Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Two notes from the reading for the Japanese Business Law and Taxation class I'll be taking. One from the introduction of the book, co-written by the professor I'll have, which makes me really, really, really excited to take the class:

Each of us teaches an introductory course on Japanese law... We teach it for a simple reason: we find it fun. Why else, after all? We hardly attract crowds large enough to pacify associate deans intent on equalizing bluebooks across the faculty. Instead, we teach other courses to earn the right to teach this one. We hope this book conveys that enthusiasm. ... Professors do not teach Japanese law because they have to; students do not register for it because it is required. Only intellectual fascination justifies the course. We hope you find here a book that fosters that fascination.

And one from one of the articles assigned for the first day, comparing American legal education to Japanese, from former Harvard University President Derek Bok:

Not only does the law absorb many more young people in American than in any other industrialized nation; it attracts an unusually large percentage of the exceptionally gifted. The average College Board scores of the top 2,000 or 3,000 law students easily exceed those of their counterparts entering other graduate schools and occupations, with the possible exception of medicine. The share of all Rhodes scholars who go on to law school has approximated 40% in recent years... [and despite the contention that people with law degrees move to careers in business or public life] roughly three-quarters of all law school graduates are currently practicing their profession.... The net result of these trends is a massive diversion of exceptional talent into pursuits that often add little to the growth of the economy, the pursuit of culture, or the enhancement of the human spirit. I cannot press this point too strongly. As I travel around the country looking at different professions and institutions, I am constantly struck by how complicated many jobs have become, how difficult many institutions are to administer, how pressing are the demands for more creativity and intelligence... the supply of exceptional people is limited. Yet far too many of these rare individuals are becoming lawyers at a time when the country cries out for more talented business executives, more enlightened public servants, more inventive engineers, more able high school principals and teachers.... As the Japanese put it, "Engineers make the pie grow larger; lawyers only decide how to carve it up."

Interesting. And it's from 1983, incidentally. Has it gotten worse since?