Thursday, March 17, 2011

Up With Barista Law


A friend of mine, who I would happily credit except for his/her strong objections, suggested recently that, given the odd assortment of courses law schools offer because faculty want to teach them and not because they have much to do with what students will actually do, our law school should offer Barista Law. I put barista law in google and to my surprise there is a growing area of law about baristas. Most of the cases deal with what they can wear. Evidently the big issue is whether wearing a bikini is OK. (Frankly I want no coffee served by someone in a bikini.) I am sure there will be cases about burns, caffeine addiction as an occupation hazard, competition from energy drinks, the rules applied to competitive baristering, copyright on the little designs made with milk in your cappuccino, the accreditation of barista training schools, over-serving liability, etc. There are probably casebooks being developed as I write this.

I laughed when my friend mentioned it but, after my research, I realized that there is more law in barista law than about a third of the courses law schools now offer. It's all part of allowing faculty to determine the curriculum as opposed to people who actually practice law or have practiced in the last ten years. As I have noted before, law school offerings are increasing looking like they are put together by people who thinking:

1. This is what practicing law would be about if it were done in heaven or at least in an ashram.
2. This is what practicing law would be about if it did not include the things that drove me away from the practice of law.
3. This is what a good curriculum would look like if the students did not matter.

So, let's get busy developing the barista law course so the students will actually deal with issues that they may have to confront in their professional lives.


3 comments:

eric said...

I plan to cover the Starbucks barista union organizing campaign in my labor law class next Fall. (See http://www.starbucksunion.org/) Perhaps we can collaborate on a Barista Law casebook.

Jeffrey Harrison said...

I'll bet we are too late.

Anonymous said...

Dead on post, couldn't agree more. Although, students who sign up for these classes are partly to blame. Most law students either fill up their schedule with human rights/international law classes or easy classes that include the phrase "& the law." Then they wonder why they're not qualified practice law with firms representing real clients trying to resolve their legal disputes.

I think less than 1/4 of my law school class took Secured Transactions. Maybe slightly more than half took at least one of business orgs or corporations.

Students are just as to blame as faculty when it comes to ensuring law graduates do not have the knowledge to practice law.