University of Denver

Point, Counterpoint and Beyond: The Oncoming Locomotive of Interdisciplinarity

Senior Director

A recent blog post by Jeff Lipshaw on the inevitability of multi-disciplinarity in law practice made comparisons to a Wall Street Journal article* that called for expansion of the undergraduate business major:

“. . .I understand this is about undergraduate education, and not a professional school . . . But it's the directional thrust about disciplines that I think we need to take very, very seriously.“

Law blogger Scott Greenfield makes clear in his response that he is not convinced. He cautions against “hopping on the speeding train”:

“[T]he use of the word "interdisciplinary" in law school scares me. Greatly. First, if students aren't gaining a breadth of knowledge in undergrad sufficient to prepare them to take a viable role in society after law school, then the problem seems to be that they should either address the failure at the undergrad level or not admit them to law school.” 

According to Lipshaw, Nancy Rapoport, UNLV professor (and former dean of the law schools at Houston and Nebraska), suggests that "students don't get those contextual and non-legal skills from their undergraduate liberal arts education."

From the abstract of Rapoport's essay, "Changing the Modal Law School: Rethinking U.S. Legal Education in (Most) Schools":

. . . [L]aw schools should do more to explain how one’s perspective is both limiting and mutable. Too many law schools suggest that students can “see” different perspectives by, essentially, merely thinking harder.

* The Wall Street Journal article includes an interview with Bill Sullivan, Director of Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers.