Learning the Law ... Or Not

by TChris

Complaining that law schools rely on “extreme rationalism,” the dean of Liberty School of Law (part of Liberty University, where televangelist Jerry Falwell is chancellor) takes a less rational view of legal studies. So does civil procedure professor Jeffrey Tuomala, who criticizes the Supreme Court’s well-settled and uncontroversial holding in Erie v. Tompkins that federal courts have no business telling states what their substantive rules of common law ought to be.

In ruling that federal courts may not apply general principles in some cases but must follow state laws, he said, the Supreme Court denied the possibility of "a law that's fixed, that's uniform, that applies to everybody, everyplace, for all time."

So much for states’ rights. And Roger Bern, who teaches contracts, urges students to counsel their clients “not to walk away from oral contracts even where the law allows it.” Counseling clients to act in a way that is contrary to their desires and their best interests seems a bit unethical, but there may be no need to worry. Liberty hasn’t been accredited, and with such a radical view of the law, it probably won’t be. Unfortunate for the students who shell out $18,000 per year to attend (and who won’t be able to sit for a bar exam), but fortunate for those who might otherwise engage the services of lawyer who hasn’t been trained in rational thought.

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