ambivalent imbroglio home

« January 28, 2005 | Main | January 30, 2005 »

January 29, 2005

Blawg Roundup #3

This week's spin around a few blawgs is full of great critiques of law, law school, and law professors, plus a note about two upcoming public interest conferences. Blawg reading time is very limited these days, but this is the best of the little bit I've been able to read in the past week. First up, Buffalo Wings & Vodka's attempt to find a sponsor for his blog via eBay has ended. Since the reserve for the auction was not met, you can still sponsor BW&V through private negotiation. Next, Bad Glacier is dishing out the good stuff early over at his new home, so get on over and check out the strippergrams he got from the University of Michigan Law School admissions office (sorry, no pictures, just a mention). A little more seriously, he has an interesting little taxonomy of how different top-tier schools approach the admissions process, from Michigan's “we love you!” to Yale's “screw you” (I'm paraphrasing), it's a bit of insight into the workings of the upper echelon for those of us lower down the food chain. Dave! of Preaching to the Perverted, guest--posts on Notes from the (Legal) Underground, offering 6 tips for law professors. It's a great post, as are Dave!'s responses in the comments. Sticking with the critical theme, Musclehead emerges from hibernation with two excellent critiques of law school and the legal profession. In What's Wrong With Law School, Musclehead writes:
in general, law school does a very good job at putting blinders on its students, getting them to focus on micro issues of black letter law to the detriment of dialogue about whether a particular law is just or efficient or equitable.
And in What's Wrong With the Law?, Musclehead's thesis is that the legal profession has gone too far in placing the wishes of its clients above all other values:
I would argue that our problem is with our priorities. We place far too much emphasis on the primacy of clients to the detriment of our obligation to our profession, our society and ourselves. No other profession requires such allegiance to a client- doctors can refuse to perform a procedure they feel unnecessary to the patient, accountants can end their work for a client they believe is bending the rules of GAAP, teachers can teach evolution even if a parent demands creationism, etc.
Good stuff, Musclehead! Finally, two public interest law conferences for law students are coming up very soon: Reblaw 11, February 18-20 at Yale, and the Robert M. Cover Retreat, March 4-6 on Long Island. The Reblaw registration fee is a slim $30, and the conference will feature GW's very own Paul Butler as keynote speaker. The Cover Retreat I know less about, mostly because it costs $125 and what public interest law student has that kind of freaking money?

Posted 08:37 AM | Comments (2) | law school

Kill the Billable Hour

Apropos of this post the other day about taking the money out of law, Bruce at Adam Smith, Esq. offers some great comments from an economist's perspective on why the billable hour has stuck around, and why it should go away. Bruce's comments are a response to a recent cover story in The Washington Lawyer on The Tyranny of the Billable Hour. That article basically concludes that there's little we can do about the problems of the billable hour, but Bruce protests:
As they say, I respectfully dissent:  The answer—fixed fees, or value billing—is staring us in the face.  We in the profession are too smart not to do better.  As the article drolly notes, even “plumbers and accountants” quote fixed fees.  (And may I point out that firms that have the traction to pursue value billing, a la Wachtell, are not exactly hurting.)  Are we that insecure not to attempt the same? But, you object, the value of legal counsel is ineffable:  Who can put a firm price on it in advance?  The short answer is that, everywhere else in our roiling economy, reasonable people readily agree on “price” vs. “value.”  And I'm not just talking about haircuts and taxi rides:  Is deciding what's a fair price for a home (or, in my case a co-op apartment) simple?  Rationally, there are almost too many factors to consider:  Location, layout, neighborhood, condition, size, design, school district, property tax rates, outdoor space, geographical orientation, “amenities,” etc.  But we quickly arrive at a gut feel, and the home market is highly liquid. The market for legal services does not exist in its own sui generis bubble exempt from all the familiar economic considerations that govern other markets.  It is not a counsel of exceptionalism to think it does, it is a counsel of despair.
Listen to Bruce, brothers and sisters. The truth will set you free UPDATE: More on the billable hour from Yale Law School. [Link via The Prejudicial Effect via Notes from the (Legal) Underground]

Posted 08:07 AM | Comments (1) | 2L law general

about   ∞     ∞   archives   ∞   links   ∞   rss
This template highly modified from The Style Monkey.