Friday, March 14, 2008

Burning that Candle Power

Eric Johnson wonders if we're wasting intelligence on law students:
For every extra bit of talent that matriculates into business school, real wealth will be created, our economy will grow stronger, and people will be better off. For every extra IQ point that heads to medical school, more lives will be saved, more pain will be soothed, and people will be healthier.

But, since justice in America is based on the adversarial system, isn’t every bright law student just cancelled out by another equally bright classmate? Is the legal profession just an arms race that squanders talent in the overall scheme of things?

These questions are not limited to the litigation context. Think of the tens of thousands of hours of brilliance that goes into outsmarting the tax code. I sure don’t blame folks for doing it. But does the effort leave us all better off?

Of course, the nine billion posts warning anyone with a pulse to stay away from law school strikes me as proof that you can't be too smart to enter a field everyone appears to hate.

But I'm different -- I want to teach, not practice. Of course, there's an equally strong case I'm just option F on Amber's taxonomy of law school attendees.


PG said...

Aren't you simultaneously entering a PhD program, though? So F doesn't quite apply, inasmuch as you haven't been rejected by graduate schools. Amber seems to be pretty clearly in A.

I went to law school the same way that other people might get their master's in comparative literature -- I found the subject really interesting and wanted to learn more. However, I've always leaned away from going into academia as a full-time job, despite some professors who tried to talk me into it, so I'm now going to take my law degree and work in litigation for a law firm until I can convince a certain government agency's NY office to hire me.

David Schraub said...

"....inasmuch as you haven't been rejected by graduate schools." the optimism, but thus far Ph.D programs have not been kind (I've gotten into Virginia and Berkeley's JSP program, and I've gotten rejected from another 6 schools).

" I'm now going to take my law degree and work in litigation for a law firm until I can convince a certain government agency's NY office to hire me."

No, PG! Elliot isn't good enough for you! Don't throw a promising career away!

PG said...


Anonymous said...

In my two decades of experience in business, I have encountered many, many lawyers working to define the terms and conditions of business activities, working to negotiate agreements between companies, and working to prevent disagreements between companies reaching court-rooms. All of this activity is productive, most of it adds directly to the bottom line of the companies for which these lawyers work, and some of it even saves lives. None of this activity can be done by stupid or ignorant people, which is why you find clever lawyers from the best law schools doing this work. I don't think law students need apologize for studying law.