Do Law Schools Really Teach Students to “Think Like Lawyers”?

In a new research paper recently published on SSRN, Douglas Rush, from St. Louis University reports that law schools may not be teaching students to “think like lawyers”.  The paper entitled “If You Think Law Schools Teach Students to ‘Think Like a Lawyer’…Think Again!” finds that “there has been little or no empirical evidence to test whether attending law school improves students’ ability to ‘think like a lawyer.’ This paper reports two studies conducted at ABA accredited law schools which examined whether taking more of the ‘think like a lawyer’ bar courses improved students’ ability to pass state bar examinations.”

The studies found that there is no significant evidence that “think like a lawyer” course help in passing the Bar exam. “The author concludes that law schools do not teach students to ‘think like a lawyer.’ Instead, students with pre-existing ‘think like a lawyer’ skills self-select to attend law schools. Law schools also pre-select law students with high ‘think like a lawyer’ skills using index scores which combine LSAT scores and UGPA.”

Click here to read the article.

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2 Responses

  1. So what exactly am I paying for?

  2. I wasn’t persuaded by Rush’s assumption that teaching people to think like lawyers can be measured by the number of bar courses students had taken. My sense is that the focus on content coverage in bar courses may be even more intense than in other courses.

    I don’t have any doubt that students tend to self-select for law school in significant part on the basis of their aptitude for language/logical thinking. But I do think that if we’re doing our job, we teach them a range of habits and conventions that fit the term “thinking like a lawyer”.

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