Thursday, August 11, 2011
I am a law professor. I have been one for many years, and hope to remain one for many more. I have had, by the conventional terms in which such things are measured, a successful career in legal academia. I am on the faculty of a tier one law school, and have taught at several others. I must confess -- and for reasons that will become clear it does feel like a confession -- that I love almost everything about my job. I like teaching, I love writing, and most of all I love the freedom to do pretty much whatever I want 95% of the time while being paid a ridiculously high salary to do so. ...
I can no longer ignore that, for a very large proportion of my students, law school has become something very much like a scam. And who is doing the scamming? On the most general level, the American economy in the second decade of the 21st century. On a more specific level, the legal profession as a whole. But on what, for legal academics at least, ought to be the most particular, most important, and most morally and practically compelling level, the scammers are the 200 ABA-accredited law schools. Yet there is no such thing as a "law school" that scams its students -- law schools are abstract social institutions, not concrete moral agents. When people say "law school is a scam," what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.
We don't mean to, of course. Like my learned colleagues, I'm just a soul whose intentions are good! And anyway it's mostly the dean's fault -- it's not like I was ever consulted about raising tuition 130% etc. etc. Yes there are so many excuses -- I hear them every day (or would if I ever saw my co-workers in the office in the summer. Oh yes they're "working at home." More on that soon . . .). ...
In the end, the fact that law professors don't intend to scam their students is irrelevant. We are scamming them, or many of them, and we know we are ...
[W]elcome to my nightmare. It is the nightmare of a man who woke from the pleasant dream that all was right with his wonderful little career, into a world of pain, regret, and anger -- that is, the world of so many of my students.
- Fake it Till You Make It: Law School Teaching, Part I
- Law School Teaching, Part II
- Legal Scholarship: Part I
- Legal Scholarship: Part II
Perhaps my favorite line:
At Yale, teaching is like hitting a home run at the faculty softball picnic. Your career here will be based on what we think of your scholarship. And if you hit a home run at the faculty softball picnic, well that's nice too.
Inside Higher Ed on the anonymous Law Prof's identity:
The author identifies himself only as “a tenured mid-career faculty member at a Tier One school.” He agreed to reveal his identity to Inside Higher Ed, and his description is accurate. He teaches at a law school that doesn’t make the “top 10″ lists, but that is generally considered the best in its state and is well regarded nationally.
Press and blogosphere coverage:
- Above the Law, Tenured Top-Tier Law Prof Joins the Ranks of the ‘Scambloggers’, by David Lat
- Althouse, Anonymous Law Prof: "Law Professors Are Scamming Their Students", by Ann Althouse (Wisconsin)
- Faculty Lounge, Anonymous Law Prof on Law Schools as Scams, by Kim Krawiec (Duke)
- Inside Higher Ed, Hostile Witness
- MoneyLaw, Taken for a Ride, by Jim Chen (Dean, Louisville)
- PrawfsBlawg, I Am LawProf, by Paul Horwitz (Alabama)
- Volokh Conspiracy, LawProf "Scam Blog", by Orin Kerr (George Washington)