ph14 wrote:I'm not necessarily saying it's the only way the problem could be solved. Providing fewer required courses and more electives might indeed be a better solution. I think there is something worthwhile to requiring some transactional courses, so everyone at least has some idea of what goes into it, and maybe some people will find they are actually interested in it, as well as leveling the playing field a bit. But I understand that a lot of people object strongly to making them required as opposed to elective.
For certain, the law curriculum needs a major overhaul. Most of the emotional resistance I have with your proposal is rooted in this imaginary scenario of myself helplessly trying to get through just one case from a transactions casebook. I think that speaks to a more general problem with the law school curriculum - especially for 1L courses: they go unnecessarily deep, and as a result we forget a lot of the specifics the moment we're done with the class. This is useful neither for our summer work nor the moment when we will need to pass the bar.
Some of this stuff could be taught in a handful of weeks rather than 3-4 months if they would momentarily get rid of the casebook method and just teach. The casebook method teaches valuable skills on its own, but I think a lot of the introductory material would benefit the students more if it was taught in a briefer, broader fashion. Take Torts as an example. It could be taught as a 1 or 2-credit class, easily. Spend some time talking about the elements of a tort, the difference between intent and negligence-based torts, illustrate both concepts with examples, and then go into some more complicated circumstances like medical malpractice and alternative insurance schemes. In and out in a span of three or four weeks, with what is probably a much more practical grasp of torts than is provided by the agonizingly slow pace of an entire semester.
Reading Palsgraf doesn't teach you proximate cause; what it teaches you is how to skim through a case with lots of bullshit and find the rule. That is a skill you don't need to take torts to learn - you get that through from LRW. I think they should make LRW a bigger part of the curriculum, maybe indeed adding some transactional-type work to the assignments, and focus on simplifying and standardizing the substantive courses.