Tag Archives: Common Law

Law schools are not preparing law students to practice law

The New York Times explains why law school may not be worth the money.


 The lesson today — the ins and outs of closing a deal — seems lifted from Corporate Lawyering 101.

“How do you get a merger done?” asks Scott B. Connolly, an attorney.

There is silence from three well-dressed people in their early 20s, sitting at a conference table in a downtown building here last month.

“What steps would you need to take to accomplish a merger?” Mr. Connolly prods.

After a pause, a participant gives it a shot: “You buy all the stock of one company. Is that what you need?”

“That’s a stock acquisition,” Mr. Connolly says. “The question is, when you close a merger, how does that deal get done?”

The answer — draft a certificate of merger and file it with the secretary of state — is part of a crash course in legal training. But the three people taking notes are not students. They are associates at a law firm called Drinker Biddle & Reath, hired to handle corporate transactions. And they have each spent three years and as much as $150,000 for a legal degree.

What they did not get, for all that time and money, was much practical training. Law schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful, with classes that are often overstuffed with antiquated distinctions, like the variety of property law in post-feudal England. Professors are rewarded for chin-stroking scholarship, like law review articles with titles like “A Future Foretold: Neo-Aristotelian Praise of Postmodern Legal Theory.”

So, for decades, clients have essentially underwritten the training of new lawyers, paying as much as $300 an hour for the time of associates learning on the job. But the downturn in the economy, and long-running efforts to rethink legal fees, have prompted more and more of those clients to send a simple message to law firms: Teach new hires on your own dime.

“The fundamental issue is that law schools are producing people who are not capable of being counselors,” says Jeffrey W. Carr, the general counsel of FMC Technologies, a Houston company that makes oil drilling equipment. “They are lawyers in the sense that they have law degrees, but they aren’t ready to be a provider of services.”

[…]Consider, for instance, Contracts, a first-year staple. It is one of many that originated in the Langdell era and endures today. In it, students will typically encounter such classics as Hadley v. Baxendale, an 1854 dispute about financial damages caused by the late delivery of a crankshaft to a British miller.

Here is what students will rarely encounter in Contracts: actual contracts, the sort that lawyers need to draft and file. Likewise, Criminal Procedure class is normally filled with case studies about common law crimes — like murder and theft — but hardly mentions plea bargaining, even though a vast majority of criminal cases are resolved by that method.

[…]“We should be teaching what is really going on in the legal system,” says Edward L. Rubin, a professor and former dean at the Vanderbilt Law School, “not what was going on in the 1870s, when much of the legal curriculum was put in place.”

This is one of the reasons why I give the advice I do about studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Universities are politicized. They are run by people who want to push a secular leftist ideology. For such people, the more isolated you can be from feedback from the real world, the better. And that is why it is often (but not always) useless to study anything that isn’t STEM. If you’re going to the university at all, study STEM areas. That is, if your goal is to actually make money so you can support a family.

So you have two choices, in my view. Trade school/apprenticeship right out of high school. Or study STEM areas in university. That’s it.

A friend of mine who is a software engineer was thinking of doing an MBA a while back, and then decided on a Masters in securities and investing. I think that’s the right way to go. Stay as far away from anything that can be politicized as possible. Don’t give people who are embarked on perpetual adolescence any of your money (than they already get through taxpayer-funded research subsidies).

The best short article on the state of marriage

Map of Canada
Map of Canada

One of the things that bothers me most about many women is that they think that planning for marriage means getting a degree in liberal arts, reading romance novels, looking at their friend’s wedding photos and holding other people’s babies. I am not convinced that many women understand anything about why a man would want to marry, what he’ll need in the marriage, and how children should be raised so that they will be effective, public Christians.

But then I read articles like this one in the National Post and I realize that some people do get it. (H/T Andrea)


But, paradoxically, for those who do go through with a real marriage, the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1968 means it is easy to end the commitment. No-fault divorce made it simple for one spouse to give up on their vows when the going gets tough (or a better-looking/higher-earning/ less-nagging partner appears on the scene).

The result has been a fivefold spike in the divorce rate. The courts are now filled with family-law cases, helping ex-spouses and lawyers sort through the minutiae of domestic life. Courts pick through the unsavoury business of marital breakdown, deciding who gets what, including the children themselves.

Speaking of children, when it comes to their safety, there isn’t much the government won’t regulate. From secondhand smoke in cars, to the plastics in toys, to the design of playground equipment, no sandbox is left unturned in a quest to protect our kids.

Yet at the same time, high tax rates make it nearly impossible for one parent to stay home and care for their families. But children don’t raise themselves. This has led some to call for national state-run daycare programs — adding a new, more literal meaning to the words “nanny state.”

Since successive federal governments have failed to implement national daycare, the push for institutional care for toddlers has gone provincial. In Ontario, draft plans given to Premier Dalton McGuinty in June 2009 included a recommendation for the Ministry of Education to establish an “Early Years Division” to create programs for kids age “zero through eight.” The vision? A seamless day of state-provided care, including care before and after work. Under the proposal, some three-yearolds would log longer hours in school than many grown-ups do at work, healthy lunch and snacks included. All at taxpayer expense, of course.

[…]Often, when it comes to raising kids, daycare and schooling, we hear talk from qualified experts and smart people with degrees — as if parents aren’t quite up to snuff. Today’s smaller families mean we seldom learn from parents or grandparents who successfully raised large broods, so it’s easy to assume the experts have a better handle on our kids.

But it’s gone too far. The public school curriculum is now devised largely without parental input, yet attempts to usurp some of the most important family responsibilities, including teaching ethics, values and sex education. On that front, studies suggest that parents are still the number-one influence in teen sexual decision making. Good news perhaps, since but for rare cases, teachers aren’t exactly jumping over couches in staff rooms to grab the sex ed curriculum.

I have probably never read so much useful information about what men are thinking about when they think about marriage in such a small space. We are thinking about fiscal conservatism, parental autonomy, stay-at-home mothers, and vouchers for private schools. The irony is that most young unmarried women are opposed to ALL of those things, and they VOTE AGAINST all of those things. And so, naturally, men want nothing to do with marrying them. Men may be interested in sex, but they certainly won’t be interested in marriage.

No one ever asks men what they want – everyone just assumes that men will keep acting chivalrously and keep marrying when all the incentives to marry are taken away! Ridiculous! If marriage doesn’t involve keeping what you earn, respect from the wife, family autonomy and social prestige, then men will not marry. Men like to do hard things ALONE – we don’t want to pay the government to “help” us, especially when the “help” means using our earnings to subsidize single motherhood with welfare and state-run education.

Women: if you want a man to think about marriage, this article shows the way you need to talk about marriage with men. Reading Dr. Laura’s “The Proper Care of Marriage”, Dr. Stephen Baskerville’s “Taken Into Custody”, George Gilder’s “Men and Marriage”, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse’s “Love and Economics”, and James Dobson’s “Bringing Up Boys” would also be a good start. Probably the best two things to learn to impress a man are economics and Christian apologetics, with an emphasis on science and history.

What is natural law and why do conservatives believe in it?

Bill Whittle has posted part 4 of his excellent series on what conservatives believe.

Today’s episode is on natural law and the rule of law.

Here are the previous parts:

This is wonderful for Christians to watch. When you watch them, think about how your life goals are much easier with these policies as opposed the policies in North Korea or Cuba. Your liberties, including your precious religious liberty, all hangs on these ideas. You cannot conduct a Christian life if you are taxed too much, or if the government indoctrinates your children in government-run schools, or if you cannot even afford books on apologetics and theology because you have no money left over after buying food. Think about your Christian life as an enterprise – what do you need from the government, the courts and the private sector in order to succeed?