Back in 2007, Richard Posner published a very interesting reflection on the state of the legal academy in the form of a memorial essay to his colleague Bernard Meltzer. It’s a very brief essay, only 3 pages long. But Posner’s essay laments the loss of the former generation of lawyer-scholars that used to populate law schools. In the old days, Posner says, there were lots of law professors who were superb lawyers steeped in lawyering. These days, Posner says, that model is largely gone. Today’s professors see themselves as academics first and lawyers second. Posner suggests that the best education and the best scholarship is a mix of the two. Both the lawyer-model and the academic-model are useful in their own ways. A student should get a healthy mix of the two, and scholarship of both kinds is very useful.
Over at X, in response to a tweet from me on the essay, Adam Unikowsky asked a good question:
Do you think the relationship between lawyering and legal academia has changed since Posner wrote that 16 years ago? If so, in what direction?
I don’t have any special expertise on this question, but I have two tentative thoughts on it.
First, in some ways, the trend towards the academic model has only accelerated. Sarah Lawsky keeps numbers on the entry-level classes, and her annual report…