He said so in Southern California’s Pasadena Star-News, a newspaper not on my usual reading menu. But thanks to Internet aggregatorYahoo! News, I chanced on Barrera’s fatuously entitled essay, “Law school and combat.”
I’m still holding my nose from his brain infarctions, especially talk about “combat,” as though the law was bereft of combatants.
After reading, I was compelled to comment here and on his blog.
Presumably, he’s no callow youth — despite the ‘visions of sugar plums dancing in his head.’
Yeats wrote, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” So against my better judgment, I find myself rescinding an earlier vow to stop weighing in on law schools and their unconscionable hosing of students and graduates.
I do so perhaps, less from Barrera’s delusions or his invocation of the overworked oft ill-used Shakespearean quotation, “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.” (To his inestimable credit, he pointed out the quote is usually out of context and misinterpreted).
More likely, I’m posting because I contemporaneously read one more law school dean’s self-interested prescription on fixing law schools and by extension — the 21st century legal profession.
This time, it was James Huffman, dean emeritus at Lewis & Clark Law School, who at least courageously confirmed the identity of the 800-kg. poop-making producer in the punch bowl — the American Bar Association (ABA).
The self-interested stakeholders inside law school academia are always too quick to offer self-serving solutions that safeguard sinecures, preserve privileges, and bless all their benefices . . . forever and ever, Amen.
“As often happens with regulatory systems, whether governmental or professional, the ABA accreditation process was long ago captured by legal education’s most influential stakeholders. ABA accreditation site-visit teams routinely include a dean, tenured classroom faculty, clinical faculty (historically untenured but now increasingly tenured, thanks to ABA requirements), a librarian, a university administrator and one judge or member of the practicing bar—but no students or consumers of legal services.”
Dean Huffman instead looks elsewhere. He wants the ABA to release law schools from most current standards so that “the enormous intellectual power of their faculties” can sow innovations and make “a thousand flowers bloom.”
Oh, puh-leeze. This will merely wrest the keys away from the ones running the asylum and give them to the inmates instead.
Moreover, the dean emeritus forgets his own criticism of the insular ABA accreditation site-visit teams who do not deign to include “students or consumers of legal services” in their sacred process. Apparently, flowers never bloom from those infertile fields.
In sum, before considering law school, aspiring lawyers should first read Tucker Max’s list of “The 6 Wrong Reasons to Go to Law School” at the Huffington Post’s: “Why You Should Not Go to Law School.”
And deans, emeriti or not, should revisit law professor Brian Tamanaha’s apostasy, “How to Make Law School Affordable.“
The former will be prudential simethicone for mental vapors. And the latter will provide the proper prescription, which is to inject overdue rationality into a madhouse.
Recast, then, the busted business model and reform the economics. Rein in the money. And align the incentives so that besides a commercial interest in their own prosperity, law schools finally have an accountable stake in the post-graduation success of their students.
Photo Credits: “Large walrus on the ice – Odobenus rosmarus divergens – contemplating the photographer – Alaska, Bering Sea,” by Captain Budd Christman, NOAA Corps, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain; Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve by Rennett Stowe at Flickr via Creative Commons-license requiring attribution; The Madhouse by Francisco Goya, at Wikipedia Commons, public domain.