chapter  6
35 Pages

Market Creep

“Product” Talk in Legal Education
WithRiaz Tejani

Economic theories have become tacit knowledge among contemporary legal educators. In scholarship their assumptions are commonly channeled through claims about the effect of law on social behavior, meaning, and organization. In law teaching they emerge through lessons imparted de rigeur—as in the infamous “Hand Calculus”—on new generations of first-year students. More than just offering an economistic vision of rulemaking and disputing, they naturalize law as a powerful instrument in the service of wider, global marketization. Given this great substantive influence, how has the language of law and economics influenced, more structurally, threshold understandings of legal education itself? This chapter pursues that question through an examination of discourse—uses of language insinuating a canon of knowledge—about law school inequality, governance, and reform. Offering an original contribution to the legal education and law and inequality literatures, it describes the prevalence of “product talk” among marquee legal education commentators in debates about law school recruitment, curriculum, and financing. While some such experts embrace the language of economics wholeheartedly, others do so reluctantly, provisionally, and even ethnographically. Is their treatment of legal education as “product” a necessary development: part of the realpolitik of better skills training and increased access to justice? Or is it a signal that the “market” may have further captured a once-autonomous space for high-level, moral reflection?