Monday, July 17, 2017
Following up on my previous post, WSJ: Paying Law Professors — Inside Google’s Academic Influence Campaign: Jeffrey L. Harrison (Florida) & Amy R. Mashburn (Florida), Moonlighting Sonate: Conflicts, Disclosure, and the Scholar/Consultant:
Although the impact of conflicting interests is of constant concern to those in legal education and other fields, a recent scholarly article [Robin Feldman (UC-Hastings), Mark Lemley (Stanford), Jonathan Masur (Chicago) & Arti Rai (Duke), Open Letter on Ethical Norms in Intellectual Property Scholarship, 29 Harv. J.L. & Tech. 339 (2016)] and an extensive analysis in the New York Times [Think Tank Scholar or Corporate Consultant? It Depends on the Day] suggest the problem is more pressing than ever. In the context of legal scholarship the problem arises when a professor is, in effect, employed by two entities.
Disclosure of possible conflicts is the most commonly proposed response. The article argues that disclosure is merely a risk shifting devise that does not fully address the issue of bias. It draws on comparisons with products liability and legal ethics to suggest that many conflicts should simply be avoided.