Saturday, February 23, 2013
I’m generally not a huge fan of empirical studies on the law. (There are one or two exceptions, of course.) But sometimes, the numbers have an uncanny way of exposing lies. Consider this tale of two groups: police officers and law school bureaucrats. With regard to the police, one famous study on police-officer behavior revealed that, before the Fourth Amendment was imposed on the states, the police would simply write in their reports what really happened: they stopped people on the street for no reason, searched them, found drugs, and arrested them. In fact, the police admitted to this in 33 percent of their police reports. Only in 14 percent of their reports did they write that the drugs magically fell out of the defendants’ pockets.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Legal education has come under a great deal of fire lately. One criticism that has been around long before the recent legal education crisis, however, is that law schools teach only theory, and not practical skills. The debate, in a nutshell, boils down to two competing camps. The practicing-lawyer camp mocks theory, while praising the value of a practical education. After all, we lawyers are licensed to practice law, and clients deserve some basic level of competence, even from new graduates. The law-professor camp, on the other hand, elevates theory to heavenly heights, singing its praises along with the importance of teaching students “how to think like a lawyer”—whatever that phrase may mean. Unfortunately, the two sides are only preaching to their respective choirs. In fact, the debate never gets off the ground because the word theory means something different to each camp.
Saturday, February 9, 2013
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
I exercise my free speech rights nearly continually, and the government is my biggest target. Fortunately for me, “criticism of the government and advocacy of unpopular ideas . . . are almost always permitted” under the First Amendment. So whether it’s my books, articles, blogs, or podcasts, my keyboard is rarely at rest, and my big mouth is rarely shut. (In fact, my contrarian jabbering as a child led my mother to accurately predict my careers as both lawyer and writer.) But I sometimes forget how lucky I am – lucky not only compared to citizens of other countries who can be imprisoned or even killed for speaking out against their governments, but also compared to others here in the United States.