Brian Tamanaha recently wrote a great piece criticizing self-styled leftists on law school faculties. He admonished the famous "Crits" for hypocrisy. He also called out SALT (Society of Law Teachers) for vigorously defending law school tenure practices on the basis of "academic freedom," while ignoring the blindingly obvious reality that the costs associated with tenure impose considerable hardship on debt-ridden students.
And I am leftist myself, I guess. I have read lots of Chomsky and Nader and find their critiques of corporate power and imperialism to be persuasive. I would probably even endorse the substance of Tamara Piety’s writing about the corporate personhood doctrine if I could tolerate her style or persona for the span of a single paragraph.
But having good principles and ideals does not excuse callous and immoral behavior, and does not excuse scamming. Does a law professor worry about oppression or bigotry, in the U.S. or abroad? Good. Is the professor’s critique of oppression rendered into pompous sounding jargon for purposes of careerism? Less good. And does the professor, with all those high-minded principles and concerns, ignore or participate in scamming those who should be at or near the center of his or her moral concern– his or her own students? Not good, not good at all.
Take Thomas Jefferson law Professor Kaimipono Wenger, a man who clearly hates injustice. Though male and white, he was the Lead Faculty Organizer of the 2010 Women and Law Conference at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which focused on "Women of Color and Intersectionality." He has also written law review articles supporting reparations for the descendants of slaves. Wenger’s experience as a practicing lawyer is modest--a one year district court clerkship and just under three years as a litigation associate with Cravath--but he more than compensates for that in nobility of soul.
So how does this injustice-hating man react to the suffering of graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, i.e. the kids who borrowed a fortune and dumped it into the pockets of Wegner and his colleagues in the belief that they would receive a professional education that would allow them to make a living? What does he have to say about a school that graduates kids with the highest debt load of any of the 201 ABA accredited schools-- an incredible $168,800, not counting undergraduate debt? What does he have to say when that same school has one of the lowest placement rates among the law schools, with a mere 23.8% of 2012 grads obtaining full-time bar-required jobs within nine months of graduation? He says this:
"I have my own biases on the matter, of course, but I think there are a lot of reasons someone might want to be part of the TJSL community
Thomas Jefferson Law School has an excellent faculty, including some real stars. Alfred Brophy wrote in the Connecticut Law Review a few years ago that outside observers "might not be familiar with Thomas Jefferson's strong hiring patterns of recent years, which has included such strong scholars as Julie D. Cromer, Deven Desai, Kevin J. Greene, Linda M. Keller, Sandra L. Rierson, and Kaimipono David Wenger.". . . .The school has continued this trend with recent hires like Rodney Smith, a nationally recognized sports law expert and the former Dean at Memphis, the University of Arkansas, and other schools. The most recent report from Roger Williams lists Thomas Jefferson Law School in the category of "Schools 41-80" in terms of faculty productivity. . . .Within the past five years, the faculty has published books with Cambridge (Susan Bisom-Rapp), NYU (Julie Greenberg, Marjorie Cohn), Oxford (Susan Tiefenbrun, Kenneth Vandevelde), and Thompson, Carolina, West, and other publishers (too many authors to list). . . . Not to mention hundreds of law review articles, one of which by Bryan Wildenthal was recently cited multiple times by the U.S. Supreme Court in the McDonald case[.]
Oh, and there's also an annual Women and Law series which brings star scholars to campus every year -- people like Kimberle Crenshaw, Vicki Schultz, and Martha Fineman -- and which has featured Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg twice in the past ten years. . .
On top of that, the school has a nationally ranked externship program; a student body that is among the most racially and ethnically diverse of any law school; a spectacular and award-winning building; and a trail-blazing incubator program (recently highlighted by Time [M]agazine and the New York Times) that supports some of our recent graduates as they build up their practices.
We've certainly got our challenges, like everyone else. But I think we've got the pieces in place to address concerns and move forward, and I look forward to working with Dean Guernsey in this process."http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2013/04/thomas-guernsey-named-dean-of-thomas-jefferson-law.html (comment by Kaimipono Wenger, April 08, 2013 at 06:55 PM).
You, Wenger, are a professor at a scam school. Yes, a scam that takes place in a 90 million dollar award-winning building is still a scam. Even if Mr. Alfred Brophy approves of the scam's hiring patterns, it is still a scam. The conferences, the law review articles, the name-dropping, the celebrity cameos, the, uh, "nationally recognized sports law expert"-- how does all that change the fact that almost nobody in the legal profession respects a Thomas Jefferson law degree? Your pride in Thomas Jefferson's racially and ethnically diverse student body is as preposterous as some con-artist boasting that his victims came from many diverse cultures.And, while everybody has their challenges as you say, your moral challenge is recognizing your moral responsibilities towards the kids whose misplaced trust made you rich and cozy.