OPINION: George Leef – American law schools: increasingly dysfunctional


Law school in the United States was an unnecessary barrier to entry into the legal services market, helping to reduce competition. Beginning in the 1920s, the American Bar Association began to use force to compel states to prohibit anyone from taking the bar exam without graduating from an ABA-accredited law school. The ABA insisted that law school take three years. Previously, many lawyers took shorter law school programs or learned what they needed to know on the job without going to law school at all.

The simple fact is that there is no knowledge or skill that can only be learned by sitting in a law class. The obligatory three years of this are quite unnecessary. (I have been making this argument for a long time; see, for example, this 1997 article in Regulation magazine.)

Then, beginning in the 1970s, the academic left began to infiltrate law schools with courses and programs designed to train “progressive” radicals, as Professor Charles Rounds explained in a 2010 article for the James G. Martin Center, “Bad Sociology, Not Law.”

Lately, things have taken yet another terrible turn. The problem is that “awakened” law students are beginning to lay down the law with their demands for ideological purity. And even though they’re just students, they tend to get by because the superiors don’t want to confront them.

Learn more at AIER.org.

Leef is Director of Editorial Content for the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carroll College (Waukesha, WI) and a Juris Doctor from Duke University School of Law. He served as vice president of the John Locke Foundation until 2003.


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