $200,000 student loans will need repayment, leaving you requiring Constitutional protections for vagrancy as you dwell underneath an interstate transportation bridge-to-practice.

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    1. … and right at the end is that allusion to the Open Road™!

      Old Guy

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    2. Put some paragraph breaks in there and it would be indistinguishable from an actual ABA press release.

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  3. A load of shite wrapped up in red, white, and blue bunting.

    Notice how little is said about the practice of law.

    Old Guy

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  4. Four words he did not use: gross, oversupply, crippling and debt.

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  5. Critical-Thinking, Problem-Solving Change Agent Who Strives To Understand Public And Private Structures And Cultivates The Societal Seeds Of ChangeMarch 2, 2015 at 3:02 PM

    Someone had to. And by Golly, I'm just the toad to do it!

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  6. You will discover the TRUTH and the real meaning of life when all you can get is an INTERNSHIP FOR ATTORNEY. Good luck paying your debt and rent in Queens, NYC with your STIPEND.You are now at least 25 and you have 7 years of post HS education.
    See Craigslist 03/02/15
    Internship for Attorneys/Law Graduates (Queens)
    We are a 25 years law firm which has hosted a long-standing internship program that is now seeking two (2) interns to train, learn and assist in law firm responsibilities.

    Job Description:
    Initial three (3) month term.
    Friendly, fast-paced international environment where you will gain valuable experience and learn while working with supportive, collegial staff.
    Mandarin, Thai, Korean, or Spanish speaking A+, but NOT a requirement.

    The Internship program is offered in our bustling downtown Flushing office.

    An intern can receive academic credit under school program for an Internship, Externship, OPT, or 50 hours of Pro Bono, maybe, and a letter of recommendation, upon request and successful completion, will be provided.

    Interns are expected to respect the initial 3-month term as a serious endeavor that will advance their skill-set with valuable on-the-job training. Those interested in litigation practice, including the opportunity to conduct a trial at the back end of the initial term are strongly encouraged to apply.

    This is a non-paid position, but a small stipend will be provided, the internship may lead to employment in the future.

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    Replies
    1. Come learn how to file fraudulent asylum claims and operate a slip'nfall mill in Thai! You should be paying us for this gold mine of a career and American hero status!!

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  7. I visited the Cooley website today just for fun, and I realized the Tampa Bay campus is now part of Western Michigan University. It made me laugh. I used to be so angry and bitter, but now I just find the whole thing completely ludicrous. Thank you to the scambloggers, and I wish everyone peace.

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    1. Yes! Congratulations on your realization that the law school scam has transcended tragedy and is now unadulterated farce. Peace to you too, brother!

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  8. I'm not sure I trust those deans any more. What kind of documents would I file to terminate their change agency?

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    1. You'd know if you paid more attention in Transgender Dolphin Space Station Marijuana Dispensary Tax Ethics & Film class. Why didn't you hang around till 4L to take it, slacker?

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    2. Just file an unlawful detainer and tell those clowns to hit the open road.

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  9. "Law schools are the guardians, cultivators, and transmitters of a body of knowledge and experience that is critical to the wellbeing and structure of American society..." etc

    Verbose, meaningless, poorly-written mush. It looks like something an undergraduate might quickly type out a half hour before its due. I give it a C, and that's being generous.

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    1. ""Law schools are the guardians, cultivators, and transmitters of a body of knowledge and experience that is critical to the wellbeing and structure of American society..."

      What I love about this particular quote is its versatility. It applies not only to "law schools," but also, "medical schools," "business schools," "high schools," and "specialty brothels."

      It's not meaningless. It's versatile. Just like your law degree!

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  10. Law school teaches you "to question [your] assumption that you will ever be employed and attain any standard of living that approaches middle class.

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  11. "The rule of law is the foundation of our society, our political system, and our economic system. Law schools have always been the places where students learn about the rule of law ...." AALS Deans' Statement

    "I'm not sure I trust those deans anymore."

    UB Spectrum (SUNY Buffalo), Sept.24, 2014:

    Law school Dean Makau Mutua has resigned. The resignation comes amid allegations that he lied in federal court and in a state administrative proceeding. The university said it does not comment on pending litigation.

    Mutua’s position as dean and the inherent credibility that comes with it has allowed him to serve on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission, which was supposed to root out political corruption, but was shut down early.

    [A] second-year law student who has never met the dean in person, said the allegations Mutua is facing are troubling. He said the law school’s program focuses on integrity and students have to take a class on ethics in the legal profession.

    If the allegations prove to be true, [he] said, “the dean of a law school can’t flagrantly disregard the foundation of our legal system. It sends mixed messages as an educator. It’s not just wrong, but downright repugnant to create the next generation of lawyers while flaunting your lack of respect for the legal standards.”

    Buffalo News, Sept. 27, 2014:

    Mutua would not be interviewed for this story. But in a prepared statement, he said the allegations of perjury and his disagreements with faculty had nothing to do with his decision to step down.

    “I decided to leave because it was the right time,” he said. “A seven-year tenure is twice as long as the typical tenure for a law dean, and I’ve accomplished what I set out to do.”

    And in a statement announcing Mutua’s resignation, UB President Satish K. Tripathi said the dean left the law school “well positioned to achieve even greater prominence in legal education and scholarship.”

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    1. I certainly hope that justice is done in the Mutua case. Lying in federal court can't be considered merely an idle amusement for pompous, conceited, overpaid law school deans.

      The disastrous appointment of Mutua was a ridiculous attempt to import some "international law" and "global leadership" to the unlikely locale of Buffalo, New York in order to sell it to credulous and unqualified students. That business model may still have some life left at American U, but it can't possibly be replicated elsewhere. (Hastings and Brooklyn, take note.) Buffalo grads will have to grind it out in upstate New York, just as they always have.

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    2. Don't tell that to the kids in Buffalo, they call it "Western New York."

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    3. I doubt that the New York legal market is so fine-grained that a Buffalo grad couldn't work in Rochester, or Syracuse, or Albany. Have we reached upstate New York yet?

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  12. My law degree got me a temp job at Monsanto! I sat on a stool by a conveyor belt and sorted out defective ears of seed corn.... really putting those "critical thinking skills" to use!

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    1. My law degree has kept me from getting jobs such as that.

      Old Guy

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    2. 3:43, based on last year's Bowman case, you should put on your resume that you are working at Monsanto "handling some of its most precious intellectual property".

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  13. "Sometimes lawyers need to use the law in order to ensure protection of an otherwise powerless person or group; sometimes they seek to change the law to improve our society and increase prosperity."


    And sometimes attorneys use the law to ensure that a disenfranchised group remains disenfranchised, or to assist landlords in evicting poor and disabled people, or to minimize or eliminate liability for industrial polluters. Law deans are out of touch and forget that there's going to be a lawyer on every side of the issue.

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    1. True evildoers hire attorneys first.

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  14. "The primary role of law professors is to teach the next generation of lawyers to think critically about problems, to understand the structure and power of law in our society, and to be thoughtful and engaged with respect to solutions."

    No, the primary role of law profe$$ors is to line their own bloated pockets at public and private expense.

    What evidence shows that law professors, or for that matter professors of any sort, are capable of teaching others how to think critically? or are even capable of thinking critically themselves? How many of them could even define critical thinking?

    The text quoted above is typical pretentious garbage from hackademic poseurs.

    Old Guy

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    1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    2. Mods: That is my post above at 8:51AM...I must have leaned on the enter button or spacebar to cause all that blank space. Feel free to delete the post.

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    3. Here's 8:51's original post without pretentious spacing:

      "At my trap school (ranked ~25), learning to think critically consisted of being asked "What does ____ case mean?" by T14-grad law profs who wanted class to end so they could get back to writing law review articles."

      (but who could blame the professors, trying to squeeze way too much in a 20-hour work week?)

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    4. For frucks sake, how do law professors know what "engaged in solutions" looks like? Practice law for a decade or so, then tell me you know how to solve a legal matter.

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  15. Another great post, Dybbuk. Your scholarship puts so many law professors to shame.

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