He traces, in mostly a chronological fashion, how progressive philosophy and leftist ideology at first seeped into and eventually flooded the halls of American law schools. He begins by pointing out that law schools became well established on American campuses precisely during the so-called Progressive Era, 1890-1914. The law schools’ newfound prominence dovetailed nicely with the advent of professional licensure in America. By that I mean the process by which the heretofore free-for-all entry of individuals into numerous professions and vocations began to be subject to government (or government-sanctioned) certification. This became common a century ago in various American businesses and industries – from meat slaughtering to pharmacy, from barbering to chauffeuring, from teaching to medicine. Well, there was no reason to exempt lawyering from the process. And so the country’s law schools became the gatekeepers for the nation’s legal profession. Thus the faculty at the nation’s law schools – especially, those of the elite variety – obtained control over the training and philosophical outlook of the nation’s lawyers. Since we are a country under the rule of law, those who control the lawyers thereby control the law and thus the country to a great extent….
Olson’s style is actually quite engaging. Although he treats deadly serious issues with the earnestness that they deserve, he manages to maintain an understated, even restrained tone, which if anything makes his arguments more dramatic.
At Liberty Fund’s newly launched Library of Law and Liberty, lawprof/blogger Mike Rappaport after listening to my interview resolved to put the book on his reading list, having not previously appreciated how central the role of the Ford Foundation has been in influencing the schools’ development. For more on that role — as well as that of other donors like George Soros and nonprofit groups like the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) — see Scott Walter’s interesting essay in Philanthropy Daily, which includes a link to SfM.
Admit it: you want an electronic copy of Schools for Misrule for your e-reader. No problem: there are great bargains in the Books-a-Million, Barnes & Noble/Nook or Google e-books versions, the Kindle version, and the Sony version. Also check out the e-books at the Cato store, on offer this month at great savings with the code “EBOOKSALE.”
P.S. Ted Lacksonen picks up on the book’s oral-tradition “Yale Law School Anthem” (“Don’t Know Much About Property…”).