Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Now the Overstated Defense

A few days ago I mentioned an overstated indictment of law school exams. Now the Volokh Conspiracy presents an overstated defense:
But law school exams are very good at testing most of the subset of lawyering skills which law schools teach well--including the ability to think quickly. Yes, three hours is a short time to analyze three or four major problems, and spot the key issues,and the important secondary issues, in every single problem. However, much real-life lawyering is done under intense time pressure. You have to think quickly when you're a rookie defense attorney speaking for your client before the court. Or when you're a young corporate associate having to draft an emergency brief in 12 hours. Or when you're a citizen-activist/advocate (as so many lawyers are) speaking for your cause on talk radio or in a local TV news interview.
In relation to those examples, other than the emergency brief situation where there may be some parallel, my experience tells me that law school exams offer no preparation. And truthfully? Even in relation to the brief, the best preparation is prior brief writing experience, not a law school exam.


  1. You have to wonder if he either believes what he wrote, or if he's just so far removed from the practice of actual law that he has no clue.

    "Emergency briefs"? Which law firms don't have boilerplate and expect rookie associates to, unassisted, come up with brilliant legal analysis? What lobbying group presents a cogent, rapid-fire legal analysis rather than sounds bites? Have public defenders started getting time to lay out a long and complicated dissection of the law at a criminal hearing?

  2. Look at some of the recent Volokh posts about bankruptcy. Talk, for example, about how bankruptcies are driven by selfishness and irresponsibity because "debt load" hasn't increased due to lower interest rates - that is, you can borrow money on your home, increase your debt load, but still lower your monthly payment because of lowered interest rates. Apparently they truly believe that the same holds true for credit card debt, including the credit card debt of those with poor credit or a history of missed payments (which trigger most credit card companies to immediately jack the interest rate to a level approaching the legal maximum).

    Call it the conservative ivory tower.


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