« The Grand Jury as Democratic Sounding Board | Main | Recency bias, Scalia's successor, and the First Amendment »

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Frank Pasquale on Law Schools' "double binds"

For the past few years, I had the pleasure of serving on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Legal Education with Prof. Frank Pasquale (Maryland), who was kind enough to share with me a paper he and I discussed, called "Synergy and Tradition:  The Unity of Research, Service, and Teaching in Legal Education."  Here's the SSRN abstract:

Most non-profit law schools generate public goods of enormous value: important research, service to disadvantaged communities, and instruction that both educates students about present legal practice and encourages them to improve it. Each of these missions informs and enriches the others. However, technocratic management practices menace law schools’ traditional missions of balancing theory and practice, advocacy and scholarly reflection, study of and service to communities. This article defends the unity and complementarity of law schools’ research, service, and teaching roles. (For those short on time, the chart on pages 45-46 encapsulates the conflicting critiques of law schools which this article responds to.)

Like The Man says, "highly recommended."

Posted by Rick Garnett on February 21, 2016 at 04:21 PM in Rick Garnett | Permalink

Comments

> Most non-profit law schools generate public goods of enormous value: important research, service to disadvantaged communities, and instruction that both educates students about present legal practice and encourages them to improve it.

"service to disadvantaged communities" tends to be advocacy for progressive causes. As a result, much of the "service to disadvantaged communities" is lawfare that is so destructive that it swamps whether positive value those things might have.

Posted by: anamax | Feb 21, 2016 10:22:13 PM

Not necessarily. There is a lot of bread and butter stuff to be done, including family law, housing, employment, healthcare power of attorney, and the like. The average poor person in need of a lawyer is not looking for a revolution; he's looking for help with his landlord. If you will recall, Congress limited what Legal Services Corp could do with federal funding (nothing in the law reform space for instance), and they were still plenty busy.

Posted by: mino | Feb 22, 2016 8:52:23 AM

"Most non-profit law schools generate public goods of enormous value"

I wonder how much weight the argument carries when we read it as "Most law students go into debt to finance the public goods favored by their professors."

It's like a bizarro Robin Hood who robs from the poor to pay the poor.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Feb 22, 2016 10:40:15 AM

"Not necessarily. There is a lot of bread and butter stuff to be done, including family law, housing, employment, healthcare power of attorney, and the like. The average poor person in need of a lawyer is not looking for a revolution; he's looking for help with his landlord."

How much of this work is done by law school clinics? Say in mid-career lawyer equivalent hours?

Posted by: Brad | Feb 22, 2016 11:00:43 AM

I have to wonder who has funded, and is funding, Law School Transparency, and/or Tokaz. A comment like the one above is not constructive. Questioning the funding of law schools with such bile for so long, Law School Transparency needs to be completely clear about its own funding. And FWIW, an education ROI increase documented by peer reviewed research well above median debt load is not "robbing." But saying it is sounds a lot like trolling.

Posted by: Wondering | Feb 22, 2016 11:19:42 AM

I think this post has a typo. The author meant "self-important research." Because let's be clear--- law school "scholarship" is largely of practical use to NO ONE.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 22, 2016 11:21:58 AM

As Professor Pasquale's article explains, the "progressive" nature of law school clinics is partly due to the fact that free legal services are more in demand by poor people rather than rich. If clinics are a good way to teach the practice of law, and pecunious clients are not likely to engage a clinic, clinics will tend to serve the less pecunious classes.

Posted by: Jack Preis | Feb 22, 2016 3:43:24 PM

Wondering,

To answer your question, no one. LST does get some funding, but I don't see any of it. And I do sometimes get a paycheck, but not from LST or for doing work in that field.

If you genuinely believe that asking students to go further into debt to fund these enterprises is justified because of the value added of law school, then would you also support giving students a partial tuition refund if they get less than the median value added?

Or better yet, lower tuition across the board, and ask students who actually realize an increase in earnings to donate to their school.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Feb 22, 2016 5:49:33 PM

Do law school students not want clinics?

I think that Mr. Tokaz is misreading the issue - the post is about the positive externalities of legal education. But that does not mean that students don't benefit from clinics. And it is not debatable that clinical instruction is more expensive than lecture instruction.

Posted by: esteban | Feb 23, 2016 10:31:34 AM

Estaban,

The article specifically talks about it being a balance of costs and benefits.

As for costs, did you mean to say clinical instruction is less expensive? (It's my understanding that clinicians tend to be paid quite a bit less than a traditional tenured professor.) It could possibly be a cost saving measure, but only if it replaced traditional classrooms, rather than being offered in addition to them.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Feb 24, 2016 9:18:53 AM

Clinics are significantly more expensive than traditional lecture classes. A lecturing professor can teach 75, 100 or more students in a 3 credit lecture class. A clinical professor can teach 12, maybe 18. Whether clinicians are paid less and how much less depends on the school, but it is not my sense that they are paid proportionately to the number of students taught in their clinic. They may be underpaid in proportion to the work they do, again depending on the school. Clinical teaching is time intensive, continues year round and the number of students who can be effectively overseen by each instructor is limited.

To be clear, I am not arguing against clinics, I think they are extraordinarily valuable. I am just making the point that clinics are an expensive method of teaching students compared with traditional lecture instruction.

Posted by: esteban | Feb 28, 2016 5:36:05 PM

Clinics are significantly more expensive than traditional lecture classes. A lecturing professor can teach 75, 100 or more students in a 3 credit lecture class. A clinical professor can teach 12, maybe 18. Whether clinicians are paid less and how much less depends on the school, but it is not my sense that they are paid proportionately to the number of students taught in their clinic. They may be underpaid in proportion to the work they do, again depending on the school. Clinical teaching is time intensive, continues year round and the number of students who can be effectively overseen by each instructor is limited.

To be clear, I am not arguing against clinics, I think they are extraordinarily valuable. I am just making the point that clinics are an expensive method of teaching students compared with traditional lecture instruction.

Posted by: esteban | Feb 28, 2016 5:36:13 PM

Post a comment