Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Amazing Dynamism of Prof. Noah Feldman's Prose

Early in his piece for Bloomberg View, Prof. Noah Feldman makes a stunning remark:
Law school isn’t really necessary for lawyers or their clients.
Uh oh.  Sharpen the pitchfork, Dean Satan, we've got another Professor Benedict.  But Feldman explains his point: lawyering requires training from real practice.  As he says:  "Lawyering is an art, not a science. And the only way to learn an art well is by doing it."(1)

But then he totally redeems himself:
Yet law school is absolutely essential -- not for lawyers with clients, but for our society as a whole.
It may be junk when spouted by lesser law professors, but this man is a bona fide public intellectual who has written six books in a decade and was a talking head in a Ken Burns documentary!  He clerked for a S.C. judge!  Heed his wisdom!
Law functions as a monopoly over all other forms of decision-making. When you make a life decision without a lawyer, it’s because the law allows you to do it. Unlike art or accounting or investment banking or even medicine, law affects and governs literally every aspect of human existence -- whether you like it or not. (2)
I used to have this friend Jimmy.  Jimmy was mayor of his own town out in the middle of Montana.  Anyway, Joey passed a law in his town that people who jump off cliffs are required to fly like Eagles.  And I said to Joey, Jimmy, whatever, "Uh, don't you think that the law of gravity is going to require that they fall to their deaths?"  And Jimmy said, "nope!  Law has a monopoly on governing literally every aspect of human existence!"  And then Joey jumped off the mountain cliff.  I never saw him again, and can only assume that he flew like an Eagle, perhaps to the sea.

And that's when I learned the power of law.  And it's incredibly important for law schools to run this here parade because law schools - and only law schools - can show students what the law "can be."
Our society desperately needs the law to evolve, adapt and improve -- or else we’d be quickly stuck in one place, struggling for change against a static legal system trying to hold us back.(3)
The answer here seems simple:  just write a new law that the evil, wicked law can't try to hold us back by being static if we're stuck in the mud because it's not evolving to suit our desperation for us to change it.  But maybe more refined solutions are in order, learned at America's finest law schools.
We teach students to understand that the quest for justice is an irreducible part of legal reasoning -- and that the meaning of justice is always and everywhere being contested and challenged. (4)
And because every lawyer has a client who seeks perfect justice in the world, this is easily achievable and does not, in any way, present ethical quandaries for attorneys representing bad guys.(5)

So in the end, law school offers so much more than any other mode of educating lawyers.
You can apprentice to be a good tax lawyer, but that won't prepare you to face the big questions. (6)
So the answer to who needs law school is: all of us. No society in history has ever changed as rapidly and dynamically as ours (7)...This amazing dynamism all requires legal regulation so that it doesn’t spin out of control.
Amazing dynamism, indeed!  If you, like me, don't want to see what happens when amazing dynamism spins out of control (I'm guessing it's some sort of nuk-u-lar thing!), go to law school and/or support legal education today!

Also - vote for Prof. Feldman if his name ever comes up for federal judge.
(1) No - it's actually a craft.  Learn the difference between the two and you'll understand a lot more about lawyering instead of the nonsense taught by law schools.  Real art requires vision, inspiration, and creative mastery; education can only develop an artist, it cannot make one.  Contra crafts:  techniques and tricks that require no particular creativity beyond applying rules of thumb to slightly different situations.  Lawyering is more like the white collar, intellectual equivalent of butchering a hog or building a birdhouse than it is about painting on a blank canvas. 

(2)  Feldman obviously must be smarter than me because I have no idea what the fuck he's talking about.  Human existence predates law (how did our ancestors make life decisions without its permission?), so is he simply saying that we live in a country with law, therefore law can govern any aspect of our lives?  Because that's not even true.  Moreover, no government - outside of dystopian techno totalitarianism - could possibly regulate human thought or emotion or biological processes.  He's apparently trying to pretend law is something other than what it is: a systematic method of promoting the common welfare and providing for peaceful dispute resolution.  Also, "monopoly" doesn't mean what he seems to think it means.

(3) This man has written six (6) books, and they don't appear to be self-published.

(4) Health disclaimer:  please do not try to think about this sentence.  You could literally replace "justice" with any other object, and I don't think the sentence changes its meaning much.  Watch:  "We teach students to understand that the quest for ornamental kale is an irreducible part of legal reasoning -- and that the meaning of ornamental kale is always and everywhere being contested and challenged."  See?

(5)  Note: there's always like a 65-70% chance you're representing a bad guy.  

(6) If only Jefferson and Lincoln had gone to law school, they might have been able to address "big questions" on the level of Barack Obama and Noah Feldman.  What type of an arrogant nut-bag seriously thinks advanced professional education by his special hands is necessary to grasp the bigger questions in life?  Any intelligent, aware person who has a bare-bones liberal arts education (or reading history) and about five minutes with the justice system is going to contemplate bigger questions about justice and truth.  Shit, novelists like Voltaire, Dickens, and Harper fucking Lee have been addressing the bigger questions for centuries in ways the Harvard faculty can't because of their biases and obligations.

 (7) Oh, really?  If you actually believe this tripe, you may want to pause the quest for justice and read a fucking history book.

1 comment:

  1. "[L]aw affects and governs literally every aspect of human existence -- whether you like it or not."
    Take heed scamdeans/scamprofs, for this applies to the law of supply and demand...

    Law of Supply and Demand...