PANEL PROPOSAL BY LAWPROFBLAWG:  THE FUTURE OF SCHOLARSHIP

Traditional academic lore is that to make a dent in the halls of academe one must publish. This has in most cases meant publication in student-run law reviews, preferably at the highest U.S. News and World Report ranks. Once tenured, one could progress to writing more articles and a book or two. At other times, it has also meant the publication of a casebook.

The world of legal scholarship has thus seemed isolated. Judges are less inclined to look at law reviews. In response to that, scholars have increasingly taken their scholarship “on the road,” either in the form of amicus briefs in highly notable cases, or by testifying before Congress.

A final realm for scholarship has been social media. Whether utilized to float emerging thoughts among peers, or to promote completed works, social media is now mainstream among academics. A recent survey of academics with twitter accounts demonstrates increasing usage of a medium in stark contrast to that of traditional scholarship.

This panel will explore the future of legal scholarship. What are the legitimate scholarly uses of social media? What are the risks? To what degree has scholarship transformed into activism once it leaves the law review? What is (or should be) the role of law professor experts in court and in the public sphere?

MODERATOR:

Lawprofblawg, an anonymous online persona, scholar, and law professor with an impeccable record of tweeting about AALS.

PANELISTS:

[REDACTED, plus two openings left, let me know if you’re interested in participating]

Dear Kindergartner and Prospective applicant to law school:

Congratulations! We have heard from your parents/grandparents/teachers/other kids on the playground that you got a HAPPY FACE on your writing assignment. As you know, HAPPY FACES are important. You know where they are most important? On the faces of law school admissions personnel.

Your HAPPY FACE grade is a good sign you would do well in law school. We like to turn frowns upside down is our motto. You know what makes us the most joyful? When we can admit someone with a high GPA (lots of happy faces) or LSAT (big happy face on a big test). You are well on your way to being someone we would love to see in law school.

Not just any law school. Our law school. In fact, if you do really well, we won’t even make you take the LSAT (really big test). Some of those other law schools might make you take this test, but we won’t, if you have lots of HAPPY FACES on your report card.

Here is one of our admissions counselors at your home wooing you to come to our law school:

As you can see, we take our work seriously. By the way, that last sentenced rhymed, and you’ll learn about that in second grade.

In some cases, we won’t even require you to finish college (that’s grades 13-17). You’ll be able to start at grade 16. This way, we make sure we reduce your overall costs of college, but not law school so much.

As you can see from the happy face on this letter, you should keep this letter in a special box, and then contact us at the right time. We’ve also asked your parents/teachers/grandparents/siblings/friends to make sure you only contact us and not some other law school.

By the way, did you know that some people are allergic to Ivy? Google it. Ivy can be poison Ivy. You might know that as a villain (bad person) who keeps challenging Batman (that’s you!). Don’t fall for the trick of poison Ivy or her dangerous Ivy League.

As your parent/grandparent/sibling/teacher reads this letter to you, we just want you to know how very proud we all are of you. We can’t wait to see you in the very near future.

Sincerely,

Your special friends at law school admissions

PS: Talk to your teachers about skipping grades so you can get here sooner!

Woke up quick at about noon
thought that I had to be in the classroom soon
I gotta get preppin’ before the day begins
Before my dean starts bitchin’ about my evaluations

About to go and damn near went blind
Young students on the path throwin’ out panic signs
I went in the office to get my power points
With the Macbook, luggin it hurts my joints

I bailed to the class and I called out my minion
And just as I thought, the fool was slackin’
I jumped in the office, hit the juice on my drawer
I got scotch and tequila, and a few drinks more

Then I let the computer speakers sing
I was pumpin’ old shit from Wagner’s Ring
It was, Classical, Classical at the top of the list
Then I played my own shit, it went somethin’ like this

Got my tenure by my sixth year
Writing the papers, teaching with fear
I went to the Dean to get the deal
Travel for a conference for a free meal

A colleague pulls up, who can it be?
It’s a untenured prof trollin’ me
She opens the door and she starts to say
“It’s all about makin’ that Harvard pub play”

‘Cause the profs in the school are always hard
Come talkin’ that trash and we’ll pull your (library) card
Knowin’ nothin’ in life but to be legit
Don’t quote me, student editor, I ain’t said sh*t

Bored as hell and I wanna get ill
So I go to a place where my double latte chill
The fellas out there tryna make that dolla’
I pulled up in my 2014 Honda

Greeted with a Grande and I start drinkin’
And from the Caramel Macchiato, my breath starts stinkin’
I gotta get the associate dean to leggo some money
Before I left I printed my CV

Pulled to the office, get him off the iPad
And then he said somethin’ to make me mad
He said somethin’ that I couldn’t believe
Gave the money to someone not me!

He started talkin’ shit, wouldn’t cha know
Told me I’d have to teach two classes in the evening snow!
And then I stood up and he started to shout
“Get the f**k out before I kick your old ass out!”

‘Cause the profs in the school are always hard
Come talkin’ that trash and we’ll pull your (library) card
Knowin’ nothin’ in life but to be legit
Don’t quote me, student editor, I ain’t said sh*t

Final exam trippin’ but its alright
Got my m-c answer key, gonna fly, grading, fly.

Dear Committee,

Please consider replacing our antiquated student evaluations with this one.

Sincerely,

Lawprofblawg

1. Name of Professor _______ (If you don’t know, please cease filling out this form)

2.  Course Name ___________(If you don’t know, please cease filling out this form)

3. What Grade do you expect from this course? ______ (If below a C, please cease….)

4.  Do you think this course will help you become a better lawyer?

(If you answered “no,” please provide detailed explanation of your experience as a lawyer, working with lawyers, or other legal experience that qualifies you to answer. If your professor lacks practice experience, never mind).

5.  How was the level of reading? _________ (e.g., too much, too little).

If you think there was too much reading, how much did you want? (If your answer is below 20 pages, please cease……)

6.  How prepared was the instructor? _______

(If you answered “not at all,” please check the spine of the book. If your professor’s name is there, please cease……)

7.  For purposes of tenure decisions or post-tenure review, please fill in, verbatim, the professor’s worst off-topic stream of consciousness rant (provide context).

8.  Were you able to understand the professor’s lectures and discussion?

If not, is this partly your fault? (If you answered no, please cease……)

9.  How many classes did the instructor miss?

No, really, just the instructor. Not the ones you ditched.

10.  How often was your instructor late for class?

Was your answer above biased because you think the professor is attractive and was just happy to see him or her?

11.  How was the casebook or other course materials?

(If you answered the previous question negatively, check the spine. If it still cracks with and has that new book smell, please cease…….)

12.  For purposes of tenure decisions or post-tenure review, please describe in detail the professor’s worst and best lectures. It’s not like we faculty can be bothered to sit in on classes, you know. That’s why we rely on these things.

13.  Was the professor disrespectful or abusive in any way? Explain. (Note: Socratic method doesn’t count).

You are forced to choose between spending a year in jail or another semester with this professor. Which would you choose? (Note: It is not an acceptable answer to suggest putting the professor in jail for “crimes against teaching”).

14.  Please describe in detail your experience with the final exam. Was it comprehensive? Fair? Did it look like it was written in, say, 1957? Was it taken for E&E verbatim?   (If so, please disclose whether the professor was teaching Copyright law).

What Toilets Can Teach You about Management

  1. Don’t meet a topic head on. Circle around it first. It might be unpleasant at first, but eventually you’ll find deeper meaning. Think Dante here.
  2. Stay focused. Notice that a toilet flushes the same direction every time. That’s consistency.
  3. Fill up your tanks. Be sure to refill your managerial potential. Remember, toilets always have a reservoir of potential. Make sure yours is not depleted.  Otherwise, you might be SOL.
  4. If the seat is up, be sure to lower it. Be considerate of others. This way, no one falls into excrement. In other words, assure that people have a seat at the table and are empowered.
  5. Employees should wash their hands. Wash your hands after a managerial decision. In other words, don’t let yourself get sick over the residual effects of the management process.
  6. Running toilets are wasteful. Don’t pour too much into your management decisions. Remember, there should be a time limit.
  7. Don’t be out of TP.   Contingency planning will help assure that you stay on a roll next time an issue comes up.
  8. Newspapers are sometimes helpful. Background reading can help any managerial decision. Make sure you are prepared for your next management experience.
  9. Don’t accept the false dichotomy of #1 or #2. Remember, management is about synergies.
  10. Locked stalls make for good neighbors. Never get caught with your pants down at a meeting.

With a little help from our friend the toilet, you can be an excellent manager, and perhaps write a management blog post such as this one.

I had a dream last night that Yale changed its grading policy to follow blood types.  Instead of the Honors/Pass method, the grades were A, AB, B, and O (the last category for “Oh my God that’s bad but you’ll still pass”).  Rh factors would apply, too.  Therefore, you could get a grade of AB-.

What made this a nightmare is that Harvard responded by only accepting students with A+ blood type.

It has been a while since I have blogged.   I have been trying to ground myself and focus on what matters, like shopping online.

During a particularly painful faculty meeting under a totalitarian dean, I found myself going fetal.  This lead me to think that maybe something from childhood could give me comfort.

It turns out that many children’s books are written about academia. Some examples:

WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE: This is a book about a law professor who, after throwing a tantrum that is not tolerated by the Dean and Associate Dean, starts his own institute. Sadly, things get out of hand as he brings more faculty aboard, and he casts himself away from the institute.

THE GIVING TREE: Written from the perspective of a Dean, who, after giving and giving and giving to a particularly needy faculty member, finds she has nothing left to give. This leaves her stumped.   At the end, the faculty member sits on the tree stump, symbolizing the typical governance structure of a university at which faculty members grind deans down.

GREEN EGGS AND HAM: Sam I Am is clearly the harbinger of curricular reform (green eggs and ham). He keeps trying to explain to the faculty that they really would like the changes. The faculty , entrenched in the status quo, refuses. After several faculty meeting no votes, the  faculty  discovers that they like curricular reform.

IF YOU GIVE A MOUSE A COOKIE: Written from the perspective of a Dean who likes to say “no,” (and who has perhaps read The Giving Tree), the book describes what happens if you give a faculty member what he or she wants. While the book is essentially a slippery slope argument, it is a must-read for deans who hate faculty members and like to say no to them.

GUESS HOW MUCH I LOVE YOU: A story about a faculty hiring committee and a Supreme Court clerk.

THE CAT IN THE HAT: This is the story of why committees are bad. Two bored faculty members, not focused on teaching or scholarship get together with a rabble-rousing faculty member and make much commotion. Of course, not much comes of it.

DRAMA LLAMA: The entirely fictional story of what happens to someone who creates drama at a law school. The Drama Lllama becomes alienated and eventually has no friends. In reality, they are likely to be popular at AALS and even rise to the level of Dean.

If you want to be comforted about your life in academia, I highly recommend these books.

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

By Lawprofblawg[FN*]

I. INTRODUCTION

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 http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=that.

[FN3] Id.

[FN4] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/us/law-scholarships-lackluster-reviews.html?hp&_r=1&

….

[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!

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