Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Faculty: How To Avoid Sinking Your Ship

When a law school ship sinks faculty are almost always the reason. That is because they behave like they have the moral development of a 4 year old. As an example, think of Kolberg's stages of moral developing. The first stage is a total individualized cost-benefit analysis. It reminds me of my 5 year old who was told by his mom he could have one cookie when she left. I spied him with 4 and when I asked about it he said "But mom is not here." This is also the law and economics level of moral development.

The second stage is when people realize their interdependency. For example, I will not leave my banana peel on the faculty dining room table because if everyone did we would have a slipfest. At this level of moral development full bore self interest is limitied a bit in the hopes that if everyone sacrifices the whole will be better off. According to Kolberg most people reach this stage but then again I doubt Kolberg ever served on the Titanic or on a law faculty or at least some law faculties.

So for law faculties stuck at stage of moral development and do not want the ship to sink, here are some hints:

Stop Listening: Virtually everyone of your colleagues has an agenda. Is may not be evident from what they say but relying on them can lead to some nasty results. So the guy next door to you has been caught red handed and his response the same old "poor me" ingratiating office visit. Stop listening to those whiners who come to enlist your aid by telling you half the story. Glaze over. Jump up and run out for a cup of coffee (also know as a "pick play".)  This rule goes double if they want the door closed while filling your head with their outrage or fear "for the school." Ignoring what they are saying almost always leads to a better outcome than taking it seriously.

Demand the Truth: Next time someone weasels in and you decide you will listen, demand the truth. As in "You really mean the Dean just up and canceled your class without explanation." "Are you really saying you did not call in a tip to Above The Law." "And the dean offered  no reason for why you might not be the best law review advisor the school can provide." "What, without provocation the Dean decided students should not have to write 4 papers to be on a law journal. Are you serious? Why would she do that?"

Stop Communicating: Really, it gets embarrassing. The less faculty talk to each other, the smoother the sailing. Everyone knows your story anyway. The Dean thinks your LLM program with 2 students may not be worth the resources and you complain because you have too much administrative work to do keeping up with those two students. Duh.  Just stop. No one cares unless this means they can enlist you to support their little wad of insanity. The Dean won't schedule your 8 person class on calcium buildup on ancient documents. No one cares.  Please stop it. Your communications especially to those outside the law school are patently self serving and destined to sink the ship with you on it. No one trusts you unless suspending their usual disbelief is in their self interest.

OK, Here is a completely novel why to think about it. All faculty are deckhands on the Pequod. The last captain ran the ship aground through inattention, cowardice,  indifference to anything but his own survival, and chasing an imaginary white whale.  The new captain comes aboard the now sinking ship and discovers holes in the sails and the keel and asks some of the faculty who are on the sun deck to stop tanning and patch the sails. The do not like that. "Tans are what we are known for. Just ask anyone," they say. "Oh and we are offended because you are being so top down."  She asks some of the crew who are fishing for now extinct cod, for which there is no demand even of they existed, to begin fishing for highly  demanded flounder. They don't like that because in the past they were so good at catching cod. And they add "YOU MUST NOT BE LISTENING. IF THERE WERE ANY COD WE WOULD BE GREAT AT CATCHING THEM." Eventually all these righteous faculty succeed in making the new captain walk the plank in public. In the meantime they dredge the ground under the ship so it can sink even deeper.

Ahoy mates!!


Anonymous said...

Why did you write this? It's clear that quite a few of the law schools ships leave their passenger-students in dangerous ports in that are far worse off than when they matriculated and accordingly, should sink as a benefit to future would-be passengers.

We need to cut off the ballast of unlimited tax-payer dollars and let these ships sink.

Michael Higdon said...

Brilliant! Love this post -- lots of truth and wisdom here.