It is interesting that of all the professional schools domains, from business, to law, to medicine, to design, to engineering and more, legal education seems to be particularly unexcited with the prospect of turning out lawyers. Why is that? It might have something to do with the straddling of the law school between the higher education academy and the trade school. It is clear, from just rereading what I wrote that the term “trade school” carries baggage with it and likely serving as such is not an attractive idea to many. Thus, we teach students to think critically, but not necessarily the mundane, routinized activities of lawyers. Yet, the actions and performance of lawyers are both important and must coalesce with the thinking agenda. Also, acting or performing without integrity would be more than a distraction, but even a dereliction of duty. So turning out lawyers should be a positive outcome from day #1 of law school – and the practicality of lawyering should be held in high esteem as well as the sometimes disconnected critical thinking.
But what do lawyers make? This question is usually associated with money, but I like it because it also allows for an answer regarding relationships. Lawyers make the rule of law in society, fair processes, dispute resolution more likely and less violent, people who are discriminated against have a way to stand up for their rights, and generally make the our systems function. Lastly, of course, lawyers often make a difference to others. So while lawyers often make nothing tangible, lawyering remains a noble profession that ought to be viewed that way by the academy. The legal education process provides a training and background that offers the tools to navigate the system and help us work together in greater harmony. In an era of uncertainty and volatility, we need competent, community-minded lawyers who operate with integrity.
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