沈明:法学院的生意(一):美国法律教育困境的制度分析

沈明:法学院的生意(一):美国法律教育困境的制度分析

内容提要:美国法律教育在法律全球化进程中具有举足轻重的影响。然而,过去十余年来,其繁荣表象之下逐渐显露出种种困境,并在2008年以来的经济萧条中演化成危机。从宏观制度结构着眼,美国律师协会对法律教育机构的认证制度以垄断性的高标准推高了法律教育和法律服务的市场价格,维系了以法学教员为代表的法律职业群体的高额利润。即便美国司法部对美国律师协会的反垄断诉讼及制裁也未能实质性扭转不公平的法律教育市场竞争格局。过去一个世纪以来,塑造、掌控、维护着法律教育体制的法学教授群体的课时量负担不断下降,与此同时,薪酬却持续上涨到明显领先于法律职业总体水平的高度。课时量与薪酬的反向变化是推高法学院学费的直接原因。自19世纪后期现代法学院在美国大学中建立以来,其社会功能定位不断由职业教育向学术研究倾斜,法学理论与法律实践之间的张力极大地扭曲了法律教育机构。法律交叉学科研究不但与司法实践日益隔膜,而且还使教学本身在法学院中愈加不受重视。其后果颇为严重:不但直接损害了学生的利益及教育市场公平,而且在间接意义上,因法律教育从业者以违背职业伦理的方式获取社会的转移支付而损害了社会正义。

关键词:法学院 法律教育 社会功能 薪酬 课时量

Abstract: American legal education plays important roles in legal globalization. However, American law schools have been encountering various problems in past decades, and the problems turn to be a crisis after the 2008 economic bust. ABA’s accreditation power on law school monopolizes legal education market, and in turn spurs the cost of legal education and service to an unreasonable high level. Hence a very fat profit for legal educators among other legal professionals. Even the U.S. DOJ’s antitrust litigation and sanction against ABA hadn’t recovered a fair legal education market. In the past century, as the key actor in legal education system, law professors decreased their teaching load substantially, and increased their salary generously, which explained the dramatically growing law school tuition. American law schools’ affiliation with universities in mid-19th century began the process of a transformation— the social function of law school has been changing from professional training to academic research. The tension between theory and practice distorted law schools significantly. Fashionable interdisciplinary legal studies not only distances real world judicial activities, but also devaluated teaching work as a duty of law professors. Its consequences include the harm to student’s interest, and more generally, to social justice in the sense that legal educators collect money from the whole society in a way against their professional ethics.

Key Words: law school, legal education, social function, salary, teaching load

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