Monday, February 14, 2011
Andrew Yaphe (Stanford Law School) has posted Taking Note of Notes: Student Legal Scholarship in Theory and Practice. At its core, the piece provides "an empirical analysis of recent student notes, enabling the reader to get an overview of the forms that student scholarship has actually taken over the past few years." The whole thing is worth reading, but there are some bits of information that will be of special interest to Property Profs.
Yaphe found that at "non-elite" schools, property was the fourth most popular subject for student notes, accounting for 7% of the total. In contrast, the sample of student notes from elite institutions (three years worth of pieces from Yale, Virginia, Stanford, Northwestern, Michigan and Columbia), contained only 4 articles (2%) about property issues. Yaphe goes on:
This disparity becomes more significant when one examines the elite notes on property law more closely. Three of those elite notes were empirical analyses of aspects of property law in local communities; these notes, in their methodological approach and conceptual stance, were all strongly influences by the work of Robert Ellickson. In other words: If it weren't for property law notes written under the aegis of Ellickson, there would hardly be any elite property law notes at all. (emphasis added)
That's a stunning finding. Yaphe hypothesizes that the "disparity of notes on property law may reflect the status of the course in American law schools. The course tends to be underempahsized at elite law schools . . . while getting more attention at non-elite law schools . . . ." There's probably something to that explanation, but I'm not sure it fully explains the difference. My bet is that the local nature of property law (and family law - another subject ignored by elite schools) doesn't lend itself to the kind of sweeping national-level reforms that folks at elite law schools tend to make. I also wonder if the number of "not-property" people teaching property courses leads to a lack of property mentors.
Hat tip to Joseph Blocher for passing this article along.
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