Anecdotal insights, law schools, legal education, repressed ambivalence
It is very humbling to try and match the amusing candor and informed wisdom of Professor Willis Reese, and so I will try to use his anecdotal insights only as a launching pad for my long repressed ambivalence about law schools and legal education. On the whole, Professor Reese comes down on the side of student brains as against the prepared onslaught of the faculty. Nothing can harm the good student and very little can be expected to help him since he often is abler than the teacher and even more often, believes it. Despite Professor Reese's affluent infrastructure - a sizable library, comfortable buildings, an enthusiastic and successful alumni - the creation of a triumphant school is still a subtle mystery. With the correct recipe, it seems to come together whether it uses the case method, or the lecture, or an injudicious mixture of both; whether there are small or large classes - all publicized by the occasional national figure on the staff, whom colleagues either cherish, or envy, or do both. With these assets, material and spiritual, the law school becomes something that Willis Reese remembers best from his Yale days and seems to make his model.
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Maxwell Cohen, “What makes a law school great?”, Comment, (1980-1981) 6:2 DLJ 350.