The title tells it all; American legal education is shamefully bad. Casebooks are endemic, especially in the first year, teaching by terror. Abridged cases are presented, shorn of context, with little support law. Students are to find legally appropriate responses, without being given the law, but professors are provided gratis with "Teachers' Manuals," that provide the acceptable answers! Tenure is granted mainly on two law review articles. The acceptable reviews are edited by students who have no expertise, and articles are almost always bloated, with any insight concealed. The articles, though, play almost no part in legal education. Much of importance is omitted from the standard curriculum: sources of law, relationship of law to society, and factors of legal development. Most law professors are plumbers, but they wish to be regarded as philosophers, hence, they are poor plumbers.
The longest chapter is devoted to the gross inadequacies of three celebrated professors. The aim, though, is to indicate the profound ignorance of their numerous devoted admirers.
Alan Watson is Professor of Law at the University of Georgia School of Law, Athens, GA