Friday, September 21, 2007

Prince Charles, Entitlement and Diversity

I was just looking over Prince Charles' official website. (As far as I know he is not blogging, say, on moneyroyalty or prinzblog or any of the other blogs run by present, past, future, or pluperfect royalty. But think about it. Because some genes got mixed with some others we have the randomness of a Prince Charles. I have no reason to think he is not a humble guy and fully cognizant of the randomness of who we are and and even if we are. If he is about to be objective about himself he cannot have a sense of entitlement although I in fact I am sure he does. (Which raises the question at one level of whether all babies in hospital nurseries should be randomly handed out to parents so that each has a equal opportunity of having a decent family life, or we could just tax people on the basis of IQ.) Now switch to those in higher education who have a sense of entitlement -- as though they earned something -- when all they did was fall into the right gene pool and luck into the right parents. Crazy, isn't it for a kid with middle-class or higher parents, a high IQ, and a privileged upbringing to develop anything other than a profound sense of gratitude.

Who should have a sense of entitlement? The people least likely to have it. These are the people who overcame the lack of all those factors that those with a sense of entitlement seem to have. If those with no sense of entitlement were found more frequently in law teaching, the profession would be more diverse. In my own effort to increase diversity I think the first question to ask any faculty candidate is "What did your father do for a living."

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Don't Get in a Fox Hole With an Elite

I really like John Kerry. Think he would have been a terrific President and respect his war record. But, if you have seen the news lately you have seen the tape of a University of Florida student being mugged by the UF police. It's grim and alarming. One only hopes UF does not have a real emergency.

The episode began with the student attempting to ask Kerry a question. As the police descended on him and pinned him and then tasered him, you can hear Kerry's voice in the background. "That is an important question," he says. "It deserves to be answered." As far as I can tell he does not shout STOP THIS or make any truly assertive move to intervene.

I could not help but think how much this is what one expects from an elitist. As I have written before, elitist rarely show passion or an inclination to get involved. (I am not sure they have the capacity to.) Showing passion would mean someone would know you feel deeply and it would also expose a weak spot to foes. The elitists are ultimately bystanders.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Are the Taking Rules the Same?

Several years ago, some lines from another law professor’s scholarship were discovered in a former colleagues own scholarship. My former colleague was not a popular guy and was not a household name. He was a very hard worker and terrific thinker. He lost his job and, to my knowledge, has not found comparable employment. I had no doubt that it was inadvertent. He tended to write everything on note cards and then incorporate it into his work and one thing led to another. Plus, as much as law professors are interested in whether they are cited, wouldn’t it be crazy to lift from their work?

If you have been in this business long you know the importance seeking out the other side of the story and getting the facts straight. Nevertheless, as I recall, the work or language of others has been found things written by Lawrence Tribe and, now, Ian Ayres (see today’s NYT’s book review section). In England, fiction writers Julian Barnes and, again, if my memory serves, Ian McEwan, have also had the words of others show up in their own work. Although McEwan and Barnes seem to argue that lifting from others was standard procedure, in the case of law professors I do not see how it can be anything but carelessness. It’s not, as if Tribe and Ayres need outside assistance when it comes to writing or ideas. Nor are the pressed enough for publicity to not be careful.

So what are the rules with respect to inadvertent copying? And are they different depending on how much people are liked or how high they are placed? My very small sample suggests they are.

Monday, September 10, 2007


Here is an interesting article about how law review editors select articles. As you would expect institutional authority -- credentials and prior placements -- are very important. Not surprising.

It seems clear that hiring is not quided by moneylaw priciples. Nor is the selection of articles. Is anything in law teaching not wired? More importantly, what would a moneylaw system of law reviews look like?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

People's History

Jim Chen's post on MoneyLaw about the language as an identifiers, a New Yorker article on micro burst expressions several years ago, Wolf's, Radical Chic, Zinn's History, and my own posts some time ago on 1) signaling and 2) that I am not convinced that Law Schools are really interesting having faculty who are both African American and diverse all seem to come together.

Can I tie altogether in a blog length post. Not a chance, but here is where it ends up. As a totally amateur sociologist I sense that elitist dominated hiring committees feel comfortable with candidates in the following order:

1. White elitist educated male
2. White elitist educated female
3. African American elitist educated male
4. African American elitist educated female
5. White non elite female.
6. White non elite female.
7. Non elite African American female
8. Non elite African American male.

First note that elite always trumps non elite. Second, Committees like 1s and 2s because they have more in common with those folks and they will find room for 1s and 2s.

They will also, in the quest for non diverse diversity, search high and low for 3 and 4. I am not saying 3 and 4 are always not diverse. Maybe they are faking for sake of the interview but my sense is that, the less diverse they seem, the higher their ranking and some do not seem to have to try very hard to seem not diverse. I actually feel for these candidates. Many have the street creds of Mr. Rogers but they have to please everyone. A smattering of people on a faculty looking for "deep" diversity may be put off by too much cozying up to the 1s and 2s by the 3s and 4s. On the other hand, it is important to please the 1s and 2s.

Now we get down to 5-8 and Howard Zinn. You know the story -- whether the American Revolution, the Civil War or Viet Nam-- the elites take care of their own and they use the non elites to get there whether it means using them to fight their battles or pitting them against each other.

Is law school hiring Zinn's version of history playing out in a different context. Why wouldn't it be?

Irrational Hiring

Over on Moneylaw I described the outcome of an empirical study comparing the output of scholarship of elite and non elite law school grads who are now teaching at mid range law schools. In another post I listed some of the arbitrary decisions one must make in attempting an effort like that. Although I plan to redo the study and attempt to refine it the bottom line is that there is virtually no difference in the quantity of scholarship produced by those with highly elite credentials and those with out. This means that those law school hiring committees that allow themselves to be swayed by the school from which a candidate graduated are relying on a short cut that has no particular meaning and, frankly, are being lazy.

The study considered only 4 mid level schools for two reasons. First, I wanted to hold constant for the school at which the prof teaches. Second, it is hard to find non elite grads at highly ranked schools.