Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I'm just going to throw this out there, and think about it a bit more before I write about it more. One of the things that vexes me about the current state of our glamor profession is the undercurrent on anti-intellectualism that seems to run through it. Time was that merely being admitted to law school required a pretty solid academic record as an undergraduate, and it should go without saying that one of the things that is supposed to distinguish lawyers from laypeople is that we belong to one of the so called "learned professions". The ground has shifted somewhat-- nationally law schools operate on a more or less open admissions basis, but even so I find myself constantly encountering lawyers who pretend that they have vocabularies that wouldn't register on the SAT; and lawyers who say things like, "My kid is really smart-- too smart to be a lawyer." Few of the lawyers I encounter can tell you much about the law outside of the particular area they practice in, and even then lots of the lawyers I talk to know shockingly little about how the law in their area came to evolve into its current state. Some of this is, I think, selection bias. Most of the lawyers I know are trial lawyers, and they may be concealing their erudition in order to present a just folks veneer to juries, but it troubles me. The best lawyers I've known read a lot, and thought a lot, and wrote a lot. The best lawyers I've known liked talking about the law. It really bothers me that so much of the discourse I encounter is on the level of plumbers discussing drains, and I think that part of the reason for this is because law schools don't sufficiently emphasize the academic aspects of the work we do. Part of that may have to do with supply and demand-- students want to learn about the craft, and care less about the background, and I get that. I don't like it, but I get it.

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