Several readers have written to alert me to the fact that apparently even Paul Campos has realized that his blog didn't have much content, apart from insulting and deriding Deans, faculty and anyone else who contested his claims. But, true to form, he can't say goodbye without just making things up out of whole cloth. He writes:
I started [the blog] because I had something to say, and this seemed a good way of saying it. For a few days I wrote anonymously – something I had never done before – more as a stylistic experiment than anything else. But naturally people in legal academia instantly became more concerned with Who Was Saying These Outrageous Things than in whether those things might actually be true.
In fact, it was Campos himself who made a big deal out of "who was saying these things": namely, as prominently advertised on his blog at the start, "a tenured law professor at a Tier 1 law school". He made a big deal out of that because it was meant to lend his claims, including his false ones, credibility, and thus it was precisely he who made his identity the issue. The fact that his initial posts, deriding allegedly lazy law faculty who produce lousy scholarship--a transparent case of projection, as I noted at the start, and which accounted for the hostile response he got--were false, inflammatory and, at best, misleading is what annoyed even those who didn't know Campos and his history of trying to garner media attention by any means possible.
But true to form, Campos now declares that "the core message" of his blog was diferent, namely,
that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants.
But, of course, that message (the bit in bold)--which was Brian Tamanaha's and Bill Henderson's, and was widelycovered and discussed on this bloglongbefore Campos ever came to it (though in all three cases with more nuance and accuracy than Campos ever mustered)--was a late arrival for Campos, and even when he got to it, he still muddied it with smears and insults of prospective students and professional colleagues. (He even interfered with the operations of his own school, quite remarkably, and went so far as to exploit a student's suicide.) The facts about the cost of legal education and the state of the job market are now widely known thanks to David Segal's New York Times series in 2011-12 which, notwithstanding, a lot of inaccuracies, made the debacle of the legal job market common knowledge, and Senators Coburn and Boxer pressuring the ABA to force law schools to report job statistics more accurately. Sometimes Campos managed to stay on that message, once he discovered it, but much of the time he spent insulting and deriding Deans and law school administrators as sociopaths, conmen, and liars.
Leslie Green, professor of the philosophy of law at Oxford, described Professor Dworkin as "one of the most important legal thinkers of our time", who "achieved this by his brilliance, originality and, especially, his unparalleled fearlessness in yoking together moral views that are attractive and widely shared, and views about the nature of law and the courts that are implausible and gained few adherents".
I would encourage you to write a blogpost aimed at some misinformation that media stories about the law school value proposition are purveying to the most qualified potential law school applicants. The perverse thing is that the largest percentage application decline has been among the strongest applicants (by GPA/LSAT). For students of at least the top X law schools (and I've done no science to identify the "X", but I suspect it's at least "10") employment opportunities remain strong, and given recent law firm hiring patterns, advancement opportunities for this generation of law firm associates should be very positive. The question for those students should be, as always, do you want to be a lawyer, and, second, do you value the education that LS can offer for other things you might want to do.
I appreciate that a general message of caution for law school applicants is wise, but I think people should also get advice relevant to their situation.
These are sensible points, and they do extend beyond "the top X." Many state law schools are still reasonably priced, and have had, over the long haul, good professional outcomes for their graduates. Many regional law schools, private and public, have strong market niches and, due to the competition for students, are discounting sticker price substantially. Prospective students should, indeed, "get advice relevant to their situation," and that advice will mostly not be found on blogs or chat rooms, alas.
It's here, with not many surprises (though UC Irvine is in the top 20--this was their first class of graduates, who were recruited with full rides). Bear in mind that this only counts graduates who take jobs at the 250 largest law firms, and thus excludes those graduates who go into clerkships, PhD programs, government service, or elite litigation boutiques.
In the newest volume summary from LSAC, we are seeing that law schools are experiencing a slight uptick in applications as compared to a few weeks ago. The total number of applicants is now down 18.9% this year. More details here.
And by "inaccurate," they mean only that the lists included non-law faculty or faculty who didn't teach at the school in question--they do not mean that the data itself actually reflects the opinon of law students about professors whose classes they really took. No one has any way of confirming that. The editors have appended a list of articles on "Rate My Professors," but as I noted before, the literature (if you actually read it) does not support the use to which National Jurist put it. They still should withdraw the entire ranking, and hire some educational and statistical consultants to come up with a worthwhile metric.