If blogging has been lighter than usual, one reason is that I’ve been racing forward on my new book on law schools and their influence, tentatively entitled Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America, which is in the catalogue for Winter/Spring (a year hence) from Encounter Books. I reached first draft in December and am rapidly whipping that rough copy into something closer to final shape.
My original nickname for the book was Ten Bad Ideas from the Law Schools — and How They Changed The World. We decided to go with something a little more dignified, but the book still tries to answer the underlying question of why so many bad ideas — and certain kinds of bad ideas, especially — keep emerging from the law schools. Along the way it looks at some sociological and political angles, such as why modern liberal-left leadership so often is formed in the elite law school milieu (Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, etc.) Then it takes up a series of issues — from institutional reform litigation and school finance to slavery reparations and international law — in which legal academia has led campaigns to challenge and redefine the nature of government sovereignty, with consequences that have been usually unforeseen and sometimes calamitous.
I’ll be blogging more on all those points over the coming year, but in the mean time I’ve got a request (“bleg” = blog request, or begging post) for this site’s well-informed readers. One of my chapters takes up the now-ubiquitous phenomenon of law school clinics in which students represent outside clients, sometimes in “cause” litigation and sometimes not. I trace the origins of this movement (a big philanthropic push from the Ford Foundation made the difference), the resistance it met from law-school traditionalists and its eventual triumph, as well as some of its present-day manifestations, which are not always those foreseen by the circa-1970 visionaries who started the programs. The chapter is pretty good as is, I think, but I’d like to add a little more illustrative detail about the clinics, especially vignettes from the early years shedding light on what it was expected they would accomplish in changing society (a subject that isn’t as well documented on the web as I’d like). Responses can be made in comments or by email to editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com. (And, yes, I’ve already read Heather Mac Donald’s interesting City Journal critique and some of the responses it provoked.) (& welcome Instapundit readers. Numerous good emails from readers already).