Urban Confrontation; 26; Law School
I think that a lot of these courses are in certain ways studies of power. Who has the power how they use it how it's squeezed and where it goes when that happens. Who gets the brunt of it. How different groups of people can learn to use it. And I feel that this puts me much more in touch with what is going on in the world around me in a very broad political sense. Confrontation and analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man. In the American city. Today's recorded guests are Dean Thomas Jay O'Toole Northeastern University Law School Barber of the oil and Larry Gambino lost you. Will discuss law school out of the classroom into the court. Questions asked in the following program are merely the moderator's method of presenting many sides of today's
topic. Here is your host Joseph R. Bader. Like many of us America's lawyers find themselves in the midst of social change on social conflict. As citizens ask more and more of their government and their judicial system they want their plays a pivotal role and this is the year of the social activist. Some lawyers are becoming allies of the poor helping out the war on poverty. Legal Aid S. and other aid programs for minority groups. And when we decided to do a program on the changes in the legal profession our search for material took us all over town but finally brought us right back here to Northeastern University as we discovered a brand new school. In fact it may well prove to be one of the biggest innovations in American legal education in this century. The School of Law at Northeastern University and I know you in the audience may be thinking why the big fanfare for this law school. Well let's answer that Tom O'Toole you're a dean of the school. Why is your school so different.
The school just opened a couple of years ago so we had the opportunity to rethink the problems of legal education. And we introduced into our program and a number of distinctive fictious which would be very difficult for an established institution suddenly to adopt. Let's take a look at legal curriculum. You know to what is the typical curriculum teaching procedure at most law schools in the country. I think historically the curriculum has been directed towards the Wall Street kind of practice. The assumption has been that most everybody who wants to go to Wall Street from a large city big office if you can and therefore the curriculum has been built up around problems that are considered typical of a kind of one would encounter in such a practice. One further feature that follows from this model is that the practical training is omitted because in the Lodge from a young lawyer remains an apprentice for a number of years brought along very slowly in the firm's own methods so the school doesn't have to engage in any practical training. All right you mentioned the law school approach to legal education. Is this sort of a myth that lawyers go to practice on Wall Street or become part
of large corporations. Is this accurate. The overwhelming majority of lawyers of course don't engage in such a practice. And increasingly the large firms have been having trouble attracting the talent they want. This is reflected in the very high starting salaries in the Wall Street for example. Bob you're going to go to Wall Street. Well I thought that I might like to for a number of years after law school somewhere in my law career. But I'm also fascinated with the idea. Perhaps being a solo practitioner in a small town having a variety of kinds of cases some domestic some landlord tenant perhaps labor problems or employment problems. Criminal cases that come in over the transom on occasion. Laurie what about you. Well I have yet to formulate precisely the area in which I'll practice. I think it certainly will be in the area of some form of public service or some form of protection of people.
Public Service protection of people those aren't words that I heard from the pre law students whether they were majoring in polystyrene militia back in my years in college or they were mainly interested in the dollar bill I got the impression I was a new thing. I think among the students at Northeastern many of them are interested in that and I think the students that I've met at the other Boston law schools are quite largely interested in public service very few third year students that I know are interviewing with the firms who come in and hire 10 or 15 graduates of the top law schools. They're more interested in some kind of more flexible program where they can do what they really want. They're not that interested in money you know toys or anything peculiar to the northeastern School of Law curriculum which prepares law students for a career of public service. We like to think that they are as we have taken a portion of the curriculum at least and sent it around. Contemporary problems of American society problems which by and large have been neglected by a lost cause which urgently need solution and for which the lawyers will have to organize the solutions.
In addition we have the cooperate education plan applied to law schools for the first time under which the students get more than a year of practical training through full time work and more options before they graduate so they are better equipped to go on their own or go out and help people or at least to stay free of by an apprenticeship kind of situation in the larger firms. Barbara and Laurie have you taken part in this co-operative education approach. How do you find it. The first year is entirely classed as a bobber will have to tell you how the experience is going. I'm just finishing up the second of two three month terms at Community Legal Assistance and I find that it's been a terrific experience dealing with people having charge of cases getting into court a lot of different courts different kinds of jurisdiction and the freedom of being able to devote yourself full time to real problems and real people and not having to also prepare for classes at the same time. Are you trying cases are you doing research or are you really right in the courtroom.
I have tried some cases in Massachusetts. Second year students are allowed to go into some courts and try civil matters and I've been in several different probate courts and two civil courts in the local municipal level. There has been a criticism of the Ojo programs the war on poverty a legal aid system programs that they get bogged down in too many small cases and they are unable to go after key points and laws that sort of would perhaps solve some of the big legal problems for the poor. Is there any justification for that criticism. I think there's no question that this is truly that we have large numbers of our population for whom we've never French legal service. We put Iraq White House assigns like equal justice under law and then we don't make any kind of justice available to whole classes of population. We have millions of people in this country who view the law as something that's used against them. Now the problem the Ojo officers have started to change this but
they've been overwhelmed with case loads. There is this study that I recall reading for this program a few days ago which indicated that the poor were almost completely unaware of the existence of possible legal aid. Thirty three percent had heard of a legal aid program only about 18 percent were able to identify where in the city of Denver the offices were. Now I'm a lawyer sort of remiss as a profession in making their services available to those who do not have that. Well that all mighty dollar. I think so. Lawyers cannot advertise and they cannot promote their own real service in any way. You know our office. We ask each client how they heard about us. Usually it's referrals from other clients sometimes it's just from seeing the sign on the on the door. We're on a main street. Other times from the Yellow Pages of the phonebook you know people forget that lawyers can advertise and I don't know that's part of the professional ethical creed. There's that sort of tie the hands of people in the legal profession that want to help people. Are we not sophisticated enough
now to try to do away with some of these rules or am I way off base. Do you know at all it's related to the historical notion of the English law that we should encourage litigation. If you advertise you encourage people to litigate. There are platforms of advertising you can join the country club. And make it known that you're a lawyer and that's where you get the traditional kind of client. But for the poor we have no way of reaching them except by some more direct more contemporary approach such as the ready announcements in a number of cities the availability of free legal services have been publicized on a small degree in that fashion. But there's still a hang up about this in the profession. I wonder if we could go into a broader question about whether the typical Law School Education prepare as a lawyer to fulfill any kind of responsibility to the public. Was Ralph Nader a typical. There was a young man who has done certainly more than his share in helping the American consumer certainly he has fulfilled his responsibility to the public but how many Ralph Nader's do we find in American society.
Barbara you have the most pensive look on your face go right ahead. I think that he is rare I think that it's frequently hard to know exactly how to attack the problem it's so massive. One thing could one individual do that would make a major change for society. By Gambino you indicated an interest in public service. Do you see yourself or any of your colleagues as making a major change in the society I will Ralph Nader. I think that a substantial number of your students as they enter number here at Northeastern we've got Ralph Nader as kind of a model for their later experience in a later attack on legal problems as related to the what Naida calls sort of institutional illegality. Well what exactly has Ralph Nader's impact been on American society and on American jurisprudence. You know Joe Well there's no question but that he he more than any other individual in our time or in any age has asserted and brought to public attention the responsibility of major corporations for social concerns for the
non-doctor consequences of their actions the pollution the safety hazard from to effectively design products. The economic waste of planned obsolescence and other kinds of social costs involved and you know are a corporate economy. Are there any ways other than Ralph Nader's more dramatic approach for a young lawyer to serve the public. Bbl. Well there's always the possibility that the client was walking into the office is going to have a problem which would make a great test case to test a particular area of the law. And that happens you know once or twice a year maybe depending on how varied one's practice is and whether or not that lawyer can throw caution to the wind and spend the amount of time needed to make that case a test case because chances are the individual who is concerned this is simply concerned with his own remedy and certainly isn't concerned enough to pay all the way after litigating to the Supreme Court if it were necessary for the sake of the class of people of which he might be a member.
And we've been talking in the past few minutes about the importance of bringing legal assistance to those in our society who perhaps needed the most. The poor who are perhaps Again least likely to be able to afford it. The legal profession and legal education has been likened in some cases to that of the medical profession because the tuition rates are so high. Do you know tool. I think more than the tuition rates it's the postponement of income. When you go through college and then face another three or four years of education beyond that with virtually no chance of making any money in the interim this is the real economic cost much more significant I think than actually meeting the tuition bills. But that's one of the reasons we have a cooperative program. Our students who go out to work like Barber don't get handsome ostracize fees but they get paid on a modest basis. Let's take a look at the cooperative education approach apparently used and don't have any trouble meeting your tuition because you are working to earn money and that work is fitted right into the college curriculum. Barbara.
That's right. We work six months a year in three month units and go to school. The other six months. So I'm in school for spring and I'm out working winter and summer crops as one of the innovations we were talking about in the beginning of the program Larry unique in the country right now. Why. Why so in the early days of the country are as what trained to as apprentices. They went to work for another lawyer. They didn't get paid for it they paid for the privilege of working with a lawyer. This is the way John Adams that when the academic law school was started it gradually took over and it became disreputable to engage in practical things. Now this is carried perhaps to an extreme By happen where they even made a policy of not hiring as teachers. Any man who had had experience in law practice they took people fresh out of law school. Now we're swinging in the opposite direction because there's been extensive criticism from the practicing by that young law graduates while they may be strong on theory and not really serviceable employees until they've been trained how to get things done in a realistic way.
We should pause at this point in the program. Do you know Toulon Bob and Larry to let those in the audience who may have just tuned in around the country know who we're talking to what we're talking about we're talking with the dean of northeastern School of Law Thomas O'Toole and two students. Mrs. Barbour Buel and I Gambino we're talking about the winds of change that are blowing through legal education here in the United States and on the second half of the program I'd like to press you Deano tool with this question what kinds of work do your students become involved in other than what we've been talking about when they go out to take part in the legal profession as part of their regular calendar curriculum. Those are an enormous variety. We have a number of people working in the attorney general's office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and we've had people employed by the attorney general of the state of New Jersey. We have students in the legal offices of our large corporations. What would a typical day be like for a Northeastern University law school co-op student. He works like a lawyer or a lawyer under guidance to be sure but it works like a young lawyer. If you went into one of these offices it might be hard to tell which other people who have graduated from law school
and which of those who are still enrolled there isn't that much difference. We try to avoid having our students go into jobs that are not in a real sense legal jobs we're interested not simply in the income but in the educational value of the job. We have people working in some of the most prominent firms in Boston. There's an enormous variety of what they do. We have people going into small and medium sized offices as well. People who work for government agencies it's very Does the profession itself as our numbers grow and they're growing rapidly. We will also have a considerable degree of geographical diversification in the jobs we have positions already promised as far west as Seattle Washington. Do you expect the domino theory to take place here in terms of the move that you've made here in northeastern being taken up by all the law schools across the country. I know institutions too well to expect that to happen. The potential for change within established institutions is so long that there will be no rapid fall of the other dominions.
The indication is from those who have taken part in this quad of education program that you don't suffer financially you don't make a king's ransom but there is a fair wage paid. Barbara is that correct. I would certainly say it's enough you know to live on during the quarter that you're out working and save money to live on during the quarter you're in school. How do you expect that your having worked as a lawyer during your period. I was studying law will help you when you actually get into your law career. Well I would say it's certainly invaluable in certain areas. If I did go into a kind of solo practice. I know the ins and outs of certain kinds of domestic law like my own head. Then again if if I were to go to Wall Street and work in a firm that did a lot of labor law I haven't done any of that so I would be just like a graduating law student. Laura Gambino What made you gamble on an unknown law school. The very fact that it was an unknown was of interest to me. The promise from the school that that the students would have an influence on the directions in
which the school went its commitment to urban problems. The totally passed fail system which will be supplemented by recommendations which come in from the actual work experience of the students as well as the impressions which the faculty members derive from the work of the students throughout the years. You don't have the usual grading system exactly. You mention the influence that the students have on the school. How does the law student influence the law school here in NE or mostly by never keeping our mouths shut. It was only a promise votes a promise which was fulfilled to the faculty as a whole is as responsive to the queries and to the demands of the students as any faculty I've ever come across in my own experience. There is a commitment to quality teaching which is unparalleled in my experience. The quality of the teaching at Northeastern is I think as high as in any single school in the country. I really proselytize very very highly for the school. I think that it's been in terms of my own life. One of the greatest opportunities that I've ever had.
Laurie mentioned urban involvement the urban aspects of the curriculum Perhaps we should go into that a bit you know to all these cities are described by some social commentators as perhaps the problem for our society in the last third of the 20th century long after Vietnam as saw in Brevard perhaps even the problem of the nuclear explosions as Saul will be living with a city problem now what is the Northeastern School of Law doing about that problem with focusing a portion of our curriculum on that or closely related problems. For example when Barbara comes back this spring she'll have a course collie sitting at suburbs. It's a new course in which we try to set up a model of what a great city should offer and then examine the law to see to what extent it promotes or impedes the achievement of a relatively favorable urban conditions. We are now preparing a course to be given a year from now on Environmental Pollution and the impact of a lot on that particular social problem. We also through a grant of the National Endowment for the humanities are working up a new course focusing on population problems and the movements of population and how segments of the population get herded into this direction or that
direction. How various legal policies of affect the size composition location and opportunities available to the various segments of the poppy. While I was reading your catalogue before coming into the studio you have a remarkable array of courses from the social sciences that I don't recall ever associating with a long curriculum you've got courses that touch on welfare laws housing codes of population control you just mentioned air traffic problems air pollution as zoning laws. What is the effect on the students of taking their legal education in the context of this much broader definition of the role of a lawyer. What has been the effect the response of the students. You know the response is good but let's not exaggerate what we're doing what we're doing is in portions of the curriculum instead of dealing with the problems of General Motors we're dealing with the problems of people. These are not social science courses they're law courses. We deal with our problems we use legal materials and we try and train people to think and and act like lawyers. We're not changing this into an advance policy science courses it remains very much a serious law
school. Then you are affecting a rather dynamic synthesis here of some ingredients from the social sciences and many of the traditional aspects of the law curriculum. Yes but not as much as as we would like to do. Babiole What has your reaction been to these courses. Well for me one of the things that I've learned is what's going on in the world around me. I live right down the street from City Hall I now know what a zoning board of appeals meeting is all about. And I never did. I think that a lot of these courses are in certain ways studies of power. Who has the power how they use it how it's squeezed in where it goes when that happens. Who gets the brunt of it. How different groups of people can learn to use it. And I feel that this puts me much more in touch with what is going on in the world around me in a very broad political sense and yet combined with the traditional legal thinking of analysis that's very
strict. I find to be one of the great advantages of these kinds of courses. I'll give an example of what both of these students have been exposed to in teaching constitutional law in the first year instead of approaching it historically as has done virtually everywhere. We picked three contemporary problems that conscientious objection to the way it means war drug control and abuse. And last year we picked up a racial discrimination education this year we're substituting for that the problems of free speech. But we teach constitutional law through the medium of these contemporary problems in which students have a high level of interest. Problems are vexing problems for our society and we we have the experience of exciting we believe a higher level of student interest than you do in the more cut and dried traditional historical approach to the subject. If I asked you a broad question like what kind of lawyer are you trying to turn out. Could you give me a specific answer. Yes we have no political bias we are trying simply to turn out a highly skilled
lawyer who may pick his clients and serve them well. Does that necessarily involve having a social conscience. It hasn't historically. There is a certain sense in which the ethics of that. Have traditionally been very very high despite the LURD papers one gets when somebody crosses the thin line. But in terms of responsibility for serving the entire community. We used to have that I think in the country lawyer with the development of the large practice in the city with a high degree of expertise. We've lost a lot of that. I think it's been too bad. Is there a remedy in a few cities large firms have begun to recognize responsibility and have provided a portion of their stock in a portion of their services to underprivileged people some of even going so far as to open branch offices in published areas. This is a promising restorative is it not also what more radical people would call tokenism by the established legal firms. It may be tokenism it may be a gesture of self-defense to forestall more radical reforms of the distribution of legal services but nonetheless it's good.
What is Northeastern and other schools around the country doing to get more minority group representation in the legal profession. How are Afro-American Spanish Americans making out of the getting into the law schools or are they getting into the legal profession. Tremendous efforts are being made with very little result. The percentage of black lawyers in American society is I understand declining. Why. It's a combination of factors money is one of those. Even in a program like guys I see any number of very highly qualified young people who would like to go to law school but who kind of fought it. We have people who are in school and who drop out simply because of impossible financial problems that they have. Particularly for the black man who has gone through college has a good academic record is good material for a law school study which is rather demanding academically. There are so many other opportunities that he could take at the close of his college career that perhaps law seems less attractive to me. The law schools across the country are spending an awful lot of time and money competing with each other to attract to their own institutions a rather small pool of interested in qualified
minority group students and the process has to start. Quite a few years before a person gets to the point where he might try to be admitted to a law school I would think so. The question of financial aid to lawyers is this impossible. Are there not some foundations or some sources of money for financially. It's improving but the prospective black students I say are. Almost without exception incredibly poor. Let me return to a point that you made earlier about one of the second financial problems attendant upon becoming a lawyer. The problem of delayed income once you actually get the law degree you have to start as the traditional story goes the young starving lawyer. Is that the case or are there some possibilities of change as the young lawyer doesn't stop anymore. There's been a radical change in the last 10 to 15 years. The young lawyer can run quite well right from the day he gets out. Like Gambino. Yeah I think there's another problem with minority groups particularly black young men who having had to live in the ghetto in.
The problems which that creates in their lives many of them have police records and most of them are quite sure that it is impossible. Having a police record ever to become a lawyer. This doesn't have to be true. Not to say that it is a slightly more difficult. But it is certainly not impossible. I wonder if we could review here at the end of the program the status of legal education in this country where the northeastern School of Law fits into the scheme of things with regard to legal education and what the prospects for innovation and further change in legal education are in the last third of the 20th century. Do you know tool across the nation is a tremendous pressure to introduce practical training. Most of this pressure comes from students Robin faculty members. Every school is finding it necessary to search out ways of getting practical training. But we've done it ne And this is sees this and make it a major feature of our program. There's also the demand for socially relevant courses courses that do confront the unsolved problems of contemporary society.
And again you can see these gradually being introduced a lot more I'm afraid mostly as seminars for third year students rather than as vehicles for basic instruction of young lass. Well I started this program saying that this is a Northeastern University Law School might prove to be one of the biggest innovations in American legal education I think in the last 30 minutes. I became convinced you are doing quite a job here and you're all three to be congratulated you know told Babiole we're going to you know thank you very much for coming on this program. Views and opinions expressed on the preceding program do not necessarily represent those on the program host kills of our major Northeastern University or their station. Questions I asked were merely the moderators method of presenting many sides of today's topic. Northeastern University has brought to you a Dean Thomas J O'Toole. Northeastern University Law School fiber of your own and Larry Gambino law student days
program of law school out of the classroom into the courts. Your program host has been jealous of our favorite director department of radio production. Urban confrontationist produced for the division of instructional communications of the nation's largest private university. Northeastern University. Comments on this program or request for a recorded copy of any program in this series may be addressed to urban confrontation. Northeastern University Boston Massachusetts 0 2 1 1 time. This week's program was produced by Carolyn guardrail and directed by Robert Schimmel. Technical supervision by Jeffrey Feltman. Executive producer for the urban confrontation is Steve Friedman. Your announcer Dave Hemet. This is the national educational radio network.
- Urban Confrontation
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- Law School
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- Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
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- Urban Confrontation is an analysis of the continuing crises facing 20th century man in the American city, covering issues such as campus riots, assassinations, the internal disintegration of cities, and the ever-present threat of nuclear annihilation. Produced for the Office of Educational Resources at the Communications Center of the nations largest private university, Northeastern University.
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Producing Organization: Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.)
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