Why I Teach
"It is vitally important for the future of the legal profession and for the public that law students receive the best training. That does not mean learning a lot of rules. It means learning to listen to clients, to understand their hopes, their fears and their objectives, both spoken and unspoken. It means dealing forthrightly with difficult legal issues that clients may not even realize are there. It means not being satisfied with a superficial examination of an issue. In estate planning, it means that the client should feel good about the experience. The client should feel that his or her objectives have been accomplished in a cooperative effort with the lawyer.
Working with law students is a wonderful experience. When I see a student who has thought hard about an issue suddenly get an insight, or when all the thought comes together in an incisive question, it is as rewarding as anything in the law.”
Read: I teach so that I can avoid being a lawyer. I want to bask in the safety of academia where I can edit casebooks, write law review articles, and earn a large six-figure annual salary. I also have the luxury of attending Drake basketball games with my colleagues due to my light schedule. I would not be able to do so if I were a practitioner.
Please enjoy the following mock interview between me and Professor Begleiter - remember this is a "mock interview" between me and a pleasant, intelligent, thoughtful law professor:
TTR: Today’s guest on Third Tier Reality is Ellis and Nelle Levitt Distinguished Professor of Law at Drake University, Martin Begleiter. Welcome. How are you today, professor?
Professor: I am well. Don’t forget that I am also a member of the American Law Institute (ALI) and an advisor to both the ABA and the Restatement (Third) of Trusts.
TTR: How could I forget to mention those significant accomplishments? Well, professor, it must be nice to teach law school as opposed to actually practicing tax law.
Professor: Well, I thoroughly enjoy both, but I like being able to give something back by training the next generation of lawyers.
TTR: How can you say you enjoy both? You have been teaching at Drake Law for 32 years, correct?
Professor: That is right. I have taught here since 1977. But like every faculty member at Drake Law School, I have actually practiced law.
TTR: Why do you believe that a student asking an incisive question is “as rewarding as anything in the law”? This is not necessarily a great accomplishment, in and of itself. Junior high school kids ask piercing questions all the time. What makes it so special when a law student does so?
Professor: Yes, that does occur. However, those middle school kids are not asking deep, penetrating questions with regard to estate planning or the complexities of the U.S. Tax Code.
TTR: I don’t see why a normal, healthy twelve-year-old would ask such a question since these are not typical areas covered in middle school. Back to my previous question: What makes it so rewarding for you to hear a succinct question from a student taking Wills and Trusts?
Professor: It shows that my legal background and method of teaching have an impact on my students, who as you well know will be practicing law and making a difference in the lives of others. They will seek justice throughout their professional careers.
TTR: They will seek “justice” as transactional attorneys in estate planning? That is, of course, if they can find work as an attorney.
Professor: Sir, I will stop you there. Are you not aware of the fact that 97.4% of Drake Law graduates are employed within nine months of graduation?
TTR: Employed in what capacity? The law school relies on self-reporting data to reach this figure, correct? How many graduates, as a percentage, actually report their employment status to the school? Who audits the self-reporting employment and salary figures?
Professor: I don’t have time for these irritating questions, sir. Good day.