A message for someone in the law school class of 2014:
These words aren't intended for certain people. They're not intended for people who aren't paying for law school. They're not intended for people who know, and indeed knew before starting law school, that a job would be waiting afterwards, because they're the kind of people who can get what they want if a few phone calls get made that are going to get made. They're not intended for people who are sure, after four months of this, that they're going to finish in the top five percent of the class. They're probably not intended for the large majority of people going to Yale or Stanford (although you never know . . .).
They're intended for you. You're wondering, after four months of this, whether you've made a big mistake. You're wondering this because, compared to your college experiences, law school seems like something of a joke. Everyone -- judges in opinions, professors behind podiums, classmates in the hallway -- speaks with tremendous confidence about things they don't really seem to know anything about. You're wondering if anyone else notices this, or if perhaps you're just not understanding what's really going on. Other people are noticing this, and you do understand what's going on. But don't expect anyone to talk about it.
You're wondering if you're going to be able to get the kind of job you came to law school to be able to get, or if you'll end up getting another kind of job altogether, just to pay bills that will soon enough include a massive and constantly growing pile of debt. The answers to these questions are, respectively, no, and maybe -- if you're very "lucky."
You're wondering why you seem so much more anxious and cynical than you the person you were four months ago. The answer is that you are no longer that person. You are on your way to being a lawyer -- or more realistically, you are on your way to having a law degree.
You're wondering if your parents will ever be able to understand that trying to become a lawyer today has less than ever to do with anything they've seen about lawyers on TV. They won't. Popular culture is an illusion factory that produces completely unrealistic fairy tales about everything, and especially about everything related to law.
You're wondering if your uncle the lawyer -- the guy with the nice house and the two fancy cars, and the apparently decent second marriage -- will ever be able to understand that trying to become a lawyer today has very little to do with what he experienced when he paid $1,500 a year in tuition 25 years ago at good old State U, and got a job right out of law school at the very end of the long postwar expansion in the legal services market. He won't. As people get older, it becomes more and more difficult for them to believe that the world today could really and truly have changed in ways they don't fully understand. (A semi-famous writer died the other day, and someone he worked with remarked that, "Time taught him nothing, because he didn't want to learn.").
You're wondering if you have any real choice about sticking this out, given that you don't seem to have any other promising career prospects at the moment, and after all going to law school is the kind of thing that at least allows you to tell people you're going to law school. You do have a choice. The biggest mistakes in life are committed by people worrying about what other people will think. Here's what other people are thinking about you: They aren't. And even if they are, why do you care what they think about you? Have you ever thought they should make crucial life decisions on the basis of what impression those decisions might make on you?
There's a good book called Deep Survival, about people in perilous situations of various kinds. An interesting piece of information in it is that small children -- those younger than about seven or eight years old -- have some of the best survival rates among people lost in the wilderness. The reason, it turns out, is that small children, unlike older people, don't talk themselves into continuing down paths that seem to be leading nowhere. When they get tired, they rest. If they start to get cold, they try to warm up. If they're thirsty, they drink. And when they realize they're lost, they stop and wait for someone to find them.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
In a deep and dark December
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"The biggest mistakes in life are committed by people worrying about what other people will think. Here's what other people are thinking about you: They aren't. And even if they are, why do you care what they think about you?"ReplyDelete
Perhaps the truest thing written on this blog to date.
Great post Law Prof. I am glad that I had some foresight in dropping out of Law school in the summer of 2010. It appears that we are currently heading for another downturn, wonder if this will lead to the class of 2012 getting "lathamed"ReplyDelete
"You're wondering if you're uncle the lawyer "ReplyDelete
Jesus come on. You're?
Bottom line, if you're so dumb that you don't know the difference between you're and your - you should not be allowed to use anonymity to gain credibility that you would NEVER have if people knew who you were.ReplyDelete
Lack of transparency is not just a sin committed by law schools when they publish job placement statistics. It's also committed by idiots, complete idiots, when they use the internet's gift of anonymity to pretend they are an authority on anything.
Nice edit of the person's letter to you. But the bottom line is that whoever wrote you that letter does not know third grade grammar, and outside of anonymous internet forums they would not be able to feign the ability to advise anyone, on anything. Just sayin'ReplyDelete
@You're vs. Your.ReplyDelete
This typifies the type of law school professor "intelligence." You could write many a law professor saying "you're house burned down" and they would completely ignore the fact that their house is gone because they are fixated on that fact that you used "you're" instead of "your." Then they would drive to their home at night, and be shocked that their house is gone.
It's kind of like when LawProf first started posting and Leitier decided to blog about "what is an isn't an ad hominem attack" instad of critically taking stock of the current crises in legal education. Really? Somebody exposes the perilous position of the legal academny and you take that opportunity to further clarify what actually is an ad hominem? Wow.
"outside of anonymous internet forums they would not be able to feign the ability to advise anyone, on anything."
FYI--lots of partners aren't sticklers for grammar and occassionally make a mistake or two when writing emails and even in briefs to the court. These are people that make millions of dollars per year and advise on huge M&A deals and large trials. Who do you want to represent you? A person who will win your case, or somebody who has impeccable grammar?
Over the course of my life I did everything that was required of me (stayed out of trouble, studied hard, received great grades, was patient) and as of today's date I sit at home with no job, non-dischargeable debt that exceeds 100K because I believed the crap in US News (went to LS in mid-90s), as well as every teacher, professor, and relative regarding the value of a JD.ReplyDelete
In turn, anonymous posters (Brian Leiter) are concerned about the usage of "your" vs. "you're" on a blog? Really? Tell you what you anonymous asshole posters, reveal yourselves so we can have a little face-to-face talk. I would love nothing more than to take out my frustration and anger on you by kicking your fucking teeth in, ya fucking jackasses.
@ 1:05- you have a sad life.ReplyDelete
I think it is funny when people anonymously deride someone else for posting anonymously, so I figured I'd anonymously deride them for anonymously deriding another for being anonymous.ReplyDelete
Also, we should point out that "you're" vs. "your" man erroneously assumes that this post is a letter from somebody in the class of 2014, rather than a letter to someone in the class of 2014 written by LawProf. So in their haste to capitalize on a small grammatical error, Leiter completely failed at reading comprehension, a much more basic skill.ReplyDelete
Lawprof: I'm not saying you're wrong about what you're saying on this blog, but seriously what's the point of belaboring the point over and over and over again? Did today's post really add anything to the discussion of the legal job market?ReplyDelete
Everyone and his mother gets it, the job market sucks and student debt is really high. Now that the word has even reached neighboring galaxies, shouldn't you be spending your time doing something more constructive, like some *gasp* legal scholarship or developing your classes next semester?
Why can't a blog be legal scholarship? to me a blog is a much better way of exploring an idea than a traditional law review paper. for one thing it's interactive. as another matter, it's more timely since you don't have the publication lag.ReplyDelete
I would be in favor of a rule where any professor publishing an article on a topic had to also start a blog on that topic, where they posted something at least once per week. If your idea isn't worth that level of effort then don't publish in it. Similarly, if your idea is so irrelevant that no one would visit or comment in your blog, then don't publish it.
"Everyone and his mother gets it, the job market sucks and student debt is really high."ReplyDelete
Are you saying that the Deans and administrators who run the law schools are willfully harming students? Because if they know that students are borrowing money to get the degree, that will lead to no job, then that's the only conclusion no?
How could a person who would so willfully harm people be allowed to hold the position of Dean?
@2:03. the firstReplyDelete
It could be an older member of the class of 2014. Not all students are young -- in their early twenties.
Just for the heck of it:ReplyDelete
Articles published on this blog since August: 125
Total words: About 90,000 (typical academic book is about 60,000-75,000).
Total site visits: 455,000
Total comments: 8,400
I really do think that blogs are infinitely better ways of exploring ideas. Law review articles are outdated and obsolete.ReplyDelete
How about this? Instead of Harvard Law Review, you have Harvard Law Blog. They publish four articles every three months. Every professor published has to take questions and comments on his or her article for those three months, and perhaps they do little posts exploring parts of their paper. That's an infinitely better way to discuss an idea than the current static and dated law review articles.
2:03 again... I agree there are ideas here, but they have just been explored to death by now. You wouldn't publish 190 law review articles on the same subject because at some point you'd just start repeating yourself.ReplyDelete
How come the law school that employs you is allowed to repeatedly steal from students and taxpayers, without any protest from you, but as soon as anyone repeatedly talks about what your school does you want to shut them down for doing the same thing over and over again?
What's next? You call the police and tell them to give up on the whole stop crime thing?
So I'm suddenly a law professor now?ReplyDelete
Anyhow, publishing data somewhere which you have to examine carefully to fully understand does not count as "stealing". At any rate, whatever you want to call it, the situation is now clear to all. Get a life. Move on.
You can't be serious about this: "[C]ompared to your college experiences, law school seems like something of a joke." Do you really think that the average law school class is less rigorous than the average undergraduate class? Or that the average law prof is less committed to teaching than the average college prof (setting aside that quite a few college classes are taught by grad students)?
You have rightly noted in the past that many of your criticisms of law school could be applied to college as well.
None of my undergraduate professors tried to hide the ball, and all of them would have been mortified if someone thought they were. They would probably have invited me to their office to discuss my confusion at length, until I understood the topic at hand as well as I could.ReplyDelete
In three years, I met three law professors who were at all good at the Socratic method, while the rest couldn't find the ball they hid. Only one of them was a 1L professor. As a consequence, most of my 1L class time would have been better spent sitting at home with an outline, an E&E, a previous year's exam and a model answer. My experience may be atypical, but I doubt it.
For Christ's sake, look at the other professional and graduate programs' offerings the next time you're in the university bookstore. Do any of them have at least one hornbook for every subject, the way that ours do? What does that say about the clarity of casebooks, not to mention the way that they're generally taught?
For all the naysayersReplyDelete
This blog is comprehensive. It belabors nothing and keeps every post refreshingly honest and to the point. I have been following scamblogs since their early inception (firsttiertoilet, bider, shillingmesoftly, etc) and I have to say that no previous blog comes close to the quality of these articles. Its as if all the pent up energy has been concentrated in lawprofs hands. This blog is going to make serious ripples in the academic community.
I did my b.s. at ucla was considering law school shortly after graduating. Took a year off to examine the law school prosperity doctrine. Campos is a godsend. nuff said.
"Anyhow, publishing data somewhere which you have to examine carefully to fully understand does not count as "stealing"."ReplyDelete
wthf? please elaborate on this bit of bullshit, if only for my entertainment.
"You can't be serious about this: "[C]ompared to your college experiences, law school seems like something of a joke." Do you really think that the average law school class is less rigorous than the average undergraduate class? Or that the average law prof is less committed to teaching than the average college prof (setting aside that quite a few college classes are taught by grad students)?"ReplyDelete
Yes. HELL YES. It's not even comparable. My UG professors probably did 5-10 times the amount of work as my law school professor.
A forced curve =/= rigor.
A peripheral point, but Christopher Hitchens was more than a "semi-famous writer," at least among those of us who take an interest in literature and current affairs. And the "someone he worked with" is a hard-line feminist still infuriated by Hitchens's nuanced views on the morality of abortion.ReplyDelete
"Semi-famous"? The New York Times redrew its front page to include his obituary. That is plain famous for a writer.ReplyDelete
I just want to remind you all that you don't need to sit by passively, and that you can work to make change happen.ReplyDelete
1. We can prepare the list of "problem" vs. "solution" professors and deans based on which support transparency, as measured by University of Chicago style career placement statistics. I suspect the problem professors will almost all come from schools ranked below 50.
2. You can still organize a sit-in. University of California may have been able to pepper spray some poor undergrads into life long injuries, because they sat quietly protesting crushing and life-destroying tuitions used to fund some despicable scumbag professor's salary, but law students may fare better.
3. You can write the three Senators and ask to testify at the, hopefully, pending Senate hearings.
4. You can continue to talk about the problem - and not just here - but in places where new people will be exposed to it.
Good comment on Pollit Lois Turner. It was crass of her to make that comment about Hitchens's pro-life stance at that moment.ReplyDelete
I want to make a comment on the value of blogs as legal scholarship. Legal scholarship is two things: (a) a debate and (b) a process.ReplyDelete
You don't come up with a hypothesis, publish it and call it a day. Not if you're serious about exploring that topic. If you're serious you state your point, and leave it open for anyone to attack. Through that back and forth you will find yourself exploring twists, turns and areas that you couldn't have imagined before you started the process. At the end of it your work will be much stronger than that of a person who published a mere law review article.
Professors who explore their areas of interest by blogging (and LawProf is not in any way the only professor to do this) should be given much more praise than the professors who merely publish law review articles.
Even if you call this complaining about the job market "scholarship", it's not legal scholarship since it is not related to the law specifically. Deceptive advertisement is more about business in my opinion.ReplyDelete
I don't personally see why you all call it a scam either. There's a product, a law degree, whose price is going up and up even as its value is going down. So people selling this product try to make it seem nicer than it is, by coming out with these questionable statistics and all sorts of upbeat assessments of the profession. Doesn't every business in the world selling overpriced products try to advertise their products in this way? Come on, when Cooley announces they're the second best law school in the country, and you shell out tons of money to go there anyhow, aren't you really to blame for your predicament? If you're going to plunk out that much money, you should do your research. And if you make the mistake of going anyhow, surely you should leave very soon after getting there once you realize the true situation. If you go through the whole 3 years, well, maybe they shouldn't have sent you those nice brochures with all kinds of upbeat statistics, but still doesn't the student share a lot of the blame for just being, to put it bluntly, stupid?
Either/or thinking is not the way to go. Law Review articles and blogs serve different functions. They can co-exist. If people want to write blogs, fine. If they don't, fine.ReplyDelete
7:14 aside from morality, and the justice that the lawyering business is supposed to try to uphold, we all have an interest in law school conduct because federally insured loans fund the majority of law school revenue, and according to a recent comment on another site, billions of dollars in law school loans have already entered default....further, akin to the housing crisis and mortgage fraud, not only will taxpayers ultimately pay for wrongdoing, but the cost of the product is so large as to significantly ruin lives and communities....not like a little fraud about, for instance, a used car or a plastic toy where the buyer should have done more research but just played stupid.ReplyDelete
"I don't personally see why you all call it a scam either."ReplyDelete
Go back to the first post, read it. Then read the second post . . . until you're caught up. Thanks.
"If people want to write blogs, fine. If they don't, fine."ReplyDelete
Sure, I didn't say we should jail people for blogs, but those rare professors who do write blogs should be commended for having a higher level of scholarship.
I recall a professor I had who would state, what seemed to be coherent, economic policy arguments in class. These were purely his own ideas though, as I hadn't heard them any where else. Well lo and behold two years ago he started a blog. It didn't take but three posts for these ideas to manifest, and they were immediately destroyed by a wiser commenter. Just obliterated and he was reduced to the amateur play economist that his strictly legal education suggested.
And again LawProf is not in any way the only professor to blog, nor does he have the best blog. So please don't think I'm defending him with this argument.
By the way our nemesis Brian Leiter also blogs regularly, and he should be commended for that, although he only occasionally opens the comments on his post (which I think is a very sad comment on his ability to tolerate other people's opinions).ReplyDelete
Of course you also have Volokh and many others.
No two ways about it. Blogging professors are on another level of scholarship.
7:43: If that is the case, then law professors need to agree to be treated with the same suspicion and disdain as used car salesmen. Not unlimited federally guaranteed money and generations of cultural capital and respect accrued when law was still a "profession." Something tells me most professors and deans don't want people to think of them the same way they think of No Money Down Larry from the automile.ReplyDelete
In all seriousness, I have far greater respect for used car salesmen. The old days when they could run roughshod with fraud are over. Today most state laws have very strict rules about licensing, cool-down periods, lemon laws and 90 day complete warranties.ReplyDelete
Consumers of legal education have no where near the protections given to purchasers of used cars.
Blogs are not scholarship. They are more akin to the punditry you find in journalism--not that there is anything wrong with that.ReplyDelete
9:04 and 9:08 I concur (from 7:43). The law school scam has done enough injury...it is time for federal regulation to reel in the deception and stop the flow of the loot from the federally funded loans to the hands of the charlatans. I don't refer to law as a "profession" at all anymore. As a 20 year practitioner, I intentionally call it "the lawyering business" for a reason.ReplyDelete
That is all it is. Unfortunatley, the "profession" has become mere business. The business model is broken. Lawyers are merely dispensible "billing units" in law firms. Deans of law schools and law schools themselves should be subject to the same sort of regulation and scrutiny as used car salesmen.
My cousin is a successful lawyer with a nice house and a fancy car. He is not divorced or remarried, but I think he does f*** around on the side.ReplyDelete
10:47: For a large number of law graduates, law may never be more than just a job- and one paying hourly wage slightly higher than minimum. You have people working at law firms for $12/hr, working for respectable prosecutor's offices for free. Getting $25/hr at a doc review gig in New York is considered a good gig. It's insanity. No profession has fallen this far this fast and a lot of it is due to the oversupply of law graduates because of the greed of law schools.ReplyDelete
@nyc, did your nephew jump through a lot of hoops to get that nice house and fancy car?ReplyDelete
"They're probably not intended for the large majority of people going to Yale or Stanford..." This is offensive to me. Why do you think these schools are somehow better than Harvard? It's HYS, not YSH, right?ReplyDelete
And with respect to "the semi-famous writer" who died the other day, I think that's also insulting to his memory. "On the Art of Cinema" is likely to go down as one of the greastest works ever written by a North Korean author and "On the Juche Idea" is also a surefire cure for insomnia.
Harvard Law is FAR larger than Stanford or Yale Law - it is about 80% larger than Yale and Stanford combined - and not all of their grads are getting offers. In fact, at a networking event in Boston in October, a partner at one of the largest firms in the world told me that he had heard that roughly HALF of Harvard's '11 class was unemployed. In October. Maybe a bit of hyperbole, but the point still stands. One can find any number of unemployed HLS grads wandering around the Northeast looking for work.
That is total hyperbole, and untrue.ReplyDelete
The real problem with Brian Leiter is just how ugly he is. His writing is ugly and his attitude is ugly. But so is his face! Have you ever seen it? The man is a troll. Literally! Look at those teeth!ReplyDelete
What is with the obsession with Leiter? Other people have been critical of LawProf?ReplyDelete
Yes, but none with rotting teeth.ReplyDelete
This is strangely personal.ReplyDelete
Brian Leiter is the avatar of everything that is wrong with legal academia. He is an abusive blowhard who has no substantive legal experience. He is, as a previous poster put it, "an amateur play philosopher."
He would probably escape much notice if he weren't such an abusive and unpleasant person.
Now he is trying to foist his proteges - the next generation of law faculty without law experience - on universities. Michel Sevel is a Leiter protege with an incredibly thin resume. I hope schools wise up and pay attention to the growing critique of their enterprise. New hires with resumes like Sevel's only cement the image of law faculties as irrelevant to the profession and out-of-touch.
Through our combined efforts, I hope we can make Leiter radioactive and irrelevant. The best way to do this is by pointing out his nastiness and hypocrisy and drawing critical attention to his proteges. Who would want to hire anyone so closley affiliated with him? As they sat, birds of a feather flock together...
One of those rotting teeth looks have to fallen out already.ReplyDelete
No, that is a waste of time. Making one person the stand in for any larger phenomenon, and training fire on him or her, is a feckless strategy. It is a diversion.ReplyDelete
It is true that Leiter is not responsible for the larger phenomenon. But he IS responsible for those teeth. They look almost brown. It's disgusting.ReplyDelete
That's your opinion. To me, Leiter is a vocal and visible spokesman for the status quo in legal academia. He has outsized influence and by taking him down a peg (or two), we may have some modest success in curbing egregious behavior on the part of other faculty. Making him radioactive and focusing attention on his proteges and courtiers, will go a long way towards diminishing his influence. Leiter's arrogance and defiance encourage us to press on.
Sunlight is often the best disinfectant and Leiter continues to shill for his proteges in the academic job market, even though they have minimal - or in the case of Michael Sevel - no practical experience as lawyers.
We are making progress. Sevel took down an inane Youtube clip of his "teaching" in response to the attention brought by the scambloggers.
I have never posted here before, nor have I ever posted on the internet before, but I would like to make my inaugural contribution to the internet to agree that Brian Leiter has an ugly face. Thank you for reading.ReplyDelete
Of course it is my opinion, as are all the other statements on this blog. I think people exaggerate the power and influence of blogs and bloggers. We are into this world, but the overwhelming majority of people could not care less, do not even know these sites exist. The only people who care about who gets hired where are other law professors. The argument about Leiter's role in that could be made whether we were talking about the problems of unemployed or underemployed graduates or not. So, people use graduates' problems as a vehicle to lodge professional complaints.ReplyDelete
Well it's great that you decided what the world cares about despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.ReplyDelete
You are the world. Yes.ReplyDelete
Every movement needs a personified, opponent or enemy. Preferably, your movement's opponent is morally bankrupt.ReplyDelete
Brian Leiter is an ideal opponent and enemy for those of us who want reform in higher education generally, and law school specifically. He is outspoken, incindiary, condescending and alienates his audience. We should all hope that Brian Leiter will continue to speak out in favor of the status quo. It could be worse- we could have an opponent who is charming, reasonable and persuasive. Or worse yet, no opponent at all!
With all due respect, this argument, especially as it applies to the students whom Brian may have helped in the teaching market--and he has helped many, with or without practice experience--strikes me as odd coming so quickly on the heels of the piling on of praise for Canpos's primer about bullshit, eg not caring whether a statement is true or false. I have criticized and been criticized by Brian before, finding him worthy of criticism sometimes and sometimes decent, fair, and helpful. He should be judged on his own merits, for better or worse. And it is unfair, precisely because of the bullshit angle, to argue for categorically condemning students he gas recommended without judging them on their own merits--especially when another popular argument here is that profs do so little to help their students' careers. Saying that Brian should be condemned not where and as appropriate, but just because he (and especially his students) are a proxy for everything one wants to "take down a peg or two" amounts to saying one should do so when and whether or not he or his students deserve it in particular cases or not. That's a fair description of Frankfurt's "bullshit.". It may be satisfying, but it's a remove away from caring about truth for its own sake. It's especially unfair to his students, some of whom might deserve it, but some of whom don't. After all, if it's not fair to hold all law students responsible for knowing everything law students do, surely some students he champions were just grateful to find a recommender and are unaware of all the background. Sticking to the truth and not being indifferent to when, whether, and how much criticism someone ;let alone a law student just entering the teaching market and seeking support from a former teacher) deserves, because it's personally satisfying or has some (questionable) strategic value, is just the sort of thing Frankfurt addresses. I've criticized Brian publicly before, so this isn't a question of defending him tout court. It's a matter of believing that criticisms should be fair and rest on their own merit because we value truthfulness and are not indifferent to when or whether some criticism is true or not, accurate or exaggerated. That applies double to his students, some of whom may be worthy of criticism on their own terms and some of whom dis nothing more blameworthy than asking some prof for a job recommendation. Bullshit, properly used, is not some strategic or rhetorical weapon. It's a double-effect sword that is all about integrity in argument and requires self-criticism (admittedly not a string suit on this blog) as well as the criticism of others. There are enough sound reasons to criticize Brian on his own merits (and sometimes praise him, in my view) without criticizing him as a symbol or proxy whether or not those particular criticisms are fair or unfair in particular cases, let alone treating all the students he happens to recommend as categorically radioactive regardless of whether they deserve it on an individual level. If you condemn "bullshit," you should be uncomfortable with these kinds of sweeping tactics and criticisms. Law schools deserve plenty of sound criticism without resorting to bullshit.ReplyDelete
Pardon the typos. Particularly "for knowing everything law schools do," "strong suit," and "double-edged sword."ReplyDelete
Paul, use paragraph breaks or nobody will be reading your wall of text.ReplyDelete
Horwitz might be even uglier than Leiter.
"Bullshit, properly used, is not some strategic or rhetorical weapon. It's a double-effect sword that is all about integrity in argument and requires self-criticism (admittedly not a strong suit on this blog) as well as the criticism of others."ReplyDelete
This is a bit much. Self-criticism isn't a strong suit of this blog? Compared to what, Paul? Your blog? Leiter's?
@1:16. I will read them-- with paragraph breaks or not.ReplyDelete
I apologize if you find that a bit strong, but, to make short work of the matter, I said it (albeit at 1 in the morning, while my daughter was in the ER; perhaps I would have omitted it, or soft-soaped it, on a different occasion) and I stand by it. My view, without wanting to start a long argument about it, is that while you sometimes respond to criticism and engage in self-criticism, as often as not you either ignore pertinent responses that you might respond to, make light of them, give them cursory responses, or respond that engaging in self-criticism would somehow detract from the "institutional" problems you address, and that all of this is unfortunate and unnecessary. That's not to say you don't have other virtues, I'm sure.ReplyDelete
In any event, as long as you're responding, I hope you will say something to your fans about why it may not be fair to treat all of the job candidates that Leiter recommends as somehow automatically tainted by their association with him, simply to take him down a peg. That doesn't seem fair to them, not least because, as I'm sure you can personally attest, many students seek recommendations (both on the teaching market and the general job market) from professors whether or not they agree with everything those professors do or say, for a variety of reasons, including their grades in those classes. One may criticize Brian for many things, but I don't see how his willingness to champion his school's graduates on the job market ought to be one of them.
My Philosophy professor in undergrad suggested (in the 1990s) that we consider becoming people who _hire_ attorneys rather than going to law school.ReplyDelete
I was less sure of myself then, but maybe that could have been a better decision for me. Then again, despite the disastrous ascent of my career (overall in 10 years I've made far less money than my dad's generation of cops, teachers, and firemen - and no retirement!) at least if I want to make a business i have the credibility of having been a litigator and business owner.
But that is not what I signed up for
I am the poster who suggested making Leiter "radioactive" through a targeted campaign to draw attention to his courtiers and proteges.
I will preemptively apologize if for my indelicate tone, but it is tough to precisely convey emotion and indignation via anonymous blog comments.
For starters, what is up with your chronic and tiresome use of medical maladies as an excuse to backtrack on comments where you "jump the shark"? Now, it's your "daughter's ER visit." Before it was your "pain" and "recovery from surgeries". Hell, at one point you even had your wife post an excuse because of your medical problems. She even called you a "hero" for merely leaving the house and going to work. Using medical issues once as an excuse for intemperate words is understandable, but as your habitual, default excuse, this is pretty weak sauce.
The fact that you so vigorously try to deflect attention from Leiter's proteges and their CVs suggest to me that this is precisely the right course of action. After all, this scrutiny logically has the potential to open up criticism/scrutiny of YOUR record and CV. If I recall, you are an esoteric "law and..." professor that happens to teach at a state university located in a state under "tea party" rule. I'm sure you wouldn't want anyone in the state house in Montgomery during a time of budget austerity looking too hard at YOUR legal experience, YOUR teaching load, or how YOU spend your official time during the academic year. Your concern trolling about Leiter's courtiers is really concern over the growing scrutiny of legal "academics" who dabble as "amateur play philosophers/theologists/economists/social scientists."
You have created a strawman. Michael Sevel or the Chicago Bigelow fellows are not innocent JD students looking for a recommendation from their professor to land a first job. The current Bigelow fellows Leiter is shilling for comprise the "legal 1%" - Ivy League pedigrees, circuit court clerkships, deep family/social connection to the legal elite, etc. These are not young naives, they know how the legal academic job market works and that Leiter can help them advance. Michael Sevel on the other hand, has collaborated for years with Leiter. He should be fully aware of Leiter's toxic reputation and track record for scorched earth incivility as he worked at his knee during some of Leiter's most outrageous outbursts of thuggery. Under its current construct, the legal academy rewards Brian Leiter and confers legitimacy on his behavior. This must change. The current economic unsustainability of the law school business model presents the ideal opportunity to take him on. The best way to take him on is by holding his proteges to account. What is the matter with essentially asking them "which side are you on?" Leiter represents the worst traits of legal academia. Anyone who seeks his imprimatur silently condones his incivility and thuggery.
I am baffled by your undue concern over the "potential" impact that a targeted expose of Leiter would have on his proteges. I am merely proposing a strategy and none of his proteges have suffered any disadvantage or "harm in fact" whatsoever. Meanwhile, we have myriad accounts of individuals who were "harmed in fact" by Leiter's thuggery. Leiter has destroyed careers and done his level best to destroy people's personal lives. He even "outed" someone in attempt to destroy their reputation and by proxy hurt their chances for tenure.
Paul, where is your outrage for Leiter's documented victims? They are legion. The cover you are attempting to provide for Bigelow Fellows, T-6 AVPs and other "legal 1%ers" strains credulity.
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How does targeting a guy who works at a top five school, whose graduates all get jobs, help people who are struggling to pay their bills or to find jobs? This seems to be about intra-group rivalry more than anything else.ReplyDelete
Easy. Leiter is one of the most vocal, controversial and influential voices in legal academia. However misguided, his words unfortunately carry great weight. Simply put, he is a cyberbully who specializes in threats and intimidation. Regardless of his status as a T-5 professor, Leiter regularly abuses others and he has "crossed the line" of decency multiple times. His spiteful "outing" of a closeted gay professor is but one example of his transgressions. The "outed" professor merely had the temerity to challenge Leiter on an esoteric philosophical issue. Leiter responded by going "scorched earth" in an attempt to intimidate and influence the victimized professor's tenure committee.
Brian Leiter is an ethical cancer in legal academia. He is the avatar of the overpaid, arrogant and out-of-touch legal academic. Through his influence and the threat of his bullying, he normalizes incivility throughout legal academia - from his T-5 perch all the way to the lowest TTT. His hubris knows know bounds. (See the claim he made a few weeks ago that private practitioners actually sought his LEGAL opinion on substantive issues even though he barely survived a year as an associate at Kaye Scholer).
Leiter also influences legal academia outside of his T-5 home by advocating for the hiring of his proteges and courtiers - at schools throughout the US News rankings.
I would like to add an addendum to my earlier response to Paul Horwitz. I think that deep down, in his private moments, Horwitz knows that he and his brethren have the losing hand in this debate in the "court" of public opinion. I believe this is where his "pearl clutching" comes from and his transparent "can't we all get along" message. Where was Horwitz in the call for civility when Leiter engaged in his most egregious attacks? Nowhere. Now that his gilded academic perch is threatened, he is calling for civility. This is really rich.
I find Horwitz's scolding about "self criticism" on this blog a real howler. He posts on a blog where many writers don't even allow comments and where some that do cowardly delete those that are critical.
"Vocal" and "controversial" do not add up to influence. Who does he influence? How widely spread is his influence? You said "Easy" in answer to my question how talking about this one person will solve the problems of people who are suffering under huge debt loads or who are out of work. But nothing you said gets near that. Its all about profs and their issues. And they may be legitimate issues, but they suck the air out of what is of immediate concern.ReplyDelete
It looks like we have a real, live Leiter defender here. Have you never heard of Brian Leiter's law school reports/rankings? Have you never heard of his scorched earth tactics to bully, intimidate and silence those that degree with him? To me, those seem like pretty reasonable examples of his outsized influence within legal academia. Certainly they point to Leiter's heft in normalizing his views/perspectives within the larger profession. As long as his career prospers and aspiring law professors seek his imprimatur, incivility and nastiness will be rewarded traits in the professoriate.
There can be no solution to huge debt loads and unemployment until there is reform of the current legal education system through transparency, loan reform and shrinking the number of law schools and the class sizes of those that remain. The current system is fraught with problems. It is illogical to not focus efforts on the most visible, pugnacious and arrogant champion of legal education's status quo. While we may ultimately be able to do very little for the lost generation of recent law graduates, we can endeavor to mitigate these problems in future law school cohorts. You have framed a red herring argument by suggesting that no criticism of legal academia's gatekeepers is desirable until intractable, multi-generational problems are solved first - this is preposterous on his face.
For a growing reform movement that has facts, public opinion and justice on its side, Brian Leiter is a villain out of "central casting." Please reread the words posted below (from a previous poster) on exactly why Brian Leiter and his proteges are the perfect target for our energies. Leiter's courtiers and acolytes are truly members of the legal "1%" and they should be fully aware of his reputation. These Ivy Leaguers and former Circuit Court clerks with little to no experience as lawyers are riding his coattails to advance their careers. The sooner his noxious and repellent personality is viewed as radioactive within the legal profession, the sooner real reform can start. As the earlier poster so eloquently said:
"Every movement needs a personified, opponent or enemy. Preferably, your movement's opponent is morally bankrupt.
Brian Leiter is an ideal opponent and enemy for those of us who want reform in higher education generally, and law school specifically. He is outspoken, incindiary, condescending and alienates his audience. We should all hope that Brian Leiter will continue to speak out in favor of the status quo. It could be worse- we could have an opponent who is charming, reasonable and persuasive. Or worse yet, no opponent at all!"
"Incendiary". I am not defending anyone. I'm saying you are giving this one person too much power. And you still haven't offered proof of his widespread influence, and why he is the key to everything. But if that's how you feel...ReplyDelete
A couple of responses, if I may, over two comments. First, I think your point about referring to my own recent illnesses and other circumstances was unkind but quite right, and I apologize for it. After the fact, I worried that since Campos was not the point of my late-night post, it was inappropriate to make an offhand remark about him. But I shouldn't have made excuses for it; I shouldn't have done it in the first place, and I should have apologized for it straightforwardly. Mea culpa.ReplyDelete
There are some factual inaccuracies in what you said. I did not "have" my wife do anything, as many married folks will immediately understand. I didn't know she had posted something until after I read it on the blog like everyone else. I am indifferent to whether the state government inquires into my salary, teaching load, or anything else. As I have said publicly, I'm happy to negotiate for the best salary and arrangement I can get, but I don't think it's God-given. Within the law, I think the legislature and the public are free to publish my salary, criticize me, and so on. I have not been "nowhere" when I have disagreed with things Brian has said or how he has said them; I have publicly criticized him for incivility on several occasions. Nor is it accurate that I only call for civility when my "gilded academic perch is threatened." For one thing, it's probably not under any real threat. For another, I've written in favor of civility as a blogger and scholar for some 17 years. I am relatively indifferent to public opinion, for better or worse. I don't think law school reform is necessary because public opinion supports it; I think it's necessary because it's necessary, regardless of public opinion. I regularly engage in self-criticism in my blogging and scholarship, and with few exceptions leave comments open, deleting them only if I think they are extremely uncivil; I have allowed many, many more harsh criticisms than I have deleted. When I post comments on this blog, I do so under my own name so people know who is posting and can take me to task if they wish. Would that more people did so.
To continue: I remain in disagreement with what you have said about using Leiter as an ideal target for strategic reasons; but more important than that is my disagreement with your view that it is appropriate to use his students he's recommended, Bigelows or otherwise, as a "target" for your "energies." I understand the strategic or therapeutic value of doing so. But the point that Frankfurt makes about "bullshit," one I agree with, is that this line of thinking tends to make one indifferent to whether individual statements are true or false. Little wonder that politics and political movements are so full of bullshit, and regularly sacrifice individuals to some larger goal, whether that goal has merit or not. I think there is merit to many criticisms of law schools, and have said so; but I don't believe those merits justify treating any person as a means to an end instead of an end in itself.ReplyDelete
I think your language about "courtiers," "acolytes," and so on is nice prose but doesn't reflect reality terribly well. I give recommendations for most students who ask me for them, both for teaching jobs and for other jobs in the profession. I'm sure Prof. Campos does too. And it is evident that Brian considers it his duty to champion most Chicago grads who go on the teaching market, whether they are "proteges" or not. Most of the students I give recommendations to cannot be said by any reasonable stretch to be my "courtiers" or "acolytes," and I would think it unjust for someone to try to blackball them because they didn't care for me personally or saw me as an "ideal enemy" for purposes of reform, no matter how meritorious. I think people should be judged on their own merits, both good and bad, not used for strategic purposes or to vent one's anger; I feel that way about Prof. Campos, and about Prof. Leiter too, and I certainly feel that way about his students, who are closer in status to law students than to tenured professors. The fact that there is a great deal of justice in the call for reform in legal education, or general educational reform, or social reform, does not to me excuse any and all strategic moves made in its service, no matter how effective they might be. I don't see how one could think otherwise and still think Frankfurt was saying something important.
I'll leave it at that, except to reiterate my apology for the offhanded remark about Campos, which was unnecessary, and to agree that if I say something I shouldn't, I shouldn't blame it on illness, surgery, or anything else.
You're wondering if you have any real choice about sticking this out, given that you don't seem to have any other promising career prospects at the moment, and after all going to law school is the kind of thing that at least allows you to tell people you're going to law school. You do have a choice. The biggest mistakes in life are committed by people worrying about what other people will think.ReplyDelete
And if you ARE worried about what other people will think, think about how much scorn they will have for you when you graduate from law school after three years and thousands of dollars without a decent job as an attorney. "Ha ha, it will take more than $15,000 per semester for him not to be a loser!"
"Here's what other people are thinking about you: They aren't."ReplyDelete
This has been my understanding for a while now too, and it's very liberating when one fully realizes its implications.