The Juris Doctor is 'Versatile' Thanks Mainly to Numerous Logical Fallacies

, The Am Law Daily


Some law schools defend the widespread underemployment of their graduates by claiming law degrees prepare students for a wide variety of occupations. Those making this argument are using fallacious reasoning to justify their schools' superfluousness.

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What's being said

  • harry v.ruffalo

    i believe that if the way the law is taught in law school were changed for the majority of the subjects(not all) that a law degree in fact could allow law graduates to be more functional . i taught a course at the university of wisconsin law school from 1993 to just a few years ago called "the business of practicing law" and wrote a book of the same name and during this time frame i tried to get professionals,students and professors to understand that "the law" should be the subject matter specialty and learning to be a consultant with that subject matter specialty should be the way law students are taught. with those learned skills law school graduates would then be better able to interface once they get into the work force ie working in a corporate enviroment,working in a real estate enviroment working in a municipal setting,etc. I believe the relatively few highly successful lawyers who work for law firms have learned the consultative skill on their own and that in fact, has made them more successful than other practicing lawyers.

  • Tracy Thrower Conyers

    My personal take as an attorney who started out practicing for over a decade and then took to a more alternative path is that law school taught me to "think" logically and critically, with a healthy respect for historic precedent.. That sounds pretty "flexible" to me and pretty darned applicable to "dog training" on the order of what Sheri Soltes as done with it.

    I can't think of another college or post-college degree that could give me these skills in the cutthroat environment that law school provided. The entire, often painful and extremely expensive law school experience has served me well over the ensuing years, and I've never regretted my educational path for a minute. My only caveat is that aspiring students need to be smart about the costs and managing those costs on anything other than a Big Law salary.

    Tracy Thrower Conyers

  • re: service dog reference

    The woman Leichter is referring to, even though he clearly does not know it, is Sheri Soltes, president of Texas Hearing and Service Dogs. Soltes founded this organization after working as a litigator for a number of years. She has written several articles on the legal rights of people who use service dogs, and has fought to improve state statues regarding accessibility issues. She works to make the world a better place for people with disabilities. Would this be considered nontraditional? I suppose. But I’m sure she uses her legal education every day in pursuit of her organization’s goals. That might not seem like an appropriate use of a law degree to Leichter, but people who need service dogs might beg to differ.

  • Attorney and Law Librarian

    So the JD-holder thinks he can become a law librarian. Does that JD holder have a Master's in Library and Info Science. ? If not he won't get a job as a law librarian in many law school libraries. Just having a JD is not enough. And the firm law librarians I know may not have a JD but they do have a MLIS.

  • Anonymous reader

    A thoughtful, honest, and well-reasoned article -- thanks.

  • I dont understand the service dog reference and would hate to draw an unfounded conclusion

    I do not understand what you mean by this comment. Please explain further

    Plenty of jobs that don't require legal education—including some government positions, law librarians, and politicians—can be more effectively filled by law school graduates than mere college graduates, but service dog training doesn't even come close.

  • Ron Friedmann

    The fallacy of the flexible JD was clear to me a long time ago. When I graduated NYU law school in 1986 with a JD, I chose not to practice law. Instead I went to Bain & Company as a management consultant.

    In exploring my options I frequently heard the trope about the JD being so versatile. I learned about quite a few non-practicing JDs with interesting careers. Most had arrived at their jobs via non-reproducible means - that's fancy for saying they had a lot of luck, which is not to diminish anyone's skill or ambition.

    Even in 1986, finding a job coming out of law school that was not practicing law was hard. In my class of 300 , one other person did not practice and she returned to a career she had had prior to law school.

    Like many ideas lawyers have, the flexible JD is a closely held truth but one for which I have never seen empirical evidence to support.

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