Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Tactic of Non Engagement

I cannot say my rile is where it once was.  I blame the current administration at UF law which is demonstrating an unprecedented and alarming  lack of indifference to the welfare of the students, fiscal responsibility, and even handedness.

But there is an interesting condition that seems to afflict the privileged some more than others.  I am not sure it is laziness, boredom,  a character flaw, or a political tactic. It a is cousin to the obsession with civility as a means of stifling dissent and maintaining the status quo. You know what I mean  - its not what you said but your tone.

It's the reluctance to engage. Here is an example. Someone on your faculty, or any workplace for that matter, does something that you think is wrong -- let's say he says everyone in a faculty meeting who disagrees with him is "insane."  It that bothers you there are a couple of ways to go. You could go to the person and say, "I'd like to convince you that broad non substantive statements like that are a problem." Or you could go to your own little mini mob and complain that the person is a jerk and add to that all of the other offenses by the person.  And, in future years you could describe the incident in slightly more extreme terms - he said we were insane and then starting cackling like a hen -- to get even more converts to your view that the person is truly evil or a nut case. This happens all the time.

Other than the law professor priss factor of which I have written before, what else is true about non engagers? Two things, but for this I need a better example. Let's suppose that a professor has a long list of speakers come to his class and none of them are gay. You decide this is a sure sign he or she is homophobic. If you engage the person, that means that you are conceding that he or she has something to say. Now you would not want that would you because, after all, you, the non engager always knows there can be no  room for discussion. You are not about to change your judgment because after all, on matters of homophobia, you are never wrong.  In effect, not engaging but spreading the word to your mini mob is just a fancy way of silencing. The other prof cannot speak to the issue because he has no idea it is an issue.

The other possibility is just plain sloth. In this case, it's just easier to go next door and complain. But what this really means is that you did not actually care that much about, in this case, the possible homophobia at all. Naw, you're just engaged in recreational BS.    

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Rile-O-Meter Still Low

I am still struggling to get my rile back.  I think it's the fault of the new dean. One has the distinct impression that his deanship is not 100% focused on "what do I do to extend my deanship." I guess I should not complain but I do miss being riled.  It  makes me realize that an old blog about the benefits of having an interim dean missed the point. Not the whole point but there is another way to have a dean who will actually put his or her self interest aside -- hire an old dean. A Dean at the end of his or her career is like an interim dean -- no need to worry about anything other than the school.  I guess a term limit dean would work too.  On the other hand, an old dean has seen it all.

I am not riled but disenchanted by the data on scholarship my coauthor and I have turned up. A few things stand out. First there is a statistically significant correlation between both the rank of the review and the rank of the school from which the author graduated and the number citations by other scholars. The good news is there is no significant correlation between judicial cites and either of those. Courts, to my surprise, don't care all that much about institutional authority.  There is, though, a bad side to this. They also don't care much about what law professors have to say.  Citations to legal scholarship are not rare but they are almost never for the analysis or the proposals found in law review articles. Instead they are for things like:"this section of the UCC has 4 subsections." or "12 states have laws against this."  Yes, mainly they lift facts from even the fanciest articles. It's hardly worth the  $300 million a year spent on legal scholarship. That, btw, is a very conservative estimate. It does not account of the costs of running reviews, mailings, postage, time, etc. What a terrible waste.

I guess the 300 million plus a year for legal scholarship does rile me not just because the scholarship so rarely relied on in a meaningful way but because so much if it is not scholarship at all -- more like extended op-ed pieces.

I have been riled for a long time about the absurd "we will hire whomever you are sleeping with" policy at UF. I have been told it means more jobs for women -- a feminist thing. Huh. I do not know the gender breakdown on trailing spouses but, if it is to hire women, what an insult to feminists -- hiring women not because of who they are but because they hooked up with  the "right" men. My rile on this has faded mainly because I have had my say.

I am kind of riled by Obama being such a dud and those who somehow think the Ravens are heroic for cutting Ray Rice once they saw the video. The relevance of the video is lost on me other than to suggest that battered women should start wearing those little cameras because that appears to be what it takes to get some action.

Any law professor who utters anything about academic freedom could rile me. I have never seen a freedom so infrequently used.

I am sure there are things I should be riled about but since I cut off all information coming out of the months  the law school's biggest agitators and least accurate people, the rile-o-meter has been very low.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Getting Back My Rile

Have not written much lately -- just have not been riled enough. I am not sure what accounts for that.

Could be that I became a grandfather and my thoughts are on that. Could be that we have a new "acting" dean who is pretty direct so, for the most part you know what he is thinking. This would be in comparison to the old dean who seemed to get the vapors if he had to say something that would be controversial or offend one of the "yes" people.

It could be that I have been doing my best to avoid gossip. In fact, I have imposed an embargo on my best pal on the faculty from telling me anything that two blabber mouths who are often wildly inaccurate and mischievous have to say no matter what and for all time.

And, there is a pretty reliable source saying that the world's least rational and most single-personality-driven foreign program is kaput.

But my rile came back a bit lately. Partly it is the result of an empirical study that shows that citation in law reviews is largely correlated with the status of the school you attended. Yes, the elites prefer to cite the elites. My hunch -- actually far more than a hunch since I have been told this by law review editors -- is that articles by elites are more likely to be read in a timely way and accepted. Why? because top reviews perpetuate the elitist system in legal education.

And then there is this piece from the New York Times. discussing the failure of elite colleges to make much if any progress in admitting those who are not privileged. You should read it but this quote from the article captures most of it, "But critics contend that on the whole, elite colleges are too worried about harming their finances and ranking to match their rhetoric about wanting economic diversity with  with action." Is there really any surprise here? Why would there be? When was the last time your hiring committee was even willing to break bread with a stellar state school grade as opposed to bottom of the top third at an Ivy.

Of course they don't because it would be an admission that they are not so special. Plus, little Nancy or Trevor may be in the market for a law teaching job some day and it's better for them if the system stays as rigged as a clipper ship.

Yep, the privileged are not giving it up until it is ripped from their greedy little paws or it is torn down. I'm up for either one.   

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Public Law School Dilemma

Recently a colleague circulated a list of various specialties our law school offers and the enrollment in the highest enrollment classes within each specialty. In effect, it was a assessment of the demand for various classes. The effort was to assist us in long term planning. Where are we using resources and where should they be used? It is a really tough question for public law schools which I guess are really only quasi-public these days.

As one might expect, the demand for law school classes is a derived demand. That is, demand is determined by what is selling in the market. So, there is a high demand for business oriented courses and a low demand for family law, environmental, criminal law, and poverty law.

To me this captures the dilemma of today's law schools. Do they serve market  demand or not. I think I know what most will do if for no other reason than to survive. The problem is that public law schools exist, or so I thought, to produce public goods. I cannot think of another justification. Why else force tax payers to foot a substantial part of the bill?

The public good rationale would mean offering courses in areas in which attorneys cannot internalize the benefits of the services they sell. This would mean more attorneys specializing in consumer law, perhaps family law, and environmental law -- all areas with poor financial prospects because the demand (or should I say need) for those areas is not manifested in the market.

The problem is that while my school offers a huge supply of those types of training, the demand is very low. If one were only interested in matching supply and demand there are two answers. One is to decrease supply. The other is to increase demand or apparent demand.  In other words, make those classes more attractive to students and I do not mean by giving everyone an A. Instead, you stimulate demand by making investment in those area attractive. I do not suppose there is any way to cause salaries to increase but another approach would be to decrease costs so that the return to investment rises.

What does this mean? Perhaps differential tuition for those willing to practice, at least for some period of time, in areas in which there are public good elements. Or scholarships for those willing to concentrate in those areas.

Pie in the sky, I know but if public schools only serve market demand, why do they exist?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Anonymous Poster: Or is it Anony-mouse

Back when Moneylaw appeared to be an up and coming blog, I think it was Jim Chen who used to respond to anonymous comments with the salutation Dear Anony-mouse. I thought about that when two of the commentators on my last post remained anonymous although not saying anything controversial and saying what was said in a completely civil way. This made me wonder about the reasons for anonymous comments.

One  reader informed me that a person is in the private sector who says things  that could result in formal or informal sanctions in his or her job may well prefer to remain anonymous. That one maskes sense to me as long as the comment is substantive. When they get nasty, I'd say the commentators just want to  snipe and the private sector excuse is inapplicable.

I suppose untenured people might also have good reasons to remain anonymous.  Law profs can be very petty and taking someone on who may be reviewing your work or voting on your promotion, even in civil fashion, is probably not a good idea.  I wish it were not so but we are talking about law profs.

Add to the list of those who can justify anonymity disgruntled students. They bought into law school advertising and many are without jobs but do have debt. Putting their names on anything that could come back in haunt them in a job search would be foolish. Plus they may have more standing that any group to get a little upset.

But let's get to the nub of things. I am willing to bet that a fair percentage of anonymous comments are from tenured law professors.  Sure, I cannot prove it but, if you can prove otherwise, I am all ears and I will pay your way to Disney World if you do prove it.  So what is up with this? Are they afraid they may not be invited to the next conference or asked to contribute to yet another symposium consisting of someone and his or her pals?  What are we to make of people who want to send a strong message and then hide behind a rock after sending it?  Are they afraid the person they complain about will not want to be friends if their  their identity is revealed? Do they actually think people attribute as much weight to views that can only be expressed if no one knows who is expressing them? If the author has so little conviction, why should the listener pay attention? Or is this just wide spread paranoia.  The biggest problem is that they are free riders on the understandable need of others to remain anonymous so the reader does not know how to separate those with legitimate concerns from the hyper-cautious prissy law profs.

Don't get me wrong. I realize, perhaps more than most, that there are sanctions for being outspoken but isn't it better to deal with them than to creep around with a mask on when you feel strongly about about something? I'd feel sneaky.

My hunch is that it is closely related to law professors' obsession with deniability and cost/benefit analysis.

But really, I am quite  curious about the explanation and am open to comments  that would help me understand. Anonymity is fine -- I don't have enough readers to be picky.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dan Markel: How About a Little Respect

I did not know Dan Markel but all I need to know comes from photos of him with two smiling children. It appears from that and everything that has been written that he was a terrific person. It also appears that I was one of a small handful of  people who did not know him. Nevertheless, it is beyond sad to think of the way lives have changed and I do not mean just his.

Some commentators, however, have used the event to engage in typical law professor BS. Tripping over each other in a desire to seem to know him best and to have inside information, stories have mentioned that he was in the middle of a divorce (false), that it was a home invasion (false), that he was shot in the back (maybe but it would be the back of the head.) This is the kind of loose talk usually reserved for the know it all, name droppers who spend too much time trolling the halls or in the faculty lounge. In effect, for some, his death became a means to the end of showing off.

One other factor that reflects badly, at least to me, about the commentators is the persistent description that he was a good scholar, an internationally known scholar, a gifted scholar. I do not doubt any of that for a second  nor do I care. To me it trivializes the loss.  The loving father of two children was gunned down.   My hunch is that he would have traded all the scholarship, citations, and accolades for a mere chance to see his children grow up, to be in a happy relationship, and to have good friends. Somehow, if I were describing the loss of a decent loving person, "scholar" would be way down on the list of characteristics that made the death so tragic. Is it harder to lose a good scholar than, say, the clerk at a 7-11? Not to me. Scholarship, like the 7-11 clerk who gets the change right every time, is simply something a person does. It is not who they are -- not at any meaningful level.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Prissy law professors? Insufferable? Quiche? Not always!

This is actually Part 37 of Sociology of Law Professors but I could not get it all on the same line.

I've not been around many work groups in my life time. In fact, for the most part, it has been laborers, lawyers, and law professors. In spite of that small sample, the prissiest and most insufferable group in the world must be law professor or those interested in what they have to say.

I have to describe some of them as "interested in" because some of the most insufferable language is found in anonymous comments on blogs. Although there are rumors that some of the anons are actual law professors and one Chicago blog Czar in particular I do not know that. In fact, that accusation may be completely wrong and the product of anons who just want to demonize the other professor.

The best place for the truly wacko and insufferable anon comments that I know of is the Faculty Lounge blog. Over there a barroom brawl among sissies can break out at any time. Things can be fine and then the discussion devolves into pure mush of innuendo, accusations, and a game of gotcha. I suspect the people most likely to pull the civility card when not anonymous are often anonymous when the calls for civility are rightfully attributed to lame efforts to silence someone or are ridiculed as  they should be.

Those comments are  not as much insufferable as they are evidence of a somewhat wacko need to one up the other guy without have to say anything substantive or say who you are.

Some of the signed comments are the most insufferable and penned by those who must have an amazing sense of importance. Over on the contracts list serve, a discussion of contract law quickly went to hobby lobby and then to thinly veiled law prof name calling with one truly screwed up person calling the dean at the school where one of the commentators teaches to complain about the commentator's comments. Yes, this may set the record for prissiest law professor. Hopefully the dean told the complainer to get professional help. I know I did suggest it would be appropriate if, that is, there is treatment for being an asshole.

Here is the type in insufferable language you might find over there and I suspect on any law professor list serve. This is only an example: "But I cannot help add that Peter today perpetuated the unfair "permission to post" meme that Ben started yesterday. Objecting to threads as being off topic are entirely appropriate on a subject matter listserve, though the objection could be unfounded. Characterizing it as Peter (and Ben) did as my insisting on my permission to post, and referring to me by name as Peter did this morning, is itself a polemical and uncollegial means of stifling fair comment."

That was the public post and I do not mean to pick on that writer specifically or Peter or Ben, whoever they are. You may disagree but when I see "polemic," and "uncollegial," I begin to tear up. Just kidding. I do not know if the writer was the dean caller but when I responded publicly that the full comment sounded a bit over the top in the self importance department, here is the  private and intimate note I receive in response:  "Maybe you should have hesitated a moment before pressing send, Jeff. That's an asshole comment to make and I am telling you that directly and not anonymously."

 Of course, while not anonymous, this note came "off list" so none  of those who read the list would know about it or how quickly words like polemic and uncollegial gave way to "asshole."

I loved the private response. First, because as my pal Eric Fink reminds me, it's not worth writing if it does not get under someone's skin. Second, because the writer -- someone who I now have much more respect for -- was willing to forego the code words of law professors and show some emotion. Third, it reveals he can be a real person, not just the typical posturing, indirect priss, so many law professors are.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014


Each year law school publications publish about 8,000 articles.These are written by law professors and a few judges and practitioners.   In addition, law faculty publish books (often recycled articles), casebooks, book chapters, and edit books compiled of the writings of others.  How much does it cost? That is hard to say but here is a rough estimate based on my law school. Let's say the average yearly earnings of a law prof is $150k. At my School you teach 9 hours year instead of 12 on the theory you are doing research. So about 37K a year goes to research per faculty member. In addition, anyone who wants to can research in the summer for about 15% of his or her salary. Most people do this so add another 20K for a total payment for research of 57K.  We have a large faculty, conservatively at 50 people. So my school invests about $2,850,000 a year in law professor research. For that each of our 1000 students could be given a $2850 scholarship or have tuition lowered by that amount. Or 15 well paid faculty could be hired and class sized dramatically lowered.

For $2.85 million you might want to know what you get. But there is no connections between money spent and the usefulness of what is written. Unlike other areas in which someone makes a proposal and someone doling out the money decides if it is worthwhile, there is no similar gate keeping in legal research unless you count the 23 year olds who decide what gets published where.

As I noted, UF is a big operation. Let's say it's the biggest and that all of the other 200 laws schools are half as large and, thus spend half as much money on legal research. That would be $1.4 million times 200 or $285 million per year. No, you did not miss something, Each year law schools invest about 285 million dollars on law professors writing mainly law review articles, books including casebooks, chapters for books, or editing books of chapters written by other people.

It is a scam? That is not easily answered. Some of the works are useful. Many are interesting and there is something to be said for that too. How useful it is impossible to know. For example, 33 of  lead articles in the top 100 law reviews in 2003 have been cited by at least one court somewhere. Sixty-seven have not. Of the 33, most show no sign of actually having influenced the decision.  Maybe that is not so bad but of the 100 lead articles in the secondary reviews at those same top schools, only 8 have been cited by any court anywhere.

Judicial cites, as every law professor reading instantly thought to him or herself upon reading this, are not the only way to assess usefulness. It is but one way but you would think if you were going to spend $285 million dollars a year on something you would do it based on something more than a hunch or faith that most of it is not wasted.


I have not counted the research assistants, secretarial aid. submission fees, copying and, of course, travel in the name of legal scholarship.

And here is a final kick to the gut. When these projects generate income, the professors keep it although only the most hypocritical reading of copyright law could lead one to believe the scholarship is not "work for hire" with the earnings going to the employer.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The No Good Deed Goes Unpunished Ring of Honor

My special awards for those who took risks and did something for someone else only to have it bite them in the butt.

1.  The Dean who went out on a limb to support someone's application for tenure, only to be sued by that person on the basis of that support.

2. The dean candidates who studied the UF Law School, flew to Gainesville at least twice, and submitted to days of questioning only to find out the job was only available to one person.

3. The job seekers who replied to a UF law school notice for an environmental law teaching job by sending extensive personal materials only to discover the job was promised to someone else before they applied.

5. The colleague who fought very hard to get a non traditional background person hired only to find that the person was actually greedier, nastier, and less truthful that anyone else.

6. The faculty member who worked hard to pull off a lateral hire only to discover the lateral hire's lack of productivity means he has to work harder.

7. The Whole Foods chain which was sued for overcharging when, what it sells to customers, is the good feelings they get by paying high prices.

8.  The faculty member asked to read an untenured colleague's scholarship, comments extensively, and finds the advice was ignored and the request made after the articles was accepted and ready to be printed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sociology of Law Professors, Never Admit a Mistake: Part 15.

I think it was 1984. I was at a faculty retreat daydreaming (this was before Ipads and wifi) and someone left the meeting and a door slammed. About an hour later the slammer returned and apologized for his behavior. I did not know what he did. Then maybe 10 years ago, a really unpleasant faculty member was found to have penned an email describing us all as loafers. That might be right but at the time she was attempting to be Ms.Congeniality. Busted. She apologized.

Let's see, that's 30 plus years of law teaching and two apologies. Are law profs always right? I doubt it. So what explains this inability to fess up, admit fallibility, show a little humanity. I am not sure. I suppose it is a sign of weakness to apologize and when your culture is one of constant negotiation you never never show weakness.

So I am waiting for these apologies:

1. From the person who knowingly posted an ad for job already filled: "Sorry, I screwed up and embarrassed the School. Won't happen again."

2. From the Law School officials who refused to acknowledge or address the issue: "Yes, sometimes our paranoia is more powerful then common sense. Sorry."

3. From the professors in meetings labeling others as "insane." "I guess that was not helpful. Sorry."

4. From the professor who insists on an interpretation of a committee proposal that is wrong and takes up 15 minutes while people try to explain it and then just goes silent. "Sorry I used up the time of 50 people today because I had not read the proposal. I'll do better."

5. From the faculty member who says a particular proposal is a good solely because that's what they did at his law school or his daughter's. "sorry for taking up your time with a complete non sequiter."

6. From the dean so obsessed with maintaining his job that he could not make a decision simply based on what was right and wrong. "Sorry I let my selfish needs get ahead of my obligations to the school."

7. From the President who abandoned a dean search when the right politico did not emerge as the favorite (which anyone could have predicted) and said he wants excellence but 2 days later ordered the law school to hire someone it would not hire in a field that is covered. "Sorry, that does not make sense does it,"

8. From colleagues teaching 50-90 students a year. "Sorry, I am clearly not pulling my weight in the classroom."

9. From the professors giving their work to secretaries and then complaining if it is not done the way they would have done it which they should have been doing. "Sorry, I guess my lack of humility is showing."

10. From the snake who gossips, live in the dean's office, and complains constantly about his or her treatment. "Sorry, I'm a miserable person and from this point on I will not say anything until I have the facts right."

11. From the chair of the appointments committee who lied about the contents of reviews of a candidate's scholarship. "Sorry, sometimes chairs get so invested in bringing in the right candidates they lose their objectivity."

12. From the appointments committee meeting chair who could only interview graduates of two or three schools. "Sorry, I guess a broader perspective would be a good idea."

13. From the small covey of mean people  who ran off a talented faculty member for a youthful mistake. "We are sorry. We let our pettiness get ahead of the goals of the school."

14 From the faculty member who claimed a dean candidate was not friendly to the lesbien/gay community but was unwilling to state why, "I am sorry and as soon as I stop being an a**hole, I will apologize.

15. From the Director of a Program who writes "will you do this?" and then says she has no recollection of making the offer; "Sorry, I had promised someone else and it slipped my mind."

16. From the faculty committee chair who sponsored a candidate and did not reveal he knew it was an inside job. "Sorry, I guess I thought playing ball with the administration was better for my career."

17. From the hiring committee member who told the faculty the committee refused to even consider a candidate but sat in a meeting in which the candidate was discussed at length. "Sorry, I lied."

18. From the colleagues who leaned on me to write a chapter for a book that never came out or came out several years later: "Sorry, I should have told you that it is iffy."

19. From cost conscious usually liberal leaning faculty and administrators who think nothing of dropping thousands and thousands of dollars of the money of others' so they can give ten minutes of off the cuff remarks at some distant location. "Sorry, we are selfish and we will try to do better."

20. From the faculty member who refused to hand over a public document in spite of a written requirement that the document be produced. "Sorry, I guess I got carried away."

21. From anonymous sniping blog commentators: "I'm sorry and I will get treatment."

I guess these apologies will flow in any minute but sometimes I think there really is a course at elite schools called "never ever apologize."

Looking for Lou and Still Whining: Reprise

Some of you may have been so desperate to procrastinate that you stumbled across this blog and my series on favoritism in hiring at UF Law. Of course, having been beneficiaries of favoritism their whole lives, many law professors think it is as natural as pissing on a poor person.

You know the story. UF Law was told to hire the spouse of someone another department and Bernie Machen evidently decided had "vision." When he told the faculty to jump, they obliged by saying "how high."

I actually went for the head fake when  Bernie said he wanted excellence for the law school. That is until in virtually the same breath he told the Law School to carry the luggage for another College. I was  pretty ashamed of my own Dean and fellow faculty for have not a shred of the "question authority" gene. (Tenured faculty remember, who need tenure because of all the courageous positions they take.)

But just when your feelings about this hit rock bottom you find something else out.  This gets a little complicated. The very day Bernie was telling us he and the other department would foot the bill for the new new hire who teaches in a very narrow area and who was to be hired at a very specific rank, up pops a public job opening announcement for someone teaching that very specific area and at that very specific rank. If you blinked you might have missed it.

Yes, a public announcement  that a reasonable person might actually think meant there was a job opening when in fact there was none. Think of it this way:  A car dealership advertises it has the perfect car you have been looking for. You show up to buy it and not only is it not there but it was never there.  This is a better analogy than you might think since it appears the morals of many of  those in higher education are a few notches below those of car dealers. Enronesque, to put it mildly.

So, yes, those of you who did not have a rich mommy and daddy, no legacy admission, aren't sleeping with the right person, did not have a string to pull of any kind,  welcome to the world of white collar academic duplicity where trickle up economics is the theme.  Where is Lou Reed when you need him to write the academic version of Dirty Boulevard? because this is the velvet glove version of Pedro's dad.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not Buzz Feed: Are You Cut Out To Be a Dean?

Ready to play?

1. Which dessert appeals to you most:
a. cherry pie.
b. Hot fudge sundae.
c. I don't eat dessert.

2. You listen to music:
a. in our office.
b. at home
c. in your car.

3. Your favorite music decade is.
a. the 50s
b. the 60s
c. the 90s
d.  1956=1966.

4. You've just been hired as dean. Who do you make associate dean for foreign programs:
a. Someone who wants to continue a program in which none of your students  participate and does none of the things listed in b.
b. Someone who speaks a second language, teaches international courses, and has a good head for budgets.

5. Someone in your administration posts a notice for a job that does not exist. You:
a. Look the other way.
b. Try to figure out what went wrong and take that authority away from the person who did it.

6. Your faculty is meeting to decide who gets tenure. One person says he will vote for a particular candidate because he is a good father. You.
a. Pretend to have instant onset temporary deafness.
b. Say, "I think it is important that the discussion be focused on the relevant factors."

7.  An adjunct teacher consistently has the worst teaching evaluations in the school. You:
a. rehire the person.
b. look for another adjunct.

8. Someone mentions that some faculty teach 200 students a year while other teach 60. You:
a. wring your hands and figure those are the breaks.
b. Tell the people not teaching many students to take their pick of high enrollment courses.

9. You notice that some professors give no A grades which means they can also avoid giving low grade in order to comply with the curve. This can have an impact on class rank. You:
a. Say it will probably even out in the end.
b. Try to figure out a way that class rank is not determined by the luck of the draw.

10. You talk about fiscal responsibility but when asked if it is OK to spend other people's money to finance trips to make 10 minutes of off the cuff remarks you:
a. say "gimme some of dat."
b. question whether it can be viewed as in the public interest.

11.. A faculty member attempts to ridicule another by writing snippy little emails every time the first faculty member tries to address issues of important but takes unpopular positions. You.
a. Don't say anything because Mr. Snippy likes car rac'n and has contributed gobs of dough to the school.
b. Sit down with Mr. Snippy and discuss the market place for ideas.

How to score: Ignore questions 1-3. On the remaining questions give yourself 100 for each "a" answer and minus "1" for each b answer. If your score is above zero, you have the right cut.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Hard Landing for Idealism

For some of us older guys -- products of the late 60s - and especially those of us who did not know the ways of the upper classes, the end of idealism is a hard landing. We imagined a profession in which the notion of "public interest" was of some importance.

Granted it is sometimes hard to square  professional education with public subsidization but you can get there. If you do, you imagine each decision to have a common theme:

1. How will this program make students and the public better off.
2. How will this course make students and the public better off.
3. How will this class schedule make students and the public better off.
4. How will this research project make students and the public better off.
5. How will hiring this particular person make students and the public better off.
6. How will granting this person life time employment make students and the public better off.

Those are the idealistic forms of the questions. In 30 years of law teaching I think I can count on my fingers the number of times the questions have been framed in that form or something like it. And, when I have I can count on less that one finger the number of times the discussion stuck to the interests of the students and the public.

I want to be clear that I am not talking about what makes students and the public happier. I mean what makes the students better in their professions. I also want to be clear that part of the end of idealism stems from the public under funding which means law schools have to resort to cheapo sales tactics and advertising to survive. Sure, they do not have to do these things and if they did not see themselves as ends but the means to the end of public service, they would not. And most disappointing of all is that at the head of the advantage takers are the products of the late 60s themselves.

Some examples (a short list) of  things that kill any hope for a public interest goal are these:

1. Confercationing. I've been on this topic quite a bit but does any professor, or dean, every ask "Is my trip justified by any benefit to the students or public." If you are going somewhere to make 10 minutes of off the cuff remarks, the answer is always no. But it goes on and on even by  those who go to church and talk the talk.

2, Caps on class size: Some caps are good, I suppose, but good and what actually happens are different matters. Nearly all classes are better if small. These decisions are typically made on what a professor thinks is best and are not weighed against the costs of crowding in other classes.

3. 4 credit courses scheduled in 2  two hour blocks. I have seen no study that suggests this is sound as a matter of learning. But, even that were shown to be the case, no decision about this seems to be based on an actual examination of the  benefits to the students or public.

5. Law schools throw millions of dollar a year at people who claim to do research. Most of it goes unread and most of it is advocacy for the professors' pet political causes. As far as I know the idea that funding and the importance of the work to the students and the public is a completely foreign one.

6. One thing I have never heard in a tenure and promotion discussion is this: Will giving this person a 30 year employment contract actually benefit the students or the public in some way. The subtext, even if it is sub at all, is do we like this person, is the person politically acceptable, has the person shown he or she will play ball.

If you are an idealist you have to hold your nose, look the other way, or undergo a partial elective lobotomy to survive.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Confercationing Galore: South American Style

This one has so many participants that I cannot copy it all into this little bitty blog but have a look. It's a really winner for the serious scholar who does not want to waste too much time actually preparing for and attending a conference that, after all, just gets in the way of traveling on someone else's dime. And, yes, "confercationing" is my own invention.

There are some great ones here:

I was particular intrigued by the second session on the first day. It appears to have close to 5 Co chairs for the 90 minute session.  I think they may need a conference on Co Chairing, maybe in Italy somewhere. Of course it is 90 minutes if everyone gets there on time. When I lost count there were 7 speakers which gives them each a whopping 12-14 minutes to present the results of their careful study, exchange deep thoughts, and plan for the best dinner spots. 

My goodness, this one has a federal judge who also happened to be appointed to the UF Law School dean search committee by the UF administration. You may recall the failed search.

I want to be clear that I do not know the participants traveled on someone else's money. And, if they did, I am not even sure where the money came from but if I were a betting person, I am betting on yet another example of trickle up economics compliments of your privileged friends in academia.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Important Conference News!!

As a service to law profs who have not found a way to vacation in Europe free this summer this is a public service announcement. First, obviously, after having gotten your school to pay your way you want to be sure to spend as little time conferencing as possible. So here is the perfect one day conference to justify your $1500 plus airfare.   

Conference on
Legal Education and Legal Profession in the Global World - Polish-American Perspectives
Commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Center for American Law Studies
a joint program of the University of Florida Levin College of Law and the University of Warsaw, Faculty of Law and Administration
June 16,  2014 r.  (Monday)
Aula A.3, Collegium Iuridicum II, Lipowa 4, Warsaw
8:30 Registration. Coffee
9:00 Opening of the Conference
Professor Krzysztof Rączka, Dean, Faculty of Law and Administration UW; Professor Robert Jerry, Dean, Levin College of Law, UF
9:15 The Law School of the Future: How We Need to Change Legal Education to be Adapted to Rapidly Changing World 
Moderator: Professor Łukasz Pisarczyk; Panelists: Professor Robert Jerry, Dean, Levin College of Law, UF;  Professor  Tomasz Giaro, Vice Dean, UW; Tomasz Wardyński, esq. Wardyński i Wspólnicy; Professor Hubert Izdebski, UW
10:45 Coffee break
11:00 Foreign Law and Legal Systems: To Teach or not to Teach
Moderator: Professor Julian Juergensmeyer, GSU; Panelists: Professor Maria Kenig-Witkowska, UW; Professor Stuart Cohn, UF; dr Ewa Gmurzyńska, UW/UF; Roman Rewald, esq., Weil; Witold Kowalczyk, student UW
12:45 Lunch for participants
13:30 The Changing Role of Lawyers in the Global World
Moderator: Professor Wojciech Kocot, UW; Panelists: Professor Jon Mills, UF; Agnieszka Stefanowicz-Barańska, esq., Dentons;  Witold Daniłowicz, esq, DJW Legal; Andy Hall, esq.,  Hall, Lamb & Hall, Miami; 
15:00 Coffee break
15:15  Comparing Polish and American Law Teaching Methods: Lessons from the Past for the Future; 
Moderator: Professor Stu Cohn;  UW; Professor Adam Bosiacki, UW;  Professor  Tomasz Stawecki, UW; dr Rafal Morek, UW; dr Kacper Gradoń, UW
16:45  Conclusion of the Conference. Presentation of Certificates to 2013/14 graduates of the Center for American Law Studies.
17:15 Reception

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

The Perfect Foreign Progam

I was thinking of a perfect foreign program in the sense of symbolizing academia and a failure not just of leadership but of basic responsibility.

How's this.  The program would be run by a public school (who really cares what private school do with their money?). It would fly faculty to a foreign but developed country for two weeks at a time during the school year where they would teach in English to students some of whom are fluent but many whom are very very far from it. They would teach American law in a lecture format which could be simply taped and broadcast. Their own students would have to make up the classes later.

So, let's add it up.
1. Public money to teach no UF students.
2. The State has no compelling interest in teaching  the students.
3. UF students are burdened by making up two weeks of class because their profs take off in the middle of the semester.
4. The missing class practice probably violates the AALS best practices guidelines which read: "Classes should be met as scheduled, or when this is impractical, classes should be rescheduled at a time reasonable convenient for students. . . ." I'm no genius at interpretation but my hunch is that choosing to go somewhere else to teach mid semester does not render teaching class impractical.
5. The program costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

How does this happen? Ah, there you have to understand law schools. First, it is nearly impossible to undo anything no matter how big a mistake. Second, law schools exist for faculty. Third, deans do not like to say no to faculty. Fourth, faculty don't like deans to say no to other faculty because it means the dean might say no to them next.  Fifth, deans know all this. Oh, and if you read my last post, it's the free travel addiction, too.

Students struggling to make ends meet or sitting in a class of 100+, here is one of the places your money goes.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Sociology of Academics: Part 8: The Scrooge Factor

On average academics are a cheap, miserly lot but I want to be careful. Many are not cheap at all. Instead they just have to deal with the reality that they are not earning much of a salary. On the other hand, here is an example of cheapness. I am at a restaurant -- a fairly high end one -- and a colleague orders. Then he is asked if he wants soup or salad which comes with the meal or if he would like a Cesar salad for $1.00 more. He pondered this for awhile and asks "May I have the regular salad with Cesar salad dressing but not pay the $1." Yes, I am not kidding.

It's not about the money for most; it's about the deal. This should not be surprising. For many of these folks, life is a continuous negotiation -- am I teaching the fewest number of hours, am I grading the least number of papers, did someone else get a new computer, etc.

But nothing comes close to travel in terms of cheapness. Somehow traveling on someone else's dime is the holy grail, the creme de la creme, the quest to end all quests. And it does not seem to matter what the destination is. Professors will go anywhere if it is paid for.  I feel confident that you could hand many a round trip ticket [from my point of view, one way would be better]  and not say where is to and they would snap it up.  For some, a lifetime of vacations turns on getting the best deal, not going anywhere in particular.  I have heard stories of colleagues who insisted  the expenses of their entire families should be paid for. Not kidding.  Of course,  they gobble up the frequent flier miles and make sure the single room rate is the same as the double room rate. Oh, and can we get 5 roll away beds in that room?

Sometimes I think it must be a status thing. If someone else is paying to have you go somewhere you must be important. In a sense it's not cheapness at all. It's all part of the play that they both perform and watch. No one cares about them except people who are like them. My pal who insists on not being identified calls it the terrarium effect.  Their entire existence is inside a bubble of equally unimportant people.

BTW, do you want chicken or shrimp with that salad?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Term Limits for Deans?

I was thinking about the fact that UF law will have an interim dean for a year or two and considering what difference in makes if  one is interim or permanent. How would these situations change decision making? I starting out thinking the permanent dean would be the way to go but ended up favoring the interim dean. But then I realized I was really thinking about  deanships with a term limit and one without. It seems to me that the term limited dean is the way to go. So, just thinking out loud although I know you cannot hear me unless you have Super Man hearing, I think the ideal is the 5 year term limit deanship.

Lets compare the two. If someone accepts a deanship with an unlimited term they do not want it to end prematurely because that means he or she has displeased a significant segment of the faculty.  If you have stumbled into this blog perhaps looking for something something astute about Lawrence Ferlinghetti, I am sorry and here is a link but this statement may surprise you. Isn't the Dean the boss, you might ask? The answer would be and  is "yes" but only as long as he does the work (sometimes the dirty work) of most of the faculty. If you, misguided reader of beat poetry, think they are like politicians, you have it right and they are constantly up for reelection. In fact, the best advice for the non term limited dean is to do nothing. Actually I was told this by a ex dean who was told it by a long tern dean. Sure a dean who does nothing is one at whom everyone is a little irritated  but also one who has not really rocked the boat even if rocking the boat is what a law school needs. For the non term limited dean the first priority is the keep one's job by keeping the faculty at bay. So, you do not stop useless programs that a small number people may have bought into. You reward those who could make trouble and those who always agree. Your expressed values have a weather vane like quality and your first question on everything  is "what does this mean for moi?"

They term limit dean has freedom.  Everyone knows he or she is gone in five years so there is rarely a failed deanship. It's like teflon. No matter what anyone says you were scheduled to leave in five years anyway. Do you need to keep your finger in the air to assess where you stand? Maybe a bit but since everyone knows you are gone in five years what's the point in trying to get you tossed out. And, since you know you will be gone in five years, why not put yourself aside and do the right thing. When Ms. Big Cheese comes to your office and demands something and threatens to leave you can say "ta ta" because her approval is not something you need.  In fact, you can do the right thing and if the faculty do not like it, resign (in 5 years).On the other hand, if the limited term dean lacks the balls to confront the most arrogant sob on the faculty or caves into the whiners who claim the word "no" is punitive,  the good news is that he or she is gone in 5 years.

I am all in for the limited term dean but I cannot tell you what Lawrence Ferlinghetti thinks.

But while I am on Mr. Ferlinghetti, I recall as a student, going to a reading at which he recited or read or a happening. The Happening was entitled "fuck clock." It was about two people who were hands of a clock and when the clock got to midnight they were intimate but only for a second I guess. I can find no trace of this on the internet.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Crab Legs, One Point for Scalia, and the Big Mac Attack

If I were keeping Scalia score I would have to revise the total to 1 for Scalia and 1,000,000 against instead of the previous score of 0 to 1,000,000. The reason has to do with this commencement speech at William and Mary. I cannot say I agree with all of it but, in a nutshell, it is a argument for more required and general courses. Where I do not agree is perhaps on the specific courses.

There are two implications of his talk that are directly relevant for this blog. They have to do with two recently discussed themes:  elitists control law schools for their own ends; law school is now a commodity promoted like Big Macs. In fact we now have BOGO where you can get two years of education for the price of one.

I'll leave you to check out what students may take these days at your law school. I know at my law school you can learn to meditate, stare at a raisin, talk about what it means to be you, go to the beach for a week to student beach law. etc. (So far, no yoga or nutrition classes but I am thinking of proposing some because they are as usefull as any others.)  there are many, many others that, I admit,  I  would like to take myself but it would not be out of a sense of obligation to the profession.

The problem is that these courses and the choices seem to have little connection to actual clients. Yet, public law schools, in any rational sense, exist for clients. On the other hand, what actually happens in law school is for the teachers  and students.

On the teacher side it's about teaching either what your current interests are or whatever political ax you are grinding. Whether it connects to clients is beside the point.  But that is what you get when an entire institution is captured and run primarily by people who have lived in the upper 10%.

Of course, recently the importance of selling law school like a McDonald's meal has gummed up the works and the need to attract consumers means not just doing exactly what professors want but what students want as well.  Some of them, a generally more honorable group than the profs, actually have in mind advancing their own welfare by advancing that of clients. Others view the school as bit of a travel agency. There are summer programs here and there where no teacher who wants to go back will take roll or give less than a B. And don't forget the exchange programs where only a dumb bunny would not spend most of the time touring. Still others worship at the alter of the GPA and I can hardly blame them. Until employers realize how very little GPA means, the students have  little choice. (I have know some high GPA students who I would not let tie my shoe and I am sure Rod Stewart feels the same way.) So they take the raisin class and others like because it means high grades. They flock to independent study and externships often to defend an already in-the-books decent GPA. At my school, if you play your cards right you can take over 50% of your credit on pass-fail. You only fail if you are dumb enough to walk out of a grocery store without paying for crab legs.

If you think of law schools like corporations, the faculty are the managers and they routinely give themselves the highest compensation possible even it is in the form of not grading, teaching fun stuff, and taking a week or two off here and there. The customers are the students who get to choose what their legal education looks like. For many it looks like and is as nutritious as a Big Mac. Oh, the shareholderS? Fuck'em! But you knew that, right?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Piketty, Patrimonial Capitalism, Accidentalness, and Law Professors

I was not aware of the term "patrimonial capitalism" until Thomas Piketty used it in his book.  The term describes much of America and the reason why law professors will never be the at the forefront of social change. Piketty's book, everyone knows by now, is about the concentration of wealth. Patrimonial capitalism is the term he uses to describe its passing from generation to generation. Thus, the wealthy pass their wealth on the their children and so on. Unlike Piketty, I would include within wealth so called natural abilities whether characterized by intelligence or athletic talent. Among law professors, all these forms of wealth are evident. Not many people with working class backgrounds make it into the profession and those who do make it can be total fuck ups for life and still inherit wealth and pass it along to their kids. They live the easy life while those who do not share the wealth generally have it tougher.

By what right are some children huge share holders in a system of patrimonial capitalism and some children left out completely? None that I can think of. Everyone, including law professors are simply the result of two people who chose to mix sperm with and egg. They may not have loved each other or they may have mistakenly thought they did and none of that makes a difference in any case. They may have hated each other longer than they felt any affection.  In fact, perhaps the sperm and egg only mixed because of a birth control failure. Five times it worked and those kids never existed and then it did not work and there you are. And what about the sperm that missed the egg by a zillionth of an inch. In fact, when you think about it,  most of us almost did not happen at all. And here is the kicker, the parents generally love the child regardless of the circumstances leading to his or her existence but don't get a big head about it. They would have loved any child. So, you may feel loved but in a sense it has nothing to do with you. They would have loved a turnip.

How people get from their ultimate accidentalness to the idea that they deserve anything is beyond me. Perhaps what we call  humility is a sense of accidentalness.

When you get right down to it, law professors and others who think they deserve or earned something are like lottery winners who wake up one morning and believe they have special lottery skills or earned their lottery earnings through hard work.

I once tongue in cheek suggested that a  fair world would be one in which babies in the hospital nursery would be randomly distributed to the parent who gave birth. So, you checked in,had your baby and then got a baby when you checked out. I thought it would mean every child would have and equal opportunity. That was a pretty crazy idea. It would not change anything in a system of patrimonial capitalism.

Of course, law professors are not the only ones living off patrimonial capitalism. Many MDs fall in the same category as well as just  regular rich people. The difference is this. None of those people talk and write about fairness and justice and such or claim to be on the side of the downtrodden. Many law professor do but its phony. Patrimonial capitalism is like a drug they cannot live without. It is foolish to expect anything from them. But you knew that didn't you?

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Fighting for Their Lives with Your Dough

Every  market indicator I know of says the market for law school grads is pretty lousy. When the demand drops for most other goods and services, firms diversify or reduce output. As the industry shrinks they battle it out to determine who will survive and who will have whatever share of the dwindling market. That is just the way things work. I am sure the horse drawn carriage industry fought like hell to keep up. The smart ones began putting engines in their carriages.

Evidently these same market realities apply to law schools.  Schools are now seeking to diversify by adding new programs -- undergraduate, 2 years programs, skills oriented programs -- as though this will delay the inevitable. The inevitable will be defined by the demand side of the market, not the supply. Still these supply side efforts make some sense if schools are encouraged to find better products where there is an existing and possibly unmet demand (as opposed to ones the School creates itself).

What about the demand side? Here things get sticky and the question is how much law schools should invest in fighting over the shrinking population of potential customers.  At worst one can imagine a state law school investing thousands of dollars of other peoples' money attempting to preserve itself when it was always intended to be a means to an end and nothing more.

On this theme of demand here are some of the ways it plays out --  nothing to be proud of.  As the demand for lawyers goes down so does the demand for law school. One way do deal with the demand side issue is to admit students who would not have been admitted 20 years ago. And, in the past 20 years since many schools have adopted a "no one fails policy" it means inviting a huge investment by students who may never pass a bar exam. But who cares as long as elitist law profs keep their jobs?

Or a school may address the demand issue by massively increasing its placement efforts. On one hand I applaud this but, let's face it, there are limited jobs and that means a zero sum game. If one school and its students win the zero sum game, others lose it. Is the industry really any better off. Is there really any justification for one person to have a job and another not to have one simply on the basis of how aggressive the placement efforts are?

Dwindling demand means all kinds of glossy publications and other the top web pages that are slightly toned down infomercials. All costly and, ironically, driving up the cost of the very thing for which there is limited demand.

Finally, there is the need/temptation to cheat on the USN&WR rankings. Certainly dwindling demand creates an incentive to innovate with respect to how placement figures, costs per student, and faculty per student are calculated. More time that administrators devote to preserving institutions that the market is saying is no longer needed.

What concerns me about the demand side of the equation is the massive expense that is incurred (and passed onto others) to maintain the status quo. To some extent this comes out of the hide of taxpayers and law students but the goal is to preserve the jobs of generally privileged people.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Commodification of Legal Education and Those Who Supply It

If you have been in legal education for over 20 years you have witnessed the commodification of the industry. It is evident in so many ways -- massive investments in advertising, gaming the rating systems, self promotion of individual professors, teaching evaluations that so far have not be connected to teaching effectiveness,  desperate efforts to stay in business even when the market has said "enough." The industry in which ideas were valued, effective teaching was more important that popularity, and professors displayed some level of humility is gone.

Maybe it should never have existed.  The study of law could have been a graduate program  like history or literature. A training program for how to be a lawyer would be different. One department would be about ideas; the other about commodities. Like other graduate programs, the one in law would have shrunk and the commodity program would have grow and then as shrunk as demand declined.

In the commodification of legal education, professors sell themselves like dish detergent. The don't go to "conferences;" the go to conferences at the "very highest level;"  they announce on facebook every time they write anything; they hustle the students for high evaluations, their deans regard any quotation in a newspaper as deserving of praise; they create conferences that are quickly filled up by those desperate to put on their resumes that they attended a conference and then regard it as an achievement. There is little sign that they love ideas. Instead they love downloads and lines of resumes.

Law Schools do all the same things. The competition is no different than infomericials. Glossy advertising that is superficial in terms of useful information and overstates virtually everything from the attractiveness of the location to the accomplishments of graduates and professors flow like the waste from a broken sewer line.  Every professor is nationally known. Every law school is on the cutting edge but they never say what is being cut.

In the course of this change, I have yet to hear anyone ask if any of this means law students will be better prepared for their careers. And, the  fact is, many of these activities do not contribute to the well-being of the students or their clients.

In keeping with this theme, I have but one thing to say: BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE, if you apply now we will discount the application fee.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pardon Moi, No Class Allowed

Nothing represents the class bias in higher education morethan the tendency of academics to avoid the issue of class. I suspect it is, as a friend once told me when I complained about it. "too dangerous." I mean it is not threatening to make amends for racism because it does not necessarily undermine one's own claim to elite status. You cannot, however, make amends for classism without facing the fact that but for class most law professors would not have their jobs.

The latest example of this bias is a study purporting to show that letters to professors are answered or ignored based on gender, race, and ethnicity. The way professors "knew" the category each letter writer fell into was by the name on the latter. For example, it was shown that most people regarded Latoya, Lamar, Terrell and Keisha as African American names. On the other hand, Clare, Meredith, Steven, and Brad were white names. Thus, these were the names used to show a difference in responses based on race.

Given the design of the study it could not show much if it did not use names that are stereotypically regarded as white or African American.  Of course, the fact that they are stereotyically white or African American does not mean the are the most popular names for each group and, as it turns out, they are not. Moreover, suppose you asked someone to rank the 8 names by social class. I suspect the African American names would be regarded as lower and the white names as middle or upper class. So, were the researchers checking a race or a class distinction. According to the them, it is race but, then again, they did not consider that class could be a factor. It is not that they got it wrong but that class, again, is not to be considered. Why is this?

Perhaps this would be a good study: Let's see how professors react to this list:

Please, do not get upset if your name is among the final 4. It means nothing about any specific person. In fact you can make up your own list. What what's the use?  What could be more boring or threatening to today's elitist scholars than a test for class?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Veil of Ignorance and the Veil of Civility

People may disagree what the world would look like if designed behind the veil of ignorance but there seems to be no disagreement that it prevents one from making rules that play to their self interest. In terms of a law faculty it would be nice if all procedural rules could be made with an eye to fairness and without knowledge of who will be better off or worse off. Law faculties, however, seem to dislike making any kind of rule without assessing how it will affect them. The veil of ignorance is something to be avoided whenever possible.

If  a faculty should stumble into acting behind the veil of ignorance, they forget about the purpose of the veil when convenient. This came up a few years ago when the faculty decided that Visiting Associate Professors (VAPs) could not be hired after finishing their one or two year stint. Not long after that, the Dean and the Appointments Committee advanced a candidate for a VAP without a search. They also did not disclose that the candidate was the spouse of a faculty member. (One of the people who knew this information but did not disclose it is a frequent player of the "collegiality card.") Within a few short months as the couple endeared themselves, the rule against hiring VAP did not seem like such a good idea and pressures built to jettison it. But wait, you might think, isn't the rule designed to ensure no one will hired because he or she merely "liked." You would be right to think that but any if raised it you would then encounter the "veil of collegiality."

It is, in fact, the veil of collegiality that law professors love, not the veil of ignorance. Rather than prevent rules and actions that are designed to further self-interest, the veil of civility or collegiality is used to keep everyone else from observing what are wholly self interested acts. It is also used to demonize those who raise the issues of fairness and self dealing.

For example, for years at UF Law, parents taught their family members and it went on without comment, most especially by any administrators. It was almost a tradition. People would grouse to each other but no one would say anything publicly. The practice existed because of the veil of civility. Had anyone raised the matter publicly the "collegiality card" would have been played. The same is true for a certain  pet foreign program. What would be said in the real world about the program is "You are fucking kidding. Have you lost our mind." What actually happens is office to office grousing because to make a public issue of it would be to pierce the veil of collegiality.

In fact, the collegiality card is played over and over usually by the same small group. It is a signal to others that says: Do not talk about this because you might ruffle someone's feathers and this cozy you scratch my back and I'll scratch your equilibrium could be upset."

When you think about it, the veil of ignorance and the veil of civility or collegiality do have something in common. Under the former, you actually do not know what will happen in the future. Under the latter, you pretend not to know.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Law Prof Wrist Band: Sociology of Law Profs: 6

Remember those wrist bands that said "What would ____ do."  I think they started out being religious in nature but then became funny. The one I wear says "What would Crazy one Eye do?"

I was thinking there could be wrist bands for all University faculty to wear that would say "What would a Law Professor  Do" and the law school would be a standard  for the right and ethical thing to do. You, know -- like the ubiquitous Lance Armstrong wristband above. Just kidding.  But then I realized that, if those bands existed and people wore them, when they read the little message it would be translated into "What would Tony Soprano,  Dick Cheney or Bernie Madoff  Do." Between cheating on the USN&WR rankings, hiring pals, crazy hiring, and tenure standards, vanity courses, and on and on, what else could they possible think?

This also made me think that law profs could have second careers as football coaches but certainly not as golfers.  Specifically, in football, there are rules but the idea is to get around them and try hard not to get caught. If holding can help you win, hold as long as you are good at concealment. Pass interference is also dandy, just don't get caught. In golf, believe it or not, players often report to the officials when they have broken a rule and take what ever penalty there even though it can mean a loss of thousands of dollars. Which of these approaches do you think most parallels that of law professors? -- football or golf. Actually, now that I think of it, which is more similar to many of the the folks locked up in jail. Of course, law profs do it with great civility where civility is the big blanket behind which you must not look. And, when caught they are silent.

I think I may go over the the Med School and check out their faculty. Suppose I find they are all  smokers, grossly overweight, and having lunch everyday at KFC. If so, I'll get rid of my "what would a Medical school professor eat." I've already thrown away my "what would a law professor do" wrist band.