Law Quadrangle (formerly Law Quad Notes)


Reprinted from Mercer Law Review (1977) with permission of the copyright holder. Copyright 1977 by Walter F.George School of Law. Footnotes omitted.

Legal education in the United States is passing through its winter of discontent. Those who are new to the law schools-students and young instructors-are likely to be unaware of how recently and precipitously the present mood developed. Even those who have known the law schools longer may by now have forgotten the confidence and euphoria that were characteristic attributes of the schools until no more than a decade ago. Legal education, of course, has never lacked criticism, and the most searching and pointed complaints were those generated within the schools themselves. The "explosion" of interest in interdisciplinary studies at Columbia in the 1920's, narrated by Brainerd Currie in his well-known study; the realist movement; efforts to enlarge the scope of law school curricula, such as the foundation-nurtured movement to institutionalize international legal studies after World War II-each reflected significant dissatisfactions with the law schools at various intervals in this century. The dissatisfactions so expressed, however, rarely implied a loss of confidence in the capacity of legal education to make large and indispensible contributions to our public life. On the contrary, these movem1mts of reform affirmed the importance and potential of law teaching and research; and the frustrations experienced stemmed largely from a conviction that the capacities of legal education were being underutilized. It need not be asserted that today this confidence has been wholly destroyed or is incapable of reinvigoration; but it has surely been weakened.