LAW REVIEWS DON’T SUCK! (Excerpt from an article, in draft)

By Lawprofblawg[FN*]


The [FN1] notion [FN2] that [FN3] law reviews are awful means of communicating information is just ludicrous.  A recent New York Times article seems to enhance this wrong perception.[FN4].  In this law review article, I explain the reason why law reviews are exceptional at communicating amazing ideas by people seeking tenure and glory, why courts and lawyers are wrong to ignore them, and why the reader (usually a student) should be proud of his or her hard work and therefore publish this 50 page, 600 footnote tome in the Harvard Law Review. . . .

This article will start in earnest with Section II, which describes the history of law reviews.[FN133]  While it is true, this article concludes, that mostly only professors and their friends read the articles contained therein, and law journal editors looking for citations, that law reviews shall rise again, based upon my psychological profiling of Justice Scalia.  Section III builds upon the recitation of stuff you already.  It then suggests that law reviews serve an essential function by providing untenured people with tenure materials and external validation, which is well worth the destruction to the environment caused by the number of trees killed in reprints mailed but never read.  Section IV describes how the Supreme Court uses law review articles for specific purposes, such as stabilizing the tables in their cafeteria and when they are completely at a loss for ideas.  Section V describes how I will somehow come up with something interesting about this process after rehashing what others have done in the previous four sections.  Section VI offers concluding remarks which will look exactly like my introduction and topic sentences from Section V.[FN300] . . . .

[FN*] Venerable Professor of Psycholinguistics and Law, University of Law.  Ph.D., Oxford, J.D. Harvard.  LLM, Yale, SJD Stanford, and M.Phil, Oxford.  The author would like to thank the Justices of Supreme Court for any comments they may have provided, as well as several prominent academics who have over 3,000 Westlaw hits.

[FN1]  Oxford English Dictionary (1999).

[FN2]  Id.  Cf. American Heritage Dictionary (2001).  See also Urban Dictionary, available at

[FN3] Id.



[FN133]  Gratuitous self-cite in a higher ranked journal.  Hint hint.

[FN300]  All of my own thoughts will be properly cited, referencing prior articles, to keep editors happy.  See Irony, Oxford English Dictionary, supra note 1.

I have kept a log of every law school related nightmare I have ever had. I am pretty sure this is a sign that there were some PTSD-causing events in law school. Oddly, I rarely have dreams about the bar exam. Here are some of the weirdest law school related nightmares:

1. In my colleague’s class.  My students tell me which professors are the worst. In my dream, I am about to take a final in this bad professor’s class. I have never been in this class before, have not studied, and I know full well I’m going to fail.

Waking up from this dream, I think it most likely that professors would fail each other’s exams, as law is particularly specialized. Unless you teach in an area with another professor, a prof would likely fail another prof’s exam.

2. Teaching a subject I dislike/don’t know.  In another instance, I was in front of a class. The students are carrying what are clearly Federal Income Tax books. Now, unless you are a tax professor, this is a nightmare. Sure, I can wax rhapsodic about tax policy and progressive and regressive taxes, but what am I going to do after the first class? The horror…the horror….

This nightmare has compelled me to branch out in my teaching. I don’t like to teach the same courses over and over. I mix it up. I now feel I could teach FIT if compelled to do so. At gunpoint. If there were lives at stake.

3. Why am I not dressed appropriately?  In some nightmares, not only have I returned to law school, but I am missing a vital piece of clothing or two. Often it is my shoes. I’m thinking this signifies that I am trapped. Sometimes, vital accessories are missing, like my laptop or book.

Of course, most students have the feeling that they are missing something. The fear of the unknown is strong, in particular with the first year students. What will the prof ask? What am I supposed to take from this? One thing is clear: Always bring your shoes.

4. The exam is in a different language or is math. I really love it when the exams I’m taking in my nightmares look like something out of a horror flick called “calculus.” Or often times, it’s all Greek to me. Literally. Or maybe Swahili. It doesn’t matter, because there is no way I’m going to pass this exam because I don’t know the language.

5. Feats of Strength.  Yes, exactly like that. I was forced to wrestle my contracts professor over my interpretation of Promissory Estoppel. I was able to defeat him, but the problem then became he cut my grade for bad participation.

6. Infinite Bluebooking. I was forced to edit an article for law review. The problem was that I had to find a source for the word “however.” They refused to let me use a dictionary. To make things worse, it was my article.

7. The Sing along. In one dream, I was force to sing and play guitar in order to keep the students entertained. My inability to play guitar probably would deflect attention from my terrible singing voice.

My take on the dreams is that law school is a transformation process. This is not just some sort of skills training taking place here. It is a fundamental shift, a change in the way you think. Even as you embrace this change, your subconscious rebels against it.

Dear Student,

As the holiday season approaches, at least in the grocery stores, I thought you should know that you might be getting coal in your report card stocking this year.  The reason?  I, your professor, am Santa Claus.

Here’s the thing: I just thought you should know that we professors are not as oblivious as you think we are.  We can tell when you’re not doing what you are supposed to be doing.  Sometimes you are overt, sometimes covert, but it doesn’t matter because we see all.  You aren’t as sly as you think you are, and we’re not as stupid as you think we are.

I know this upsets you.  But…you better not pout!  You better not cry!   I know that you know this already, but there are numerous ways you pout in class.  Passive aggressively staring at the clock, yawning openly without covering your mouth, staring at your computer screen and smiling when I have not said anything funny, and asking “why so much reading?” are great ways to show me you are not ready to be a lawyer.  You won’t do that to your boss.  You won’t dare.  Why do you think it is polite to do it to me?  Because you think I am your father?  Do you think Darth Vader would have put up with that from Luke and Leia?  No.

You better not shout.  Here is something you should know:  Proper vocal tone is important.  Please do not shout in my class.  I’m not deaf, no matter how much I blast my music in my car.  And please do not be that low talker on Seinfeld either.  That’s not confident.

I see when you are sleeping.  I know that sounds NSA-creepy at first, but I am talking about in class.  I know you don’t think it will be annoying to me to put your head down on the desk or in your hand and rest in my class, but I am here to tell you it is rude.  You are telling me I have nothing to offer you.  Depending on my disposition, I will either cold call on you, ignore you until participation is awarded, or mark you absent that day.  It is particularly annoying when you snore.  In that case, I might scare you with the notion that you might have sleep apnea. 

I know when you’re awake.  I know when you are not distracted, when you are paying attention.  I know when you are tracking, and when you are hopelessly lost.  The eyes tell me. 

I know when you’ve been bad or good.  I know when you are instant messaging, on twitter, or e-mailing.  I know when you’re thinking about graduation and job offers (if applicable), and when you’re distracted by the laptop in front of you.  Again, the eyes tell me.  I understand that some distraction might happen, but if you are focused on sports scores, chances are you aren’t focused on what I’m saying in class.  Ask a texting driver in an auto accident about multitasking prowess.  

The upshot of all of this: Be good, for your grade’s sake!

Friends, I am on the search for the best law porn submission.  I will grade them as I receive them, but today I have to start with Northwestern Law School.  Northwestern’s law porn receives only a B.  Let me explain why.

Photography:  All of the faculty profile pics are missing the tops of the faculty heads.  This suggests you are all hiding something.  I suspect cowlicks, even in those who are hair challenged.  Also, some of the pictures are just off visually.  Chicago can be a beautiful city, but the picture on the inside of the cover does not make me feel so.  It is a little grayish, and a bit off center.     

On the plus side, the professors in the classroom shots are all gesticulating.  That is good.  That means they are good and animated teachers, right?  How about a little technology in the classroom?  Every shot shows a dry-erase board. 

The students in the classroom (pages 20-21) were clearly uncoached.  Two seem to be looking at their computer.  One isn’t taking notes, as he has his hand on his face.  One in the middle seems almost joyful.  You need to coach your students.  You are a serious school.  Look relaxed, but intense.  Happy, yet serious.  Cool, but alive.  And always look at the professor over your apparently standard issue Macbooks.  Not a Dell in the classroom!

On page 19, the student in the center has multiple windows open on her laptop.  It’s blurred out, but I think the one behind the top is gmail. 

I’ve decided that I have a crush on Thomas Brennan on page 6.  His silver fox hair and intense stare are dreamy.  I’m going to try to replicate that.

Layout:  There really is a lot of white space between faculty profiles.  The font is very tiny.  If I’m a senior faculty, I’ve lost my ability to read that font long ago without cheaters. 

I’m also concerned you put the previous appointments before faculty scholarship.  Are you saying to me it is more important from where your faculty came than their current achievements?  I know you aren’t a school to rest on your laurels, so I think this sends the wrong message.  Plus, the small font makes me think you’re feeling a little insecure. 

Writing:  The writing is very well done, and I think that saves your grade.  A couple of questions:

“[O]ur faculty members combine to form . . .the most eclectic and balanced mix of legal scholars….” I can’t tell if you are commenting on the mental health of your faculty or not.  I’m very slow about this.  Are you saying that other schools have a more unbalanced faculty?  That might be true of mine, but you don’t know me well enough to say that.

You characterize the main faculty as “residential.”  Of course, this made me look for “commercial” and “industrial” faculty too.  I hope their offices are accordingly zoned. 

Exculpatory language is my thing.  I love at the bottom of the back cover where it says “Northwestern University reserves the right to change without notice any statement in this publication concerning, but not limited to, rules, policies, tuition, fees, curricula, and courses.”

All in all, a good first effort.   I look forward to receiving more law porn from other schools. I’m sure they will all be equally excited about my comments.


16 Tons of Reading (sung to the tune Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernie Ford)

Some people say a 1L is made out of clay
A 1L is made out of fear and anxie-tay
Reading and writing, all skin and bones
A mind that’s exhausted and a back that’s gone

You read sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt
St. Peter don’t you call me because I’m afraid,
My scholarship’s running out, and so’s financial aid.

I was born one morning when the sun was still cool
I picked up my books and walked to the school
You read sixteen tons of torts and crim pro
And the profs all say “only 300 more pages to go.”

You read 16 tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and more student debt
St. Peter don’t you call me because I can’t go
I owe my soul to the student bookstore

I was born one mornin’, it was drizzlin’ rain
Then I read Civ Pro and got a migraine
I was raised to read poetry and fine English prose
Now I read Con Law and I turn my nose

You write sixteen tons, what do you get?
An outline for class you don’t understand yet
St. Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t go
I owe my soul to a final in Civ Pro.

If you see me comin’, better step aside
If you look at me, might look like I cried
One fist a Mac, the other with Books
If you boast your outline’s finished I’ll give you dirty looks

You write 16 tons, and what do you get
Another day older and deeper in debt
Prof don’t call on me ‘cause I can’t say
What the case is about, or even if it’s Wednesday.

I was reading about narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) the other day.  Of course, this made me consult the authority, Wikipedia.  I don’t recall why.  I think I had just had a discussion with a Dean somewhere.  In any event, I started to wonder if I, too, had NPD.  I thought I would share with you my results, symptom by symptom:

  • “Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments.”  I am superior.  I’m not just saying that because I published in a high-ranked law journal and therefore some student at a higher ranked school told me so, but also because I was that student once. See how far I’ve come?  I’m no longer the student who is determining who is awesome, I am the person asking the student to determine my awesomeness.   That’s progress.
  • “Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others.”  I don’t need constant attention.  Okay, yes, I’m constantly on Twitter and occasionally write a blog.  I’ll forward a lot of e-mails, too.  I also write amazing articles.  My students also tell me I’m cool.  But what’s wrong with a little external validation?
  • “Envies others and believes others envy him/her.”  I think that others envy me, but only because they aren’t me.  I mean, I’m awesome.  See points 1 and 2.
  • “Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence.”  Well, when I look in the mirror, particularly when the light shines on my hair just so, I really am freaking hot.  And successful.  I mean, I’m a professor!   What says power more than working at the same job forever?  Just ask any government work (currently available due to furlough) how awesome that is.  The fact that I have this job just proves I’m smart.
  • “Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others.”  That is not at all true of me.  Sometimes, when people tell me that they want me to publish my article, I am seriously in tune with their feelings that I need to publish my works!   And sometimes when students ask really dumb questions in class I merely ignore the questions rather than belittle them.
  • “Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior.”  Did you just call me arrogant?  Who are you to call me arrogant?  That’s just the dumbest thing I’ve heard in the history of dumb.  Really the fact that I’m talking to you right now only suggests how I pity you.  And that kind of compassion can’t be arrogant, right?  QED.
  • “Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic.”  Law professors never have that.  I mean, just the other day I was telling the Dean that I would teach any time he wanted, so long as it was not Thursdays and Fridays, and not before 10:30 a.m. and not after 2:00 p.m.  See how reasonable I am?

So far, I think it is clear I don’t have NPD.  Let’s see if there are other factors.  “Appearing tough minded or unemotional?”  Well, I just don’t let my emotions get in the way of my superior analytic skills.  “Fragile self-esteem?” Not at all.  One time I had a colleague tell me I’m stupid and I just went and read the comments on the back sleeve of my book for a pick me up, and then searched for myself on Google after I stopped crying.

I don’t know whether or not I convinced you I’m not a narcissist. But I convinced myself, and that is all that matters.  I’m so freaking humble, someone really ought to recognize me for that.

Dear Law School:

I have read recently that your Dean has (resigned/been fired/run screaming from the building/been run out on rails/been involved in a rankings scandal). I offer myself up as your new Dean. As the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy points out, the person who is best suited for a position is the person who least wants that responsibility: “It is a well known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.”

And let me tell you, I don’t want to be your Dean. Therefore, I’m perfect for the job.

As someone who has no administrative experience, let me explain all the ways I will improve your school:
1. I will be a Dean who raises tremendous amounts of money while simultaneously being in my office to hear every single tale of faculty woe.
2. I will ensure that the curriculum meets the changing needs of legal education while ensuring that the faculty still gets to teach the same things they’ve taught for 50 years straight.
3. I will ensure that your school will go up 20 places in the rankings while also assuring that I would never lie about employment numbers and the like.
4. The faculty will publish like never before, and we all know that quantity is an excellent measure of quality.

I point these things out to let you know I’m serious about my offer to be your Dean. Of course, I know there are challenges to the position. For example, I can’t help but notice that your school (receives no support from central campus/is a stand -alone school with no support from anyone/isn’t accredited in an era where there are too many law schools/has armed faculty members who literally killed the last dean/has faculty members who think “change” is a four letter word). I can easily solve this problem by (bribing faculty members with early retirement/using guilt and shame to fund raise from alums who have never paid a dime because they have no jobs and millions of dollars in student loan payments/suing the ABA for failing to accredit our school/vowing to keep everything the same while using key pawns…er, faculty members to propose implementing change).

My successful fundraising drives would go to pay for (faculty raises/scholarships for students who wouldn’t otherwise bother coming here/a shiny castle shaped building with a yellow brick walkway/). I understand that my decision to spend money in this way will be controversial, but I will be successful because (students will build the new building and that will count as employment/I’ll pay the whiniest faculty the highest raises/I’ll steal students from Harvard and Yale with bribes of free education and use them in my law porn).

We can discuss salary and perks later. I look forward to you contacting me for an interview.

Yours truly,


Just a reminder of all the fun you could have at AALS. The link is here.

Dear Santa,

How are you?  How is Mrs. Claus?  How are the elves?  I hope you are faring better with climate change up at the North Pole than the Polar Bears.

I have been extra good this year.  I have not given any “Fs,” abused students, or yelled at colleagues.  I have even restrained from rolling my eyes when people annoy me.

You may wonder what I want for the holidays.  Last year, I asked you for a bike.  Thank you for that.  This year, I want something that will not only help me, but also my students and colleagues.

I want a benevolent monopolist.  I know that sounds entirely like an oxymoron.  I know that it sounds like it can’t possibly exist, but I’ve heard of little children asking you for unicorns.  I’m not proud.

See, today, I was thinking.  There appears to be a lot of articles saying “there are too many lawyers and not enough jobs.”  And then there are articles saying just how wonderful it is to be in law school.  Given that law school is so rewarding, and that there just aren’t enough jobs for all those people seeking a rewarding career, something has to be done.  It seems hopeless.

It’s like the BP oil spill.  Something went wrong. There was a flood of lawyers, and that flooding has been reduced but really hasn’t stopped.  And where was the blowout preventer?  Where was the gatekeeper?

We need a hero.  Someone to save us from this marketplace.

We need a benevolent monopolist.

You may think that you have already given me this gift, Mr. Kringle.  Perhaps you think that the ABA is an organization that seems like a good fit for that which I ask.  Sadly, St. Nick, it isn’t.  First of all, it doesn’t seem very benevolent to me.  In my opinion, it is starting to have a track record of wanting to hurt us poor law professors.

But the real problem is that the ABA isn’t really a monopolist.  The ABA should have been the blowout preventer here.  Instead, it accredits law schools like blowout preventers stop oil spills in the Gulf.  It doesn’t.  We don’t need more law schools.  Most likely, given the recession and decline in admissions, we will see fewer law schools.

It hasn’t even attempted to fix the quality of legal education.  You can’t get a good quality education in a degree mill.  The ABA doesn’t go after the schools causing this problem.  It refuses to use its powers of oversight over the quality of legal education!

No Santa, the ABA is a defective toy.  I can’t get it to work!   : (

I think the ABA is afraid.  It has hurt before by the antitrust bug.  It was subject to a consent decree for being naughty.  But everyone knows that those types of antitrust cases are dead.  You can Google that.

It won’t even use its lobbying powers successfully to get after the whole issue of exporting jobs overseas.  Many law jobs are being offshored.  It’s time someone did something about that.

So, you see, Santa, that the ABA is not the benevolent monopolist I want.  In terms of wielding its monopoly, it’s doing as good a job as OPEC.

Maybe you think that you’ve already given me this gift in terms of the State Bars.  You would think that the state bars would get involved.  They are quite used to restricting entry via the bar exam.  Surely they can just decrease the bar passage rate and thereby limit the number of lawyers in each state.  Of course, the problem is interstate competition and the market for legal services.  Sigh.

The State Bars could help solve the problem, Santa.  We all know that the bar exam doesn’t test whether or not you are really fit to practice law.  It only tests whether or not you paid BarBri a few grand, and whether you can take multiple choice and essay exams.  Really, haven’t students already done that?   The State Bars could alter their Bar Exams in a way that would force students and law schools to really focus on what students need to know to practice law.  But then again, I worry that the State Bars do not really meet the “benevolent” portion of my requirement.  I could see this power being abused.

Maybe you think you’ve already given me benevolent monopolists in the form of law schools.  With all due respect, HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.  First of all, there is a problem with law schools colluding.  We’ll call that the antitrust laws.  From what I hear, it appears to be okay by the enforcement agencies if large firms dominate a market, but NOT okay for people to get together to collude and pretend they are large firms.  That’s posing, I guess.  Regardless, it would never work out, because the incentives are too disparate between the schools.

I understand if the gift I want is just too difficult to make.  In which case, I want the elimination of U.S. News and World Report rankings and BarBri.   Okay, okay.  No unicorns, no matter how much they would benefit society.  Maybe you could just give me an iPhone that makes phone calls and doesn’t drop signal.

I bet you’re asking why I always ask the impossible of you.  It’s because I believe in you.



In support of a recent New York Times Op-Ed.  :)

I’m a law professor, and I’m proud of it.  Really.  We really need to stop this nonsense of you all thinking that only having a 50% shot at a job after graduation is a problem.  You all are really just wusses.

First of all, if you have a shoddy chance at getting a job, you’ll feel SO much more appreciative of having one.  If we just gave you one (and I don’t mean in our law library to boost our rankings), then you will just be resentful.  But if after a short period of homelessness and despair you get a job, you’ll be thankful!   See?  Law school is worth it!

What follows?  Well, if you are REALLY lucky, you’ll work for a major law firm!  They’ll make you work (and you’ll love working 120 hours a week for a law firm that will treat you like dirt).  But you’ll make money to cover your student loan debt, and that’s what counts.  Unless they merge and lay you off.

And, I’m tired of the LAME stream media, bloggers, and people named Campos talking about Law Schools as if we are for-profit schools.  Many of us have deficits now!  And we are not seducing students into our buildings.   Although some schools have really sexy new buildings.

All this LAME stream media talk of a bad lawyer job market has caused hysteria, particularly among deans of admission.  A lot of really smart people are no longer thinking about going to law school.  This is not to imply that if you’ve applied to law school recently that you aren’t smart.  But those other smart people aren’t going.  And that’s not smart!

Look, the job market is bad.  I hear this all the time from recent alums as I order my Chai Tea Latte from them.  If you look at some basic math, it will help.  See, I’m going to take two points in time.  There is this 1998 figure that shows that 55 percent of law graduates started in firms.  And in 2011, that number was 50 percent.  See?  Not so bad!  Of course, the fact that the rest of that pie chart shifted from federal government jobs to Starbucks and the fact that the starting salary for those in law firms has declined does not need to be mentioned because law students are notoriously bad at math!

And you shouldn’t even be thinking about first jobs!  Law careers last 40 to 50 years, from graduation to your first stress-filled heart attack about billables or your firm merging with another and laying you off.  The world turns, man, and you can’t just think about the first job which you don’t have yet!  Moreover, we law schools teach creative problem solving, such as how to pay $125,000 in student loan debt when you only make $40,000.  They will survive because we taught them well.  Don’t forget to thank us in your next alumni donation!

And if you don’t go to law school, you’ll be filled with regret.  Think you’ll be a doctor saving lives?  Or maybe become an investment banker and steal from the American people twice (once through a bailout)?  No.  If I wave my magical statistical wand, you’ll see that if I look at historical averages over a long period of time, things look way better.  Oooh.   It’s like I’m an economist now!  See the pretty picture?  Much better than looking at the ugly short term and forecasting forward in light of technological and structural changes in the lawyer job market.

Yes, tuition has increased.  If you compare it to med school, you’ll see that law school tuition only recently caught up to medical schools.  No, don’t ask me if there is any reason why med school might reasonably cost more.  I don’t know.   I have stats on my side, though!

Debt is a huge, problem too.  Law school grads have $125,000 in debt.  But the average lawyer’s salary (in my mind and ignoring trends) is way better than that.  You’d buy a house with that debt ratio.  And someday in the distant future after you graduate someone who made that investment in equity maybe will buy one for you!

Investment in tuition is for your life’s career.  (And the student loans are for life, too).  There are many ways to get a return on investment.  Such as a second job.

And don’t forget that the baby-boomers will retire someday.   As more senior lawyers retire, mergers of law firms will occur, and their jobs won’t be replaced.  Wait, I didn’t mean to say that.  Logically, it makes sense if one person leaves a position, someone will have to replace him, right?  It’s a circle of life kind of thing.   You could be the next Simba!  Doesn’t that sound much better?

Having wowed you with my statistics and mind-bending logic, let me tell a personal example with all the charm of a presidential candidate.  A student we accepted needed to only borrow $5,000 a year.  We gave her a generous package.   She thought it would be stupid to borrow the money. And her 4.0 GPA and her perfect LSAT score indicated that she’s not stupid.  Her short-sighted decision led her down another path, which I think is now the basis of the Broadway smash “Wicked.”

Sure, we law schools can be better.  We are trying to figure out how to address problems.  The biggest one is that people aren’t applying to law school as much because they aren’t understanding my logical, statistically flawless arguments.

Seriously, stop whining.  Apply to law school.  Trust me.

Future Dean, and Titanic Deck Chair Rearranger,



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