On the teaching of law
I find it interesting how teaching law is now regarded as a career path entirely separate from actually practicing law. The standard entry into academics is not spend some time gathering experience, then come back to teach others how to do it, but rather get a degree, spend 2-3 years clerking for a judge, and then hire on to teach skills that you've never actually used.
The Legal Theory blog is rounding up data on new law school hires for the upcoming year, and looking at it I see:
A majority got their own final degree in 2002 or later;
Almost all (around 90%) got their degree in 2000 or later;
Only a handful have a degree from the late 1990s, and I saw only one whose last degree is in the 1980s.
I don't know much about the other fields of academia, but would suspect this is typical of fields of pure academics (such as my undergrad field of speech communications) and social sciences, where what is being taught is how to study things, not how to do things.
I can't really analogize it to medicine, since a med school prof. will be practicing medicine, or doing research, on a daily basis even as they teach, so they can pick up practical experience while teaching. During the time I was in law school, I knew one prof. who handled some probate cases (and he didn't teach probate, just used it for income) -- apart from him, I knew one professor had handled one case in those three years.
I would suggest that law is a field in which practical experience has, at the very least, solid value to an instructor. I once had a new grad clerk for me on a federal issue and they produced a paper which traced the evolution of a doctrine thru the 5th Cir. and then the 8th Cir. with long commentary on the subtle differences in wording, and thence into the 9th Cir. I pointed out that over the last thirty years the circuits have each become laws unto themselves, we're in the 9th, and all the judge is going to care about is 9th circuit caselaw, period, if it exists, and it does. The other approach might do for a law review article, but in a courtroom will just bore the judge and make him doubt your analytical skills... why go into detail on choice of wording in other circuits, and make him wait until the end to mention there's several 9th Circuit cases? It's also useful to know that (at least here) in civil cases judges look to (1) is there Arizona caselaw? (2) If not, what does the Restatement say? You can pull up all the out of state caselaw and ALR cites you want, but if there's a Restatement on the subject, that will win. It's useful to know that the law of standing to sue is in utter disarray (whereas reading a few Supreme Court rulings in a casebook makes it sound rather precise), and in disarray because judges use it as a "dump button" for cases they'd rather not touch. It's hard to understand Miranda v. Arizona except against the background of trial judges hating to suppress evidence, so the Supreme Court figures it has to create a "bright line" rule even if it produces strange results.