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Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Grateful Dissent From Professor Pierce

On the Volokh blog, Orin Kerr passed along comments from Prof. Richard Pierce responding to yesterday's NYT story on curricular reform in law schools.  Pierce notes that despite the air of freshness, such reform proposals have bloomed and withered many times before.  Pierce writes of one such instance:

I was victimized a second time by a variation on this theme when Columbia hired me in 1989 to teach its new required first year course in foundations of the regulatory state. That was one of 3 new required first year courses Columbia introduced that year. None of the 3 survive today. A student poll ranked them 3 of the 4 courses students disliked the most. (Thank God for Trusts & Estates).

Professor Pierce is right that Foundations of the Regulatory State is no longer a required course at Columbia; others can correct me, but I gather that it's now only an elective.  It's not clear from his missive what Pierce himself thinks about this course in hindsight, but let me say that I don't share the opinion of those students who were polled.  I had Pierce for Foundations of the Regulatory State during its brief heyday as a require course at Columbia, so long ago that TVs still ran sitcoms.  I loved the class.  It was a wonderful introduction not only to administrative law, but to a host of sources and tools that aided in critical thinking about the law across a variety of fields.  It was, I can say on reflection, a living version of this book.  Take heart, Professor Pierce!  Somewhere at the bottom of the polling sample, a few true-blue Foundations of the Regulatory State fans are still out there.  

Posted by Paul Horwitz on November 1, 2007 at 03:58 PM in Legal Theory | Permalink


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I thought *most* law school courses were about that!

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 2, 2007 2:17:38 PM

Ditto, Paul. But, in fairness to Reg State's critics, I had the course with Mark Tushnet (then visting). Pretty easy to be a fan of any course that Mark teaches.

Posted by: BDG | Nov 2, 2007 10:42:47 AM

Admin should be a required course. It's disliked because it so well foreshadows some of the most difficult aspects of being a lawyer: dealing with vague and contradictory precedents; acknowledging the role of power, influence, and politics in decisions; and sorting out the types of real and fraudulent expertise that are so often decisive in social conflict.

Posted by: Frank | Nov 2, 2007 8:35:18 AM

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