August 11, 2011

"Anonymous Law Prof: 'Law Professors Are Scamming Their Students.'"

Paul Caron draws attention to a new blog, purportedly written by a law professor "at a Tier One school."

Sorry, I don't think this is a law professor. I think it's a law student. Why do I think this? Well, I remember the "Anonymous Lawyer" who was supposedly a partner at a big law firm. The blogger liked to talk about how contemptuously he treated underlings. It turned out the blogger was a law student with experience being one of those underlings as a summer associate in a law firm.

This new blog has the same feeling to me. The blog tries to take the perspective of the professor as he mistreats the students. It sounds like a student uncharitably projecting thoughts onto the professor:
Now I’m sure there are certain paragons of pedagogic virtue who conscientiously keep up with the latest legislative and judicial developments in the classes they teach – who spend countless hours pouring over new statutes and opinions and law review articles, to make sure that their knowledge of adverse possession or promissory estoppel or the felony murder rule is well and truly up to date. I don’t know too many law professors like that. The typical professor teaches the same classes year after year. Not only that -- he uses the same materials year after year. I’m not going to bother to count – this is law school after all, and we don’t do empirical research -- but I bet that more than half the cases I teach in my required first-year course were cases I first read as a 1L 25 years ago. After all I use the same casebook my professor used. I even repeat some of his better jokes (thanks Bill). And, with very few exceptions, I know nothing about the formal legal material that I haven’t gleaned from reading the casebook and the teaching manual. This is how much preparation I’m doing this summer for the classes I’ll teach this coming academic year: None. And that, I guarantee you, is the median amount of time law professors have spent over the past three months preparing for the classes they’re about to start teaching again.
First of all, I don't think a real law professor at a good school would write "pouring" for "poring."  But what also rings false is the lawprof's seeming knowledge of how all the other professors are preparing for class. I've never heard any lawprof admit he just reads the casebook and the teacher's manual. Asserting that as if he knows makes me suspect that he's faking a lot.

Now, let's see what some of the other blogs are saying? Do they suspect fakery? Orin Kerr says:
Some of the author’s posts are interesting, but then a lot of the claims are pretty hyperbolic. Plus, the idea of law professors blogging truthfully about being law professors is a large part of what law professor blogs have always been about, so I don’t quite get the “speaking truth to power” tone.
David Lat says:
Is it possible that LawProf isn’t really a law prof, but just a bitter and unemployed law grad masquerading as an academic? People have been known to misrepresent their identities on the internet. For example, I pretended to be a judge-obsessed woman working at a law firm, while blogging as Article III Groupie of Underneath Their Robes, when in reality I was a judge-obsessed man working as a federal prosecutor.

With respect to Inside the Law School Scam, it appears that this is not the case. First, the site has the ring of truth to it; there’s enough behind-the-scenes and historical knowledge about legal academia to suggest the author truly is a law professor. (If not a law prof, the writer has gone to an awful lot of trouble to sound like one.)
Yeah, too much trouble. A real lawprof blogging doesn't strain to sound like a lawprof.

(And, yes, I did see that Inside Higher Ed says: "He agreed to reveal his identity to Inside Higher Ed, and his description is accurate.")

UPDATE: Anonymous Law Prof outs himself as Paul Campos.

67 comments:

Mark O said...

Circle those wagons. Call the dogs and piss on the fire.

Today's legal educatin is grandly overpriced, even at Yale.

Mark O said...

*education* See, I must be a law student because of that glaring typo. Is this what passes for analysis?

TenMile said...

There was a blog called anonymous lawyer that talked of lawyer things and yielded several books. The author interviewed on TV in promotion of the final book - from the receiving end as Althouse suggests. I've forgotten whether 11 or 17 in series of books.

It would be within possibility the author is following his modus and bloging chapter by chapter of books to follow.

Try googling the blog anonymous LAWYER

madawaskan said...

Well how is law school not a scam?

Just in general.

Ask any law firm how much they have to train new recruits.

And/or "deprogram" at the same time.

Seven Machos said...

Althouse is obviously misdirecting in grand style here.

If you read the article in Inside Higher Ed, the blog author claims to be a prof at a Tier 1 school not too far outside the Top 10 and reportedly makes about $170k a year.

Althouse also hasn't denied that she is the blogger. And she is, in fact, a blogger.

QED. It's her.

Geoff Matthews said...

So Inside Higher Ed is conspiring with this guy?
At this time, I'll believe him solely on the Higher Ed bit. I trust them enough to not lie about this (plus, if they did collude with some law student to mislead their readership, the effects could be devastating).
It'll take more than a spelling error to make me doubt this claim.

madawaskan said...

Could be Instapundit...

or the guy at Volokh whose blogging about how the "I" in *internet* should be capitalized.

chickenlittle said...

Fake but accurate?

Peano said...

Sorry, I don't think this is a law professor. I think it's a law student.

I remember when you thought Zero was the man to put in the White House. So I didn't bother reading any further.

Most colleges, including law schools, are a scam nowadays. Doesn't matter who says so. That's just the way it is.

Pogo said...

I was hoping it was Trooper.

Hates lawyers, and sometimes misspells.

But the blog ain't funny like Troop.

Fred4Pres said...

Law professors and the sadistic method of teaching!

Fred4Pres said...

Nice!

Lucius said...

I agree the tone has the hand-rubbing malice of Calvin devising the latest generation of Duplicator technology.

A real law prof would be more a worldweary Hobbes. Or like Mom or Dad. Even Susie.

Lucius said...

Tho 7M's conspiracy theory intrigues . . .

Lamar63 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lamar63 said...

I agree with Geoff Matthews. I don't think Inside Higher Ed would risk their reputation by conspiring with a non law prof.

I would guess that Althouse is pissed this guy is telling the truth about how little law profs work. And, horror of horrors, he is arguing for much lower pay for law profs.

edutcher said...

A law professor lying? The one who teaches those impressionable minds to twist words and mislead juries?

Tell it not in Christendom.

Canuck said...

It sounds like he/she expects his/her identity to be revealed at some point.

Sounds like we'll find out who it is, eventually.

Academia (and law faculties) contain all sorts of people - happy, bitter, slacker, hard-working, giving, annoying, crazy, ect. There's no reason this blogger couldn't be part of that crowd.

Fred4Pres said...

Welcome to Mistress Althouse's Constitutional Law Class.

"Well slave, tell me all about penumbras!"

Fred4Pres said...

Bring out the Meade!

Carol_Herman said...

You mean anyone posting "anonymously" lies?

I'm sure there's no fun working for large law firms. When my son was about two. I met a mom with kidlings. Her husband, did, in fact, work for a major law firm.

She wasn't short of hair raising stories. Nor was I. I was married to a cardiologist at the time.

Oh, then? There was a book called "The Saturday Knife and Gun Club." I knew the resident who wrote it. A Manhattan story. Where residents from New York Medical College trained.

Funny, because back then, the residents had to take their medical boards. This resident had an unusual way of studying. He ripped out pages from his medical text. And, as he read and completed a page ... he'd roll it up into a ball. And, throw it into the hallway(s). Over his shoulder. As he ran between floors. I used to think that was "multi-tasking."

Maybe, it's what Dan Rather said? "Fake. But accurate."

Not everything that's written is made up.

The Saturday Knife and Gun Club sure wasn't. (The name itself? Referred to working in the emergency room, on Saturday nights. What kinds of wounds do you think you see?

Carol_Herman said...

B.P. Reiter was the synonym.

Get it?

Carol_Herman said...

I meant pseudonym.

Canuck said...

"In a unique twist for what was purportedly a scholarly discipline in the American university system, legal academia has never developed any kind of general peer review publication process. Even today almost all legal academic journals are run by law students, who select and edit the work published in them. This system, which naturally fills other academics with shock and awe,"

oh burn. Maybe the blogger also has a Humanities PhD, yet is teaching on law faculty. Perhaps a dual appointment.

And he/she knows an awful lot about legal/law school history. I think he/she is faculty.

http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/

Carol_Herman said...

Mark O ... at 4:36 PM.

There are war stories just as there are pirate stories.

You know any pirates?

Carol_Herman said...

I dunno, Fred 4 Pres. I always thought the most sadistic method was to keep asking questions. And, then I found out it's so ancient ... it was Socrates who started this.

And, I figured out ... if you're always asking questions ... then nobody learns you don't know the answers.

While, as a student, Wendi Deng Murdoch learned how to hit back.

Lonetown said...

"People have been known to misrepresent themselves on the internet"

really?

Chip Ahoy said...

I think it is this woman, presently at the top of Scott Schuman's site, because frankly she is all I can think about right now.

Saint Croix said...

I think it's safe to say that the day-to-day practice of a lawyer has very little in common with the law school experience.

Las school is far, far more academic and theoretical than the reality of most law practices.

I was weird in that I actually enjoyed law school. (Most lawyers don't like it). For me, law school was fun, like blogging on Althouse is fun. Your mind is engaged. I would participate in class. In fact I would struggle not to participate so that I wasn't the class asshole. "If you don't know who the class asshole is, it's you."

Most legal practice is money, money, money. Law school is too pure to think about that stuff much.

Law school is too pure to even attempt to train you for your day-to-day practice as an attorney.

Does law school teach how to get clients? No.

How to build your business? No.

How to draw up a contract, or a will? No.

How to network? No.

How to deal with a rape victim? No.

How to deal with a distraught couple in the middle of a divorce? No.

Law school gives you a legal brain. You feel like a lawyer in law school. You are one. But in a lot of ways you are woefully unprepared for what your actual life is going to be like.

What law school does really, really well is teach you how to think critically, and spot problems.

If you're a writer, law school will make your stuff better.

Law school will train you to be an outstanding editor, or journalist. It's a classic liberal education. It makes you a better citizen.

As job training, it really kinda sucks.

Typical law professor: "All that stuff is easy! You'll pick it up." Like dealing with other people's emotional trauma is easy for a critical thinker. Or finding clients is easy for an introvert who would rather read a book.

Law school is great for any kind of academic, theoretical, or idea-centered career.

Law school is not a scam, and it's kind of retarded to say it is.

But it is utterly different from the reality of most legal practice.

somefeller said...

The first comment on this post had it right. Sounds like the wagons are circling. And the cost of legal education (and higher education in general) has been outstripping inflation for far too long, with little increase in quality or benefits to students to justify the cost increases. The fact this person is writing under a pseudonym doesn't diminish his arguments.

Smilin' Jack said...

Sorry, I don't think this is a law professor. I think it's a law student.

I think it's a dog.

Ren said...

This is hilarious, mainly because I firmly believe Althouse is one of those "professors" who is so incapable of teaching that most of the students end up feeling their money was wasted.

There's a reason she has some of the lowest ratings in the law school, and that's mainly because her inability to teach results in a nonexistent legal education for her students. Every time I attended her class, it was like I could feel my money being flushed down the drain. An incomprehensible train of thought coupled with a nonexistent teaching method made it the worst class I have ever taken, undergrad or law school.

I am not alone in this assessment.

Carol_Herman said...

You know what's fun? When a teacher in high school can't do math. But has to memorize the lesson plan for a calculus class.

Now, if you NEED a lawyer. Whom are you going to hire? The guy with the best address? The guy wearing the hand-tailored suit? The guy with the sexy, dumb secretary? Maybe, you'll like the man's tie selection?

Would you hire the schlepp who had soup stains on his tie? And, it looked like he used his tie as a napkin?

Alan King, who started to make money as a comedian, early, (coming from a poor Lower East Side family). Made enough money to send his brother (ten years or more his junior) to law school.

And, then, I think I told this story here. He came out late on the Ed Sullivan Show. Chucked his routine. And, called out TWA for losing his luggage.

So? TWA hired the best Harvard produced. And the legal complaint said Alan King SLANDERED the airline. They said he should'a made up a fake name!

Remember, all of TWA's lawyers were partners in a very fancy NYC firm. The best dressed!

Okay. In court Alan's brother shows up, against these 8 very professionally tailored individuals. And, his brother's tie is obviously loaded with soup stains. It also looked like he had used it as his napkin. (What are ties for?)

Now, I don't know how libel and slander gets taught at a subject at Harvahd, and beyond. But Alan King about had a heart attack. His brother wasn't suited up, properly.

Now, in walks the judge. And, turns to the Harvahd elite ... And, says: "IF IT'S THE TRUTH IT CAN'T BE SLANDER OR LIBEL! Now you sons of bitches find out what TWA just did with my luggage. I landed at LaGuardia. My luggage did not!" Case closed. Looking more like it had just been shot out of the window, by rocket.

Sure. TWA paid a gigantic legal bill. Which is also how you play by the rules.

For the annonymous law professor. I believe the more tenure you have, the less preparation you need. And, when a student arrives in your office with a question. The door gets locked. "Complaints" on Tuesdays. And, student questions? Once in a blue moon.

Lucius said...

@Chip Ahoy: "you free your mind/ and your androgeny"?

--Just teasing.

Carol_Herman said...

I think Ann is a wonderful teacher!

I don't think she throws erasers.

And, I think her class participation ... where students actually TALK OUT LOUD, runs high!

I noticed this by the way she puts a topic into the air, here. She's not looking to show off! She puts in about the weakest argument that passes for real. And, then she lets everyone take a shot at making their point.

You know, I had a neighbor once. She passed herself off as "ditzy." Zoftik. And, I used to wonder how her bottom could support the top.

But I caught on pretty quickly!

She taught second grade. And, during the summers she'd go on vacations ... just to collect interesting things she could bring to class.

Gosh. Her students must have taken her for stupid. Because if she had to draw a straight line on the board. Hers would wave. And, the students began to feel THEY KNEW BETTER. And, they knew more!

And, she kept their attention.

Half the trick of teaching in making sure your students stay awake.

When they think they're smart ... and, maybe?, you're not? What's to fear? Learning is all sugar and honey.

Can't fool me on this topic!

Plus, you have to love teaching ... to find the thrill in the job.

A great surgeon, meanwhile, wants you to be fast asleep.

If you want to go meet people who think they're god, go meet a surgeon.

Fred4Pres said...

Ren, bad grade?

Fred4Pres said...

Chip Ahoy said...
I think it is this woman, presently at the top of Scott Schuman's site, because frankly she is all I can think about right now.

8/11/11 6:20 PM


Chip, she looks like the girl "Want" under the cloak of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol.

Fred4Pres said...

The girl "Want" under the Ghost of Christmas Present.

Saul said...

Who cares who wrote it. It is 100 percent true.

Saint Croix said...

An incomprehensible train of thought coupled with a nonexistent teaching method made it the worst class I have ever taken, undergrad or law school.

Ren, I've taken bad classes.

I have no desire to find those professors blogs and hang out with them.

So, seriously, why are you here?

Don't you find it kind of odd that Althouse manages to attract so many smart people to her blog?

And if we're all stupid, again, why are you here?

Oligonicella said...

Althouse --

First of all, I don't think a real law professor at a good school would write "pouring" for "poring."

As you have both misused and misspelled words, where does this put you?

Point being everyone does it, so that's no real culling point.

Carol_Herman said...

PUBLISH OR PERISH. That's the on-campus "game" ... And, lots of people fail at it.

People who loved to teach?

Years ago I remember professors that got great reviews from their students, got dumped. No tenure for them!

Remember at universities ... the power shifted to the administrators.

It's like "DIALING FOR DOLLARS" is to politicians.

Handshaking.

The public face.

And, every day you're asking people for money.

Kids are lucky to meet the good professors.

Heck, I never forced my son to take honors classes. On his own, he did this ... because he wanted certain teachers teaching him.

And, yes. The best teachers are discussed among students.

The biggest mistake I made at Pasadena City College, was to choose the woman who was known to give out great grades. And, I missed a much better classroom! I wouldn't repeat that mistake again!

Where our colleges and universities really fail ... is that for some kids its a time to party and drink.

I even heard Ann Coulter regretting that she drank so much, then. At Cornell.

The school that once had Richard Feynman LEARNING to teach! Because he followed Hans Bethe there!

Feynman said learning to teach, for him, was exhausting. And, he got so depressed ... he gave it all up. And, when to Rio.

When he came back he went to Caltech. His roommate across the hall was Murray Gell-man.

And, the best professors ARGUE! They argue out theories as the theories are forming in their heads.

You know what else?

You never forget the great ones you've had!

madawaskan said...

He's English!

The plout thickens!

Patrick said...

College teachers? IF they are at least native speakers, can read from the text, and grade unbiased then they are way above par for the course. I grade althouse above that.

And few people under the age of 25 can reason well. It's tough to teach them all. Send them out to get mugged first and they will be more realistic about life.

Palladian said...

"Ren, bad grade?"

Just what I was thinking. Poor creature. Sharpen up.

travis said...

"First of all, I don't think a real law professor at a good school would write 'pouring' for 'poring.'"

Funny... This coming from a law professor at a good school who isn't immune from grammatical mistakes.

You even made a mistake in the same post: "Now, let's see what some of the other blogs are saying? Do the suspect fakery?"

I hardly think a law professor at a good school would use "the" instead of "they."

Seven Machos said...

Poor Ren. Not only did Ren hate Althouse as a professor but now Althouse is also a world-famous blogger while Ren is writing wills and defending slip-and-falls in Fond du Lac.

Sad, really.

Sixty Grit said...

Always hire a rich lawyer, never buy from a rich salesman. And don't play cards with a guy named Doc.

Words to live by.

Peano said...

First of all, I don't think a real law professor at a good school would write "pouring" for "poring."

---

You've posted some howling blonde-isms in your time, but that one beats them all.

Jose_K said...

Blogger is working worst than ever.
If he were a professor here in my country it would be 100% true.
Im professor in a first tier, best three , here.

Carol_Herman said...

How can you ask a Bar question about screwing a client?

Carol_Herman said...

What? In teaching Law, how do you teach a student to bang on the table, when the law ain't on his side?

Jose_K said...

And few people under the age of 25 can reason well. It's tough to teach them all
Wrong by far beside racist.
I have been a law professor for 18 years in southamerica. My father was an assistant researcher in Michigan.
Native speaker? why? USA has won the Nobel Prize, the real ones , almost every year since 1980 thanks to foreigners
I have never found anyone older than 30 that was worth teaching anything.
The capacity needed to learn is lost at 30.
Nobody older than 40 has ever done anything of value in the science or art fields.
Goethe said that when he was 28 he wrote Clavijo in a week. At 83 he was able to write half of a page by day.
Friedman said that after 1970 he was unable to understand anything newly published in economics.

Carol_Herman said...

Do most cases even reach court?

Carol_Herman said...

Racist?

Ken Thompson is the best lawyer you can hire! You just gotta hope he wants to take your case!

Carol_Herman said...

You know, I knew a guy who married the gal whose dad owned the practice.

You think you interview?

Carol_Herman said...

New recruits at law firms? Asks Madawascan at the beginning of this thread ...

Well, they're the ones who labor hard, because they want to make partner. Not all of them do.

Carol_Herman said...

Legal academia?

Do tell me how obama got such high honors at harvahd? Then he got hoisted into the presidency.

Some "constitutional" lawyer, he. HAW.

Carol_Herman said...

Jose K @ 9:51 PM

It's not about people under the age of 25 lacking reasoning skills. We all learn when we learn from our mistakes.

And, we make mistakes when we take risks.

Maybe, it's like driving a car?

Some people are so good at it ... that they're naturals. Others?

Yesterday, Ann wrote about a woman. Who couldn't get into her car. Because of the way others parked nearby. So she let her 6 year old niece attempt to drive the car out of the tight spot. This happened in a town in PA named Beaver.

Gee. What you could do with headlines.

As to lawyers, the big separator is the Bar Exam. Which a woman in Labor just took. Proving? She didn't scream. She finished the exam early. And, went across the street at delivered. Not all pregnant women can do that.

Not all people who pass the Bar can grow rich.

And, some do because they play golf.

Hey. Boehner plays golf.

Obama loves to play golf.

And, that's not taught at law schools, either.

Maybe, it's just who you know? And, how you play the game?

For getting a good driver? It gets recommended in golf. It's true, too, in cars.

And, life in general, comes with no guarantees.

When Sandra Day O'Connor became a lawyer. (And, she really was tops in law school.) The only job, then, that she could get was as a secretary.

While, when she sat on the Supreme Court. And, I think she was the first woman to do so. She figured out in a hurry how she could get to write opinions ... by offering her vote. Rehnquist plotzed. But he couldn't out-beat her.

And, yes. She brought forks. And, plastic reindeer to her decisions. So she could split them on the voting block.

I was very amused.

It's all in how you play the game.

And, if you're playing poker ... you can play against "doc" and others. As long as you read "tells." And, you bluff with the best of 'em.

Nope. Not skills taught in law schools, either.

And, no matter what your grades; teachers can't promise you success. That's something you do when you strike out on your own.

Not everybody's employable. (And, wow, was that a good one, yesterday, that InstaPundit put up.) Live and learn. That's a good rule, too.

Carol_Herman said...

There's no such thing that you have to be young to be successful! That's a myth.

How do I know? I saw my mom reach success after she became widowed. And, after she turned 54.

Sure. She grew up with a dad who pushed a push cart. And, became successful through risks. And, failures. And, the Great Depression. Stuff that makes a kid roll her eyeballs.

But take note. The time line of success arcs. In other words? Don't expect success to last forever.

You know, today women use Botox to "beat the clock."

When I was young the joke was that if "that woman had another face lift, she'd be wearing a goatee."

Yup. Laughter is still the best medicine.

Chip S. said...

Jose K said, Friedman said that after 1970 he was unable to understand anything newly published in economics.

Jose, have you got a source for that quote? I'm not challenging it, just curious about it.

My guess would be that what Friedman actually said--or meant, anyway--was that he was unable to understand why most of the newly published stuff had been published.

I ask the same question pretty much every time I pick up Brookings Papers.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

Well as Bill Buckley said, while he twirled around the (constant) idiocy about him, we can go off on that tangent.

Bill Buckley, WFB, finger extended, expanding his arm's reach all the while, turned his head from his guest as his finger pointed to confutation, as witnessed and documented over 33 years on video.

Chanie said...

"In a unique twist for what was purportedly a scholarly discipline in the American university system, legal academia has never developed any kind of general peer review publication process. Even today almost all legal academic journals are run by law students, who select and edit the work published in them. This system, which naturally fills other academics with shock and awe,"

oh burn. Maybe the blogger also has a Humanities PhD, yet is teaching on law faculty. Perhaps a dual appointment.

And he/she knows an awful lot about legal/law school history. I think he/she is faculty.

http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/


thank god they don't allow clerks that haven't practiced for several years

Oligonicella said...

Jose_K --

And few people under the age of 25 can reason well. It's tough to teach them all

Wrong by far beside racist.

Youth is not a race.

Joe said...

I think "he's" a lesbian from Syria.

michael a. livingston said...

I think the whole "law school is a scam" trope is opportunistic and cowardly. If people think the current way of teaching is bad, why don't they start new or innovative courses--many people have done exactly that--or, if students, shop for a law school that does so? It's like the people who go to big firms and complain that the life is boring and meaningless. So why go there in the first place?

Shpartan said...

You are clearly not a professor or just a terrible one. How could "zero" hours of preparation be the "median amount of time that law professors" spent preparing for the last three months? How could it possibly be the median?

Who cares if they are not teaching us anything new--that is not their job. Their job is to teach us how to be lawyers.

Slamma-jammed!