Today is this blog's two-month anniversary. In that time it's generated about 275,000 page views and 4,500 comments, which are very modest numbers relative to many blogs, but which still represent a small but growing audience for an ongoing critique of contemporary American legal education from as it were the inside.
This seems like a good time for a summary of where things stand:
(1) The fight for transparency regarding employment outcomes has a very long way to go, but is making some progress. Many law faculty and even a few deans are at least now giving lip service to the idea that the numbers currently available to prospective students are very inadequate and even intentionally misleading, and that reform on this front is imperative (Continuing pressure from Sen. Boxer and Sen. Grassley will be critical going forward).
(2) The transparency debate is also beginning to highlight the pressing need for information on the employment status of law grads at points later than nine months after graduation. Given the rapidly changing nature of the employment market for attorneys, true transparency will include good information about what law graduates are doing five and ten years down the road, not just a few months after graduation. Gathering long-term data on statistically representative samples of graduates is neither particularly complex nor expensive -- it's merely a question of generating the political pressure to force law schools to do this.
(3) Transparency, important though it is, represents only a first step toward comprehensive reform. The fundamental problem with legal education now is that it is far more expensive than it needs to be. This would be true even if the job market were good. That it's become so bad at the same time that the cost of getting a law degree has skyrocketed merely puts an exclamation point on the long-standing pedagogic deficiencies of legal education, in terms of both edification and vocational training. Over the last 20 years legal education has gotten radically more expensive, while there's little evidence that it's gotten significantly better in terms of any student-centered standard of evaluation. The increased cost of legal education has benefited university budgets, law school administrators, and law faculty and staff to a much greater degree than it has benefited law students. (I'm sincerely curious whether anyone in legal academia is willing to challenge this assertion).
(4) There's tremendous inertial resistance inside the legal academy against recognizing any of this. On the one hand I've been quite heartened by the expressions of support I've gotten from various people within legal academia. On the other, it's extraordinarily difficult to get people to even acknowledge the possibility of serious structural problems within an institution that shapes their professional identities, let alone the possibility of genuine structural corruption. The latter possibility is routinely dismissed via the formula "I'm a good person doing my best to do a good job, as are most of my colleagues, ergo, it's impossible that a critique of legal academia as structurally corrupt could be true, since I'm a good person doing my best to do a good job." This reasoning features a major non sequitur: it's perfectly possible to be a "good person" inside a bad system, especially if one of the bad features of the system is its ability to allow "good people" to avoid ever confronting their actual situation.
(5) External events such as the Wall Street protests are some evidence that the smug complacency of the American financial and social elites may be coming under some real pressure. This is all to the good in regard to the prospects for reforming legal education. One of the consequences of long-term structural unemployment is that a lot of smart, energetic, and angry people have nothing to do all day. By churning out 25,000 law graduates every year who will never have real careers as attorneys, American law schools may be making their own unintended contribution to real social change.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Two months and counting
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it's perfectly possible to be a "good person" inside a bad systemReplyDelete
E.g., most of the Founding Fathers.
And happy anniversary! It's nice to see the word getting out.
(6) The ABA, as if intentionally trying to show how irrelevant and powerless we are, changed the rules for job placement disclosure to no longer distinguish between full and part time employment, and to no longer distinguish between legal and non-legal work. Thus while we think we're doing something, we're actually a bunch of meek losers who do not matter, because we're scared to confront people in the real world.ReplyDelete
8:06: you are one annoying fuck. Comforting those people will do nothing, the change has to come through systemic change and political pressure, not some moron telling ABA "whats up." We do not live in early 20th century when everything was done by brute force. Either stop repeating yourself or set an example by how this people should be confronted (youtube video should do the trick).ReplyDelete
I'm sure it is annoying to be reminded of what an ineffective, meek and irrelevant person you are. Doesn't make it any less true. Remember that next time you perceive yourself as "mad." You might be mad, but you too frightened to do anything about your anger.ReplyDelete
Please don't feed the trolls.ReplyDelete
Yes, just feed your overweight body.ReplyDelete
Have any of you even done something so simple as calling your Dean and your professors and expressing your sense of injustice?
Have you even done that?
I'm not saying you have to look them in the eye, because you people don't dare look people in the eye. Just a phone call.
I hate talking on the phone, so I didn't call (and really, without an appointment, you're not going to get him on the phone). But, I did send a letter.ReplyDelete
I once told my Con Law prof to fuck off but then LOC and Trish got really upset.ReplyDelete
Can you please do a post about the AALS hiring conference next week?ReplyDelete
As someone who was "on the market" last year, I have never been so turned off by anything.
The law prof hiring selection process is a complete farce. I think this needs to be put in the spotlight.
@10:03 -- I'd love to hear more about that.ReplyDelete
What's the problem with AALS hiring? If your issue is that you didn't get a job well then welcome to this blog. AALS is filled with HYSCCN grads who got lathamed and who are now reaching for the six figure prize known as law professor. It's more competitive than biglaw or perhaps even appeals court clerkships. I'm kind of surprised BL1Y didn't try for it since he's from a good school.ReplyDelete
Even from a good school, it's hard to get an academic job. It's typically good school + law review + clerkship.ReplyDelete
Good school + middle of the pack grades = no academic career.
a post on AALS hiring/not hiring HYSCCN grads = who cares?ReplyDelete
Keep up the good work.ReplyDelete
I'm not sure if it's been discussed before, but I'd be interested in a post on some of the perks from being a professor. One of my professors was discussing in class once that the law school gives them a furniture allowance for their "home office" as well as a technology budget that can be spent on iPads, etc. What other allowances are there and what if any restrictions are there on how they are spent (travel allowances, budgets for attending conferences in resorts, etc.)ReplyDelete
News from the inner sanctums of academia: Law school and universities are increasingly focused on their summer programs for high school students to make up for the foreseen losses in the years to come. In fact, many of these so-called "programs" have increased enrollment from just a few hundred to now thousands of high school student within the past 3 years. Though it is unspoken, the profits made off of charging these high schools students(and their parents) thousands of dollars for a 3-8 week summer seminar are designed to bolster the coffers with pure, unfettered cash. Keep in mind that these programs are non-credit courses and seminars designed to prepare students for college, but, most importantly, they are not eligible for financial aid since no credit is given. These high school students and foreign students are becoming the new cash cows to pad the bottom-line.ReplyDelete
Speaking of the hiring process, there's a debate raging over on the Prawfs Blawg about spousal hiring through accommodation polices. School wants to recruit Star Prof, but Star Prof is married to Dim Prof, and Star Prof will only take the job if Dim Prof is also given a job.ReplyDelete
What seems to be missing from the entire discussion over there is that students will be harmed if they end up in Dim Prof's class.
No, the argument is not about "Dim Prof'. It's about trailing spouses, who are not always "Dim Prof". They may not even be profs at all. They could be administrators or people who get hired in the local community with the aid of the school-- librarians, teachers, computer programmers. Report accurately.ReplyDelete
I have lots of problems with AALS but coming up empty was not one of them. I had a decent amount of interviews and a successful fly-out. Thankfully by then I had another option because I was thoroughly disgusted by the industry.ReplyDelete
Admittedly it was TTTTs showed interest in me. My pedigree, top grades at both T50 JD (that ignored me) and T5 LLM (I "cleansed" my JD as instructed), were not enough to get any real attention. It seemed the schools were drooling over the same handful of HYS appellate clerks with PhDs. What these "law and X" academics can do to get their students employed is beyond me.
I was not one of those who decided to teach because I got lathamed. I was interested since graduating and did federal clerkship plus published like a maniac to set myself for that route. But I wanted to teach from experience, and found my decade of high-level practice (biglaw & gov't) managed to count against me! I was somehow past my prime instead of having practical experience to impart.
Then there is the process itself. Sprinting around a sprawling hotel complex for 20-minute interviews (after pleasantries). These consist of being quizzed about "research agenda" -- what obscure area are you going to write about, never mind how that will help students get jobs or help the law in any way. Seems like an idiotic way to find teachers.
There's also the whole diversity issue that I'm not really comfortable talking about. But the 1st question on the AALS data sheet is race. My white male status did not seem to help my application.
In short, I was creeped out by the experience. Maybe I'll go for adjunct one day but I have come the believe the law school industrial complex is completely out of touch with what it means to help students make a living. They want to get ranking up with diverse eggheads in unrelated fields.
Oh, yes, that's right no white men get hired as law school faculty. Whatever the first box may be on the data sheet, check the numbers of black versus white faculty members in law schools.ReplyDelete
"Sprinting around a sprawling hotel complex for 20-minute interviews (after pleasantries)."ReplyDelete
So you know what your students feel like every year. Although you already probably have a decent career.
There are a lot of white men on faculties, but there is also a huge advantage to being a minority professor applicant.ReplyDelete
What are the advantages, and how do they translate into actual jobs? How many black faculty members were at your law school?ReplyDelete
I would rephrase your question so that it compares younger minority hires to younger white hires.
Again, what are the huge advantages of being black in the market, and how many jobs do those advantages result in so that you can say that white males are disadvantaged by comparison? The comment suggested that the guy at the meat market was not having any luck because he was a white man and black applicants were taking the jobs.ReplyDelete
@2:09 -- Thanks for sharing. Very interesting.ReplyDelete
@2:09--I had a very, very similarly creepy AALS experience, having had the same (wrong) idea as you did about the value of having some practice experience on top of the appellate clerkship/grades/publications. A few years later I did do the adjunct thing. The teaching and advising/assisting students in their job searches (none of the real professors at the school had practiced in the previous 20 years, if ever, and the CSO was a joke) was great, the way I was treated by the administration and tenured faculty was not.ReplyDelete
2:09 and 2:59: Feel free to email me if you'd like to go into any of this in more detail offline.ReplyDelete
Yes, not talking about all this in public probably makes sense. In the meantime, 2:09 hasn't explained how being white hurt him in the job market.ReplyDelete
@2:05: I don't say "Dim Prof" to mean the professor isn't smart, but that (1) Dim Prof is less desirable than Star Prof, and (2) Dim Prof does not meet the schools hiring criteria on his or her own.ReplyDelete
But, as is often the case, Dim Prof is actually dim, and that's what the real concern is about. No one cares if two Star Profs are married and both get hired. Aside from my Lawyering prof, the two worst professors I had were both married to Star Profs.
@3:08: If minority professors are given preference, how are white professors not hurt? If white professors were given preference, no one would question that minorities were hurt.ReplyDelete
Related anecdote: While I was in undergrad, my philosophy department was the subject of a complaint (possibly an aborted law suit, I don't recall how far it got) because every professor was a white male.
The department's response was pretty straight forward: They'd attempted to recruit minority and female professors, but they were given better offers at more prestigious schools.
My point was that the discussion was way broader and much more nuanced than you portrayed it. The thread is actually very thoughtful and well reasoned on all sides, for the most part. "As is often the case..." and then you mention your two experiences. I have had only one experience with a trailing spouse, and she was great. I am sure there are disasters, but there are disasters among unmarried profs and profs whose spouses were not a part of the recruitment process.ReplyDelete
What are the preferences given, and how many jobs do they translate into? Saying you are looking for black applicants means that they are giving preferences that inevitably take jobs from whites.ReplyDelete
We aren't going to convince one another on this. So, I'm out of here. But it's important to have these views put out there in public.ReplyDelete
@3:34: If the trailing spouse is an exception professor, she should be able to get the job on her own merits.ReplyDelete
The only people who are benefited by accomodation policies are the people who wouldn't qualify but for their attachment to someone better.
Of course some trailing spouses could get jobs on their own merits. It's just that they may not think of making a move (or moving to that particular place) until their spouse has an opportunity there. That person benefits when a school has a policy that encourages the hiring of spouses. That he or she received the benefit does not automatically render that person unqualified. It's a leap of logic to conclude that without considering the individual case.ReplyDelete
I spoke with someone this morning who was complaining about the fact that an undergraduate education is $100 to $200k. He remarked how his college friend is a professor, and the friend earns as much as this person (who works like a dog as a professional) even though the friend only works effectively 1-2 days per week.ReplyDelete
It's really crazy if you think of it. How much longer can this absurdity last?
I doubt if the "someone' really knows what the college professor is doing all week. Who are these people who spend all their time worrying about how much or little other people are working?ReplyDelete
This is an example of the sort of utter nonsense I'm talking about. Here's someone who purports to be a "professor" of prison law at UCLA: http://www.law.ucla.edu/faculty/all-faculty-profiles/professors/Pages/sharon-dolovich.aspxReplyDelete
... in an article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/08/us/hunger-strike-resumes-in-california-prisons.html?hp
But she's NOT EVEN ADMITTED to the State Bar of California - the state on whose prison system she is apparently commenting as an expert. As a practicing attorney, I feel a good deal of frustration about this. Professors need to understand that they lack legitimacy as LAW PROFESSORS - as "experts" entitled to teach the next generation of practicing lawyers - unless they actually have deep experience as practicing lawyers IN ADDITION TO whatever academic trappings they may bring. If they lack deep practical experience, they lack legitimacy to teach those of us who are actially practicing attorneys. Period.
I'm not a scam movement member, but I'm an attorney who is damn sick of professors who somehow think that they are "above" practice, and who believe (in their faculty staffing decisions) that practicing somehow shows a lack of commitment to becoming a legal academic. What utter nonsense.
"actially" should be "actually," of course.ReplyDelete
- previous commenter
People are actually talking about how to get jobs as a law professor in this thread. Could there be any more evidence of the utter irrelevance of this pathetic "movement?"ReplyDelete
Law school and universities are increasingly focused on their summer programs for high school students to make up for the foreseen losses in the years to come. . . charging these high schools students(and their parents) thousands of dollars for a 3-8 week summer seminar are designed to bolster the coffers with pure, unfettered cash. . . designed to prepare students for college, but, most importantly, they are not eligible for financial aid since no credit is given.ReplyDelete
I am, perhaps, particularly sensitive to this since I have worked for over a decade in the "for profit" educational arena.
Your post brings up an interesting point, but is also fundamentally premised on a non-sequitur.
Your argument seems to be the following:
(1) Educational services are being offered for-profit
(2) These services are non-credit
(3) These services have no financial aid
(4) Ergo: these services are therefore bad
While I would certainly agree with 1, 2, 3, and I would certainly agree that (4) is often true, there's no reason to think that (4) is logically entailed by your premises.
If these institutions are offering for-profit educational experiences that are ACTUALLY helping students get ready for college, then it very well could be that the tuition for such a program is some of the best money the parents will ever spend on their kids. It could be that the programs suck. They could be poorly designed, poorly executed, and have little effect on college success. But the fact that they're being done for profit has little or nothing to do with whether they're any good.
As a case in point - I work in (primarily) in MCAT test preparation. I've seen lots and LOTS of programs offered by everyone from the big companies (Kaplan, ExamKrakers, Princeton, Berkley, etc), little regional Mom-and-Pop outfits, and "non-profit" deals offered by colleges for the benefit of their students, taught by faculty/staff at the college.
Almost universally, the programs offered by the big companies are superior to the Mom-and-Pop outfits (although there's a pretty wide distribution in quality for the small companies). And the programs offered by these purely private, profit-driven companies are VASTLY superior to what colleges cobble together as a (sort of) non-profit program for their students.
Much as for-profit education gets a bad rap (see the New York times expose from a few years back for a particularly damning look at the for-profit arena), the one thing you can't say is that somehow non-profit schools offer higher educational quality. As has been noted in the blog and elsewhere, the quality of teaching/education provided by Law Schools (and at most colleges) is absolutely atrocious. Your typical Junior High Social Studies teacher is more qualified to be in front of the room than your typical Harvard Law Professor.
tl;dr version - "prepping kids for college" is important and worthwhile and if done well it doesn't matter that it's for-profit.
. . . I'm an attorney who is damn sick of professors who somehow think that they are "above" practice, and who believe (in their faculty staffing decisions) that practicing somehow shows a lack of commitment to becoming a legal academic. . .ReplyDelete
In my limited experience (with a whopping 2.25 years of law school under my belt), the adjunct professors who are primarily practitioners are both the best and worst professors on the faculty -- at least at Rutgers.
It's an important mistake to think either that a rich history in legal practice, or a rich history in legal academic publishing is somehow sufficient (or even necessary) to make someone into a good teacher.
Since Law Schools (and higher education in general) doesn't require that teachers have even a single college credit in education or curriculum-design coursework, it's pretty much a total crapshoot in terms of quality. You're basically left hoping that the person in front of the room is one of those people who is both naturally gifted as a lecturer, and thoughtful and hardworking enough to construct a meaningful curriculum.
My guess is the reason that the full-time tenured academic types tend to be middling as professors is that they've generally got enough practice under their belts to not be atrocious, but as academics they're often not personally charismatic enough to be the true standouts.
By contrast, the adjuncts I've had have ranged from absolutely atrocious (tired old retired lawyers who think just mumbled rambling war-stories counts as teaching) to absolutely phenomenal (currently working practitioners who have both a rich practice history and years of teaching experience under their belt).
Breezy does make a good point. During all the talks about the value of law school, all the professors point at adjuncts and talk about how valuable they are. And, it's easy to find really great adjuncts.ReplyDelete
But, they ignore all the terrible adjuncts.
Our Lawyering professors at NYU were all fresh off the practice boat, and mine was terrible. She had worked as a public defender, which might make her great for a criminal defense clinic. But, our exercises in that class dealt with things like torts and civil procedure, areas she knew little about, and less than the students as the semesters progressed.
This is one more reason why 1L research and writing should be scrapped, and there should instead be practice labs attached to traditional lecture classes. If instead of teaching a 3 credit broad spectrum research and writing class, she taught three 1 credit criminal law or criminal procedure labs, everyone would have been better served.
I'm the person who commented on the illegitimacy of law professors who lack deep practical experience. That was actually not an argument in favor of adjuncts. I have several law school acquaintances who teach as adjuncts at T14s, and they often aren't able to focus much of their time on teaching due to their full-time practices. Emphasizing adjuncts thus would not necessarily solve much about the usefulness of J.D. courses.
I think that "law professor" should be a career that people are permitted to pursue only after some significant amount of experience as practicing attorneys (e.g., 10-15 years) - and at that point, they would commit themselves full-time to climbing up the academic totem pole. This is completely realistic, in that another set of legal professionals already conduct their careers this way: judges. In my state, you need ten years of state bar admission before you can apply to be a state judge; although the federal judiciary does not have a minimum requirement, with rare exceptions, federal judges have practiced for at least ten years as well.
I think that if legal academics built their careers as academics after a similar length of practice, we would be more likely to see people whose work was useful in every sense. Their teaching would better reflect the realities of practice, rather than the academic conjecture of the ivory tower. They would be able to advise students, inside and outside of class, on what it means to be a practitioner in a particular field - enabling students to make better decisions about which subfield(s) of law to pursue. They would have more connections to current practitioners, which could enable them to help deserving students get jobs (especially as the economy picks back up). Finally - and this should be a lower priority than the previous - they would THEN have a hope of producing scholarship that answers CJ Roberts' and Judge Edwards' complaints by being useful to the bench and bar.
"they would THEN have a hope of producing scholarship that answers CJ Roberts' and Judge Edwards' complaints by being useful to the bench and bar."ReplyDelete
This will never happen because what you are asking for, is something for nothing. Law professors and practicing attorneys already write tons of practical practice guides, but they charge for them. If Justice Roberts wants some practical research done then he should hire a clerk and give him the assignment.
So,you graduate at 25-- if you have done the less wise thing and not have taken time off before going to law school. If you take some time, two years, then you are 27 when you graduate. Ten or fifteen years pass. So, at 35, 40 or older, a person is supposed to start doing serious research and writing that could count as scholarship? I'm not talking about "law and anything", even the kind of writing Roberts was talking about. There may be some, but it is unlikely that large numbers of people are going to take up the habit of writing at age 40. It just does not happen that much.ReplyDelete
And who will these people be? Will successful lawyers give up their practices to become full time professors? Sure, some people will. But, again, probably not enough to fill even half the law schools that are in existence now unless they get paid a whole lot, more than they would be paid in practice. Adjuncting is very popular and valuable to the lawyer, students, and other law professors. But full-time stuff-- doing committee work, reading the work of colleagues in their own school and from other places, may not be so attractive to lawyers who have been practicing for 15 years.
11:44 - "So, at 35, 40 or older, a person is supposed to start doing serious research and writing that could count as scholarship? I'm not talking about "law and anything", even the kind of writing Roberts was talking about. There may be some, but it is unlikely that large numbers of people are going to take up the habit of writing at age 40. It just does not happen that much."ReplyDelete
Substitute "jurisprudence" for "scholarship," and the same argument can be made of federal district and circuit judges, whose chief duties involve the writing of lengthy opinions (or at least, the revising of their clerks' writing of lengthy opinions...) Yes, people "start doing" the work of federal judging - with its heightened writing duties - at 35 or 40 routinely. And they get paid much less than in practice; many leave lucrative partnerships and get paid a tenth as much as before.
Perhaps it would be harder to attract 40-year-old newbie professors than judges because judges do more "prestigious" work and have the opportunity to make a practical impact. But the example at least illustrates that people are willing to leave legal practice careers after 10-15 years for writing-heavy, tenured jobs that require a related-but-distinct skill set.
As for your complaint that this would not leave enough professors to fill even half the law schools that are in existence, that sounds like an additional benefit to me. Virtually everyone posting on this blog agrees that there are too many law schools by far. But I suspect that the academic recruiting situation would not be as dire as you imagine.
Yeah 11:44's ageist argument was pretty ridiculous.ReplyDelete
You are right. Federal judgeships are different from the job of being a professor. Writing opinions is not the same as writing articles. As you say, federal judges have clerks whose job it is to research and write at least the first draft, if not more in many cases, of the opinions. It's a different mindset, with different goals. You can use it, but the analogy really does not work. It misapprehends the different functions of judging and of being a scholar. There are similarites. They both write and reason. But that's about it.ReplyDelete
'Ageist" or not, if you were to survey any discipline--law, history, economics-- you name it, most people will tell you that the idea that many people will turn themselves into writers and scholars in their forties is misguided. I fully realize what site I'm on, and people here devalue intellectual enteprises, and especially law professors' efforts at it, but it does a disservice to people who are serious about scholarship to say that it is something that can just be picked up in middle age. I would wager that neither of you are writers.
As for numbers, that's why I said "half" the law schools. Even if people on this site had their way, and the number of law schools was reduced, it is not likely to go below 100. Every state will want one, and there is no reason to think that there would not be at least 50 private ones. So, even at that unrealistically reduced number, you could not fill the ranks with the kinds of people you are talking about.
Law school is prohibitively expensive and the way it operates is tantamount to a tax payer subsidized consumer fraud scheme that exists to serve the interests of big law, law school administration, and law professors.ReplyDelete
Stop all federal loans and the road to recovery can start
Arguing over anything else is a bullshit distraction.
Having said that, thank you Law Prof for being one of the only law professors to actually use tenure the way it was intended,
9:13 here, I should have said that many people on this site devalue intellectual enterprises, not all.ReplyDelete
9:13, I'm the poster who has made the lengthier arguments in favor of requiring professors to have greater practical experience. We're just not going to agree - and you seem repeatedly to be missing the point of my judging analogy, so I'm going to drop it. To answer your question about my writing bona fides: I'm a former federal circuit and district law clerk and current appellate lawyer. I have one journal publication in a highly respected secondary journal in my research field, and I'm working on writing a second law review article now, just for fun. I love legal writing, and I would be interested in a legal academic career were "the academy" modified in the ways that I've advocated in this thread. I've refrained from applying for law teaching fellowships (Climenko/Bigelow) or VAPs because I strongly believe it would be unprincipled of me to hold myself out as a "professor" qualified to teach students subjects that I find academically interesting, but have only briefly experienced via pro bono work or via a short (1-2 year post-clerkship) period of full-time practice. This unprincipled course is taken by most academics: they do a federal clerkship or two, go to biglaw or government for a year or two, and then believe themselves sufficiently grounded in practice to start teaching students. I find that condemnable, and I believe strongly that students are entitled to be taught by professors who deeply immersed themselves in their field(s) prior to teaching. So, despite my enjoyment of legal writing, I don't want to participate in the current legal academic system. (As per this blog's theme, I also would be unwilling to take a job at a school where my salary would be paid by students many of whom will not get jobs as attorneys: I think that poses serious ethical problems.)ReplyDelete
Good thing you didn't take that wager, eh?
9:13- Professors have research assistants. I've worked on two published law review articles and have written the substantive text (as well as done the footnotes, which is half the text) in both of those articles. One required a team of four, the other article had a team of 7.ReplyDelete
My professor did do substantial editing to the article as well as think up the broad topic and do an outline. But we were doing all of the research and a lot of writing.
This is a chair professor at a T14 school, btw.
I'm not missing your point. We just disagree.ReplyDelete
If publishing one law review article makes you a writer, then I guess you are right. Did you start in your forties?
@ 9:57 Yes, of course they do. They don't usually let their research assistants write their articles. Did he/she credit you in the article?ReplyDelete
9:58: (your academic skeptic friend here)ReplyDelete
To state the obvious, I didn't start writing in my 40s; I started writing in my mid-20s, as a practitioner. It turns out that you don't need to be a legal academic to have a paper accepted by 2L editors. This is exactly what aspiring legal academics would do in my proposed model of legal education: begin writing (scholarly) articles while practicing law, in the ~ decade leading up to seeking a full-time academic career.
Incidentally, Harvard is experimenting with the idea of appointing professors with deep practical experience, whom they call "Professors of Practice":
(Psst: they're not in their 40s, either.)
Well, that was my main point. You started in your twenties, which is when most people who have the urge to write, do--except when they have started even earlier. The program sounds great. As the special title implies, and the description suggests, they are there to teach. That's a good thing. But your original idea was that law faculties of the future around the country should be comprised solely of people like this. That would be hard, of course, because they are exceptional people. But even still, we will just have to agree to disagree on whether you could get the numbers of successful lawyers in their late thirties and early forties to leave the practice to be profs who teach, do scholarship, be on committees and so forth that you would need to staff even 100 law schools. It is not likely that this will ever be tested in our lifetimes, if ever. So, we won't know the answer.ReplyDelete
Both of you are talking past the real point - education ITSELF is a serious enterprise that requires no small amount of study, training, and practice.ReplyDelete
If you've ever had a competent *teacher* rather than just a very knowledgeable and entertaining lecturer, then you'd understand that quibbling over academic vs. legal practice experience is at best arguing over what should come in as important tertiary or quaternary skills when deciding who should manage a class.
I would put it to you that you'd get better learning outcomes if you took, say, a high school English teacher (that is, someone with a bachelors or masters in education) with 5-10 years experience actually teaching people, had them get a JD, and then immediately plop them into a 1L Contracts class and tell them: "Okay forget that you're in law school; teach this class like you'd teach a bunch of high school sophomores. Give them homework, give them small group assignments, give them regular weekly and monthly assessments."
For any run of the mill casebook and doctrine-centered class, I'd bet every penny I own that you'd get more overall learning taking place in that setting than putting the most respected "academic" or the most entertaining and clever practitioner in front of the room and plodding through the usual and useless sage-on-stage lecture format.
Speaking of law professors, look at the amazing and praiseworthy policy of Boalt.ReplyDelete
They publish every professor's student reviews on the professor's bio page!
The professors at prawfsblawg are already looking for technical defenses to the lawsuits against the schools.ReplyDelete
I think y'all have hold of the wrong end of the stick with regard to hiring.ReplyDelete
The truth about AALS is that hiring has very little to do with a candidate's ability to teach.
For instance, Brad Wendel spells it out here:
"If there is one thing that schools are looking for, it is someone with fire in his or her belly to produce scholarship about some intellectually significant issue. This matters because at any school with aspirations to be more than a bar-preparation service for in-state practitioners (which is most schools at which you'd want to work), the name of the game is scholarship. Teaching is of secondary importance only. In fact, I sometimes tell students not to think of their goal as getting a 'teaching' job at all. It's really a writing job."
And later on: "Law review scholarship is a justly parodied genre, but you do have to produce it. And in the eyes of appointments committees, there’s a significant difference between practical and theoretical scholarship. In fact 'practical' has an almost pejorative connotation in law school hiring."
That's so odd 4:11, because I can't think of one law professor who has written on an "intellectually significant issue."ReplyDelete
What intellectually significant issue do you relate to a law professor.
Actually, I guess Elizabeth Warren would be one such person. Anyone else?
The only worthwhile law review article I have ever read was one arguing that the Uniform Trust Code eliminates one kind of Special Needs Trust - a potentially very important thing to point out especially for those of us that practice on the edges of this area.ReplyDelete
4:11 - I'm the proponent of requiring professors to have deep practical experience. And yes, I've read the Wendel article multiple times.ReplyDelete
I've not missed the point at all. The current academic ethos accurately described by the Wendel article is what I am condemning. I am saying that the current model is as follows:
(1) Hire professors with extremely limited practice experience, and (in most cases) no formal training or practical experience in teaching students.
(2) Tell them to subjugate their teaching duties to producing impractical (theoretical or "law and") works of scholarship...to be submitted for evaluation to 2L law students.
(3) Charge students to be taught by such people - people who have neither been screened for teaching aptitude nor for their practice-based insights.
I take strong issue with this system, because I think it undermines the potential of American law schools usefully to train practitioners, to the detriment both of the future practitioners and of the public they serve. (As consumers of the American medical industry, we may pause here to be grateful that our medical schools have not adopted the same approach.) For this reason, I am advocating a different approach - one which prioritizes the hiring of people who have richly experienced the world of practice that their students will be entering. (Even if the person with whom I debated yesterday is correct that there would not be enough such candidates to fill 100 law schools, I think it would at least be worth giving first preference to these candidates. In today's AALS process, they would actually be dinged for being "insufficiently committed to teaching" and "having too much practical experience.")
Also, BreezyWheeze, as I hope this comment makes clear, I agree with your point that actual teaching aptitude needs to be emphasized. But I'd say that it needs to be emphasized in addition to (rather than instead of) the emphasis on practice experience.
Breezy is definitely correct. The whole model where you get 1 exam, and no feedback is ridiculous, especially for the price being paid.ReplyDelete
A high school teacher does something like 25-30 hours of classroom instruction each week, and I think the norm for my classes was something like 6-8 graded exercises a semester, for every class. And, many of those grades come back with comments, especially in things like English.
Compare that to 3-5 hours of teaching each week, 1 assignment, and no feedback.
10:06: No, of course we did not get publication credit. What we did was draft the first draft of the article after the professor made the points. The main ideas belonged to the professor, just like a judge decides which way he wants to rule and how and the clerks go out and actually do the research and draft the opinions.ReplyDelete
@12:2-- "Publication credit" implies something more than what I was suggested-- that you were billed as co-authors. When I said "credit" I meant an acknowledgment, a thing that appears regularly in writings of professors who use research assistants, i law and in other fields. That does not happen on opinions.ReplyDelete
"suggesting" and "in law"ReplyDelete
6:45 Yes we did, but that's a very minor distinction that detracts from the original point, which is that professors do have "clerks" who research and write the first draft. In my experience, that is untrue. Perhaps other professors do it a different way, but then again not every judge trusts his clerks with writing.ReplyDelete
I don't see how changing the type of professor hired will cure the supply / demand problem of jobs. What's the difference between graduating with no job, after being taught by a current professor, with graduating with no job, after being taught by the new style of professor?ReplyDelete
@8:59. You are right. That reflects your experience. We can't know empirically, but I doubt if the practice of having a research assistant write the first draft of an article is as common as having a clerk research and write the first draft of an opinion. Anyway, the two types of writing are so different, the objectives so different, that my original point stands: the idea that becoming a writer/scholar in your forties is just like becoming a judge in your forties because both types of people write things is untenable.ReplyDelete
9:08: The people who will graduate without jobs should not be permitted to go to law school. This should be accomplished by regulating and limiting the number of law schools to reflect the current demand for lawyers, comparable to what is done by med schools. To be clear, most of those people will then be unemployable humanities majors who will continue to lack a clear path to stable middle-class employment -- but they will, at least, have less debt than currently (They will also be unable dramatically to blame law schools for ruining their lives or, if the hyperbolic comments on Prawfs are to be believed, situating them comparably to rape and stabbing victims.)ReplyDelete
"9:08: The people who will graduate without jobs should not be permitted to go to law school. This should be accomplished by regulating and limiting the number of law schools to reflect the current demand for lawyers, comparable to what is done by med schools."ReplyDelete
Yes, and criminals shouldn't commit crimes, but they do - FOR THE MONEY. Your shoulds mean nothing to them.