Vanderbilt Law Review


Kent D. Syverud

First Page



It took courage for Professor Patrick Schiltz to write the article that opens this symposium issue of the Vanderbilt Law Review. At the Notre Dame Law School, where Professor Schiltz teaches, as at the Vanderbilt University Law School and all elite schools, most graduates go to work in private practice, most often at large law firms. Professor Schiltz's portrayal of lawyers at such firms-as rich, overworked, unhappy, and often unethical--ought to be provocative and profoundly troubling to alumni at Vanderbilt and elsewhere. It will also be troubling to Deans, who struggle mightily each year to convince alumni to give money to their schools and to persuade aspiring students that the expense of a legal education is justified by the opportunities and quality of life a legal career affords. To take on alumni and deans at one blow-and in a readable law review article that will actually be read-takes courage, even for a tenured professor. Professor Schiltz's article carries on an honored tradition of professorial critique of the practice of law. The transition from practice at a law firm to an academic career is a difficult one, and it often affords the law teacher much greater opportunity to reflect on law firm life than those who have remained in practice. For some, that reflection is bittersweet. The daily struggle that Professor Schiltz describes, of hard work and at times tedious assignments that are nevertheless regularly punctuated by ethical dilemmas, can be truly enervating, and can be missed.