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February 27, 2005

Didn't Wouldn't Couldn't Don't Won't Phooey!

As I work on this paper, I'm reminded: The prohibition against contractions in legal writing is as pretentiously ridiculous and meaningless as is the attempt to make a serious distinction between “lawyer” and “attorney.” To quote tph:
People. Get over yourselves.
See also tph's followup on the lawyer/attorney distinction, emphasizing the counseling aspect of legal practice. Excellent points. Why don't law professors talk like this more often?

Posted February 27, 2005 08:29 PM | 2L law school

Why donít law professors talk like this more often?

A lot of the law professors who have reached giddy heights of academia never practiced or practiced only in firms with very sophisticated clients. What little 'counseling' those clients needed, they got from people who were senior to those future professors. Some view the "practical" aspects of practice as something that can be picked up on the job or shoved off into a segregated clinical program. (They then look down on those who teach in the clinical program.)

That's a huge generalization of course, and isn't true for all professors who are highly accomplished on the academic side. In fact, that view predominates less and less. Off the top of my head I can think of at least two of my first-year professors who had more significant practice experience and who tried to emphasize these practical points in the classroom. I think my Evidence professor, second year, was the best teacher of those matters in a large-classroom setting (which is why he's won so many student-chosen awards). But I also know academically accomplished professors who have very little practice experience and yet scorn the clinical programs that struggle to get an opportunity to at least get students started thinking about and trying out skills like client counseling (a skillset which itself varies greatly among practice areas).

Meanwhile, the fact that so many law school graduates haven't gotten enough of an introduction to the practical aspects of law practice irritates the hell out of practicing lawyers who want to hire new graduates. They have to invest a lot into training as it is, and if they want anything more than research lackeys, they have to invest a lot more time and effort.

In saying that, I realize there are a lot of large-scale legal employers who are willing to hire people just to be research lackeys for a few years, but they're not the kind of employers you or I want to work for.

Posted by: Tim Hadley at February 27, 2005 10:29 PM

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