More on Legal Education

We previously noted here Professor George Kuney’s recent critique of legal education, in which he focused on the need to restructure traditional law firm summer associate programs. But there have been numerous criticisms of legal education in recent years, including the disconnect between the legal academy and profession—i.e., too many law professors are out of touch with the actual practice of law by attorneys and judges.
While there has been legal scholarship touching on this issue (see, e.g., here, here, and here), Chief Justice John Roberts illustrated the point as follows at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Annual Conference on June 25, 2011—

There is a great disconnect between the academy and the profession. Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in eighteenth-century Bulgaria, or something, which I am sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar. Now I hasten to add I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. If the academy wants to deal with the legal issues at a particularly abstract, philosophical level, that’s great and that’s their business, but they shouldn’t expect that it would be of any particular help or even interest to the members of the practice of the bar or judges. . . . [I]f the academy is interested in having an influence on the practice of law and the development of law, that they would be wise to sort of stop and think, is this area of research going to be of help to anyone other than other academics. You know, it’s their business, but people ask me, what the last law review article I read was, and I have to think very hard before I come up with one.

A video of Chief Justice Roberts’s conversation is available here.
And Justice Antonin Scalia expressed similar sentiments when speaking at the University of New Hampshire School of Law on March 22, 2013. The article is available here. In his keynote address, Justice Scalia noted that “there’s not much more legal scholarship to be done and too many scholars to do it,” criticized scholarship that had “no value to the practitioner, or would-be practitioner,” and warned that “[t]he academic mindset is too far removed from the practice of law.” Why? In part, because too many law professors lack significant practical legal experience.
But we will save that criticism of legal education for another post.