Raise your hand if you’re tired of the debate over the value of a legal education. Yeah, me too.
Well, sorry to disappoint you, but the debate rolls on. A prominent law school dean and one of his colleagues took to the pages of the New York Times to once again defend the law school ivory tower from its critics.
Who are we talking about, and what are their arguments?
We’re talking about Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of UC Irvine’s relatively young law school, and Carrie Menkel-Meadow, who teaches at UCI Law and at Georgetown Law. Their op-ed appears in the pages of the New York Times, which is a favorite spot for law deans on the defensive.
Their piece is well-written, as one would expect from two senior scholars, although it doesn’t make any terribly novel points. And the points they do make are very open to criticism. See, e.g., Professor Paul Campos’s powerful takedown, or this post at The Write Stuff.
You can read all the essays via the links at the end of this post. Sorry, but I can’t bring myself to say anything more about this subject.
Here’s an idea. Can we agree on a non-aggression pact, in which both critics and defenders of legal education just hang up their keyboards? If law school is as fabulous as its defenders claim, then the value of a law degree should be self-evident. If law school is as terrible as its critics allege, then its worthlessness should be similarly obvious.
Thanks to the efforts of people like Professor Campos, Law School Transparency, and some of my colleagues here at Above the Law, the argument that legal education is a trap for the unwary is much harder to make. Nowadays people enroll in law school with an understanding of the risks and rewards.
If people want to go to law school, let them go. If people don’t want to go to law school, leave them alone — i.e., don’t entice them. Does that sound reasonable?