In one of my other lives I've spent a great deal of time trying to do a little bit about the moral panic we've been having in America over fat (If you're interested in the topic here's a video of a debate I participated in last week with John Stossel, former Surgeon General David Satcher, and Pamela Peeke).
One thing I've learned over the years is that, when dealing with a deeply screwed up cultural message, it's important to avoid getting tangled up in all the details regarding just how and why that message is as screwed up as it is. Instead, for the purposes of political action, (as opposed to scholarly analysis, which naturally must be much more complex) it's crucial to focus on one central point. In dealing with what I've come to think of affectionately as the obesity mafia, I've come to understand that it's necessary to keep pointing out that we don't know how to make fat people thin. The reason it's necessary to keep pointing this out is:
(A) Nobody actually believes this, even though the evidence on this point is neither ambiguous nor open to dispute; and
(B) Pretty much everything the public health establishment says on the topic is rendered either irrelevant or nonsensical by this inconvenient fact.
I'm making a parallel discovery in the world of legal education. There are a great number of things wrong with legal academia, but in the end the problem is this: There aren't enough jobs. Everything else -- the failure to prepare people to practice law, the intellectually vacuous and socially reactionary atmosphere of the law school classroom, the ridiculous publication system, the pernicious rankings, the puerile obsessions with status, the profligate spending etc. etc. -- is secondary to the fact that there aren't enough jobs.
Let us do a little exercise.
Contrary to the disturbing things you may have read in the New York Times, legal education is actually changing in all sorts of wonderful ways, which are making our students far more practice-ready upon graduation.
There aren't enough jobs.
Contrary to the disturbing things etc., legal scholarship has entered a golden age, and is producing all sorts of wonderful insights regarding how to make The Best Legal System in the World even better.
There aren't enough jobs.
While it's true that a few law schools may have misled applicants into believing there were enough jobs, we are now starting to publish semi-transparent employment and salary statistics.
Which reveal that there aren't enough jobs.
I would like to point out that, while it is generally true that there aren't enough jobs, this generalization is not valid in regard to the graduates of the Harvard, Yale and Stanford law schools.
As soon as the recession is over, there will be enough jobs.
No there won't.
It's not my fault that there aren't enough jobs.
This is irrelevant to the fact that there aren't enough jobs.
You can do a lot of things with a law degree besides get one of those legal jobs which "some" say there aren't enough of.
No you can't.
If graduates network, and interview well, and move to Nebraska, and avoid falling prey to the desire for high-paying work, then things will work out for them.
No they won't, because there aren't enough jobs.
We need to hire more faculty, and open more centers, and create new administrative positions, and improve the Career Services Office, and spend $100 million on yet another building, and as a consequence of all this raise tuition ever-higher, because otherwise we'll fall in the rankings, and our graduates won't be able to get jobs.
No, your graduates won't be able to get jobs because there aren't enough jobs.
I could go on like this, but there still wouldn't be enough jobs.