Do you sometimes get bored at AALS? Here are some tips for making sure your AALS adventure is as exciting as mine tend to be.

  1. Pronounce New Orleans (“norlans”) in the old French city way. (“New Or-lay-on”). Watch as people come across the room to try to correct you.

 

  1. Switch badges with someone.   Dare the security people to call you out on it by standing right in front of them.

 

  1. Register yourself under a pseudonym and fake law school, if possible.

 

  1. Burst into one of the afternoon panel sessions and ask when the cemetery tour starts.

 

  1. At any author’s reception, when asked which book you wrote, explain that you wrote a children’s book on international law. Explain that the hard part was the artwork, but you were proud that Elmo used it for the “extraordinary rendition” portion of Sesame Street.

 

  1. Walk up to any law professor as if they are the most famous person in the word. “OMG, it’s _____. Your work on _____ is absolutely brilliant! Brilliant I say!”

 

  1. Keep asking where the price scanner is at any book publisher’s kiosk.

 

  1. If anyone proudly gushes about having met a (famous in their field) law professor, feign ignorance of the person.

 

  1. When someone is going on for more than 20 minutes about an article he or she wrote that is groundbreaking, have a friend ring your phone. Answer it, and say, “Yes, Mr. President. Excuse me…”

 

  1. Make up a field of law, and profess to teach a course in it. For example, say you created a course called simply “Law &….” Suggest what you have done is combine topics from Law & Religion, Law & Society, Law & Economics, Law & Culture, etc. into one exciting blockbuster course.

 

  1. Make up a course based upon a popular TV show. I know people have used Law & Order and the Wire to teach courses, but really go further than that. Sadly, in trying to come up with hilarious examples, I have discovered that people have already used them in courses. International law and Star Trek? Done. Lost? Done. Sigh. A course on Gilligan’s Island and Coase? How about Contract Drafting using Fantasy Island as the Client? Divorce Law on the High Seas: The Love Boat?

 

  1. In any discussion, list 3 +/- one reason for anything. For example, there are two reasons for this. One, people like the number 3. Secondly, people don’t like four or two reasons for anything. They aren’t so much convinced by two and four seems like too much.

 

  1. Go to any law school’s reception and, after doing sufficient homework, insist that you are an alum and are upset with the professors when they don’t remember you from classes.

 

  1. Refer to Bourbon Street as Whiskey Avenue.

 

  1. If you go on a Ghost Tour start yelling “CASPER! CASPER!” at the top of your lungs. Explain that you were haunted by a friendly ghost in your youth but that the spirit ghosted you.

 

  1. If you go on a Voodoo tour express disappointment that it wasn’t a tour about the 80s band Wall of Voodoo.

 

  1. The theme this year is “building bridges.” Bring Legos and try to build one in the exhibit hall before security is called. Bonus points if you play “Like A Bridge Over Troubled Water” on your phone while doing it.

 

  1. Refer to the Arc of Career program as Arc of the Covenant program.

 

  1. Walk into any “Deans Program” and yell “Conspiracy! And you’re all in on it!”

 

  1. Bring oven mitts to any “hot topic” program.

 

  1. If someone brags about their school, pretend you have never heard of the school. Example, “I’m sorry, where’s Harvard located?”

 

  1. Go to the AALS House of Representatives Meeting and ask where the AALS Senate Meeting is being held.

 

  1. Refer to AALS as the Federalist Society conference.

 

  1. Live tweet sessions that don’t exist with the #AALS2019 hashtag. For bonus points, pretend you are in the future and live tweet with #AALS2020 hashtag.

 

  1. During a “Breakout session,” try to spin on the carpet. Apologize and say you misread it as a “Breakdance session.”

 

  1. When asking a question of a panel, tell the panel members that the question and answers are being recorded for quality assurance purposes.

 

  1. Tell people you aren’t really a law professor. You’re a cancer researcher and just needed to get a break from reality.

 

  1. As you walk by the bar area, yell loudly, “OMG, OMG, I passed the bar!”

 

  1.  In front of the CALI booth, start chanting like the cult in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. “CALI-MA! CALI-MA!”

 

  1. Ask the people at the information desk the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow.

 

  1. While we’re on a Monty Python theme, pretend to be one of the ushers to any panel. Stop everyone and ask “What is your name? What is your quest?…..”

 

  1. Find my most recent coauthor and ask him to a) turn in his updated draft and b) stop wearing the same damned thing every damned day. No, seriously.

 

  1. Register in person and pay for your registration in pennies.

 

  1. If someone goes on about their paper, ask them if they know what it is like to save a human life. Feel free to discuss in detail if you have.

 

  1. Keep saying how much fun you’re having at SEALS.

 

  1. Wear your badge like a bandana on your forehead.

 

  1. When someone looks at your badge yell “eyes up here!”

 

  1. Introduce two of your friends who have never met. Say to one, “this is the one I told you about.” Leave.

 

  1. Play hide and seek with the coauthor who owes you deliverables.

 

  1. On the environmental field trip, boast about how your state uses clean coal and nuclear power to safe the planet. Bonus for using single-use plastic water bottle.

 

Have fun, and good luck!

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Tired of the same holiday songs, allow me to let you in on my playlist:

  1.  Five Chinese Brothers, The Fruitcake Song.
  2.  Dar Williams, The Christians and the Pagans.
  3. Brave Combo, Must Be Santa.
  4. DBS, Holiday Spirit.
  5. Descendents, Christmas Vacation.
  6. Leon Redbone, Christmas Island
  7. Five Chinese Brothers, Christmas on I-80.
  8. Steve Earle, Christmas in Washington.
  9. Ella Fitzgerald, Santa Clause Got Stuck in My Chimney.
  10. The Kinks, Father Christmas.
  11. Lou Monte, Dominic the Donkey.
  12. The Waitresses, Christmas Wrapping.
  13. Royal Guardsmen, Snoopy’s Christmas.
  14. Joseph Washington Jr., Shopping.
  15. Run DMC, Christmas in Hollis.

Every Who Down in Whoville Liked Meetings a lot… But the Lawprofblawg, Who lived just north of Whoville, Did NOT! LPB hated meetings! The whole academic season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head was screwed on just right. It could be, perhaps, that his mood was too uptight. But I think that the most likely reason of all, May have been that his patience was two sizes too small.

Whatever the reason, His patience or his mood, He stood there on meeting Eve, hating meetings with Whos. Staring out from his office with a sour, LPB frown, At the warm lighted hallways around the lawschool town.

For he knew every Admin in Whoville beneath, Was busy now, preparing for a meeting in which he would seethe. “And they’re writing their agendas!” he snarled with a sneer, “Tomorrow is the faculty meeting! It’s practically here!” Then he growled, with his LPG fingers nervously drumming, “I MUST find some way to stop the meeting from coming!”

For Tomorrow, he knew, all the Who faculty peeps, Would wake bright and early. They’d rush to give a speech! And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the Noise! Noise! Noise! Noise! That’s one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then the Whos, young and old, would sit down to vote. And they’d vote! And they’d vote! And they’d Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote! They would vote on Who-curriculum, and vote down Who-faculty diversity peeps. Which was something LPB couldn’t stand in the least!

And before the vote they’d do something He liked least of all! Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, Would debate together, with cell phones ringing. They’d stand hand-vs-hand. And the Whos would start talking! They’d talk! And they’d talk! And they’d Talk! Talk! Talk! Talk! And the more LPB thought of this Who Meeting, The more LPB thought, “I must stop this whole thing!” “Why, for what seems like fifty-three years I’ve put up with it now!” “I MUST stop this meeting from coming! But HOW?”

Then he got an idea! An awful idea! LPB GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA! “I know just what to do!” LPB laughed in his throat. And he made a quick Santy Claus hat and a coat. And he chuckled, and clucked, “What a great LPB trick!” “With this coat and this hat, I look just like Saint Nick!” “All I need is a reindeer…”

LPB looked around. But, since reindeer are scarce, there was none to be found. Did that stop the old LPB? No! The LPB simply said, “If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!” So he called Lawprofdawg. Then he took some red thread, And he tied a big horn on the top of his head. THEN He loaded some bags And some old empty sacks, On a ramshackle sleigh And he hitched up old Lawprofdawg to the max. Then LPB said, “Giddap!” And the sleigh started down, Toward the Dean offices while the Whos Lay asnooze in their town.

All their windows were dark. Quiet snow filled the air. All the Whos were all dreaming sweet dreams about article placement flair. When he came to the first Dean’s office on the square. “This is stop number one,” the old LPB Claus hissed, And he climbed to the roof, empty bags in his fist. Then he slid down the chimney. A rather tight pinch. But, if Santa could do it, then so could LPB. He got stuck only once, for a moment or two. Then he stuck his head out of the fireplace flue. Where the meeting agendas stacked neatly all in a row.

“These committee agendas,” he grinned, “are the first things to go!” Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile most unpleasant, Around the whole room, and he took every committee meeting agenda! Reports! Power point slides! Proxy ballots! Every addenda! And he stuffed them in bags. Then LPB, very nimbly, Stuffed all the bags, one by one, up the chimney! Then he slunk to the printer. He took the Deans speech! He took the ballots! He took the candidate CVs! He cleaned out the icebox of old alumni reception wine quickly with luck. Why, that LPB even took their last bottle of two buck chuck!

Then he stuffed all that stuff up the chimney with glee. “And NOW!” grinned LPB, “I will stuff up the main agenda, but it will take a push or three!” And LPB grabbed the agenda the size of a tree, and he started to shove, When he heard a small sound like the coo of a dove.

He turned around fast, and he saw an Admin Who! Dean Cindy-Lou Who, who was Dean for years no more than two. The LPB had been caught by this Who Admin, Who’d stayed at school late to ask money from an alum. She stared at LPB and said, “Santy Claus, why,” “Why are you taking our faculty meeting agenda? WHY?”

But, you know, that old LPB was so smart and so slick, He thought up a lie, and he thought it up quick! “Why, Dear Dean,” the fake Santy Claus lied, “in the agenda there’s only one space after a period on one sentence inside.” “So I’m taking it home to my workshop, my dear.” “I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”

And his fib fooled the Dean. Then he shook his head, And he got her a stiff drink and into her office she fled. And when Dean CindyLou Who went to her office with her cup, HE went to the chimney and stuffed the agenda up! Then the last thing he took Was the meeting attendance sheet for his fire! Then he went up the chimney, himself, the old liar. On their printers he left nothing but some printed out e-mails for faculty. And the one speck of info that he left in the school’s Dean Suite, Was a crumb that was even too small for a committee meeting.

Then He did the same thing To other law school agendas for meetings leaving crumbs of info much too small for even a committee meeting—no matter how fleeting. It was quarter past dawn… All the Whos, still a-bed, All the Whos, still asnooze When he packed up his sled, Packed it up with their agendas! The handouts! The trappings! The CVs! And the reports! The addanda! All things meeting crappy! Three thousand feet up! Up the side of Mt. Crumpit, He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!

“PoohPooh to the Whos!” he was some Adele humming. “They’re finding out now that no meeting is coming!” “They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!” “Their mouths will hang open a minute or two, Then the Whos down in Whoville will all cry BooHoo!” “That’s a noise,” grinned LPB, “That I simply MUST hear!”

So he paused. And the LPB put his hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow. But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!

He stared down at Whoville! LPB popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, Were in a meeting! Without any agendas at all! He HADN’T stopped the meeting from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same! And LPB, with his feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?” “It came with out reports! It came without video lags!” “It came without agendas, addenda or alumni mags!” And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore.

Then LPB thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe a meeting,” he thought, “doesn’t have to be a bore.” “Maybe meetings…perhaps…mean a little bit more!” And what happened then? Well…in Whoville they say, That the LPB’s small patience level Grew three sizes that day! And the minute his patience didn’t feel quite so light, He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light, And he brought back the agendas! And the reports for the meeting!

But he, HE HIMSELF! Was not to be seen at the meeting!

(sung to tune “Music of the Night,” Phantom of the Opera).

Night time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness wakes and stirs star pagination
Silently work’s senses abandon their defenses
Helpless to resist the class notes I write
For I am a composed law student of the night

Slowly, gently night class unfurls it’s splendor
Grasp it, sense it, coffee in a tumbler
Studying is believing, work can be deceiving
We work Hard as lightening, read by candlelight
You can trust the law students of the night

Close your eyes as your prof seeks to tell his truth
and the prof isn’t what you want to see
In the dark it is easy to pretend
That 8 hours of sleep is what it ought to be

Softly, deftly, the law shall caress you
hear it, fear it, secretly possess you
Open up your mind, let your outlines unwind
In this darkness which you know you must try to fight
The darkness of the reading of the night

Close your eyes, and you’ll start a journey to a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before
Close your eyes and get the sleep you need
Three hours later, more reading (I’m on call, you see?)

Floating, falling, sweet intoxication
Friday, Sigh day, savor each libation
But then Saturday begins, your darker side gives in
To the power of the course outline that you must write
The power of the law student of the night

I alone can make the final take flight
I am a law student of the night

 

Thinking about this as I think about law review submissions:

“Wherever the circumstances or traditions of life lead to an habitual comparison of one person with another in point of efficiency, the instinct of workmanship works out in an emulative or invidious comparison of persons. …In any community where such an invidious comparison of persons is habitually made, visible success becomes an end sought for its own utility as a basis of esteem. Esteem is gained and dispraise is avoided by putting one’s efficiency in evidence.”

*Sung to tune Hotel California by the Eagles

In a dark deserted library, cool AC in my hair

Warm smell of avocado toast, rising up through the air

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim

I had to stop studying for the night.

 

The Barbri rep stood in the doorway;

I heard the elevator bell

And I was thinking to myself

‘The Cal Bar could be heaven or it could be Hell’

Then she lit up a video and she showed me the way

There were voices down the corridor,

I thought I heard them say

 

Welcome to the Bar Exam in California

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

Such a lovely pace.

Plenty of room at the Bar Exam in California

Two times per year (two times per year) you can find us here

 

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she’s the rep Barbri sends

She got a lot of pretty, Barbri books, she shares with friends

How they cry in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat

Some cry “I can’t remember,” some cry “I must not forget.”

 

So I called up the Barbri Rep,

‘Please let this be my last time’

She said, ‘we haven’t had such a low bar passage rate here since the beginning of time’

And still those voices are calling from far away,

Wake you up in the middle of the night

Just to hear them say”

 

Welcome to the Bar Exam in California

Such a lovely place (such a lovely place)

Such a lovely pace.

They livin’ it up at the Bar in California

What a bad surprise (what a bad surprise), a rejection letter lullaby

 

Staring at the ceiling,

The double latte on ice

A bar prepper said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’

And in the Cal Supreme Court chambers,

They gathered for a feast

They could have stabbed it with their steely knives,

But they decided not to kill this beast

 

Last thing I remember, I was

Running for the border

I had to find the bar passage rate that had a better scorer

‘Relax’ said the Barbri rep,

‘Cal Bar is programmed to deceive.

You can’t pass any time you like,

But you can always leave!’

When you’ve been in this business long enough, every movie plot sounds like something you’ve experienced or seen.  Here’s a sample:

The Devil Wears Prada – Delightful story about what it is like to be a secretary to a law school faculty member.

Lawrence of Arabia – Newbie Dean tries to unite a factional faculty.

Apocalypse Now – Story of a faculty candidate attempting to engage in curriculum reform, put up against a more senior faculty member.

Gladiator – Story of a faculty member who was a favorite of the old dean.  The old dean is ousted.  Under the new evil dean, our hero is forced to do battle with faculty members until he is able to oust the evil dean.

Hidden Figures – The story of a group of admissions staff having to battle faculty and a dean to successfully bring in a entering class for U.S. News Rankings purposes.  Ultimately, they get no credit.

Wonder Woman – Story of an embattled female dean who eventually has to take on her Provost while a group of white men naysay her the whole way.  I’ve written about this before.

Dead Poet’s Society – Story of a professor who teaches subjects in a manner that violates ABA rules, despite emphasis on experiential learning. Also, he’s later denied tenure despite stellar teaching evaluations.

The Martian – Story of the isolation everyone who has written a dissertation feels.

Hunger Games – I don’t need to tell you. It’s about faculty hiring.

Psycho – story of that one faculty member who seemed normal until he got tenure.

Full Metal Jacket – the first portion of the movie is about an abusive associate dean and a new faculty member the associate dean didn’t want hired.

V for Vendetta – Story of that one faculty member who cares about faculty governance in a school where the faculty…don’t.

The Wizard of Oz – story of a failed Dean search, with committee members occasionally harassed by the Provost.

Zelig – Story of that one faculty member who manages to agree with everyone all the time.

Ratatouille – Story of a Dean who refuses to give any credit to his hard-working and innovative staff.

The Fugitive – Story of the lengths I’ll go to avoid allowing the dean ask me to be on a committee.

The Maltese Falcon – Clearly the black bird refers to the gang’s obsession with rankings.

The Shawshank Redemption — Of course, someone writes his way out of the Shawshank For-Profit Law school .

 

 

Spicer: No cameras!

Acosta: This is an outrage! I’ll take pictures of my socks.

Corn: You could leave, you know.

Spicer: No socks!

Acosta: This is an outrage! I’ll bring in a sketch artist.

Corn: Um, you don’t even have to be there.

Spicer: No sketch artists!

Acosta: This is an outrage! I’ll take a picture of the floor.

Corn: OMG…what purpose does that serve?

Spicer: Press conference will now be in YMCA pool.

Acosta: (putting on swimsuit): This is an outrage. No rubber duckies!

Corn: Please take the life jacket off….you’re in the shallow end.  I mean that both literally and metaphorically.

Spicer: Press conference will be underwater.

Acosta: (Gurgling)!   !!!

At some point, you just have to abandon a toxic relationship.

*Sung to the tune, You Can’t Hurry Love, by the Supremes

I need grades, grades to ease my mind,
I need to find, find an A to call mine,
But Prof said you can’t hurry grades,
No you just have to wait,
She said grading don’t come easy,
It’s a game of Bs and As.
You can’t hurry grades,
No, you just have to wait,
You gotta trust, give it time,
No matter how long I takes;
But how many Cs and Bs must I stand
Before I find a Prof to give me an A again.
Right now the only thing that keeps me hanging on,
When I feel my GPA slide, yeah, it’s almost gone,
I remember Prof said,

You can’t hurry grades,
No you just have to wait,
She said grade curves don’t come easy,
It’s a game of Fs and As.
How long must I wait how much longer will Prof take,
Before anxiety will ’cause my GPA, GPA to break?
No, I can’t bear to check my grades again alone.
I grow impatient for the Prof to post my own,
But when I feel that I, I can’t go on,
These precious words keeps me hanging on,
I remember Prof said,

Can’t hurry grades,
No you just have to wait,
She said grading don’t come easy,
it’s a game of Bs and As.

You can’t hurry grades,
No you just have to wait,
She said avoiding grading comes easy,
When there’s an article deadline to make
No matter how long it takes.

No grades, grades don’t come easy,
But I keep on waiting, anticipating for that
Soft voice to call me late at night,
An employer’s job offer to hold me tight.
I keep waiting; I keep on waiting,
But it ain’t easy, it ain’t easy when Prof said

You can’t hurry grades no,
You just have to wait,
She said trust, give it time
No matter how long I take.

My Twitter friend and famed UCLA biz orgs law professor Stephen Bainbridge responded to my blog post asking the question as to why law professors write law review articles. His blog post is here.  My article was querying not only why we do it, but how we seek to go about measuring the usefulness of what we do. Before I’ve called this the law professor search for meaning.

Professor Bainbridge’s post is thoughtful and interesting. So I greatly appreciate the time he took to write it. Overall, I don’t necessarily disagree with what he wrote, except maybe just a few points.

First, Professor Bainbridge accuses me of “navel gazing,” in my query to answer the questions I posed in my blog post. I would counter by suggesting I was “naval gazing,” because the fleet upon fleet of law journals suggests we are doing a whole lot of publishing. My concerns are about the value of the endeavor, and how we are seeking to validate the activity via a multitude of metrics suggesting “scholarly impact.”

Perhaps Professor Bainbridge and I disagree on whether or not we write to have impact. Professor Bainbridge states that he writes because he loves to do it. “You want to know why I write law review articles? Because it’s fun. I enjoy the process of finding a puzzle, doing the research, and then I really enjoy writing it up. I love the whole process of writing. Thinking about how best to express an idea. Trying to come up with something semi-clever or funny or snarky to work into the text.”

I totes agree. Writing is fun. But, why do we choose to write law reviews? Professor Bainbridge says because we get paid to do so. “Okay, honestly? I write law review articles because I like to write and being a law professor pays better than being a science fiction writer (unless, I suppose, you’re John Scalzi). Also, I can’t write dialogue to save my life. So I found a job that pays me quite well to do something I love doing.”

This also is true. We are expected to write. Not that every tenured faculty member does so, but most do. We then publish our articles in law reviews, with a very clear hierarchy based loosely on U.S. News rankings or other similar indicia.

Professor Bainbridge mentions that we write for ego, and I suspect that’s true.  That’s fine, so long as it doesn’t go overboard. No need to go crazy and give up being humble. Writing is a lonely life, but exchanging ideas and advancing knowledge is social.

I think the thing about Orwell’s essay, which Professor Bainbridge quotes, is that the categories listed as reasons to write overlap. Yes, we do it for ego, but that by itself isn’t sufficient unless we believe that our writing offers some value. It has to give someone a reason to read it. Otherwise, the ego outcome would be the same whether I published my article or burned it in a fire (as I suspect many law review editors do).

That begs the question: Why would anyone read what I wrote? Some of you might be asking yourself this question now.  First, perhaps because the article is beautifully written, such as in a work of fiction or my 50 Shades of Admin law post.  Second, perhaps the reader can learn something from it, such as Bainbridge’s biz orgs books. Third, perhaps the article offers a solution to a perplexing problem. Regardless, my ego is attached to someone reading the piece, and this is where my quibbles about how success as a scholar is measured become more troubling.  How we measure scholarly impact is laden with some problematic assumptions, and I’m not willing to claim that we ought to measure the number of times my friends cited me.  The seeds of knowledge do not produce fruit overnight, so measuring scholarly impact is a short-sighted endeavor.

In any event, Professor Bainbridge made some thoughtful remarks, and I’m still pondering them. I might take his advice and center one panel on the Orwell essay. And invite Frank Partnoy. Maybe even Bainbridge.

Professor Bainbridge’s last suggestion is a deal breaker, however. He suggests, “giving up the whole anonymity thing.” He didn’t say why.  I suspect it’s hard to think about a reason why someone would anonymously blog when he has no bone to pick, isn’t lashing out at the world, and isn’t exactly fearful of administration given he’s tenured.

My thought is this: I get no credit for this. It’s not going to be in my law school’s scholarship notebook, isn’t mentioned in terms of my productivity, and I get paid nothing to write this.  I don’t get to humblebrag about it in my faculty highlights.  Heck, my online persona is more famous than I am.  So, maybe Professor Bainbridge is right: It’s because I just like to write.