Posted by Stephen M. Nipper at April 26, 2005 06:12 AM
A number of weeks ago, during rethink(ip) aloud podcast #1, Doug ranted about his view that intellectual property law classes should be a part of the mandatory curriculum in law schools. I played (at the time) devil's advocate...arguing that (essentially) shouldn't EVERY discipline demand that their course be a requirement.
However...the more I rethink about it, the more I think Doug is right.
U.S. law schools (as far as I know) nationwide typically follow the same general curriculum blueprint..two semesters of real property, two semesters of contracts, two semesters of torts, etc. Of course, law school doesn't teach you jack about the practice of law...it teaches you how to pass the bar exam (otherwise why would you torture law students with things that they'll never see...from fertile octogenarians to the rule against perpetuities).
Perhaps my rant is slanted because I practice in a specialty. Perhaps not. I'm going to have to be honest with you...I have never once needed anything I learned in my real property class. Not once. Two completely wasted semesters of my life. Some might argue that they weren't wasted...they helped me pass the bar exam. Bull hockey!!! I never took trusts and estates either, but the bar exam prep course I took managed to teach me that topic just fine. Could I have survived without ever taking a real property class? Probably. I am sure there are others out there who have never used torts, contracts, etc...for them, did it really make sense to take a whole year of said topics? I doubt it.
Why not rethink law school...and paint legal education with a broader stroke? Drop this "Real Property I & II" nonsense and instead teach a Real Property class, and for those who desire it, an Advanced Real Property class. Do the same thing for (gasp) Torts and Contracts. Then, require the teaching of at least a cursory intellectual property class and other single semester "required" classes (feel free to suggest your favorites in the comments).
Why intellectual property? Do I really need to go there? I would venture to say that an average attorney stumbles upon more intellectual property issues in a given year than real property issues, yet we are stuck in the past...requiring two semesters of real property but not requiring any coursework in intellectual property. Lunacy...pure lunacy.
Perhaps this is all part of the "System"...graduate law students who are incapable of practicing law competently. Perfect fodder for the legal sweat shops where their client contact and the rate at which they incur experience is carefully controlled. Of course, that's another can of worms...to be opened later.
The comments are open for your...comments.
[Thanks for the encouragement Denise]