Thursday, December 14, 2006

Chutzpah, Stupidity, or Privilege

I freely admit to being a conspirarcy theorist and the principal outcome is to attribute most bizarre happenings in legal education to the indifference of the privileged toward any rule – formal or informal, reasoning, or fact that might separate them from what they want and “deserve.” I also know that there are other explanations One is just stupidity (Opps, I mean ill-advised behavior.) Another is non class related brazenness. And finally what I regard as bizarre may just be good judgment that I do not fully appreciate.

So here are seven events from recent hiring discussions. Pick how you would classify them:

1. In the course of arguing for a candidate a faculty member who knows the candidate expresses pleasant surprise that the candidate has been considered. In the file that has been distributed there is along letter from the candidate to that faculty member discussing the faculty member’s extended effort to recruit the candidate.

2. In supporting a lateral candidate, a faculty member says that if an offer is not made the candidate’s career will be ruined.

3. In defense of a lateral “instant tenure” candidate who has given a very thin job talk the argument is made that, as a candidate who already has tenure elsewhere, it was understandably that the he/she would believe a subpar talk would be acceptable.

4. In defense of a candidate who graduated in the bottom 15% of his Harvard class the argument is made that for all we know he or she would have graduated near the top of the class at another school.

5. A faculty member opposes a candidate because he (the faculty member) feels “uneasy” about the candidate but cannot say why. He just did. (I do not know if this is relevant but that faculty member and another expressing the same “uneasiness” are Harvard grads and the candidate is from a mid level law school and does not have a polished demeanor.)

6. A faculty member announces in reference to a candidate: If Professor X, was willing to work him, that's all I need to know.”

7. The faculty is asked to vote yes or no on a group of candidates but instructed not to rank them because that would invite “strategic voting.” (I know this is true but who gets to decide that the strategic behavior that is continuous stops at a particular point?)

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