Paul L. Caron

Friday, November 19, 2021

Alums Debate The State Of Yale Law School

Following up on yesterday's post, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken Admits Error, Stops Short Of Apologizing To Targeted Students; Law Prof Calls For Conservative Yale 1Ls To Transfer:

New York Post op-ed:  Students Suing Yale Law Show America’s Elites Have a Low Opinion of Minorities, by Glenn Reynolds (Tennessee; J.D. 1985, Yale):

Yale Law School is failing. ...

In the eyes of the Yale Law School administration, apparently only “cis/het white men” have any agency, and minority men are just putty in their hands.

But leaving aside this bit of straight-up racism, the administration also threatened the students that a failure to play ball and apologize would put their chance of taking the bar at risk, presumably because of a negative reference from Yale Law School, just as it threatened the future employment of the two students who refused to lie about Professor Chua.

Dean Gerken has just announced unconvincingly that Yale Law’s internal investigation found that the school did nothing wrong and complained that recording conversations violates norms.

Not as much as blackmail.

What can you say about an institution that is willing to break faith with its members and engage in blackmail and the subornation of false statements to wage a political vendetta?

Sadly, you’d have to say that it’s pretty typical these days.

David Lat (Original Jurisdiction; J.D. 1999, Yale), The Yale Law School Scandals: Dean Heather Gerken Speaks:

Dean Gerken has taken lots of flak for her school-wide email—but I believe it's not as bad as some people think. ...

Here’s my bottom-line assessment of Dean Gerken’s email:

  • It has several significant problems, discussed in detail below, and it could have been so much stronger and better; it represents a huge missed opportunity
  • But the email is actually better and more apologetic than Aaron Sibarium’s article suggests or than many commentators think (at least those commentators who have been troubled by goings-on at YLS in 2021).
  • This might be a sad reflection on the state of YLS and legal academia more generally in the year 2021, but the Gerken email actually isn’t that far off from what we could have reasonably expected from someone in Dean Gerken’s (unenviable) position.
  • And we—those of us on the pro-free-speech side of these debates—need to be eminently, unimpeachably reasonable. One of the hallmarks of the folks on the other side is their sheer unreasonableness, their inability to ever be satisfied, their refusal to compromise, and their responding to one concession by demanding five more. That’s why they’re now facing backlash—as reflected in things like the YLS controversies, the Virginia gubernatorial election, and similar developments. Let’s not make the same mistake on our side of the aisle and alienate people who would otherwise be our allies.
  • If we want to win over the silent majority in the middle, we need to be supremely reasonable—even if that sometimes means taking half a loaf and saying, “Thank you, this stale baguette tastes delicious.” We need to make clear that we’re the sane people, the cooler heads, the grown-ups, and the people of good faith who are open to compromise—because, well, we are. ...

All this said, let’s also remember: these are just words, and words must be paired with action. Yale Law School faculty members deciding on whether to support Dean Gerken’s reappointment need to see not just what she says, but what she does. While I have a more positive view of the Gerken email than many others, even I don’t see it as the end of the road. Dean Gerken must follow through with concrete actions that are consistent with the commitments she has made in this email.

What personnel changes, if any, will Dean Gerken make at the infamous Office of Student Affairs (OSA)? Going forward, how will she and her administration treat the Yale Federalist Society and other student groups with unpopular views? And how will she handle the next scandal or controversy that comes her way?

Because there will definitely be more scandals and controversies. This is the Yale Law School, dahling….

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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