Friday, June 7, 2013

The fool doth think she is Weiser.

In a country, actually an entire planet, overwhelmed by suffering and oppression, the downtrodden cry out for assistance. Their humble request is for more law school graduates to analyze subordination for them, and provide them with much-needed leadership. But American law schools, though fantastical places that provide their students with super-cerebral analytical and problem-solving skills, have gone astray. You see, law students, their values distorted by a  greedy culture, crave Bentley cars and private jets, rather than service and justice, and the complacent schools have not provided appropriate correction. So to all you recent law school grads and law students, one can only ask: where is your shame? Instead of hankering for a private jet, why not adjust your goals and values to accord with those of the fictional character Atticus Finch? Why not craft a more just and caring society, as your law professors taught you to do through their principled critiques of the status quo and their explanations of your professional responsibilities? 

If you think that the paragraph you just read is a preposterous and incoherent attempt at parody, then read the following quotes from Fordham Law Professor Hazel Weiser, a long-time honcho of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT).  Unfortunately, my rhetorical exaggerations are slight. As the quotes demonstrate, I am actually summarizing her views.

1. "At a time when our country, actually the entire planet, needs a large and diverse reservoir of talented civic leaders with analytical capacity, problem solving, and mediation skills, law school seems like a fantastic educational option."
2. "That battle over curricular content has not succeeded in striking down the pervasive myth, fueled by a culture of greed, that a career in law is the road to a Bentley, a Rolex, and a private jet. Where is Atticus Finch! Law is a service profession. Somehow that has gotten lost."
3. "Amidst the discouraging stream of newspaper articles and blogs this summer demonizing law school deans, accusing university presidents of raiding law school tuition revenues, and suggesting a giant conspiracy to cover up the fact that there are very few $160,000 a year jobs for recent law school graduates, it appears that only the oblivious might consider enrolling in law school this fall. I beg to disagree. Now is the right time to encourage students from diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to consider a legal education. We cannot allow the legal profession a detour from its mission to produce lawyers and leaders from all communities due to the economic downturn." 
4. "[W]here we have been complacent is not fighting back as we saw the culture of our schools shift, no matter what tier, dangling a starting salary of $160,000 instead of desperately trying to attract students who might have an interest to open a community-serving practice. With student debt so high, and the economics of law practice evolving, that career path faded under the false promise of celebrity and riches."
5. "So many of us here at the AALS [Association of American Law Schools] dreamed of the day when we would be the professor in the classroom, untangling the meaning of law, inciting students to question the analysis of subordination and the status quo, crafting a more just and caring civil society."
6. "SALT has worked to change the culture of legal education by insisting upon a curriculum rich with a principled critique of our liberal democracy and an understanding that it is an attorney’s professional responsibility to improve the quality of the legal system and increase access to justice."
Here is a request to Weiser and other law professors. Do you think you can work on being a little less self-righteous and a little more reflective? SALT's publication is called The Equalizer. Why don't you offer a "principled critique" of the inequality between six-figure salaried law professors with tenure and six-figure indebted law students with dismal career prospects?  You have made yourselves rich and cozy off the misplaced trust and astonishing debt loads of bright but naive 22-26 year olds, most of whom will end up as debt slaves for decades, and many of whom will be unable to carve out a place in a glutted profession. If you do not challenge that status quo, that "subordination," then your recent graduates and others in the profession will regard you as contemptible hypocrites. With justice.

--------------
sources:

quotes 1 and 3:  https://www.saltlaw.org/blog/2011/08/17/in-defense-of-a-legal-education/

quotes 2, 4, and 6: http://www.saltlaw.org/blog/2013/05/17/chasing-the-kardashians/

quote 5: http://www.saltlaw.org/blog/2011/06/24/from-the-aals-workshop-for-new-law-teachers/
 

38 comments:

  1. Tamanaha's latest article skewers the hypocritical SALT and other professor groups.

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  2. ".... that career path faded under the false promise of celebrity and riches."

    NO. NO. NO. That career path collapsed under the sheer overproduction of lawyers which was brought about by the law schools. What a strawman to say that law grads want to be Kardashian. They wanna make a living.

    You gotta have money to make the whole thing work.

    Even if you're representing minority, transgendered anarchists who are being charged with burning the flag ...for free, of course... you can only be the type of justice-focused lawyer SALT envisions when

    * they get rid of charging you or your newfangled, office-sharing space with shared receptionist... and instead give you these things totally for FREE. OK, a justice-seeker don't need an office, I get it. And he sure don't need a house.

    But when you're living with Mom and Dad at age 31 (which you should be doing to be a justice seeker), it's STILL kinda cool to pay them a little rent. Meet with your little anarchist in Mom's dining room, but still pay mom a little something.

    * OfficeDepo stops charging you for supplies, and decides to help your service mission by giving you computer hardware for free. And get rid of those pesky internet access fees, too.

    * The court reporters transcribe depositions for free, and give you copies for free, too

    * The process servers serve process for free. Your little anarchist client's gonna need some witnesses to testify on his behalf.

    * Insurers give you a huge break on premiums (please don't ask insurers to do anything for free; just look for a reasonable rate)

    * Courts get rid of filing fees, gas stations let you fill up for free to drive your donated car to the deposition, and your dry cleaner cleans your one suit for free.

    * CLE is free, there are no Bar Dues, or Attorney taxes.

    * Obamacare says that lawyers don't have to show they are covered by health insurance (because they are the dispensary of justice)

    I could go on....

    ReplyDelete
  3. So basically, she thinks people should work for free. But not her.

    Are you people really any different? You seem to think that law school and (I'm guessing) health care should be free (or, perhaps, provided for no more than the cost of the raw materials). Labor should cost nothing! But not yours.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, because those arguments clearly are similar. There is no difference between pointing out excessive salaries paid for with personally-borne student loans and advocating for government-payor healthcare. Obviously, believing in the former means you not only believe in the latter, but that you also except doctors to work for free.

      You are such a genius. Where can I read your blog and/or newsletter for additional enlightening thoughts?

      Delete
    2. Uh, yeah, because in all those other countries that have public healthcare, doctors and nurses work for free, and hospitals are constructed for free. Tenured professors at colleges that don't stick you for $50,000 a year in tuition? Also work for free in your world, I see.

      What the fuck is wrong with you?

      Delete
    3. ^ In the third world countries you describe, doctors and nurses are public servants who receive subsistence wages. So I guess that keeping the doctors from STARVING TO DEATH might be considered a "raw" cost of labor (something I referred to in my original comment, btw).

      Face it, dude: you think labor should be free (or provided at "cost," anyway, i.e. food). I'd say it's poetic justice that nobody will pay you for your "work."

      Delete
    4. No one has ever argued that labor should be free. Quite the contrary, since most of us endorse professional values and would never deny that to medicine.

      What are you talking about with doctors in 3rd-world countries? Trainee doctors in Britain (i.e., residents) make 22k (in pounds) and salaries for doctors seem to span from around 35k (in pounds) to well over 100k (in pounds). With exchange rates/PPP, they're making a comparatively good living. Australia and Canada also make good money (equivalent of high 5 figures), although it's less than what doctors in wealthy US suburbs make.

      You could literally not be more wrong.

      Delete
    5. "No one has ever argued that labor should be free. Quite the contrary!"

      Um, do you even read the posts, or do you just go straight to the comments section?

      £22K. Hmph, assuming it's even that high, I'd like to see YOU try to live on that much. Actually, you could probably manage that, since you still live at your Mom's house.

      Subsistence wages, dude.

      Delete
    6. "£22K. Hmph, assuming it's even that high, I'd like to see YOU try to live on that much."

      That's trainee wages, similar to a US doctor in residency. The equivalency would be around $33,500 right now. That's less that most American residents make, but not by much, and it's above the US individual median (I think), so I'm lost as to how you think that's "subsistence wages" unless you're a troll of the worst kind.

      Delete
  4. The problem here, through and through, is one of classism.

    The focus is on the "deplorable" drive towards wealth and excess, instead of changing the world for the better though Law, as if the salient issue was one of mere enlightenment. If LawProfs could only lightly touch the heads of lawyers and law grads alike with their magic wands, then a new era of cooperation and mutual-advancement would ensue.

    The reality is that people are trying to survive, across multiple economic strata. Period. They don't have time for lofty thoughts and aspirations when they are trying to come up with the next rent check, grocery bill, utility bill and student loan payment, let alone actually trying to serve client needs in the "real world" of crime, broken families, and struggling businesses, to name a few.

    That same world where LawProfs are conspicuously absent, I note. If they care so much about crafting a civil society, why do they hide behind the walls of academia in order to get others to do their dirty work?

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  5. That almost made me throw up on my keyboard. This hypocrisy is appalling. I agree with the idea of Occupy Law School--the professors and deans and admins are part of the 1%. Yet they babble on and on about public service and social justice while making six figure salaries and working part time. I could say more but your last paragraph said it all.

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  6. "trying to attract students who might have an interest to open a community-serving practice"

    I kind-of agree with this, which would mean law schools need to teach a practical, needs-based curriculum. I would love it if law schools taught how to navigate probate court or manage a divorce from start to finish.

    But then, this:

    "...a curriculum rich with a principled critique of our liberal democracy and an understanding that it is an attorney’s professional responsibility to improve the quality of the legal system and increase access to justice."

    WTF?! Does she not realize that these things don't go together? If you have the cynical belief that law students have to be TAUGHT service values, you're not going to have time to actually teach them things that matter. So what happens is that instead of teaching students how to serve, law professors drone on and on about why students should serve.

    Any claim these people make to servicing lawyers who want to open up community-serving shops is total BS. They want to be snooty academics partaking in feel-good academic indoctrination, pure and simple.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How 'bout a good old-fashioned Teach-In... during her class. Kids: "Drop out now! Just say NO to debt! Don't indenture yourselves to banks and loansharks! Have an exit strategy for debt." Now that's public service.

    AND WHAT'S THIS:

    ".... it appears that only the oblivious might consider enrolling in law school this fall. I beg to disagree. Now is the right time to encourage students from diverse racial, ethnic, and economic backgrounds to consider a legal education....." ????

    Oh yeah, let THEM work for subsistance wages.

    I honestly can't tell whether the author was trying to be a Liberal, or is really a White Supremacist.

    The Downturn and Glut has at least one thing going for it--- it's truly equal opportunity and truly color blind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies

    1. "I honestly can't tell whether the author was trying to be a Liberal, or is really a White Supremacist."

      James Taranto made a similar point a few days ago--"Multiculturalism turns out to be a disguised form of white supremacy." (h/t instapundit)

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323844804578527412855526772.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

      Delete
  8. She is right about one thing, law is all about the money. Almost all lawyers I know are driven by earning a very good living, owning a luxury car, living in a large house. It is true there are altruistic lawyers out there, but hey tend to be women married to powerful and wealthy men. Money and Power is what drives the legal profession, and the medical profession for that matter.

    Still, these profs are hypocrites to the cores. When their schools are charging such obscene amounts for tuition and providing very little in return, for them to ask a new lawyer to be an indentured servant, you do have to feel a significant amount of contempt for them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. The pursuit of money and, even more, status, led many lemmings to law school, even if they were too stupid to realize they had no chance of gaining these things from law school. As the saying goes, you can't cheat an honest man.

      Delete
    2. The profs at my school rolled in new Mercs and BMWs. Low end models, but they were not exactly Honda Accords. Still in the top 5% of cars I imagine.

      Nobody goes into law for the love of the law. It is all about the money. So professors originally all went to law school for money too. They just found "theirs" in "teaching".

      Delete
  9. Remember that scene from "To Kill a Mockingbird" when Mr. Cunningham is sneaking a bag of walnuts on Atticus Finch's back porch? He has to explain to Scout what an "entailment" is? And later on Scout says entailments are bad? Now its the attorneys who are working off their entailments instead of collecting the bag of walnuts. Entailments are still bad.

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  10. I once overheard a conversation between two liberal law professors at Hofstra. One was complaining that her nanny quit and she had to drive her kids to school. How awful-- she had to drive her own kids to school! I guess we can't start the revolution today.

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  11. Man, the bullshit piles up so fast around these people you need wings to stay above it.*

    Statements like these from overpaid law school deans, professors and administrators are really helpful because they revitalize my passion to shut down these Toilets. These people are scum.

    I have a distant relative who is a T6 tenured professor. He makes $275K/year for teaching con law 6 hours/week, lives in a huge house, has several European sedans, takes foreign vacations, sends his kids to private school, has a nanny, has a 40 foot sailing boat, and screws around doing nothing all summer. He has no idea what life is life for those he helped fleece.

    It's important that we keep the passion alive within the movement but equally important to translate that passion into action. I live in a place with only one Toilet, but I have been actively seeking out Lemmings and prospective Lemmings and giving them the facts both in person and online.

    Put up signs near the entrance to law schools giving students the facts. It's too late by then, but it can salvage a life. More helpful has been to find out when and where the LSAT is going to be administered and spend an hour or two with a placard plainly stating the awful facts of this scam. If you live in a university town, put up signs on the bulletin boards. Refute the nonsense, lies and obfuscation presented by these scumbags.



    * - quote from apocalypse now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1.) Set up Informational Pickets outside the school during the first week of classes. Distribute employment stats, rehab stats, and hold-up pictures of recent lawyer suicides. Install Student Debt Clocks outside law schools. Use street theater to depict a young lemming getting violated by loan sharks, deans, and parents who are living in the past.

      2.) Extend “Sidewalk Counseling” to 1-Ls. Approach them and ask, “Are you sure you really want to abort your financial future?” “You are … at least you were… a living person with a heart and soul. So why kill yourself in hopes of becoming Atticus, a fictional character?” “Why become an indentured servant at 21?” At least try to talk young lemmings out of their delusional thinking. Gotta try at least. They understand it’s a lottery… they know they’re gonna win. Tell them NO ONE can win this lottery because there ain’t enough money for the payout.

      3.) Use Flash-Mob tactics to stage Die-In’s during first-year classes at a TTT.

      4.) Build a tent village outside “Career Services” and set up a soup kitchen.

      5.) Start a chapter of NAFDA—“Not Another F-ing Dime, Assholes”— which is what you tell your Alumni Association.

      Delete
  12. Tamanaha was right. These SALT professors/these self-proclaimed liberal democrats, living their privileged lives, can't see the suffering they have caused.

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  13. There is an interesting post on PrawfsBlawg entitled 'How to Increase your Risk of not getting tenure.' Number 4 is 'Focus too much on teaching or service.' 'In terms of teaching, most of us overinvest in teaching based on what the value is for tenure. I did/do, you will as well. I am happy I did it, but in part because I was able to produce enough scholarship at the same time. But you should recognize that every moment spent prepping, sadly, is a moment not spent on your scholarship. Some schools sometimes punish bad teaching during tenure, but far far fewer reward good teaching or at least in the proportion to the time spent to become an excellent teacher. Again, I am being cynical here but a realist; this is not the way I would like tenure to work, but I think it is the way it works right now in many institutions (as with all this advice you should try as much as possible to figure out what the climate is at your institution).'

    So if you do what the law students pay for-teaching-you will probably not get tenure. What a sick world legal education is.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You get tenure from working on committees, where the participants have control over huge chunks of money (for sabbaticals, for research funds, for all the little side bonuses that make law lucrative for profs). And through that work, you gain power because if profs on the outside of the committee fuck with you, they get none of your money.

      People active on committees always get tenure because they control the keys to the candy closet.

      Delete
    2. There is some demand for legal scholarship, but it is limited. Most law professors should be spending most of their time on teaching or administration. So at the moment we have way more law professors than we need, most of whom are devoting too much time to scholarship. So there is far too much legal scholarship being produced, and consequently most of it is utter dreck.

      Delete
    3. It should be illegal for law professors to publish more than 2 articles per year. We are drowning in useless awful worthless scholarship.

      -Jim

      Delete
  14. What's just as worse, most law profs don't know how to teach. They have never taught before and they have never thought about teaching. Consequently law students learn from law profs who know nothing about teaching and are at law schools that say teaching is not important. In fact if you spend too much time on teaching, you won't get tenure.

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  15. These guys are no different than the banks and corporations they profess to rise above.

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  16. Why do they call themselves the Society for American Law Teachers? In reality they are scholars, not teachers. They should be called SALS.

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    Replies
    1. Or SALMON - Society of Law Monsters Overgorged on Naivestudentsmoney

      -Jim

      Delete
  17. It's time to end the farce that law professors are teachers. It's the same joke as student athletes.

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  18. It's gone. The post on the PrawfsBlawg mentioned above has been removed. A law professor accidently published the truth and now it's been removed. I can't believe it.

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    Replies
    1. For people who believe in academic freedom and openness and whatnot, those sites (PB and TFL) seem to do a lot of deleting, censoring, etc.

      Delete
  19. Wow! Now the law professors are censoring themselves.

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  20. couple of funny developments at prawfsblawg and faculty lounge. at prawfsblawg a harvard prof was talking about how easy it is to make tenure but warned profs not to spend too much effort at good teaching. i don't think he was being arrogant. he was just being honest. then someone said he was being insensitive and people started wondering why he was insensitive. was it the comment about how easy it is to make tenure, given some undescribed and mysterious "recent event" at harvard? was it his smackdown of the importance of teaching? the whole post and thread got pulled.

    then over at faculty lounge there is a post all excited about Ted Seto's latest optimistic boosterism, arguing that we'll have a shortage of lawyers as early as 2016. yeah, but his argument depends upon a continuing severe cut-back on the number of lawyers -- which is what we've been arguing is necessary for some time now

    goes to show that you can be a tenured law professor with an emotional IQ of a child.

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  21. When Weiser retires, she will have a nice pension courtesy of her school.

    If her students ever retire, they will face a huge tax bill from their Income Based Repayment Plans.

    Weiser will retire thinking she's above such base concerns as money. The concern her former students might express about their tax bill will prove to her that these students are just materialistic sheep, not enlightened folk like herself.

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  22. That ignorant prof is Fordham on steroids.

    Fordham made its name as a V25 connection. Go there and get a great job in NYC...and pay very high tuition to do so, supporting whatever they think their broader "mission" is.

    Now the connection is a bit frayed, and they have to pretend there are other things you can do with a Fordham JD degree. Hard to do though, since they continue to subsidize both poor Bronx undergrads and greedy, narcissistic profs with your high JD debt-funded tuition.

    ReplyDelete