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October 30, 2006

Pedagogy and the bottom line

Responding to Dean Kramer's extended missive about law curriculum, Orin Kerr astutely notes here that his musing about 2L and 3L disengagement "is overlooking something important: j-o-b-s."  As Orin explains:

By a month into their second year, many students (and almost all at a school like Stanford) are going to have lined up summer jobs at law firms.  As long as they don't act like freaks over the summer, they will get full-time job offers.  As a result, the rat race is effectively over for many students the moment they accept their summer positions; they pay less attention than before because, well, they can.

Commentors to Orin's post confirm his insight, with one candidly admitting "yah, I basically don't care now that I have my summer job at a top firm," and another asserting that "there is essentially no reason for a rational law student in possession of a summer associate offer ... to exert more than minimal effort for the remainder of law school."

These comments, in turn, suggest an even bigger issue — namely, the extent to which the students' perceptions of the bottom line necessarily impact law school pedagogy.  I am always disappointed when I students report they are taking a particular course only because they thought it would impress an employer or would help them pass the bar.  But, because I have the luxury of tenure, it is easy for me to tell students not to worry about these matters.  Orin's post and the comments should remind any would-be law school innovator that those innovations most attentive students' bottom-line attitudes are likely to be the most successful.

October 30, 2006 in Teaching -- pedagogy | Permalink


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