Why law school’s love affair with economics is terrible for the American legal system
Law schools are putting more and more
emphasis on a cash-crazed free market ideology. Here's what's at stake
July 26, 2014
nearly 40,000 other young Americans, I recently completed my first year
of law school. For our cohort of would-be attorneys, the past 10 months
have consisted of little beyond underlined casebooks, cold calls in
lecture and obscure citation methodologies. The dividends, at least so
we tell ourselves, are brains better equipped to parse the verbal
contortions of our overly legalized society, and temperaments hardened
against the drudgeries of a famously pugnacious profession.
summer, as we fan across the world to complete internships at
bright-eyed nonprofits, cash-strapped bureaucracies and sprawling
mega-corporations, we’re forced to start deciding how to use those
newfound skills. Lawyers are not famously honest people; as a whole,
attorneys’ ethics are well within reproach. Two years shy of taking the
bar and already immersed in this suspect culture of law, then, we
would-be advocates have to choose whether to conform to the desultory
trend or buck it — to pick either good or evil, you might say.
year ago, I imagined — as most people probably do — that the initial
year of legal studies would put a heavy emphasis on the good. I
anticipated lots of lofty vocabulary about justice and rights and
freedom. Attorneys may not have the cleanest reputations, but it seems
fitting that an introduction to the life of the law would aim high, if
only as an idealistic and rhetorical reprieve before the realities of
the job market set in. But while there’s certainly some discussion of
liberty and righteousness in the halls of our law schools, there’s not
quite as much of it as you might think. The path to the bar is not paved
with sentimental cobblestones of the Good and the Right. It’s much more
pragmatic than that.
In fact, the most repeated word in my first year law curriculum was not justice, or liberty or order.
It was efficiency...