Law school engagement in professionalism and improved bar relations.

Author:Weidner, Donald J.

"The evidence suggests a kind of dissonance between the purposes our society foresees for the university and the way the university sees itself"[1]

It is useful to keep in mind the broader perspective that the cost of higher education is out of control. To some, this means that tenured faculty are out of control.[2] Nationally, faculty have voted themselves decreased teaching loads[3] and have justified the lower loads on the ground that they are necessary to support faculty research. This has caused people to look hard at the product of our research, and they are not as impressed by it as we are, at least not enough to want to continue to pay us to do it.

Within the law schools, writes Dean Anthony Kronman of Yale Law School, the relationship between faculty teaching and faculty scholarship is "pathological."[4] The dominant schools of legal thought, writes Kronman, show contempt for the common law tradition and for claims to practical wisdom. Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard writes that the scholarly enterprise has been "transformed" by advocacy scholarship that makes no attempt to fairly value the pros and cons of the opinions of others.[5] She adds that many law professors hardly teach law at all, and that we need to do a much better job preparing our students to practice law in the modern administrative state.

We in the academy need to reach out and engage the rest of the legal profession: a) because, politically, we need to start making more friends; and b) because it is the right thing to do.

We should consider the analogy between single-minded law firms and single-minded law schools. Academics decry the single-minded pursuit of money by individual lawyers and by their firms. We mourn that firms and their clients value the rainmaker but not the prudent counselor. We should also decry the single-minded pursuit of academic prestige by individual faculty and by their schools. We should mourn that schools and their faculty value the meta-theoretician but not the contributor to the profession. Just as we in the schools are asking the firms to value more than the dollar, judges and lawyers are asking those of us in the law schools to value more than the esteem of other academics.

Most basically, we need to ask the same tough questions of ourselves that judges and lawyers are currently asking of themselves. We should start asking about how we treat one another. In a very recent article,[6] Chief Justice Randall T Shepard of the Indiana Supreme Court tells fellow judges that they need to stop sniping atone another. The game point should be made by professors to professors. We are setting a bad example for our students, and we are undermining our own efforts, when we demean one another, either orally or in print. To some extent, the point is already being made, and I think particularly of Wallace Loh's article calling on faculty to take responsibility for the care and feeding of deans. Faculty also need to take responsibility for the care and feeding of one another. We need to set aside the single-mindedness that disturbs Dean Kronman and re-animate the broader dialectic identified by Professor Glendon. We decry the Rambo tactics of many practitioners. If Professor Glendon is correct, we should also decry Rambo teachers and Rambo scholars.

We also need to examine whether we have consciously or unconsciously shown too much disdain for the students we teach or for the lawyers they will become. If Dean Kronman is correct, we show contempt for the common law tradition and for the role of lawyer as prudent counselor. We should consider that humility is a desirable personal and professional characteristic. We should appreciate that professional respect, like happiness, is something we cannot achieve for ourselves unless we give it to others.

Most fundamentally, we need to undertake a systematic program to integrate more faculty more fully into the life of the legal profession. Justice Shepard's article urges judges to get more involved, and deans should urge their faculties to do the same. Indeed, I suggest that the faculty and the judges work in concert.

It is critical to be inclusive in this effort. We cannot confine the initiative to the faculty who are already active with the bar or to those who are traditional doctrinal analysts. Faculty with interdisciplinary interests, faculty with more philosophical and theoretical orientations, and other faculty with trenchant social criticism, must be included in invitations to participate.

Deans need to get in the business of expressing enthusiasm for the contributions your faculty stand poised to make to the profession. Building up faculty morale is an important part of the dean's job and an important product of this initiative. Share up faculty morale and at the same time provide faculty with enrichment experiences. Help them to have the confidence to undertake a new kind of professional growth experience. Faculty engaged in their own professional growth are the faculty most likely to make education the best growth experience for their students. In addition, your school, your faculty, and you will look better if you become an advocate for them and for the contributions they would be delighted to...

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