August 09, 2008

Legal Therapy

Steven Teles’s The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement, which I reviewed here recently, notes that legal academia is dominated by the Left. Law schools serve as an element of what Teles dubs the Liberal Legal Network (LLN), along with the organized bar and public-interest litigation organizations. One way in which they do this is through the incorporation of “clinics” into the legal curriculum.

A clinic course is usually simply one in which students receive course credit for helping a law professor conduct a particular type of litigation. Thus, for example, in the latest issue of UTLaw:  The Magazine of the University of Texas School of Law (my law school’s alumni magazine), the exploits of the Transitional Worker Rights Clinic and the Domestic Violence Clinic are trumpeted. A quick glance at the UT Law Web site shows that the clinics there include the Actual Innocence Clinic, the Capital Punishment Clinic, the Children’s Rights Clinic, the Community Development Clinic, the Criminal Defense Clinic, the Environmental Clinic, the Housing Clinic, the Immigration Clinic, and others in the same vein.

Note that while there is a Housing Clinic, there is no clinic for landlords burdened by the expense of evicting deadbeat tenants; while there is an Actual Innocence Clinic, there is no O.J. Simpson Actual Guilt Clinic dedicated to suing felons unjustly acquitted in criminal trials; etc.

Some of these clinics—the Domestic Violence Clinic, for example—sound as if their agendas are perfectly laudable. For the most part, however, it seems that UT Law is part of the LLN problem described by Teles in his fine book.

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