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January 14, 2006

Pity the downtrodden landlord

Look! It's a right-wing screed against law school legal clinics! It condemns those clinics for attempting to help those among us who have the least because, well, that's “activism” or something. Instead, it advocates these clinics teach law students to help capitalists and crime victims—those for whom the existing legal and criminal justice system already work. It all makes eminent sense, don't you think?

Thanks to JD2B for bringing this screed to my attention.

Posted January 14, 2006 11:54 AM | law school

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I read that too! At first I thought, "Huh? Why is it bad that legal clinics do civil rights work and advocate for the poor? Why are 'gentrification' and 'battered women's syndrome' in quotes? Am I missing something?" Then I clicked over to the front page of City Journal and found out it's basically a rabid right-wing publication.

Posted by: CM at January 14, 2006 12:33 PM

Ms. MacDonald needs a good editor. This piece would benefit from being much shorter and better organized. Also, she could consider the use of empirical evidence to bolster her argument. But I am going to side with her ridicule of much of the language that gets used is describe clinics.

Posted by: josiah at January 14, 2006 06:34 PM

The thing that irks me most about people who argue about the 'marketplace' as this 'author' does, is that the marketplace is ill-defined. She seems to think that because partners at top paying law firms don't care about legal skills other than doc review, that any other skills are not marketable. Alas, if the practice of law was SOLELY big law firms, then only about 20 law schools in the country would be 'marketable' to employers.

She seems to think that needy people should be helped - if they are going into business. That doesn't seem like a great argument. And, despite the fact that our taxes are paying for an overstaffed, way too large bureaucracy, she thinks the government still needs our help defending itself against impoverished citizens. Absurd.

Posted by: womanofthelaw at January 16, 2006 10:34 PM

While I had several criticisms of MacDonald's article when someone brought it to my attention, I thought it made a couple good points.

1) Clinics to help nonprofits and small businesses that otherwise couldn't afford legal help are good not only because they assist people in need but also because they give students experience in the non-litigation side of law. When I went to job interviews after a year of law school, I had no idea what people in corporate did because the curriculum is so litigation oriented.

2) Clinics where students do not do work that only people with legal training can do (as with her examples of students who do purely political advocacy or make moral appeals to keep the police from pushing out homeless people) don't belong at a law school. Anything that an undergrad can do should be shipped to a volunteering program on that part of campus.

Posted by: PG at January 19, 2006 12:53 AM

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