Meanwhile, Orin Kerr, despite "agree[ing] with with a great deal of what Larry says," believes that Stanford's dean "is overlooking something important: j-o-b-s." To wit:
By a month into their second year, many students (and almost all at a school like Stanford) are going to have lined up summer jobs at law firms. As long as they don't act like freaks over the summer, they will get full-time job offers. As a result, the rat race is effectively over for many students the moment they accept their summer positions; they pay less attention than before because, well, they can.Gee. It must be nice to be so professionally secure with so little effort. Again: we must avoid falling into the trap of giving too much credit when people with tenure undertake to evaluate the professional prospects of people without tenure. We need an explanation that covers the substantial population of law students who don't have j-o-b-s lined up after a year at Stanford and a summer on a law firm cruise ship. Last time I checked, these students in theory can, and in practice often do, stumble through their second and third years of law school with no genuine engagement.
Inspired in part by Douglas Litowitz's cautionary tale, The Destruction of Young Lawyers, I'd like to offer a hypothesis that is as sobering as it is simple. Suppose that the 1L curriculum did absolutely nothing right. That is an extreme assumption, but extreme assumptions can help us sharpen our focus. This utterly inept first-year curriculum may nevertheless succeed in engaging law students' attention because . . . well, they're paying attention as 1Ls. Given the fatuousness of this horrifyingly bad curriculum, students then play out the string just to survive the second and third years of law school. Dead cats, so they say, seem to rebound after market crashes. The apparent success of the first-year law school curriculum may be comparably illusory. It wins by default because 1Ls -- unlike their 2L and 3L counterparts -- haven't had their spirits crushed.