Several commenters have written to alert me that University of Chicago Law Professor Brian Leiter has authored a post in response to the retirement of Professor Paul Campos’s blog, “Inside the Law School Scam” (serious credit being due to Leiter for posting this entry so quickly, given his tendency to forget that the blog exists). Leiter and Campos have sparred in the past, so it’s not surprising to hear Leiter allege in his post that Campos’s blog “didn’t have much content, apart from insulting and deriding Deans, faculty and anyone else who contested his claims. But, true to form, [Campos] can’t say goodbye without just making things up out of whole cloth.”
It’s certainly true that Inside the Law School Scam never had much content – it featured no self-interested law school rankings or poetry, for example – and tended to focus on trivial issues like the facts that law schools are overproducing lawyers at a rate of 2:1, that law schools are using questionable recruitment tactics, that law school tuition is insanely high, that legal scholarship might not be worth the cost at which students are currently subsidizing it, and that in the end taxpayers are stuck with the bill for this mess. What I find difficult to believe, however, is that Campos is “just making things up.” Fortunately, on that matter, Leiter reports.
While Campos claims that, in response to his initial authoring of his blog anonymously, “people in legal academia instantly became more concerned with Who Was Saying These Outrageous Things than in whether those things might actually be true,” Leiter assures us that “[i]n fact, it was Campos himself who made a big deal out of ‘who was saying these things’…” How, exactly? Campos prominently bragged, in a small information section at the top of his blog, that he is "a tenured law professor at a Tier 1 law school." No one else cared about Campos’s identity or obsessed over “outing” him.
But Leiter doesn’t end his roast there. Nor should he. He explains that Campos used his prominence to “lend his claims, including his false ones, credibility,” such as his claims that law professors are “lazy” and “produce lousy scholarship.” These claims were not only false but “inflammatory and, at best, misleading” and this “is what annoyed even those who didn't know Campos and his history of trying to garner media attention by any means possible.” As to how Campos’s claims were false, inflammatory and, at best, misleading, Leiter unfortunately doesn’t explain. But let’s be honest – do we really need a factually supported argument from Leiter on this point? Campos clearly loves attention and will lie and/or mislead in order to get it.
Leiter finishes Campos off with an argument that Campos’s purported “core message” actually belongs to Brian Tamanaha and Bill Henderson. As Leiter rightly notes, it is their, not Campos’s, message to share. In fact, Leiter even concedes that he was spreading this message long before Campos ever was (don’t tell Tamanaha or Henderson) through his exhaustive linking to articles written by those law professors. But unlike Campos, Leiter spread this message the way that he spreads all of his messages: tastefully. He did so in a manner that would not (heaven forbid) completely disrupt the current system of legal education.
The cherry on top of the delicious ice cream cone that is Leiter’s exposé of Campos is what he calls “[t]he key fact to remember about Paul Campos” and which was “the first clear sign that this was an individual without a core, intellectual or moral.” For that gem, I will leave you to his article. Though please feel free to discuss the article here. Unlike Leiter Reports, and much like Inside the Law School Scam, we welcome constructive comments.