Justice Antonin Scalia said in a commencement speech last week that the fault lies with the legal educators for watering down their curriculum while allowing tuition to skyrocket. According to The Wall Street Journal, on Sunday, Justice Scalia spoke to William & Mary’s graduating students. By Thursday, the justice’s prepared remarks were posted on the school’s website.
“It seems to me that the law-school-in-two years proposal rests on the premise that law schools is–or ought to be–a trade school,” the justice said. “It’s not that. It is a school preparing men and women not for trade but for profession– the profession of law. If law schools are feeling pressure to shrink their degree programs, they have themselves to blame, he said, educators have helped perpetuate “the belief that all the law you really need to know can be acquired in two years.” That’s because, he said, law schools “increasingly abstain from saying there is anything you really need to know.”
A Harvard graduate, Justice Scalia thinks schools have drifted away from teaching the fundamentals of law by allowing students to bypass traditional law courses and instead select courses from an a la carte menu of specialized electives that have a “distinct non-legal flavor.”
Justice Scalia thinks the “vast majority” of law schools will have to cut tuition, and the law schools are going to have to make some painful choices. He added that “cutting back on law-school tuition surely means higher teaching loads, and last but not least, professional salaries may have to be reduced, or at least stop rising.”
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