Sunday, May 23, 2010

Law school and "bad sociology"

Catching up on old news, I read an interesting and provocative article by Charles Rounds (professor, Suffolk University Law School) lamenting the decline of the “common law” subjects in law school. (HT: Law School Innovation.) Courses on the bread-and-butter common law courses ought to be at the heart of the law school curriculum, he says.

“Common law, of which agency and trust are critical components, is the bedrock upon which all our statutory and regulatory edifices are constructed. Unfortunately, the old required courses in the law—the courses necessary to master the law’s basic anatomy—have largely been crowded out by courses about the law. Almost every self-respecting law professor is now an amateur sociologist engaged in ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘cutting-edge’ scholarship that has a gender, race, or sexual identity hook. Those who are less sociologically inclined are likely preoccupied with some ultra-technical aspect of the Constitution, some piece of legislation, or a regulation. Many professors manage to cobble together entire courses around their preoccupations.”

Professor Rounds concludes that “law students at great expense are getting little more than bad sociology.”

What’s the solution? Professor Rounds suggests:

“This de-professionalization of the American law school, a phenomenon of profound concern to many in the legal profession, suggests that there is an opening for the for-profit sector. A bare-bones, back-to-basics for-profit law school staffed by seasoned scholar-practitioners may be the answer. The more boot-camp-like the better, in that the rigor will prepare future lawyers for the work they’ll actually confront in the real world.”

Rounds' comments raise some issues that I might quibble about some other time (should a law school curriculum be reduced to just nuts-and-bolts courses to prepare student for practice? I don’t think so). But I think he does raise some thought-provoking points about big issues facing law schools, especially in a difficult economy.

And, ahem. The Oak Brook College curriculum features the common-law staples prominently. The distance-learning methodology makes it possible for OBCL students to get real world experience working in law while still in law school. The faculty is comprised of practicing lawyer-teachers who know what really is happening in the real world. These are pluses that we OBCL grads sometimes take for granted, but shouldn’t.

And ending on a cheerful note, Professor Rounds thinks the future is bright for new approaches to legal education: "A for-profit law school that affords its students a thorough grounding in the fundamentals would soon win the respect and admiration of the hiring partners in the nation’s law firms. In time they would come to take with a grain of salt the puff pieces and propaganda of their non-profit alma maters, and of the American Bar Association which regulates them."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alumni in the News VI

98B’s Chris Schweickert writes an essay on prayer at public colleges for the American Thinker entitled "Free Speech at College: 'You Can't Do That Here'"

Alumni Peter Fear is featured in a Business Journal story on one of today's most discussed legal topics: "Local Attorney Cautions Against Debt Consolidations"

Matt McReynolds is quoted in an AP story on religious freedom in Southern California.

Jonathan Bechtle and Mike Reitz discuss internet filtering at libraries, rape shield laws, and other recent Washington Supreme Court decisions in their entertaining monthly podcast.

OBCL Grad Meredith Turney discusses the political blame game in the aftermath of BP’s recent offshore oil spill.

Alumni Brian Tyson has a number of informative updates out of Georgia on his firm's SCOG Blog.

Are you an alumni that has recently been published online? Please let us know so that we can highlight your work!

Monday, May 17, 2010

February, 2010 Bar Results

Congratulations to the OBCL Alumni who passed the February, 2010 California Bar Exam! This class did us proud.

Right now, I know of 7 of 9 first-time takers from OBCL whose names were on the pass list. There may be a couple of other first-timers who took it, so check back for an update later today when the school fills us in.

But for now, congratulations to Curtis, Kristi, Caleb, Heidi, Joshua, Laura, and Lael!

Stupendous work, Class 05! May God continue to richly bless your efforts.


Looks like the final statistics are in: 7 of 12 first-time takers passed, and 3 of 9 repeat takers passed. Both of those are fantastic statistics on the whole, and we congratulate each individual passer!