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THE TRAINING AND SOCIALIZATION OF LAW STUDENTS

The purpose of law school is to change people; to turn them into novice lawyers; and to instill “in them a nascent self-concept as a professional, a commitment to the value of the calling, and a claim to that elusive and esoteric style of reasoning called ‘thinking like a lawyer’ ” (Bonsignore et al., 1989:271). Chambliss and Seidman (1971:97) sardonically but correctly note, “The American law school education is a classic example of an education in which the subject matter formally studied is ridiculously simple, but the process of socialization into the profession is very difficult.” The study of law is a tedious, although not a challenging, undertaking. After the first year, the workload in law schools tends to be light. The popular conception of law students’ life as a mixture of long hours, poring over casebooks, and endless discussions of the contents of those books is more myth than reality after the first year. For many students during their last 2 years in school, law school is a part-time commitment, and by the fifth semester, they have the equivalent of a 2-day workweek and discuss their studies rarely if at all.

 
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