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February 28, 2013

Georgetown's Report on the State of the Legal Market for 2013

Not good news (not surprising), and definitely worth reading.  It comes pretty squarely down in favor of Bill Henderson's longstanding hypothesis that the changes afoot are structural not cyclical.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 28, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Student Advice | Permalink

Paul Campos's final bit of revisionist history

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 widely covered and discussed on this blog long before 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.

The key fact to remember about Paul Campos is that, in 2005, he went on Fox TV and called for a University of Colorado colleague, Ward Churchill, to be fired for his offensive political speech--not for alleged academic misconduct (allegations which came later), but simply for his political speech.  Campos (who even directed at one time Colorado's center for constitutional law), in other words, realized he could get the media spotlight on himself by calling for a blatant violation of the First Amendment.  (It's a standing problem of his.)  That was the first clear sign that this was an individual without a core, intellectual or moral.  Everything I've ever learned about Campos since (including much I've never written about) has confirmed that diagnosis.

Meanwhile, in the real world, I hope the ABA Task Force will consider some sensible changes to the status quo in legal education.

ADDENDUM:  A colleague elsewhere writes:  "I like how the lists of people he thanks includes everyone who proposed solutions and reforms to legal education, as though they were also supporters of his.  I know for a fact that some people on those lists think Campos is a disgrace."

ANOTHER:  Paul Horwitz (Alabama), ever the good, even-handed Canadian, comes to Campos's defense, and what a defense it is:

Campos seems to me to be essentially a journalist moonlighting as a law professor, and perhaps without some of the professional norms I would expect from a full-time journalist....

Many of his fans loved his writing style. I found it repetitive (how many times do you need to use the same quote from Upton Sinclair before it gets old?), self-indulgent, evasive and squirrelly, preening, and finally tedious. His analysis of the useful data he provided was often correct, in my view. But he seemed rarely content to make a basic point that would have been sufficiently devastating in itself, if the opportunity presented itself to make a far more tendentious de-haut-en-bas observation about some "big truth" that everyone but himself lacked the courage and acuity to recognize. A vivid style is one element of good writing; but so is self-restraint. Campos was much stronger on the former than the latter....

In short, there were plenty of reasons to find aspects of his blog objectionable, and his suggestion in his final post that everyone who objected to what he wrote did so either because they were angry at his intrepid truth-telling or because of personal animus seems to me badly exaggerated and self-serving. The latter seems especially silly because, judged by his writing, Campos certainly has no objection to responding to others in a personal rather than a substantive way and drawing broad conclusions about the motives of others.

The prosecution rests after that defense!

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 28, 2013 in Law in Cyberspace, Law Professors Saying Dumb Things, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 27, 2013

Green on Dworkin

Another memorial for Ronald Dworkin, including an interesting observation by Leslie Green:

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".

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 27, 2013 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Holmes to Become Dean of LaVerne

Gilbert Holmes, professor at (and former dean of) the University of Baltimore School of Law, has been named the new dean of the University of LaVerne College of Law, starting this summer.

Posted by Dan Filler on February 27, 2013 in Faculty News | Permalink

February 26, 2013

Applications to law school

So my earlier speculation has come true:  there has been an uptick in applications this year, as Dan reported.  A propos these developments, Jeff Gordon (Columbia) writes:

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.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 26, 2013 in Law in Cyberspace, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

February 25, 2013

NLJ 250 Hiring Report for 2012

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.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 25, 2013 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

Brown Named Dean of Quinnipiac Law

Jennifer Gerarda Brown has been named the new dean of the Quinnipiac University School of Law.

Posted by Dan Filler on February 25, 2013 in Faculty News | Permalink

February 22, 2013

Conison from Valpo to Charlotte

Valparaiso University School of Law Dean Jay Conison has announced that he will be moving to the for-profit Charlotte Law School as its new dean on April 15.

Posted by Dan Filler on February 22, 2013 in Faculty News | Permalink

February 21, 2013

New Law School Application Numbers

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.

Posted by Dan Filler on February 21, 2013 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 20, 2013

Two-thirds of "Rate My Professors" data that National Jurist used was inaccurate, magazine now admits

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.

Posted by Brian Leiter on February 20, 2013 in Rankings | Permalink