Competition and Climate in Law
Thomas L. Shaffer
In their 1988 book, Interactive Corporate Compliance, Jay A. Sigler and Joseph E. Murphy noted that American legal education contributes to the use of litigation and confrontation in dispute resolution. Lawyers are not usually trained in negotiating, counseling, or reducing adversary tensions. Our research shows that a student's life in law school is one of endless competition. Progress in law school depends on competition far more than does progress in the practice of law.
Competition in law school for the law review staff, for the moot court teams, for clinical programs, and for grades and status is intense. There is a relentless sorting out of people into first, second, and third; into top student, next student, and others. This kind of regimented rivalry hardly encourages a spirit of cooperation. The
Adapted from material that originally appeared in Lawyers, Law Students, and People, by Thomas L. Shaffer and Robert S. Redmount, copyright 1977 by McGraw-Hill, Inc. Adapted by permission of Shepard's/McGraw-Hill, Inc. Reproduction is strictly prohibited.