Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Shush, We're Law Professors
Sometimes you do not fully understand how dysfunction a profession can be until you experience it through the eyes of someone else. That's what's happened to me and here is the background.
I have been pretty outspoken about the Dean Search at UF. Not so much about the candidates but about the process and the faculty reaction which is basically to mutter to themselves in the hallways.
I've brought up the fleecing of the University by a search firm that charged $90,000 for a list of 24 names that could have been thought up by a couple of law professors having lunch. This seems to have been just fine based on the silence of others.
I have raised the issue of one Committee member's assurance that emails about the search had been deleted although all communications are public. Again, this seems to have been fine with everyone else based on their silence. In fact, in this case, the deleter was subsequently praised by another faculty member as a great First Amendment scholar. (You can figure that one out.) But actually, and I know this is a bit of a tangent, the source of the praise was a faculty member who appears to have undergone some kind of ethical lobotomy and thought the New York Times rule, a ethical guideline, was actually the opposite and stood for hiding things.
I am also the only person of a tenured faculty of 50 to actually write down with no expectation of secrecy (YES, the revolutionary act of putting something in a form that means no deniability) the pros and cons of each candidate for dean with a ranking.
Now a few thoughts on this.
First I rest my case on whether law professors need tenure. Why would they? Even with it, they are for the most part (I have to add that to avoid commentators pointing out very isolated instances in the past in which a law prof actually said something controversial to people other than other law professors) gutless and say nothing. OK, maybe without tenure they would say less than nothing.
Second, does this appear to be bragging? Well, is it bragging to describe what normal, non paranoid, not conspiracy addicted, non quaking in their boots people generally do? I don't think so.
So back to my opening line. I was describing all the shenanigans to an outsider -- a professional person with no experience with law faculties. You lose perspective with you are in the middle of these things but this normal regular person 's reaction, while not laughing, was disbelief and befuddlement. And he added, "you guys are supposed to be law professors, right? Speak up and question authority? Do you any of you ever do that and, by they way, do you actually know anything about law?"