McGeorge School of Law

Does Law School Really Have to Be Bleak House

Lou Ashe Series 2011: "Does Law School Really Have to Be Bleak House — or, Why Do We Still Teach Jarndyce v. Jarndyce?"

John Jay OsbornSpeaker: McGeorge's first Distinguished Advocate/Author in Residence, John Jay Osborn, Jr., author of The Paper Chase.

Presented by the Center for Advocacy & Dispute Resolution, McGeorge Trial Advocacy Board, and McGeorge Moot Court Honors Board.

Traditional legal education creates a strict, destructive narrative for law students — and compels them to follow this path. The narrative not only is present in the expectations that law students must meet, but goes deeper. It is imbedded in the very legal courses that law students are required to take. Dangerously, it insists that the study of law, and the law itself, are unrelated to the life lived by ordinary people. This talk explored the constricting legal education narrative and suggested how to transcend it.

The press on John Jay Osborn Jr.:

  • "... heralded teacher ... Harvard-trained contracts expert ..." — San Francisco Chronicle, 2003
  • "... acclaimed author, accomplished attorney, inspiring law instructor ..." — Dean Robert Clark, The Harvard Law School, 1998.
  • "Leading commercial lawyer ..." — Donna Leigh-Kile, Lawyers on the Spot, Vision Press, Great Britain, 1998
  • "... a writer of wit and style ..." — The New Yorker, 1980

John Osborn, McGeorge's first Distinguished Advocate/Author in Residence, was raised in Marin County, Calif., educated at Harvard College and its law school, clerked on the Federal 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, worked at the law firm of Patterson Belknap and Webb in New York City, and taught at the law schools of the University of Miami, University of California at Berkeley, Cardozo University, and the University of San Francisco.

He teaches Contract Law, Wills and Trusts, Law and Literature, and Family Wealth Transfer. He has lectured on these subjects before audiences at universities and law schools across the United States.

He is the author of these novels: The Paper Chase, The Associates, and The Man Who Owned New York, among other books. His articles, stories, book reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York University Law Review, The Cardozo Journal of Law and Literature, San Jose Mercury News, California Lawyer, and many other publications.

John Osborn has written television scripts for 20th Century Fox, Paramount Studios, Warner Brothers, Viacom/Showtime, and many other entertainment companies. Movies and television series based on his books, and on which he worked, have won numerous awards.

He currently resides in San Francisco with his wife of 41 years, Dr. Emilie Osborn.