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.





It’s that time of year when thoughts turn to grades.  Here are some posts I’ve written on the topic.

Why Law Professors Won’t Change Your Grades.

Nine Mistakes You Probably Made on Your Final Exams.

Truths About Final Exam Time.

I Didn’t Ace My Classes! Now what?

Why Does It Take Us [Professors] So Long to Grade Final Exams?

The (De)Grading.








APRIL 6, 2018


8:30 a.m. Registration and Continental Breakfast

9:00 a.m. Welcome and Opening Remarks

9:15 a.m.- 10:30 Panel 1: WHAT IS A GOOD LAW REVIEW ARTICLE?

This panel seeks to determine, absent the usual proxies of placement and author, what constitutes a good academic piece. Must it contribute in some meaningful way to existing legal questions, or is it sufficient that it generate a foundation for research that does so in the future? What are the entry barriers for a good article to be noticed in the marketplace of ideas?


Darren Bush, University of Houston Law Center

Caprice Roberts, Savannah Law School

Spencer Waller, Loyola University of Chicago School of Law


This panel seeks to determine the purpose of scholarship, apart from the self-serving interests of the author in getting tenure and accolades. Should law professors be advocates, engaging in amicus briefs? Should engagement with the community (op- eds and the press) count as scholarship?


Carissa Hessick, University of North Carolina School of Law

Orly Lobel, University of San Diego School of Law

Eric Segall, Georgia State University College of Law


Noon – 1:30 p.m. Keynote Lunchtime Speaker: The Hon. Richard Posner, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (retired)


This panel discusses the perils of measurement. While productivity is often measured in the economy, is the ability to measure scholarly success limited? This panel also discusses some of the biases of measurement, and problems with such measurement.


Mark Lemley, Stanford Law School

Nancy Leong, University of Denver Sturm College of Law

Anthony Kreis, Chicago-Kent College of Law



Office Hours Until Last Two Weeks of Class:


Office Hours Last Two Weeks of Class:


Dear Friend,

It is with good fortunate and the will of God smiling upon us that I should find you here again this year! Good day to you and your law review! I apologize if the content here-under are contrary to your moral ethics, but please treat with absolute secrecy and personal.

My name is Mr. Lawprofblawg from Lawprofblawg Law School, but I have worked with famous people from your homeland. I am coauthor of a famous law professor, who shines upon me blessings of joy and fortune from the heavens. I am the son of the great Ms. Lawprofblawgmom, who is the leader of a great far away country I call home. My father died in the great war of the Interstate 5 collision.

I am the only Mentee of the great law professor, heretoyet be named. He died on U.S. election night of a broken heart, and poisoning due to his work with the Russian Embassy. I was constrained to grieve at his funeral due to the limitations of using university travel funds for non-scholarly events. The associate dean would not request my request to hold post-death séance.

Before his untimely and greatly sad death, my Mentor helped write the attached article. He moved enough funds to ensure I would be able to finish this article and host a symposium on it. The funds are in Burkina Faso, but the article resides with me.

The bank refuses to release the funds to me because my Mentor feared I would spend it all on reprints. The total is $12,501.45 USD. When I applied to get the money, the Directors told me that my Mentor left a “Note” (WILL) in the form of conditions, that the banks Must Not release the funds to me until I have found a proper high ranked home for our article.

This then brought me to the issue of searching for a reputable and trustworthy journal, who has vast experiences in articles and symposia.

I want to transfer this fund into your bank account in your country, so that we could invest it wisely in a symposium, with my article as lead article. I have contacted the Director of the bank where the fund is deposited in Burkina Faso, and asked if the fund could be loaded into an ATM VISA CARD and he said it is possible to load some of the funds into an ATM VISA CARD, while most of it will be wired to your account via online bank transfer.

Why I contacted you is that I want you to publish my article, and perhaps provide your ATM number, so we can make the will of my great legal scholar mentor come true. This transaction will be beneficial to us all, and bring good karma to you and your family and pets.

I will appreciate whatever result you may brief me. Do let me know your idea and knowledge regarding these or any other profitable symposium you may suggest for us to do together.

I shall tell you more about this transaction as soon as I get your Offer letter concerning this article.

Waiting for your reply,

Thanks and best regards,

The Ever Indebted to you Lawprofblawg