New lawyers = new professors

Interesting article last week on how law school does not actually teach lawyers how to practice law and how clients are getting tired of subsidizing their on-the-job learning:

What they did not get, for all that time and money, was much practical training. Law schools have long emphasized the theoretical over the useful, with classes that are often overstuffed with antiquated distinctions, like the variety of property law in post-feudal England. Professors are rewarded for chin-stroking scholarship, like law review articles with titles like “A Future Foretold: Neo-Aristotelian Praise of Postmodern Legal Theory.”

So, for decades, clients have essentially underwritten the training of new lawyers, paying as much as $300 an hour for the time of associates learning on the job. But the downturn in the economy, and long-running efforts to rethink legal fees, have prompted more and more of those clients to send a simple message to law firms: Teach new hires on your own dime.

Of course, right away this made me think about the fact that most PhD programs do very little to prepare their students for college teaching. Mine did nothing at all.  I’m proud that NC State’s Public Administration program at least has a faculty member (me– because they teach PS undergrad classes since there are no PA undergrad classes) and pass/fail class dedicated to improving the teaching ability of future PA faculty.   Of course, when new PhD’s go out and learn to teach on the job it just means the students get an inferior experience, rather than a client wasting money training lawyers.  Of course, one will always improve with experience, but that’s not an excuse not to do more to train new PhD’s for the classroom.  And new lawyers for the courtroom.

Journalistic Alternate Reality

I swear, it seems that only in the world of inside-the-beltway journalists are third parties taken so seriously.  Look, there’s just not going to be a 3rd party candidate in 2012 who actually has any real chance of winning, no matter how much DC journalists and “radical moderates” want it to be so.  Actually, the Political Science literature (primarily Rosenstone et al.) suggests that 2012 is a year where we should expect a 3rd party presidential contender to do relatively well (widespread dissatisfaction with both parties and candidates), but that’s still relatively well.  Please forget about President Bloomberg, etc.

Nonetheless, we seem to get pablum like this from the Post and others on a regular basis:

The restless political middle — emboldened by the recent inability of a special congressional committee to agree on a debt-reduction deal — is staking out a controversial plan to insert itself into the 2012 election.

A bipartisan group of political strategists and donors known as Americans Elect has raised $22 million and is likely to place a third presidential candidate on the ballot in every state next year. The goal is to provide an alternative to President Obama and the GOP nominee and break the tradition of a Democrat-vs.-Republican lineup.

Alright, that’s close enough to just the facts, m’am, but this really gets me:

The effort could represent a promising new chapter for political moderates, who see a wide-open middle in the political landscape as congressional gridlock and bitter partisan fights have driven down favorability ratingsfor both parties.

“A promising new chapter for political moderates”?  No!  The simple truth is that the more people are interested and engaged in politics the more ideological they are.  Most “moderates” are such because they have a mishmash of positions from the right and left without a well thought-out core ideology.  Now, that’s not always the case, but it is more often than not.  All these frustrated moderates honestly don’t care enough about politics to be the basis for a new political party.  If they did, they’d likely be frustrated liberals or conservatives.

As for journalists, I’m sure we’ll long be subjected to the wishful thinking where one of these days moderates are going to utterly thwart Duverge’s Law and rise up in a successful third party.

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