The Discipline of Law Schools

The Making of Modern Lawyers

by Philip C. Kissam

Tags: Legal Profession/Professional Responsibility

Table of Contents (PDF)

296 pp  $30.00

ISBN 978-0-89089-390-6

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This book takes a comprehensive look at the basic practices, ideas and habits in American law schools. By examining the many interrelationships between these practices and ideas, Kissam discloses the implicit or tacit knowledge about law and lawyers that is produced in unintended ways by legal education. This knowledge empowers law students and professors, but it also creates tendencies or predispositions among them to think about the law and lawyering in ways that substantially limit the study of law and legal practice. Most importantly, the disciplinary web of interrelationships among practices and ideas helps to create (1) an excessive focus upon acquiring limited technical skills and knowledge, to the detriment of practicing with and acquiring the more complex skills of legal interpretation, legal argument and making difficult legal and ethical judgments; (2) the promotion of useful but superficial reading and writing habits that limit the communicative skills of many lawyers; and (3) the implicit or unintended development of unduly conservative views about the nature of law, legal practices and legal ethics.

The book draws on contemporary political theory and philosophy to develop an original ethical basis for evaluating and possibly altering the discipline of law schools in ways that could promote more effective, more democratic and more humane legal education.

This book may motivate law professors to carefully contemplate or alter their current educational practices, and it may also help lawyers obtain a better understanding of their own legal traits and of the nature of new law graduates with whom they work.

"[T]his book must certainly be read by all future law students as well as legal eductors. In addition, it would be an excellent acquisition for all undergraduate pre-law studies collections." — Bimonthly Review of Law Books, November/December 2004