Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Legal scholarship

Before I begin, please note that the contents of this post reflect only my own views, not those of my co-editors, my school, my colleagues (all of whom are fabulous teachers, scholars, mentors, administrators, and people), or our wonderful students and alums (who are smart, hard working, and will make or already are great lawyers) . . .
I think there is great value in legal scholarship. The public benefits by getting legal and government structures that make real people's lives better. Students benefit from the scholar's ability to turn chaos into order and communicate both the chaos and the order to someone who hasn't done the same work. The students have to start with order and see how it is constructed from chaos and how to explain that before they can learn to do the same thing, which really, is what lawyers do for their clients.

-- Prof. Marcia McCormick, commenting on the value of legal scholarship in the face of criticisms that question whether the law students who subsidize it are getting their money's worth --



So as I sit here on a Saturday night, I am having the great pleasure of putting the finishing touches on my last books as a law review editor.  I have procrastinated about this, at least somewhat, because I am pretty convinced that the law review is a pretty meaningless activity.  Sure, being the EIC was an interesting experience, I got to do some editing and other work that I would not have done -- and it's undeniable that the long-term career benefits of having the EIC next to my name are large.

BUT -- here is the stark reality.  We had 12 open slots last year for articles.  Through Expresso, I think we ended up having something like 1800 submissions.  1800!!!!!  Of those 1800, I would say 1500 were absolutely awful.  Terrible.  The student comments written by second-year students were better -- usually far better.  As I would work with the articles editor on picking pieces, I would become more and more depressed about the meaning of legal scholarship and what I was actually doing.

I further realized that the whole law review enterprise was another cog in the wheel for raising the costs of law school.  One aspect of your criticism of legal scholarship that has not been made yet is the undeniable connection between "scholarship" and USNWR rankings.  As you surely know, deans try to control every and any input that they can in the USNWR process.  They know that the academic survey counts.
 Never mind the fact that the academic surveys are largely stagnant -- I think many deans believe that if they hire professors who write stuff that gets published, it could possibly raise their academic reputation score and thus increase their USNWR ranking.  So, you hire senior faculty, who write lousy articles, and you pay them lots of money -- or you hire junior faculty with the promise of writing lousy articles and you promise them light teaching loads.  Either option contributes to increased costs for students -- but very few care about that because the students are largely insensitive to costs (at least up until now).

I should be fair and say that not EVERY submission was bad -- I would say about 300 were good.  But every night last summer and fall when I would read the very many bad articles, I kept thinking -- is having a faculty person write this REALLY the best use of resources?  Maybe instead of encouraging people to write all of these articles, we could encourage people to, well, teach, take on higher teaching loads, which means we would need fewer faculty overall, and thus decrease the cost of faculty, and perhaps pass on some of the savings to students in the form of lower tuition?
-- Email from the EIC of the flagship law review of a moderately well-ranked law school --


The observation that most legal scholarship is bad is neither original nor in itself necessarily too significant.  (Cf. Sturgeon's Law).  The problem -- again -- is cost.  Back when I was doing the basic research for David Segal's better New York Times critiques of legal education, I calculated that the total amount of legal scholarship being published annually had increased about sixfold since the early 1970s, that "scholarly output" had increased by about three and half times per capita, and that at present the average law student pays about $12,000 over the course of his or her legal education to subsidize the production of law review articles (a sum that has roughly tripled in constant dollars over the past 25 years).

When people ask how to go about bringing the cost of law school back toward having some rational relationship with the net present value of a law degree, one of the first questions that needs to be answered is: how much of the legal scholarship students pay for is worth what they pay for it?  I'm not suggesting this is an easy question to answer.  I'm suggesting the question needs to be asked.  At present, my sense is that, at most law schools, it is simply taken for granted that the production of ever-greater numbers of law review articles is a primary institutional goal, and this is reflected by the faculty hiring process in particular, and the allocation of scarce resources in general. 







61 comments:

  1. The existing faculty will not lead the change. We need a revolution.

    The problem with legal scholars is that they aren't lawyers, and most aren't scholars. The first part is obvious -- a second year associate could out litigate 90+ percent of all faculty.

    Most faculty also aren't scholars. I have no problem with members of the faculty becoming specialists -- even specialists in areas that are irrelevant to the day-to-day practice of law. (e.g. jurisprudence or Roman law or Mesopotamian code). What bothers me is that most faculty want to remain generalists, with generalized opinions about politics, conlaw, current events, and legal-ish things in society. Or else they want to opine on how the existing law impacts a section of society (women, minorities, religious groups, the elderly).

    But where are the scholars? Where are the faculty who are going to write a useful, but perhaps boring article, on equipment preferences in bankruptcy proceedings, how to do a medicare set asides in a tort case, partial ratifications of contracts in bankruptcy, modificiations of custodial consent decrees due to changed marital or economic circumstances. Or even, how Roman law treated real estate purchases in Gaul.

    Such articles might actually be useful to lawyers or the public! Instead, in my experience as a law review editor for a top journal, the formula usually went: (1) pick a supreme court decision from 2 years ago and try to jam it into the conversation; (2) write a reply to some leading scholar in your field and invoke the word "Rawlsian"; (3) write some banal regurgitation of existing scholarship, omit a thesis, but use big words; (4) write on either race and the law, comparative international law, the first amendment and its threats, or (5) try to fuse unrelated fields of the law together: (e.g., antitrust and family law: new views of restraints on alienation).

    It was nonsense.

    The reason that student articles were better is that they had a thesis, and that they did the work.

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    1. "Where are the faculty who are going to write a useful, but perhaps boring article, on equipment preferences in bankruptcy proceedings, how to do a medicare set asides in a tort case, partial ratifications of contracts in bankruptcy, modificiations of custodial consent decrees due to changed marital or economic circumstances."

      I really can't second this enough. Given that law schools can't afford to become primarily clinical in nature, some handy how-tos in law review would be significantly more useful for law students who do intend to practice. Of course, it would require most professors to have more than a theoretical understanding of the practice of law, so I think we all see that it's a nonstarter of an idea.

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    2. Absolutely. I call it scholarshit. Pretentious, utterly worthless drivel read by not a goddamn person other than those of us long-suffering law-review editors who were unfortunate enough to get stuck trying to make a silk purse—or the nearest possible approximation thereof—from Prof. Dipshit's sow's ear.

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  2. Good point - but I have the distinct impression (from having dealt with law schools for over 20 years) that if "legal scholarship" were not the pretext for hiking tuitions insanely beyond the rate of inflation for decades on end, other non-teaching justifications would be found/invented.

    "Social justice" sabbaticals, clinic "development", etc. etc. blah blah blah.

    The bottom line - professors and administrators want the maximum amount of income for the minimum amount of (measurable, accountable) work.

    And if they have to lie and manipulate to get it...they do and they have.

    Just look at Dean "Fast Larry" Sager at the University of Texas and his coterie of bagmen.

    Or the hundreds of thousands of defrauded graduates from dozens and dozens and dozens of ABA "regulated" schools from around the nation.

    Eliminate or reduce the "legal scholarship" gerbil wheels that legal academia has obsessed upon?

    Fine, more power to you.

    But have the discipline to follow through and *demand* higher teaching loads (at least double - to a "massive" 12 "hours" per week - for 40 weeks...) in order to slice the teaching ranks (and professorial costs) by half.

    Thousands of law professors/administrators out on the street - sounds like a good start.

    I'm sure they will be "welcomed" by the hundreds of thousands of graduates they preyed upon.

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  3. “Pick up a copy of any law review that you see, and the first article is likely to be, you know, the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th Century Bulgaria, or something, which I’m sure was of great interest to the academic that wrote it, but isn’t of much help to the bar.”

    -Chief Justice of the United States

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  4. "Here, then, is what the successful, non-elite law school of the future might advertise to its prospective students on its website: Our professors put students first, and teach more classes per year than professors at any other school. And we judge our professors on teaching and accessibility, not on publishing. If they want to publish, they are free to do it on their own time. This keeps your tuition down, as you’ll be paying for fewer professors and, further, you won’t be paying for professors to produce law review articles that you’ll never read." http://thelegalwatchdog.blogspot.com/2012/08/law-school-management-101-or-how-to.html

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  5. These complaints are outrageous! Of course the American legal community needs more then 55 articles on why Nietzsche, his philosophy, and his view of the sovereign, should inform our jurisprudice. If Campos stopped complaining and actually taught or wrote decent articles this false "crisis" would subside, and 1Ls would listen to more important people in the legal academy, especially ones from the Olympus presently known as the University of Chicago!

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  6. *sigh* Yes, Brian

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  7. This is where I think there's been a real cohort effect created by all the Yale and Harvard graduates who became law profs in the past 25 years.

    They populated lower-ranked law schools but maintained the intellectual interests of Cambridge and New Haven.

    Law review articles have always been criticized for being insufficiently practical, but that characteristic would spike when a critical mass of so many schools' faculty are K-JDers from an upper-middle-class background with a clerkship, two years of BigLaw scut work, and then on to academe.

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    1. You mean the intellectual pretenses of Cambridge and New Haven.

      Delete
  8. While I have not been a fan of much of Paul's ranting, he has a good point here. Some legal scholarship has value. Some of it changes the law and some of it helps the law professor think more deeply about the issues she teaches. The issue is, in fact, the cost. The main cost for law school is faculty salaries, and at least some schools should consider offering a low cost alternative where the law profs have little to no scholarship requirements, but have double or triple the typical teaching load. The main thing preventing this is U.S. News and its overweighting of "peer reputation." Peers look - primarily - to scholarship and LSAT scores as proxies for reputation. It is much easier to require more scholarship than it is to recruit high scoring LSAT students to a poorly ranked school. If US News focused more on things like average salary, bar passage, GPA, and LSAT - and less on reputation and expenditures per students - a lower cost legal education would be more likely. As it stands, schools that do limited or no scholarship get slammed in the peer reputation rankings and get banished to the fourth tier - making it difficult for them to recruit good students. A few schools, like Baylor, have been able to break into the top-100 without much scholarship, but they are very much the exception, and even Baylor is drug down in the rankings because of their relative lack of scholarship.

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    1. Dragged through the muck, mire, and rankingsNovember 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM

      Don't drug me down, bro.

      Delete
  9. When did writing treatises become unfashionable?

    Writing a treatise that was both erudite and practical used to put you on the legal Mt. Rushmore with Corbin, Williston and Tribe.

    Now, the professoriate thinks of treatises as something declasse, strictly for second-tier profs at third-rate schools.

    I once overheard a prof telling a junior colleague not to waste his time writing a book because only law review articles mattered in the tenure process.

    Can you imagine any other academic field where the scholars avoid writing books?

    The bottom line is that the modern law prof is an uber prestige whore. He is not interested in teaching students or developing the law or aiding the bar and bench. He is interested in collecting gold stars which act as proxies for intelligence.

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    1. This is something I find astonishing. With the exception of Lawrence Tribe the authors of major legal treatises seem to have been uniformly ignored by the law schools - or consigned to lower rank law schools, as have lawyers of demonstrated achievement. Take for example Bill Patry - whose Copyright Law is probably the best treatise around - an adjunct at Georgetown (the most oversubscribed class in the school when he was there) and then at Cardozo. The late Robert Harmon was never as far as I know asked to teach patent law at Chicago despite his book Patents and the Federal Circuit being the most swiped from office shelves in IP departments. Those would be IP ... but the same applies in international commercial law, contracts, etc.

      When you look at authors of US treatises what you find pretty uniformly is that those that are law professors are in their 70s and secured professorships in the 70s or at best the 80s. Young law professors today do not write treatises - while in other disciplines having a treatise is what establishes someone as a noted scholar. In Europe the situation is a little different - for a law professor to have written a book makes them important - and the more general in application and widely used the more highly regarded the prof. Legal journals are for the most part published by the legal publishing industry who want subscribers among practitioners, and look for practitioners to edit them.

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    2. Law profs believe in a heirarchy of prestige in writing.

      Theoretical is more prestigious than practical.

      Writing for other academics (e.g., the "reply to" genre) is more prestigious than writing for judges or practitioners.

      Writing about federal law is more prestigious than state law.

      Writing about constitutional law is more prestigious than statutory or regulatory law.

      Theorizing about how the 14th Amendment vindicates the professoriate's political positions of the day is the most prestigious topic in existence.

      Treatises? Gross. How common.

      Delete
  10. "The bottom line is that the modern law prof is an uber prestige whore." I would amend to say "the modern law prof at the T-100 schools are uber prestige whores." In the bottom-100 teaching and mentoring students, as well as engaging the bar is encouraged. Practical experience is also usually a plus, unlike T-100 schools. That said, a number of the bottom-100 schools are trying to become T-100 schools and therefore copy the T-100. I am biased because I teach at a bottom-100 school, but I am confident that we provide a better education than most T-100 schools - not because our professors are smarter, but because our professors spend more time on teaching and with the bar - and because we have significantly more practical experience than faculties in the T-100. Sadly, however, students still rely on US News and bottom-100 schools, therefore, get fewer and worse students.

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    1. *sigh*

      whatever helps you sleep at night.

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    2. "I am biased because I teach at a bottom-100 school, but I am confident that we provide a better education than most T-100 schools - not because our professors are smarter, but because our professors spend more time on teaching and with the bar - and because we have significantly more practical experience"

      I haven't examined this in more than a surface aspect, but it seems to me that the faculty at tier 3 schools are not more than marginally different than those at tier 1 schools in terms of practical experience.

      Are you at some sort of outlier in this regard?

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    3. Do you understand the job market at all?

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    4. Even if you do provide better teaching, it is wasted on your inferior students.

      Delete
  11. AllLemmingsGoToHeavenNovember 27, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    My ttt's journal on international sports law in outerspace is critical to our regional reputation! I think some of the janitorial staff read the headlines each time they dust around it!

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  12. I think law schools will end up hiring more professors who don't do research because budgetary constraints will force them to stop hiring full time faculty (who are expensive) and rely far more on adjuncts (who are much cheaper and are often practicing lawyers). However, its not clear this will make law students better off. Schools like New York Law School already use many adjuncts and have what are, in my opinion, terrible employment outcomes combined with very high tuition.

    Law schools will charge the maximum amount they can get away with, just like any other business. Since law schools behave like a business, I don't think they should have the tax advantages of non profits nor should their students be able to finance their education with government loans. But I feel the same way about hospitals. I'm not optimistic any of this will change.

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    1. Huh, I didn't realize I could finance my next surgery with government loans!

      ;-)

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    2. "I didn't realize I could finance my next surgery with government loans!"

      If you are on Medicare ($486 billion federal dollars per year) or Medicaid/CHIP ($283 billion federal dollars per year) then a big chunk of your health care is be *paid* for by a government *grant*.

      No "financing", no "loans".

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  13. "I think law schools will end up .... rely far more on adjuncts (who are much cheaper and are often practicing lawyers). "

    Only if the adjuncts work less than 30 HPW - see article linked by Professor Caron about a small college that is cutting adjunct hours to avoid ObamaCare requirements.


    http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2012/11/college-cuts-.html#comments

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    1. Oops, `scuse me. Not just adjunct hours. It's cutting hours of 200 adjuncts and 200 other administrative employees.

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  14. First, a few comments about Professor McCormick's statement:

    1. Rarely does any legal scholarship "turn chaos into order." Law professors in particular are not Dr. Frankensteins, creating the life of light here none existed before. Most law review articles simply take information from several already-ordered sources and assemble it into a different order.

    2. The process of writing a law journal article is different from the ways in which lawyers advocate on behalf of their clients. If students wanted to know "what lawyers do for their clients" they should take a few clinic courses.

    3. Professor McCormick states that students benefit from seeing the professor's "ability to turn chaos into order" but this would mean that the student would have to read and understand their professors' law review/journal articles. When I was in law school, very few journal articles were required reading. Has this changed?

    4. Professor McCormick treats all legal scholarship as the same, when this is not in the least how articles are treated within the law review/journal heirarchy. It is an academic given that a law review article written by a professor at HYS carries much more weight than an article by, say, someone from St. Louis University. Considering that this is a fact, then the academy should employ a cost/benefit analysis. Students at St. Louis University School of Law in all likelihood would benefit from more teaching+lower costs than from an indistinctly unmeasurable benefit of an article published by their professors in a law review/journal, especially if the law review/journal is not within the top 20 journals.

    Now, a few comments about the excerpt from the EIC:

    1. The EIC states, "I would say that 300 [articles out of 1800] were good."

    Then what? Law student editors generally can spot bad articles, but after discarding the obviously bad articles, students simply don't have the experience to do any further sorting. Usually student editors will then resort to simply looking at the author's university affiliation as the primary selection factor.

    2. The EIC states that "maybe instead of encouraging people to write all of these articles, we could encourage people to well, teach..."

    This is the "either write or teach" fallacy largely trumpted by law school faculty who state that they don't have time for the necessary research to write an article and teach more than 1 / 2. These same faculty usually apply for and accept research funds for the summer, funds which, in turn, require higher tuition. The faculty who cannot teach 2/3 and write articles should not be on the faculty. One should ask why faculty in other departments have few problems in turning out publications and teaching 2/3 with less or no summer research funding.

    There is no doubt that scholarship from high profile faculty bolster a law school's prestige and reputation. But 90% of the legal scholarship has very little benefit to the students, especially when law faculty from third and fourth tier law schools are publishing in journals from third and fourth tier law schools. Further, law schools are now in a prestige feed-back loop. There is journal proliferation in most law schools, just so that the majority of the students can have an editorial credit on their CVs. And the faculty are embarking in the same process by citing each other's articles. This circle-of-narcissim is fine, except to the extent that it used as an excuse to raise the cost of legal education.

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  15. What I find so depressing about legal scholarship is how much of it is pointless 'twaddle' - how article after article 'discusses' topics without ever getting to a conclusion - and how this twaddle dominates search results whenever you try to do any substantive legal research. A few examples:

    A couple of days ago I found myself trying to work out what was the difference between "good faith" and "fair dealing" and in particular what "fair dealing" means as a substantive legal point. The way in which the terms are used "good faith AND fair dealing" is complementary - but implies that they are not the same thing. I drudged through a series of law review articles many of which purported to discuss fair dealing in their titles - none actually tried to make any statement as to what the author though "fair dealing" is or was. I would not accept this in a memo from a junior associate...

    With startling uniformity the vast majority of law review articles are tendentious bunk - just outright "piffle and nonsense" as an old teacher of mine used to say.

    Another example - a week or two ago the counterparty in a deal actually went to a law professor to work on a major tech license. He actually proposed as choice of law "international International general principles of law which are applicable to international trade ("Lex mercatoria")" Only a law professor could possibly think that was a good idea - a choice of law that ends up a dual fought with law review articles...

    This is why I find the whole suggestion that law review articles turn chaos into order absolutely silly. Law review articles uniformly obfuscate what little order there is in the law - they create confusion where there should be certainty. Law professors generally favor any legal rule that results in endless debate - look at "conflict of law," where the hornbooks actually have 4, 5 and 6 page footnotes (at least Rose & Chommie does) and most lawyers run into the issue when the see the words "without reference to its conflict of law rules" in a choice of law clause (as in "keep the professors out.")

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    1. I agree with this. Restatements of the law are nice because it provides clear rules of law. Let the advocates come up with the "Yes, but" or "that's the majority position, but in this case" arguments.

      Old legal decisions are actually legal decisions. New decisions, especially federal appellate and SCOTUS are balancing test junk.

      Law review articles take balancing test junk and make it even more convoluted.

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    2. I totally agree. Part of the problem is that legal scholarship does not subject itself to the normal standards of academic review. When 3Ls are the gatekeepers of legal scholarship, that's when you actually get chaos rather than the presumptuous pronouncement that law professors turn chaos into order. Legal articles should be peer reviewed blind.

      The other part of the problem is that most law professors have only a very basic superficial knowledge (if that) about the area of industry in which they purport to opine about law.

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    3. Whatever disadvantages there may be to putting 3Ls in charge of publication, I insist that the main problem lies at the source: most scholarshit is worthless tripe.

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    4. Agreed. The "Fair Dealing" point is one where I would hope that I could easily find an article that:

      (a) avoided the "everyone knows what it is" approach of reciting the term without trying to pin down a meaning;

      (b) then discussed alternate meanings with reference to other case law;

      (c) then discussed (i) local legal variation, (ii) whether there is an implied covenant on a state by state, country by country basis, (iii) whether the concept is hopelessly confused by courts.

      That is what a practicing lawyer, legislator or judge wants to know.

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    5. "He actually proposed as choice of law "International general principles of law which are applicable to international trade ("Lex mercatoria")"

      LOLWhat!?!

      Delete
  16. law review articles are so awful. they're not peer reviewed so they're riddled with both legal and factual errors, nobody takes them seriously, and the shit we receive on my journal would blow your mind. the most poorly written, poorly argued crap you can imagine. what in the flying fuck law professors do all day just blows my mind

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    1. Maybe journals should start outing the professors who send in the worst stuff? It could be really informative.

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  17. Some rough landings ahead for lots of folks...

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    1. Perhaps for Professor McCormick too. Her blog entry is just too precious. Doesn't she realize the bulk of the legal education industry, including probably her college and her own position, are simply superfluous to requirements?

      Delete
  18. Without law review, how will employers make decisions?

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  19. Probably not PosnerNovember 27, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    I agree that the problem is not law review articles but the cost of producing them (a subset of which is over-allocation of professorial). A simple way of making legal scholarship more relevant to the people who pay for it would be a norm of professor-student co-authorship. This would provide both useful training and resume lines for students.

    I'm still curious to know to what big law salary level a professorial salary is equivalent if we compare salary to hours worked.

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    1. So what is the salary of most professors and how much do they actually work?

      We know the biglaw salaries and hours for most Vault firms.

      What years do you want to compare?

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    2. Probably not PosnerNovember 27, 2012 at 8:18 PM

      Right. We need a way to figure out how much profs work on avg. I don't know where this data could be found. It would be interesting to have a few profs time their hours over a year as an experiment. Some hours--like lunch with colleagues or receptions--shouldn't count if they would be considered "unbillable" in a firm.

      Delete
    3. 6 classroom "hours" per week (two classes) for two semesters per year is pretty typical.

      Using the academic definition of 50 minutes per hour, your average prof spends about 200 hours per *year* in the classroom.

      Compared to a standard work-year of *2000* hours.

      For this they probably take home (on average) somewhere between 2 or 3 times the national median *household* income (income from 2 adults).

      (Tenured Prof pay typically ranges from 95k to 145k, with large variations by school. If it is an UT Austin Prof, it is whatever you can convince Larry Sager to stuff in a unmarked paper bag he'll give you in the parking garage)

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    4. I suppose the comparison is weak, in part because these things are usually a one-off with little recycling, but when I have taught seminars my approach is to:

      a. Write a white paper, footnoted, single spaced, 9-15 pages (and proofread - I don't proofread for this blog).

      b. Then create a PowerPoint summarising a - max 8 slides per hour.

      Prep work to teaching time is 3-5 hours to one hour teaching - a lot of that is double/triple checking any factual and legal assertions (no bullshitting allowed.) My own math is that an hour of teaching time requires 5 hours which is why I avoid doing much regular teaching - a 2 hour weekly seminar would be a 10 hour weekly commitment in prep-time and individual time with students. With my travel load that would be tough. On the other hand, given that a lot of the work is for a professor repeated - or they can use the textbook to teach from, I suspect the prep work may be a lot lighter, but the one on one student face-time higher.

      At a guess teaching therefore takes up 18-30 hours a week of a professors time - during the semesters. But that may be unverified bullshit...

      Delete
    5. cas127November 27, 2012 10:19 PM

      "6 classroom "hours" per week (two classes) for two semesters per year is pretty typical.

      Using the academic definition of 50 minutes per hour, your average prof spends about 200 hours per *year* in the classroom.

      Compared to a standard work-year of *2000* hours."

      The sheer ignorance of this is breath-taking.

      Delete
  20. I wonder how many clients Professor McCormick has ever represented? How much experience does she have in creating "order" from "chaos" for people paying her fees?

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  21. I'm the old geezer who posted yesterday. I also happen to be an editor of one of the leading law reviews. Just last week I told one of my colleagues that we should cut back to a single issue per year, or even disband. He readily agreed.

    Order from chaos? My ass! Order into chaos is more like it.

    We receive truckload upon truckload of scholarshit (my term) that is illiterate, irrelevant, trivial, tendentious, pretentious, pointless, incomprehensible, foolish, pompous, absurd, risible, inarticulate, naïve, self-contradictory, arrogant, irresponsible, slovenly, unscholarly, picayune, obfuscated, inconclusive, self-congratulatory, unfocused, wrong—or, in most cases, some combination of these.

    Do we flush this scholarshit down the toilet? Not all of it, because we just don't get enough publishable material. Rare is the submission that even deserves our poor internal reviewers' time. I'd say that about half a dozen articles per year—a single issue's worth—are worthy of our time and pages.

    For a typical article, my marginal editorial comments run longer than the text itself. That the scribblers who turn out this tripe have been hired as "scholars" is a damning indictment of Hackademia.

    Recently we asked the students at our law school whether they read our law review. Hell, I edit the blasted thing, yet I don't read it myself. The latest issue has been lying untouched on the floor of the vestibule for a couple of weeks.

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  22. Is this really `accurate`?November 27, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    According to Brian Leiter, this is an "accurate" description of the gender numbers review post here on Tuesday:

    "Just when you thought Campos couldn’t stoop to new levels of obnoxiousness, he writes a post which basically insults women law students by claiming that (a) they are coming into law school with every expectation of being less committed professionally, and that (b) law schools are preying on them as potential “Mrs” degree candidates. "

    http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/11/paul-campos-says-happy-thanksgiving-to-female-law-students.html


    Funny, I read the post on Tuesday and for some reason, points (a) and (b) above are not what I took from it...

    Seems like Professor Leiter's got him a man-crush thing going on with his stalking of Professor Campos.

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    1. Leiter? Shouldn't he spell that Lighter, in reference to his intellect?

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  23. Again, it all comes down to how archaic and idiotic the USNews rankings are. Yet people eat that stuff up, like they do with overpriced frozen yogurt at Pinkberry.

    People are already in a tizzy over the next US News rankings. It's disgusting.

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    1. Since it's not possible to comment on your blog anymore, I just wanted to say here that I hope you're well and cannot believe that the Dean figured out the blog was yours. Was that really true?

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  24. If USNWR were ethical they would shut themselves down. Or limit themselves to an alphabetical list of the first tier schools in each of the disciplines they pretend to know something about.

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  25. Off topic but there is a good article on the front page of the WSJ today regarding Federal student lending. One thing is clear, the government won't solve this problem. The government is the problem. From the article:

    "President Barack Obama championed easy-to-get loans during the campaign, calling higher education 'an economic imperative in the 21st century.' A spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan said the goal is 'to make student loans available to as many people as possible,' and requiring minimum credit scores would block many Americans from going to college."

    So there you have it. All those sociology degrees from crappy colleges and JD degrees from the likes of NYLS and Cooley are the key to prosperity in the 21st Century and everyone must go to college.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a plea to folks to read Charles Murray's Real Education.

      Delete
    2. 'The Bell Curve'. That's all the answer anybody needs when somebody invokes Charles 'The Bell Curve' Murray.

      Delete
  26. There was a lot of joking about Leiter in the comments, but I never knew he really did follow this blog!

    Ho! What fun to see!

    As for legal scholarship, I think it should be pertinent, insightful, sensitive and thoughtful, relevant and sometimes not so relevant, interdisciplinary in that it tries to make outrageously unrelated topics seem brain twistingly related, eclectic, hodgepodge rubbish but rubbish of good quality, energetic, playful, spontaneous, sometimes whimsical, bunk for the intelligentsia to giggle over behind their hands, and a challenge to conventional thought whilst acquiescing the sound wisdom of conventional thought in an ironic or tongue in cheek way, as the scholar whistles with a mouth full of dry crackers.

    THAT is what good scholarship should be.

    This message was brought to you by the student loan bubble. One trillion bucks and counting :)

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  27. From what I have seen, the vast majority of legal "scholarship" amounts to nothing more than self indulgent intellectual masturbation. As a practitioner, I cannot recall the last time I found a law review article to be of any use.

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  28. Why the fuck didn't you write about this hot story?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324469304578145092893766844.html

    ReplyDelete
  29. @ MacK

    I just want to stick up for the whole genre of Conflict of Laws, the only real areea where law profs have had an important impact. Without law profs we would still decide the law applicable in many tort cases through random chance.

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  30. I think Dean Mitchell's article was great. The hysterical sad saps on this blog would do well to take note. Life can be hard and times are tough, but just because some people are struggling does not mean that law school is a bad choice for everyone. In fact, law school can be a great choice for a lot of people. Here's some advice for prospective law students that will help make sure law school works for you:

    1) Don't overborrow - look for moderately priced state schools, seek out scholarships. But do be aware of IBR and PAYE. If you don’t know what those two things mean, learn about them. http://studentaid.ed.gov/repay-loans/understand/plans/pay-as-you-earn.

    2) Be realistic - yes, some law graduates make six figures at graduation. That is the exception, not the rule. Shoot for the top, but plan on starting out with a normal salary.

    3) Be cognizant of the risk - not everyone who goes to law school ends up rich or even having the chance to practice law. For some folks law school was a bad decision. For students graduating now, that risk is higher than it should be. But things will likely be better in 2016 when you graduate. Why? Because law school enrollments are down about 15% from two years ago which means there will be less competition when you graduate. Also, the economy will most likely not be suffering from the worst economic downturn since 1933. That means more growth and more need for legal services.

    4) Be cognizant of the rewards - despite all the fear mongering and hysteria on this and other sites, law is still a good career to get into. For most folks, law school was a good decision. According to the BLS, among the 570,950 folks who are classified as attorneys, the average salary is $130,490. The median salary is $113,310. Using the median figure, about 285,000 people in the United States make at least $113,000 as attorneys. The 75th percentile salary is $166,000, meaning 142,500 attorneys earn in at least the 90th percentile of incomes. http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes231011.htm.
    And that's just the financial benefits. Depending on the type of law you practice, law can be one of the most intellectually rewarding careers you can choose. It can have dramatic impacts on people's lives. And so on. People tell me that pharmacists make more than attorneys. Not sure if that's true, but I'm not sure that really matters. Some people like to push pills into bottles. That's fine and I'm glad they make good money doing that. If that interests you - go for it. But people interested in law have higher aspirations. For those people, I say do the research, choose wisely, then go for it.

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  31. You are so cool! I don't think I have read through anything like this before. So nice to discover another person with a few original thoughts on this subject. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This website is something that is required on the web, someone with a little originality!
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    ReplyDelete

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