October 6, 2012
"Toxic, soul crushing environment” given as reason for quiting law school by 1L
The Southern University Law Center student, Courtney Horne, lists a number of general reasons for calling it quits but spends a fair amount of time on criticizing how her crim law prof conducted his classes at Why I Left Law School. In her follow-up post, Wading into it… (against my better judgement) she included a lengthly comment apparently written by her crim law prof. Christopher Danzig covers the she said-he said on ATL.
Frankly, I find nothing all that wrong with how this crim law prof conducted his classes. If Horne couldn't take it, there is no way she would be able to cope with the reality of practicing law in the real world. [JH]
I'm sorry, but being able to "take it" is most assuredly not a quality we should encourage in would-be lawyers. Ms. Horne's commitment to fighting injustice and her bravery in commenting publicly on her experiences are commendable. Her choice to leave law school--though understandable and even appropriate given her legitimate preferences for the kind of life she wants to lead--is a loss to Southern Law and to the legal profession.
Her professor, on the other hand, seems to be a domineering tyrant and a bully. Such retaliatory behavior would likely be actionable in a workplace environment. It should be considered less, not more, acceptable in the classroom, where the disparity in power between professor and student is so large. If even a substantial portion of Horne's allegations are true, the professor should be fired.
Posted by: anon | Oct 10, 2012 1:48:56 PM
Reading Ms. Horne's post I certainly wasn't left with the impression that she couldn't cut it. Sounds like she was doing well enough as far as the work and it isn't like she was reduced to tears by her professor's behavior. She simply made a decision that if that was indicative of law school and practice she didn't want to invest her time in the pursuit.
Posted by: Nolan Wright | Oct 8, 2012 4:41:51 PM
To lawprofblawg's remarks, I would simply add that it is priceless to read a lecture about law school and legal practice from a career librarian who has not only never practiced law, but has never even attended law school.
Posted by: Rob T. | Oct 8, 2012 3:44:45 PM
I think it is wrong to just say in blanket fashion that she couldn't cut it. The complaints, if true, are very specific:
1. He started class a half hour early. What if every professor did that?
2. He had Saturday sessions. We could all do that too, and then slam the students for not reading on the weekends. There was ambiguity as to whether or not these were required, but then again, we know how students would view them.
3. The temper tantrum in class, including a retaliatory assignment with the exclusionary group activity.
4. Certain assignments were required to be in handwriting. Although I'm pleased someone is worried about penmanship, I wonder as to the reasons behind this.
5. Notice of a required attendance in online chat with 5.5 hours notice.
Add to that these considerations:
1. The reply shows contempt for students in general.
2. The reply shows disdain for other professors at the school.
3. He publicly appraises her ability as a student as mediocre.
There are ways to push people up the hill without shoving them off the cliff. Regardless, this is not a great advertisement for the law school.
It would be easy enough for administration to determine whether or not this is all true.
Even if it is true that one encounters difficult personalities in the practice of law, should that be the argument for mistreating students? Yes, we've all had to deal with people with serious issues (opposing counsel, senior partners, colleagues, judges, etc.). That doesn't give us license to bludgeon. There are ways of preparing people for dealing with difficult people without being one of them.
I just wrote a post on my blog about difficult faculty. The trouble is that it often times takes several students to raise issues before a central administration hears them. By then, of course, it is too late.
Posted by: lawprofblawg | Oct 7, 2012 2:33:32 PM