January 05, 2014
...and no doubt others are returning from their winter breaks and/or AALS (barring winter weather fiascos!). Here then a few blog items from the winter break you might have missed:
December 30, 2013
I've been enjoying a holiday from the sordid nonsense in the law-related blogosphere, but multiple readers have e-mailed me over the last few days to point out that Crazy Campos ("CC") spent his Xmas week attacking an untenured law professor for having the audacity to object to sexist cyber-harassment. (Some have blogged about it already.) This latest malevolent stunt by CC goes well beyond his delusional cyber-rampage against me earlier this year, though like that last one, it appears to have been brought on by the fact that CC felt he was defending some of his loyal cyber-followers.
Some background: CC continues to blog at a site called Lawyers, Guns & Money, which Glenn Greenwald memorably described as "a cesspool of unprincipled partisan hackdom" and "a filthy cesspool." CC's primary contributions to this "filthy cesspool" consist in continued smears of law schools and law professors.
As we noted a couple of weeks ago, Denver's Nancy Leong filed an ethics complaint (which I have now seen) against "M," a criminal defense lawyer in his mid-40s here in Chicago, who has spent hundreds (!) of hours over the last year or so harassing, ridiculing and defaming Professor Leong and lots of other law professors using the pseudonym "dybbuk" (and variations); among other things, he has written multiple blog posts and thousands of words devoted to ridiculing articles overwhelmingly by female and minority faculty. Here are some examples of his sexist harassment of Prof. Leong (all taken from the complaint and verified by screen shots of the postings):
On August 12, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “law professor hottie at Sturm School of Law” in a comment disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On August 12, 2012, M said of Prof. Leong's attendance at a professional conference: “All [the law professors] have to do is attend some ‘annual meeting’ of some ‘society’ where they pretend to listen to Leong yap about ‘pragmatic approaches of reactive commodification,’ while undressing her with their eyes.”
On September 11, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “comely young narcissist” in a comment disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On September 22, 2012, M described Prof. Leong as a “comely young scam defender” and emphasized that a link contained “Leong’s CV, photo included!” in a comment extensively disparaging her scholarship and professional qualifications.
On October 18, 2013, M defended his various “wisecracks and other offensive comments about [Leong's] pulchritude” by explaining that “[I]t is an unsayable truth that attractive persons, of both genders, are sometimes rewarded in ways they do not necessarily deserve. I believe social scientists call this ‘sexual capital.’”
M wrote two lengthy plays that depicted Prof. Leong using illegal drugs and connected those plays to her scholarship and professional life.
M is one of the regular bloggers [at a scam blog]. Comments on the blog are moderated before appearing and can be removed. Entire posts are sometimes removed...M’s posts about Prof. Leong on that blog generated a large number of comments that were sexist, racist, harassing, false, or defamatory. Despite being the author of the posts, he did nothing to discourage or remove the comments.
It's actually worse than that: M clearly encouraged the harassment, and posted appreciative comments to fan the flames. (Prof. Leong documents this in the complaint.)
As Professor Leong noted in one of her prior posts about cyber-harassment, M's sense of "humor" is of a piece with his puerile sexism, as in this charming item about an unemployed female law graduate:
M is a creepy and pathetic individual, but as Prof. Leong noted, he also made the mistake of having "posted specific information about his alma mater, the city where he lived, his job, various professional organizations to which he belonged, and other miscellaneous information. It took fifteen minutes to find out who he was using google and other publicly available databases. The result was troubling in itself: he was a public defender in his late forties who apparently has nothing better to do than harass an untenured professor." (Amusingly, M's response to all this was to claim Prof. Leong was "harassing" him! You really can't make this stuff up.)
Astonishingly, CC has now come to M's defense, taking it upon himself to ridicule Professor Leong for daring to object to sexist and racist abuse in cyberspace! Interestingly, even the commenters at Campos's "filthy cesspool" of a blog were appalled by these posts, which they describe better than I can:
#1: It is shameful that, after all the sexist and other harassment that dybbuk and his ilk have heaped on this untenured professor (and encouraged from others) over the course of more than a year, that Campos has piled on with his second derogatory post about her in two days. It is shameful that he and others are parsing her wedding announcement, citing his “sources” at UCLA where she is apparently looking for a job as if he has some inside info about her. I hope she sues this tenured professor for defamation. His headline in yesterday’s post certainly sounds defamatory to me and wholly invented out of thin air.
#2: It’s thoroughly messed up that Campos has chosen to attack Leong by questioning her racial identity (biracial people can indeed be subject to racism) and deriding her scholarship as an exercise in pure narcissism. This is sexist, racist garbage and [this blog] should be ashamed for publishing it.
#3: I’ve been enjoying reading this blog in the last few weeks, and finding an interesting mix of labor issues, feminism, and anti-racism. These two posts about Leong, however, are utterly shocking and disappointing. It’s perfectly possible to criticize problems in legal academia without minimizing racist and sexist behavior, or engaging in it – perfectly possible but not, it seems, in this case. Other people have asked Campos to stop posting on this issue. I would like to see an apology for what he’s already said before I decide whether to continue reading his posts, or indeed this blog.
August 03, 2013
I find it hard to believe that the author of this "defense" expects to be taken seriously given that he just makes so many things up. Prof. Rosenzweig writes, regarding Failing Law Schools [FLS], that, "Tamanaha has made an invaluable contribution to the academic literature and to the betterment of the world. The posting of the Simkovic & McIntyre paper should provide the opportunity to make this clear. That it has led to the exact opposite by some in the legal community has proven distressing." Prof. Rosenzweig is, remarkably, completely silent on how Tamanaha's own hostile and careless response to the Simkovic & McIntyre paper triggered the need for a systematic response by the authors to address Tamanaha's misrepresentations and mistakes. I assume Tamanaha responded as he did because he recognized that the Simkovic & McIntyre paper undermined his posture in FLS.
Even more strangely, Prof. Rosenzweig writes:
Let us recall what the state of the debate about the future of legal education looked like prior to the publication of FLS. Law “scam” blogs accusing law schools and law professors of exploiting students, a “cesspool” of threats and slurs, anonymous posts making scandalous and vicious personal attacks on individual law school faculty members, and public statements by law schools, faculty, and the ABA making it appear as if the entire legal community was oblivious to the crisis facing students graduating law school during that period....
Look at the state of the debate after the publication of FLS. Almost all public statements on the issue are now clearly attributed to their authors. Academics publicly publish data under their own names. I am assuming, since it is cited in the paper, that FLS in part led Simkovic and McIntyre to pursue their project in the first place. In other words, FLS has done precisely what the highest and best scholarship can and should do – it increased the amount of knowledge in the world at the time, led to a better and more informed debate, and began the process of replacing emotion and opinion with facts and analysis.
I must say this is pure fiction from top to bottom. It omits, for example, the active role that Tamanaha played in legitimating a number of deranged "scam" blogs that were, and are, still "'cesspools' of threats and slurs" with "anonymous posts making scandalous and vicious personal attacks on individual law school faculty members." (If anything, they've gotten worse since Tamanaha's book, and are even more visible.) He did this by referencing them favorably in his book and, more remarkably, by sometimes posting encouraging comments on some of them. For this alone, he would deserve condemnation by his professional colleagues, even before we get to the damage done to the debate through the carelessness of significant parts of Failing Law Schools (some of that has come out in the recent debate, but when the detailed review of the book, and its reckless allegations, by Simkovic & McIntyre goes on SSRN, this will be clear to all).
But I do agree with Rosenzweig, as I said previously, that FLS collects good anecdotes, has an interesting (and unflattering) history of the regulation of law schools, and sensibly recommends a lighter regulatory hand to permit more experimentation with models of legal education. Its anecdotal approach to systematic issues, however, has seriously distorted the discussion of those issues, as the Simkovic & McIntyre paper makes clear.
I note, finally, that Prof. Rosenzweig, like so many, doesn't know the meaning of ad hominem. Prof. Simkovic was the victim of many ad hominem smears after his paper came out; Prof. Tamanaha has been spared them entirely.
UPDATE: Paul Horwitz (Alabama) has found a nice example of the "state of the debate" after Tamanaha's intervention--this from a "scam" blog on which Tamanaha has posted encouraging comments, I should add.
July 21, 2013
In The Economic Value of a Law Degree Frank McIntyre and I measure differences in annual earnings and hourly wages between those with law degrees and similar individuals who end their education with a bachelor’s degree. We account for unemployment and disability risk.
We also control for many demographic, academic, and socio-economic characteristics other than law school attendance that predict earnings. In a supplemental analysis using data from the National Education Longitudinal Study, we incorporate additional control variables and tests for ability sorting and selection.
The Economic Value of a Law Degree was covered by:
- Steven Davidoff at the New York Times Dealbook
- Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post
- Jordan Weissmann at the Atlantic Monthly
- Lauren Ingeno at Inside Higher Education
- Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal
- Christina Sterbenz at Business Insider
Our first blog post at Concurring Opinions ends with a presentation of annual earnings premiums at the mean and median, as well as at the high and low end of the distribution.
Questions and Critiques
The low and and high ends of the distribution
- Brian Tamanaha mischaracterized our research as only presenting means in a quote to Inside Higher Education.
- We pointed out the error.
- Dylan Matthews at the Washington Post reported that Professor Tamanaha’s description of our research was “false.”
- Brian Tamanaha posted and emailed several new questions and comments, which we will begin to respond to this week.
Representativeness of the data
- We responded to questions about the representativeness of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (“SIPP”).
- Paul Campos, Jack Graves, Brian Tamanaha (in a comment below the post), and Derek Tokaz (in a comment below the post) misunderstood net present value and double-counted opportunity costs. Campos, Graves, and Tokaz arrived at median after-tax, after-tuition net present values for a law degree that are too low by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Tamanaha erroneously included undergraduate debt as a cost of attending law school.
- Stephen Diamond explained Net Present Value and Opportunity Cost and performed the correct calculation, and noted that the median after-tax, after-tuition net present value of the law degree was approximately $330,000 as of the start of law school.
- Adam Levitin, Jordan Weissmann, and Deborah Merritt ask how much we can learn about the future from data about the past. We will respond the week after next.
- John Steele at Legal Ethics Forum reports that according to NALP, median full time starting salaries increased dramatically between 1996 to 2011. He forgets to take inflation into account. In real terms, median starting salaries exhibited a pattern of cyclicality.
- Adam Levitin asks whether law school is underpriced.
Confusion at Above the Law
- Above the Law subsequently posted a correction.
- Above the Law mischaracterizes our research again, overlooking our careful controls for ability sorting and selection, described at length in Part II and Appendix A of The Economic Value of a Law Degree.
July 05, 2013
...at another blog (yes, that Paul Campos). A commenter sums up the absurdity of the advice aptly: "Making a pain in the ass of yourself does not sound like a great way to hold onto your job when the axe comes down."
Campos is prompted to dispense his wisdom by the recent events at Vermont and Seton Hall (though in keeping with his pathological dishonesty in all matters Leiter-related, he complains that law blogs that cover faculty comings-and-going ignored these events). Up next: Campos will offer advice to tenured faculty on how to do well on their annual reviews.
June 28, 2013
Fortunately, no mention of black helicopters.
Obama and the Democrats would actually prefer an acquittal [of Zimmerman, who shot Martin] here. That’s because the whole point of the ginned-up Zimmerman affair was to inflame racial sentiment to boost black turnout in 2012. With any luck, they can turn an acquittal into another racial rallying cry, which will help in 2014. It’s not about Zimmerman; he’s just one of those eggs you have to break to make an Obama omelet.
May 09, 2013
Professor Silver’s response [to Tamanaha] contains a number of unsubstantiated assertions. This Essay addresses three of them....These claims illustrate how, in my view, the crisis of the American law school is in large part a product of the tendency of law school faculty to indulge in platitudinous self-congratulation...
when juxtaposed in the very same piece with this bit of unsubstantiated self-congratulation:
These facts [about the bad job market for new lawyers and the high cost of law school], which are central to Tamanaha’s argument that the economics of American legal education are broken, did not become generally known through a perfect storm of market correction but rather via the efforts of a committed cadre of reformers....
I guess those who fancy themselves part of a "cadre" can't be expected to substantiate their self-congratulation.
February 28, 2013
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.
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.
February 20, 2013
This probably explains a lot. Fortunately, Fred Schauer has recently written a book that could help him with his questions, like, "What does it mean to teach people to think like lawyers? How is thinking like a lawyer different from ordinary thinking?"
(Thanks to Nick Smith for the pointer.)
UPDATE: A senior legal academic, who has been involved extensively with legal education reform, writes: "Keep up the Campos bashing. I think that some of the law school critics have done a good service. Even when I don't agree with everything, it was necessary for legal educators to give up a bit of complacency. I've never met Campos, but he is disgraceful." It's hard to disagree with any of that, but I don't really plan to keep up the "bashing," since, as we saw a few weeks back, by Campos's own admission, there really isn't much content to his routine.
December 28, 2012
Several readers called my attention to the fact that Paul Campos has finally offered a "shorter Paul Campos," i.e., an 'executive summary' of what he's apparrently been blogging about to the tune of hundreds of posts and hundreds of thousands of words for the past 15 months, during which time other law professors might have chosen to do some actual work. It provides a useful occasion to sort the wheat from the chaff, or the substance from the utter nonsense, emanating from Campos and others in cyberspace. So here we go with Campos's "executive summary":
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. -- Upton Sinclair --
This is why your law school charges what it charges. This is why your professors believe sincerely in the “value proposition” of what they have to offer. This is why nothing ever changes, until it does.
The famous Upton Sinclair quote has many applications, but it doesn't explain the things that Campos suggests it does. Law schools charge what they charge because the market can bear it. Now that the market can not bear it, law schools are effectively cutting tuition by offering discounts and more financial aid. I assume some professors believe that they are providing value because they are, through their teaching and scholarly work. Some professors, like Campos, obviously aren't, and perhaps they are motivated by a kind of self-interested self-deception to believe otherwise. The last sentence--"This is why nothing ever changes, until it does"--is a non-sequitur on the preceding points.
If something cannot go on forever, it will stop. -- Herbert Stein --
When the price of something increases and its value decreases, at some point people will not pay for that thing any longer.
That's true, which is why, as just noted, law schools are now effectively cutting tuition, and why, as we have noted before, many law schools will contract and some may even close.
Debts that can’t be repaid won’t be. -- Michael Hudson --
That someone lends you money does not mean there is a reasonable probability that you will be able to repay that money. It only means that someone is making money from loaning you money.
This is almost right: the key fact is that the loans for higher education are backed by the federal government. Under those conditions, the observation holds.
Your odds of finishing in the top ten percent of your class are ten percent.
Working harder than everybody else is not a plan if everybody else has the same plan.
This would only be true if class rank were assigned randomly. In fact, your odds of finishing in the top ten percent of the class may be much higher or much lower depending on your academic peer group at the school you attend. Someone who gets into Yale, but decides to go to Colorado is going to finish in the top ten percent of the class if they do the work. It is fair to say that having the same plan as everyone else is not a good plan if those against whom you are competing have a similar skill set coming in.
There is no such thing as international law.
Or environmental law. Or human rights law. Or sports law. Basic rule: If some form of legal practice sounds interesting to non-lawyers, it does not exist.
This is obviously silly, since, in fact, lawyers work in all these areas. Perhaps what is meant is that one should not go to a law school simply because it advertises a specialty in one of those areas, and without regard for its overall reputation, and that is probably correct, but then that's what he should have said.