I'll be speaking this morning at what promises to be a very interesting session of the Section On Scholarship--9:00 a.m. at the Marriott. The program was inspired by a blog post by Brian Tamanaha: Why the Interdisciplinary Movement in Legal Academia Might be a Bad Idea (For Most Law Schools). See you there!
Here are the details:
Section on Scholarship
Marina Salon E, South Tower/Level 3, San Diego Marriott Hotel & Marina
Interdisciplinary Legal Scholarship, the Demography of the Legal Academy, and the Future of Straddling the Academic-Professional Divide
An argument has been joined recently over whether interdisciplinary studies, interdisciplinary scholarship, and interdisciplinary scholars might be too expensive for most law schools – more specifically, non-elite law schools. Except perhaps for those law students who will practice corporate law at top law firms and those who will enter the academy – a very small percentage will do as professionals. Moreover, interdisciplinary studies are expensive, and students at non-elite, tuition-drive schools must add that cost to their already heavy financial burden. Plus, there are always opportunity costs: the money spent on interdisciplinary studies could be spent on skills education, live-client clinics, or placement services. And finally, the JD/Ph.Ds who are hired as part of this movement to interdisciplinary are, as a rule, even more removed from the realities of the practice of law than the average faculty member, thus widening the gap between the law school classroom and the demands of the legal profession.
The recent doubts about interdisciplinary studies can be viewed as just one more manifestation of the difficulty of both providing the training of professionals and being a serious academic discipline that law schools have faced since becoming departments of universities. Law schools and their faculties have, with varying degrees of success, straddled the internal divide between the two missions. At one time, clinical education and the status of clinicians on faculties was the arena which this division played out. Today, as faculties at virtually all law schools have become more academic and ambitious in terms of scholarship, the tension between the two missions has intensified. Interdisciplinary studies and interdisciplinary scholars – particularly those who have Ph.Ds – are just the natural outgrowth of the more general trend toward academification and away from the concerns of the practice of law.
Beyond scholarship that is of direct relevance to the beach and bar, how much should and can law students be taxed to subsidize the production of knowledge about law? Should legal studies remain within law schools, or should they migrate to legal studies departments, which would in turn train the legal studies professoriate with their own doctoral degree (probably multidisciplinary rather than interdisciplinary)? Or are legal studies best undertaken in law schools that are training lawyers, and if so, what does that say about the type of faculty that law schools should hire? Is there a case for making a law degree a bachelors (undergraduate) degree rather than a doctoral (postgraduate degree) – as almost every other nation does – and would this solve the straddle problem?
The Section will put on a panel discussion on these issues. Professor Tamanaha will state his thesis that interdisciplinary studies may be a bad idea for non-elite law schools. Thereafter, members of the panel will respond to Professor Tamanaha and to each other. Finally, the discussion will be opened to the floor.
Business Meeting at Program Conclusion.
Alexander Lawrence A. - Moderator
Chen Jim - Speaker
Dorff Michael B. - Speaker
Kittrie Orde F. - Speaker
Lobel Orly - Speaker
Ribstein Larry E. - Speaker
Schwarzschild Maimon - Speaker
Solum Lawrence B. - Speaker
Tamanaha Brian Z. - Speaker