Monday, December 8, 2014

Posner: What's wrong with legal education //Collins //Concurring Opinions

Richard Posner - judge,
law professor, prolific writer
Richard Posner is famous for his candor - and the fluidity of his pen.  Here's some recent evidence in the fifth of a fascinating ongoing series of interviews. And there is plenty more so click through.  - gwc
Judge Posner Interview - part five - Concurring Opinions
by Ronald K. L. Collins

Question: What do you think is the single greatest shortcoming of legal education in America today? 

 Posner: There are several shortcomings; I don’t know how to rank them. 

1.)  Legal education is too expensive, in part because law school faculties are too large. 

2.) Not enough law professors, especially at the elite law schools, have substantial practical experience as lawyers, and 

3.) Law school teaching focuses excessively on legal doctrine, to the exclusion of adequate attention to facts, business practices, science and technology, psychology, judicial mentality and behavior, legal practice, and application of legal principles. 

Question: Insofar as the teaching of legal ethics is concerned, is teaching the rules of professional responsibility and the cases interpreting them enough in your opinion? Or should some significant attention be devoted to familiarizing law students with some of the great works of the Western Philosophical tradition? – say, to Plato’s Gorgias or Aristotle’s Rhetoric? 

 Posner:  I don’t consider instruction in legal ethics an important part of legal education. Aristotle’s Rhetoric is pertinent to the rhetorical dimension of legal practice, rather than to legal ethics. Gorgias can be read as critical of lawyers’ tricks, though there were no lawyers as such in fourth century b.c. Athens."

Question: In retrospect, are there any aspects of your extensive scholarship about which you now have serious misgivings? If so, what are they?
Posner: Excessively conservative, and insufficiently attentive to psychology and to the politicization of much of law, and an excessive faith in the economic analysis of law, and insufficient interest in facts and the real-world context of litigation.

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