Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Question of "Degree?"

We can all agree that law school is a costly proposition. But what are we paying for? The degree, the education or some combination of the two? Recently, this question has been the source of much debate amongst my fellow classmates who, like many of us, battle  their conscience over whether to take a perceived "soft" course that seems interesting over a "hard" course that will, as the argument goes, be more valuable in the real world. Presented with this dichotomy, the wise thing to do is to choose the latter; it's hard to argue with choices that will help one in their career. The question, however, may not be as simple as I described it.

As far as I can tell, law school's pedagogical method is not--and has never been--focused on helping prepare students for the specific legal problems they'll face in their careers. Rather, the objective is to provide students with a broad framework for resolving issues that will ultimately be confronted in practice. Whether shirking pragmatism in this manner is sensible is subject to debate from students and faculty alike, but it is a reality. And a reality that makes it less likely that any substantive law learned will ever be more helpful in the workforce than a brief survey of caselaw. (After all, professors have different emphases and the law has this pesky tendency to change.)

Given that, I'm inclined to think it really doesn't matter all that much. But if it does, I suppose there's a second question worth considering: why offer the supposed "soft" courses at all? Thoughts?


  1. The "soft" classes have three benefits - more in depth analysis of law, more in depth discussion of the law, and a more practical application of the law, as compared to standard socraptic method

  2. I think the hard classes serve a huge benefit: they force students to submerge themselves into complicated material, and to find answers. This is akin to what practice involves. It is not clear, though, why law schools shouldn't altogether teach the courses that teach practical skills, as opposed to all this theory, anyways.

  3. Soft classes have an extra benefit: generous grading (unless you write a paper challenging the liberal professor's sacrosanct views).

  4. You give no definition of what a "soft" course is. Even if you had, your argument makes no sense. Are "soft" topics inherently less important than "hard" ones? Are lawyers not devoting their entire careers to topics covered in your sloppily termed "soft" courses. This article wasn't worth the bandwith it took to view it.


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