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October 11, 2012

Billing by the hour: a view from England


Posted by Brian Leiter on October 11, 2012 in Legal Humor, Legal Profession | Permalink

Post-tenure review moves slowly at Colorado...or whatever happened to Paul Campos?

I was surprised to discover from a post at Prawfs a few weeks back that Paul Campos (remember him?) was still alive and kicking.  Last year, more than one reader had wondered, given the existence of post-tenure review in Colorado, and given Campos's poor record of both scholarship and teaching, whether or not his "scam blog" publicity stunt--posing as a whistle-blower--was really an attempt to deflect what would otherwise seem to be the natural outcome of such a process for someone with his record? 

Anyway, the Prawfs post piqued my curiosity, so I actually spent some time looking at Campos's blog for the first time since last year.  The first thing that struck me is that he had almost entirely retreated from his absurd debut last August (no more ridiculing lazy professors [like him!], or worthless legal scholarship [like the kind he used to produce!]), and he now largely devotes himself to doing what Henderson, Tamanaha, Ribstein, I and others had been doing for years (back when he was merely an obesity expert!), namely, calling attention to law school puffery and fraud about employment prospects, sometimes quite amusingly.  On one occasion, he even unearthed an interesting document about one law school's efforts to confront the mismatch between the cost of the school and the professional outcomes of the students.  

On the other hand, his lack of judgment was on full display in his attempt to undermine his school's effort to recruit students while simultaneously sharing in public his correspondence with a prospective student; or his smear of Michigan, for which he was correctly smacked down; or his ranting at students who had the audacity to write him with any information contradicting his gloom-and-doom routine.

There's still no systematic context to his 'analysis," of course, or insight into the pathologies of capitalism and higher education in the neoliberal state or even awareness of Baumol's "disease"--he's not a scholar, after all.  He also seems to spend way too much time scolding his colleagues who are actually doing their jobs--teaching and research--for insufficient self-flagellation, as though somehow his rehashing Henderson's and Tamanaha's research on a blog makes up for being a professional failure. But at least his latest publicity stunt seems to have gravitated towards some facts relevant to prospective students.

The title of his blog, of course, still raises the question why he continues to draw a salary from what he purports to believe is a 'scam.'  Imagine:  Bernie Madoff starts a blog, "Inside the Madoff Securities Scam," in which he justifies his continued participation in the scam on the grounds that only as an insider can he shine a light on the misconduct.  Of course, that would be absurd, but it also tells us that even Campos can't really believe legal education is a scam, not even at Colorado.  Either that, or all his huffing and puffing about law school faculty and deans being "sociopaths" and "evil opportunists" is just projection.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 11, 2012 | Permalink

October 9, 2012

More video self-promotion by law schools: John Marshall in Chicago

It's the "I'm ready" series.  (More here.)  It's less clear the job market is "ready" for many of the recent graduates, alas.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 9, 2012 in Legal Profession, Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

October 8, 2012

SMU's Pryor to be New Associate Dean and Faculty Member at UNT

That's a big coup for the new law school at the University of North Texas; Pryor is, among other things, a very succesful teacher and a scholar deeply engaged with issues confronting practitioners.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 8, 2012 in Faculty News | Permalink

October 7, 2012

"The Boundaries of the Moral (and Legal) Community"

The penultimate version (pending some publication editing) of my 2011 Meador Lecture, forthcoming in Alabam Law Review in 2013.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 7, 2012 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

October 5, 2012

The shrinkage in "Big Law" hiring over time

Striking chart from Bill Henderson (Indiana).

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 5, 2012 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

October 4, 2012

Thomas Nagel's new book "Mind and Cosmos"

Michael Weisberg (Penn) and I review it for The Nation.  As some may know, Nagel has made some unfortunate and confused interventions into the debates about intelligent design creationism.  This book is related, alas.  Scholars interested in the constitutional issues about the teaching of evolution and creationism may, in particular, find this review of interest.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 4, 2012 in Jurisprudence, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

October 3, 2012

Predictions about Closings of ABA-Accredited Law Schools Over the Next Decade

Alas, yesterday's poll got linked from a blog with a less academic audience, so I've decided to close it. In any case, here are the results, with over 300 votes:

How many currently accredited ABA law schools (there are about
200) do you think will close over the next ten years? (Assume that there are no
changes to federally guaranteed student loans and that there is a modest
improvement in the job market for lawyers.)

More than 50
Total Votes :


A few observations of my own, and then I'll open comments.  That 15% think no law schools at all will close may be wishful thinking, but perhaps there is a sound explanation for thinking that correct.  My own opinion was that we'll see several law schools close during the next decade, but probably not more than ten--and that was the majority view among readers by a wide margin.  Most vulnerable are going to be free-standing law schools that are relatively young.  Relatively young law schools part of universities that are in vulnerable financial shape are also likely candidates.  25% of respondents expected more serious carnage, on the order of 5% or much more of current law schools closing.  I would agree with the prophets of doom at least to this extent:  I expect more than 5% of current law schools, and probably more like 30-50%, will contract in various ways over the next decade:  they will admit fewer students (we're already seeing that), and will shrink their faculties.  That, of course, would be a sensible response to the economic climate generally, and for lawyers in particular.

Of course, all of this is predicated on two assumptions:  a modest economic rebound over the next decade and, even more importantly, continued federal guarantees of student loans, which supply the operating budget of the majority of law schools.  A change in student loans--for example, shifting it back to the private sector--would have far more disruptive effects, since private lenders are, one suspects, more likely to do the due diligence on probable employment and salary outcomes that some students are not presently doing (and they are also likely to set the bar higher for what would make the loans risk-worthy).  In a world with only private lending for higher education, I would expect the number of law schools that close over the next decade to be considerably higher.  So, too, another economic collapse, or an extended period of economic stagnation, will also push the number of closures higher.

Or so, in any rate, it seems to me.  Thoughts from readers?  Signed comments only:  full name in the signature line, plus valid e-mail address.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 3, 2012 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (8)

October 2, 2012

Do you think any ABA-accredited law schools will actually close over the next decade?

There are about 200 of them, and the belief certainly seems widespread in the bowels of cyber-space that half of them are destined to disappear, or something like that, due to the cost of legal education relative to the actual professional outcomes in the current market (indeed, in some cases, even before the current economic crisis).   Of course, we've already seen some law schools reduce enrollments, and others withdraw from the market for new faculty--so 'shrinkage' is already happening.  But will accredited law schools actually close?  Assume that there are no changes to the current student loan structure (i.e., the federal government still backs them), and assume that there is some improvement in the legal market in the years ahead. How many of the 200 accredited law schools do you think will close their doors over the next decade?

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UPDATE: So with 140 votes cast, here's the breakdown: 12% think no law schools will close in the next decade; 68% expect 1-10 to close; 14% expect 11-25 to close; 4% think 26-50 will close; and about 1% think more than 50 will close. So an overwhelming majority of respondents so far, 88%, expect at least one or more law schools to close, and nearly one in five expect a non-trivial number to close, i.e., 5% or more.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Several hours later and 209 votes, here's the breakdown:

None       13%

1-10        64%

11-25      16%

26-50        6%

51+           1%

POLL IS CLOSE and the results and discussion are here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 2, 2012 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink