Thursday, September 8, 2011

Conglomerate and scam blogs

Conglomerate, a business law blog, is doing a forum today and tomorrow on scam blogs and related topics.


  1. Wow, a professor admits it!

    "Lastly, ALS' commenters took issue with my statement that I loved the law, and I loved teaching it. They said that if I really loved the law, I would be practicing it. I think that's completely wrong. Studying the law and practicing are two different exercises, which appeal to different personalities and skill sets."

  2. Different personalities and skill sets? Are you joking?

    I've been trying to get my head around this odd circular system in legal education where the top grade earners in law school (those that display a mastery of the material) invariably go on to failure at the practice of law and then return to safety academia where they, in turn, educate the next generation in a similar fashion as they were educated. Those that fail at practice recognize and reward skill sets they themselves possess, thereby cultivating another crop of top grade earners that will invariably go on to failure at practice.

    I've been putting together a blog post about it. We'll see if it ever materializes.

  3. Crux,

    You're right, there. The main purpose of law school is to train law professors.

  4. I don't think its a fair assumption that law professors "failed" at practice. I've never been a professor or a BIGLAW attorney, but I can see why people would find the professor lifestyle more attractive. Its not that hard to imagine a succesful, non-failure BIGLAW associate opting out to become a professor.

    But I do agree that law professors really don't have a lot of relevant experience in the field they are training people to enter. However, I'd also say that the field of "practice" is pretty huge and includes a lot of different types of work. A practitioner might be just as ignorant as a law professor about most of it, save his own particular niche.

  5. The Law School Transparency Project is certainly not a scamblog. While the two Vandy Law grads have their hearts in the right place, they are very polite. This is not a great tactic, when your opponent is much larger, better organized, and established. At least, if you truly want to affect change.

    I notice that the Conglomerate seeks to minimize the role of true scam-blogs. In essence, they are seeking to "define" the scam-blogs. This makes it easier to sideline the real scam-bloggers. ("Yes, this is acceptable. That blog over there is too hostile.")

    It was the tone and consistency of the scam-blogs that led to the David Segal NYT pieces on "legal education." After we continued to beat the piss out of the law schools, Professor Brian Tamanaha came out in support of the cause. Law review articles written about the scamblogs. Senators Barbara Boxer and Charles Grassley are now giving voice to unemployed JDs.

    If the pigs do not want to give credit where it is due, that is fine. However, do not attempt to label LST as a "scamblog" - when it clearly is not.

  6. Nando, I prefer to see a cornucopia of diverse scamblog personalities. Much like you see on the A-Team.

  7. 12:36pm is right. There's virtually no way, in the current law professor market, that a person could fail in law practice and then move to law teaching as a back-up option. To get a law prof. position these days, you have to be committed years in advance and have lots of scholarship to show for it when you enter the teaching market. Someone entering teaching as a back-up after plan A didn't work could almost never make it, as they surely wouldn't have put years into scholarship beforehand. Also, I used to practice and I can tell you that the elite firms are teeming with people who are writing on the side and plotting to stay for a few years and then try to break into academia. I've never met a soul who wanted to stay in practice but couldn't and then defaulted to academia for lack of options. It's quite the opposite -- there are lots of people whose plan A is to teach but can't get a foothold in the teaching market so they stay in practice.

  8. Nothing new to read there...same ol', same ol'. BS rationalizations without addressing the major issues/problems. I guess you have no other choice when you are living off the indebtedness of a whole generation of young lawyers.

  9. Agree with 3:14. The people who become law professors are not practice "failures" - however, they are often people who did not enjoy legal practice. The legitimate concern is not that they are "failures" but that it's questionable whether a demographic that overwhelmingly does not enjoy full-time practice should be training a demographic that overwhelmingly will be entering full-time legal practice.

    I'm not a professor, and I will probably never go on the academic job market, but I did choose to leave Biglaw after a couple of years for the public sector - because I like public service and don't enjoy commercial litigation. I don't think this means that I "failed" at commercial litigation - I just didn't want to do it. I wanted to work with individuals - "real-people clients," as I like to call them. I suspect that analogously, professors either want to work with students or work with ideas (legal scholarship), or both. To the extent that I feel skepticism about legal academia, it's because it encourages (and often requires) professors to focus on ideas rather than on students.

  10. All: Failure may have been too strong a term. We could substitute "choose to explore other options" and end up in the same place - the folks who taught me in law school had little experience in the actual practice of law and are not planning on gaining any additional experience at any time in the future. So, is law school designed to instruct students in a manner which creates lawyers or one which creates professors?

  11. With one notable exception (who otherwise is very open about all that's wrong with legal education) all my professors were very candid about going into teaching because they didn't like practicing law.

  12. I don't understand why higher rank school professors don't demand the shutdown of the lower ranked schools.

  13. I think y'all are shaking the wrong end of the stick.

    It's not that law professors didn't want to get significant practice experience. It is that significant practice experience is a negative on the legal academic hiring market. There are specific terms used by legal academics to immediately dismiss those who have significant experience.

    I'm talking about "refugees from practice."

    I'm talking about saying that someone is simply "looking to retire."

    I'm talking about explaining that someone is "too much of an advocate" and has not yet figured out how to be a scholar.

    If you know how the legal hiring game is played, and you really want to transition, you know that you're shooting yourself in the foot if you practice law for more than 5-6 years--with 3 years being a sweet spot.

    There is, in fact, empirical evidence that suggests that someone who has wholeheartedly pursued law practice will have difficulty adjusting to the notion of scholarly production.

    Whether that is something that is good for students is a separate issue.

    But y'all have the order wrong. It's not that the people who teach law don't bother to get practice experience--anyone who's gone through the AALS distributions knows that there are a large number of people on the teaching market who have serious practice experience. That's not the deal at all.

    The issue is that the people who hire law professors affirmatively toss the resumes of those who have been in practice too long.

    And anonymous @10:57: there are two very obvious reasons for why higher rank school professors don't demand the shutdown of lower ranked schools.

    1. Their friends teach at lower ranked schools.
    2. They have no legitimate grounds for demanding the shutdown of competitors.

  14. Good post 6:30, although I disagree with your #2. I think improving the reputation of law professors is a legitimate reason.


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