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Failing Law Schools (Chicago Series in Law and Society) Hardcover – June 15, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Chicago Series in Law and Society
  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; First Edition edition (June 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226923614
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226923611
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,732 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Even those who disagree with Brian Z. Tamanaha and challenge his analyses will be participating in a conversation shaped by his contentions. Failing Law Schools presents a comprehensive case for the negative side of the legal education debate and I am sure that many legal academics and every law school dean will be talking about it.”
(Stanley Fish, Florida International University College of Law 2012-03-01)

“Legal education is a broken, failed, even corrupt enterprise. It exalts and enriches law professors at the expense of lawyers, the legal profession, and most of all the students whose tuition dollars finance the entire scheme. With hard numbers and piercing insights, Brian Z. Tamanaha tells the disturbing, scandalous truth. His book is essential reading for anyone who is even contemplating law school, much less committing to a career in law teaching. With any luck, his book will inspire law professors and law school deans who have no other career options to subject themselves to the deepest levels of ethical introspection, the better to lead legal education back into the service of its true stakeholders.”
(James Chen, University of Louisville)

Failing Law Schools is destined to have an enormous impact on the future of legal education. … [T]his will turn out to be the definitive account of just how out-of-balance the existing model of legal education has become.”
(William Henderson, Indiana University Maurer School of Law)

"Tamanaha’s book is both thoughtful and damning, made all the more persuasive because he is an experienced and respected academic who builds his argument carefully step by step with an insider’s understanding. It’s definitely worth a careful read—and for defenders of the status quo, a thoughtful response."
(Orin Kerr The Volokh Conspiracy 2012-05-06)

"I would certainly encourage a prospective law student, especially one not likely to get into one of the very top schools, to read this book."
(Brian Leiter, University of Chicago 2012-05-10)

"An essential title for anyone thinking of law school or concerned with America's dysfunctional legal system."
(Library Journal 2012-07-01)

About the Author

Brian Z. Tamanaha is the William Gardiner Hammond Professor of Law at the Washington University School of Law and the author of six books, including A General Jurisprudence of Law and Society, Law as a Means to an End, and Beyond the Formalist-Realist Divide.


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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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The Professor has shown great courage in taking on the system.
E. Clinton
If you take gov't loans you can defer/forbear/do income based repayment/public service loan forgiveness.
Heidi Jund
If you know someone considering law school, Tamanaha's book is a must read.
Ray Campbell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By H. P. on June 16, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The recent recession hit the legal industry harder than most, and to paraphrase Warren Buffet, when the tide receded we learned law schools had been swimming naked. Something is obviously badly wrong, but a deluge of scamblogs and overheated articles notwithstanding, very little intelligent is being said about it. Brian Tamanaha--law professor, former interim law school dean, and traitor to his class--changes all that in this wonderful book, replacing hyperbole with facts and sound theory.

Tamanaha first sets his sights on law professors, showing their pernicious effects on law schools both through the ABA-accreditation process (Part I) and through the law school itself (Part II). He then shifts his focus to the malignant effect on law schools of a single ranking--the US News (Part III), before showing why the law school model is broken and suggesting what to do about it (Part IV).

Law professors have proved a potent special interest force both within and out of the law school. It was they who convinced the ABA to mandate a third year of legal education and to adopt accreditation standards that put a premium on well paid tenure-track professors (the ABA had to backtrack somewhat from the latter in response to a DOJ antitrust suit). Professors have also effectively lobbied for the same within the law schools themselves. No dean can withstand the wrath of a unified faculty.

The law is curious among academic programs for being dominated by a single ranking. The law is prestige driven as it is, and the U.S. News & World Report ranking is waited on with bated breath each year by potential applicants. And so "[t]he annual pronouncement of the surviving rump of a defunct magazine thus mercilessly lords over legal academia." Manipulation is the rule of the day.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Ronald H. Clark VINE VOICE on June 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This provocative book should be of interest to anyone involved in legal education, whether as a student, law professor, law dean, or simply as a taxpayer guaranteeing law student loans. The author is a well respected professor of law at Washington University, who did a stint as interim dean at St. John's University School of Law, and is the author of six other well-received books (including a couple I have reviewed on Amazon). So he knows of what he speaks from personal experience. Briefly put, the author believes current American legal education is in a "sorry state" due to the schools chasing after prestige and revenue as their primary goals, even at the cost of damaging their students.

The book is divided into four parts and some 14 chapters, preceded by an interesting prologue in which the author recounts his experiences as dean at St. John's. The first part deals with his view that law schools are largely self-regulating and utilize this power for their own (and not their students') betterment. The influence of the American Bar Association on legal education is highly detrimental, since it results in excessive faculty retention, uniform legal education no what what the character of the individual school and its students may be, and the inability to use adjunct professors to keep costs down. Moreover, clinical or practical legal education is reduced to a second class status.

Part II takes aim at law professors, by examining their light teaching loads, and the intense pressure to publish, both of which drive tuition costs up. Law professors, the author maintains, generally have had little practical experience themselves, and their published output is largely detached from law and of little use to lawyers and judges in their actual work.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anthony DeGuerre on July 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Though a short read at 187 pages, Mr. Tamanaha's book covers quite a bit of ground in that it: lays out the history of law school; the roles the ABA and the AALS have had in shaping the structure of law schools; the relationship and distinction between the academic and professional practice of law; an overview of the shameless gaming law schools have made with the US News and World ranking system to attract students; and a discussion of the "reverse-robin hood" finance structure (see page 98) which taxes those students least likely to find gainful employment after graduation to support those students most likely to find lucrative legal jobs following graduation.

If you are a student considering a legal career, this book is a "must read" prior to sitting for the LSAT. The calculus prospective students should make (page 155-157), which sets out a theoretical "monthly budget" for new lawyers starting out, should be mandatory reading for all prospective law students, as this monthly budget will become your life if you took out loans during law school. Additionally, the overview of the ranking system used by Law Schools and big firms will be useful in helping potential law students find out what their career prospects are in light of the school they are attending.

If you are an attorney, judge or professor, I would read this book to understand the crisis rising in the legal profession in regards to oversupply of lawyers with no practical experience and incredible student loan debt. The discussion of the forces and history that shaped the current legal education model are also a worthwhile return on the time invested in reading this book.
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