TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, February 22, 2013

Muller: Campos is Right: Law Profs Don't Know How Effective Our Teaching Is

Eric Muller (North Carolina), Sometimes the Emperor Is Indeed Scantily Clad, Even If Paul Campos Is the Observer:

Brian Leiter here takes Paul Campos to task for admitting that he doesn't "know] what it means" to think like a lawyer.  I read Campos as admitting something slightly different -- that he doesn't know what it means to "teach students" how to think like lawyers. The difference is significant.  In my view, Campos is saying a few things that, however embarrassing, are true for most of us in law teaching:  as a group, we don't really know why we do what we do in the classroom or how effective our methods are. ...

I would add these observations:

* Once in a faculty position, most law professors receive no training in teaching and are slow to seek out development resources from teaching centers on their campuses.  (Count me among the slow, at least until I started running one of those centers.)

* Mentoring efforts for junior faculty are much likelier to focus on scholarship than teaching.

* Most law faculty members (of all levels of seniority) generally receive no more peer feedback on their teaching than they absolutely must.

* The more prestigious the institution, the more teaching is seen as a hindrance to research, the less time people spend in the classroom, the more a reduced teaching load is dangled as a hiring or retention incentive, and the harder faculty members work to find ways of getting release time from teaching.  (As with all rules, there are exceptions, but who could deny that this is the rule?)

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2013/02/muller-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8341c4eab53ef017ee8ab6cb7970d

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Muller: Campos is Right: Law Profs Don't Know How Effective Our Teaching Is:

Comments

The idea of "thinking like a lawyer" is just a self-serving invention of the legal academy. Do you hear of anyone "thinking like a physicist" or "thinking like a doctor." Obviously not. Anyone with basic intelligence can do the job of a lawyer - see e.g. Napoleon and Ben Franklin.

Law school exists to convey information - not to teach people how to think. It doesn't matter how smart an individual is, they aren't born knowing the tax code or the 4th Amendment. For this reason, at least some law schools will always exist.

Posted by: JM | Feb 22, 2013 8:57:59 AM

"Anyone with basic intelligence can do the job of a lawyer - see e.g. Napoleon and Ben Franklin."

Napoleon (presumably Bonaparte, not Dynamite) and Ben Franklin were hardly possessed of mere "basic" intelligence, so your point is, well, pointless.

Also, one does, in fact, hear of other professions "thinking like...." You might have thought of googling "thinking like a physicist" before you posted.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 24, 2013 1:41:12 PM

By "basic intelligence" I meant generally applicable not ordinary level.

I don't care that a google search turns up that phrase. I'm quite confident that the "learn to think like a ____" is far more used by the legal academy than any other discipline.

Posted by: JM | Feb 25, 2013 7:28:49 AM

"By 'basic intelligence' I meant generally applicable not ordinary level."

That's gibberish.

"I don't care that a google search turns up that phrase. I'm quite confident that the 'learn to think like a ____' is far more used by the legal academy than any other discipline."

In your first post, you wrote:

"Do you hear of anyone 'thinking like a physicist' or 'thinking like a doctor.'Obviously not."

So you've gone from it's an expression that is never used to you're certain that it is an expression used far more in the context of lawyers. Well, excuse me for thinking that you're just making shit up.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 27, 2013 3:38:16 PM