Says David Lat. Me, I've been hearing professors saying negative things about legal education since the day I started work in the legal academy (in 1984). But then I stepped right into the hotbed of Critical Legal Studies. Back then, everyone was reading "Legal Education and the Reproduction of Hierarchy: A Polemic Against the System," by Duncan Kennedy. Campos's criticisms are mild compared with that! Has everyone forgotten that 1983 book? The so-called "little red book" barely even has a Wikipedia entry. From the Preface:
The general thesis is that law schools are intensely political places, in spite of the fact that they seem intellectually unpretentious, barren of theoretical ambition or practical vision of what social life might be. The trade school mentality, the endless attention to trees at the expense of forests, the alternating grimness and chumminess of focus on the limited task at hand, all these are only a part of what is going on. The other part is ideological training for willing service in the hierarchies of the corporate welfare state.Now, that's not really a declaration against interest for Kennedy, and Campos's book isn't a declaration against interest either. Both men were/are promoting their own work from a safe position of tenure.
To say that law school is ideological is to say that what teachers teach along with basic skills is wrong, is nonsense about what law is and how it works. It is to say that the message about the nature of legal competence, and its distribution among students, is wrong, is nonsense. It is to say that the ideas about the possibilities of life as a lawyer that students pick up from legal education are wrong, are nonsense. But all this is nonsense with a tilt, it is biased and motivated rather than random error. What it says is that it is natural, efficient and fair for law firms, the bar as a whole, and the society the bar services to be organized in their actual patterns of hierarchy and domination.
Because most students believe what they are told, explicitly and implicitly, about the world they are entering, they behave in ways that fulfill the prophecies the system makes about them and about that world. This is the link-back that completes the system: students do more than accept the way things are, and ideology does more than damp opposition. Students act affirmatively within the channels cut for them, cutting them deeper, giving the whole a patina of consent, and weaving complicity into everyone’s life story.