Thursday, October 11, 2012

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.

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