Antonin Scalia, Job Searches, Law Schools

Are ‘Law And …’ Classes Really a Waste of Time?

Of course they are, don’t be ridiculous. Taking a “Law and [Whatever]” class is a great way of learning many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse, and little else.

We’ve been down this road before: stupid classes are stupid. And we know Justice Antonin Scalia also thinks that students should stay away from “Law and” classes.

But now law professors are defending their ridiculous classes. Maybe they have a point. I mean, it’s not like there’s anything actually useful that happens in your third year of law school….

The ABA Journal has law professors defending some funny sounding classes:

At the University of California at Berkeley, law students practice deep breathing while learning the Chinese practice of Qi Gong. At Stanford, law students can take “Legal Aspects of Autonomous Driving.” At the University of Michigan, law students taking a “Bloodfeuds” class learn about feuding cultures in the Icelandic age…

But law deans and professors defend the unusual offerings, the Wall Street Journal says. The Qi Gong class is aimed at teaching students how to cope with stress and anxiety. The autonomous driving class is intended to teach torts through modern automotive class actions. And the bloodfeuds class has helped students develop negotiating skills.

I mean, here’s the disconnect: If you think of law school as a “professional school” that is supposed to teach you a focused set of skills that you can use for a specific line of work, these classes are clearly, painfully, ridiculous.

If, on the other hand, you think of law school as a purely academic exercise (as many “academics” do), if you think of a J.D. more like a “Ph.D. in Law Stuff,” then sure, these classes have some utility. Who wouldn’t take “Bloodfeuds” in college? That sounds like a blast. And if you are a law professor who has never practiced a day in his life, but has done a lot of weird scholarship in the laws of Iceland, why wouldn’t you want to teach “Bloodfeuds”? You’re more qualified to do that than teach “Motion Practice” or “Rainmaking.”

Telling students, especially 3Ls, that they should take something more “practical” isn’t particularly helpful, because there is very little that is “practical” and available in the third year of law school.

If you want to change that, you need to change the fundamental nature of legal education. Of course, making structural changes makes most law school deans want to practice their Qi Gong.

Law Profs Defend Unusual Electives on Disputes from the Icelandic Age, Autonomous Driving [ABA Journal]

Earlier: Quote of the Day: So, You’re Saying Law Students Shouldn’t Take ‘Law And Unicorns’?
Law School Contemplates Offering Dumbest LL.M. Ever

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