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.
BUT WAIT there is more and OPERATORS ARE AVAILABLE.
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
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
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."
22. From the colleague who made it impossible to ever have an open and honest discussion of faculty candidates for tenure and promotion when he/she violated the trust of those speaking.by spreading word of what was to be a confidential meeting. . .
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."
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
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
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
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 dollars 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
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: http://www.law.ufl.edu/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014-Final-Program.pdf
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
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.
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.
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
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
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?