First, from the newest addition to my Google Reader, Lawyerist, a post pleading for students to "please reconsider applying to law school." Here is the gist:
Even in the midst of a law school bubble, law school is still the right choice for the handful of people who truly belong in the profession.
To those prospective law students applying to law school as a fallback in a bad economy, or because you want three more years to figure out what to do with your life: please save yourself time, money, and a huge amount of stress; do not apply to law school.
I count this excellent advice, for the most part. If you are going to law school for the right reasons, you should go. If not, you should reconsider. You should also carefully weigh your financial commitment, seeking to find a school that gives you the education you need for a good price. I don't care how much you want to go to Harvard. If you can get a full ride or something close somewhere else, take it.
Read the post from Lawyerist.
The second item hits on matters at the other end of the law school experience. W&L Law School has revamped its third-year curriculum, looking to provide a more practical experience for students:
Most members of Washington and Lee’s Class of 2010 have abandoned the lecture hall to spend their final year of law school learning how law is practiced — including the mundanities of dressing for court and the intricacies of taking depositions and writing briefs on deadline.
Students are working court cases from complaint to verdict, matching wits with opposing counsel, currying favor with judges and managing difficult clients, real and simulated.
If I had it to do all over again, I would have taken fewer practical courses and more courses that helped me think about who I am as a lawyer and what the law is and how it works. I'd have done more Jurisprudence 2 and less Trial Practice 3. But that's just me.
It's an interesting experiment, but I don't think as "daring" as some are saying. My relatively uneducated sense is that this type of program won't set it apart from other top tier schools in any meaningful way. Students will choose W&L for this (as they do Baylor Law School, whose Practice Court program early in the curriculum is very effective and popular). But surely other students will shy away from it. Overall, it just doesn't seem that different from clinical opportunities that exist at most law schools.
On the other hand, if a school were to, say, infuse its entire curriculum with ideas subversive to the rank and file American legal academy, bringing transcendent principles to bear on the study of law, while rejecting the pragmatic materialist presuppositions of the typical law school classroom-- its "ordinary religion"-- now there's a daring experiment that distinguishes a law school from the rest.
But, again, that's just me.