[C]riticisms [of the University of Texas Law School] are well-founded. In a survey of accredited law schools, Texas was the only school without a mandatory brief-writing course. In fact, only about half of first-year students surveyed reported being able to get into a brief-writing course. As a result, they will not be trained how to present arguments to a court — one of the most basic legal skills.
Instead of rectifying the problem by meeting national practical skills standards, UT Law instead chooses to steer law students away from taking practical courses by offering grossly grade-inflated first-year electives on such totally impractical topics as Race and Gender in the Constitution.
The first-year curve in all courses is set at 3.3; the average in these “electives” is a 3.8. A student in Race and Gender in the Constitution commented, “The class is a complete joke and a waste of time, but the professor gives almost everyone A’s.” Since law students’ employment is determined by their first-year GPA, creating such an exception to the curve is unfair to other students and misleading to employers relying on the veracity of student transcripts. . . .
So law students can game the system and come out Order of the Coif, while not knowing a single thing about the basic exceptions to the hearsay rule? I can vouch for the fact that this is an absolutely accurate characterization of the system as it is constituted both at my institution, and as the authors noted, at others.
But more pertinently, law school seems (oddly enough) to present a sort of transparent information asymmetry cogently illustrated by the student in this article: in many respects, law schools fail to meet the demands and expectations students have upon entering and that employers have when hiring. Yet, it seems like we all know a little bit of what we are getting at the outset; the sales pitch is just all too compelling. In this sense, law school is more like an experience good that shouldn't demand any sort of warranty. But the problems are still exceedingly pervasive. As the authors noted with respect to their institution:
[There is a] deeper problem at UT Law that has drawn criticism from all corners of the legal industry: Lax institutional standards have marginalized the law school’s role in society of preparing its students to be competent, ethical lawyers.
I hate to say it, but this problem is not confined to UT Law. We need major reforms soon, because permitting students to become engulfed in massive amounts of debt with little to no guidance on how to be competent lawyers will (inevitably, I think) continue to dilute the profession's quality, and worse yet, harm students' lives. Law students ought to be more vocal in their cries for change like the authors in the noted article.