Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Are law profs lazy?

Maybe, according to this article in the National Jurist (a magazine targeting law students and law students-to-be).  According to the author: 

As in most other aspects of life, the “Seven Deadly Sins” manifest themselves in legal education.

There’s plenty of Professor Kingsfield–style wrath (see class discussions with unsuspecting 1L’s). There’s both pride and envy (Google “law school rankings” for some examples). And there may even be lust.

But the one “Sin” in legal education that is the most pervasive and serious, in light of today’s legal landscape — affecting not just groups of students but every law student and recent law grad — is sloth.

Call it complacency, apathy, inactivity, inertia or plain ole’ laziness, but one thing is clear: When law professor’s slack, the students (and future lawyers) suffer.

Take the examination process, for example. Several recent news stories have broken about law professors “accidentally” using questions from previous exams or previously released practice questions, no doubt resulting in huge headaches for their respective administrations. (Make students retake the exam? Count it as a “pass/fail” grade? Grade as is? Any conceivable option presents some level of unfairness to some students, plus potential complaints, unnecessary costs and logistical nightmares for administrators.)

So far, so fair.  But then the NJ author plays the dreaded "student-as-consumer" card:

Clients are the lifeblood of any business, and law students are the lifeblood of legal education. If you’re already in law school, your tuition dollars pay your professors’ salaries. You are their client. Make their instruction worth your while.

I can't imagine any law prof would disagree with the statement that students have a right to excellent classroom instruction. Beyond that, comparing law students to "consumers" of legal ed. breaks down pretty quick.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog also picked up on this story under the headline "Are Law Professors Just Plain Lazy?" Speaking for myself, I'm pretty doggone sure I work more hours than any of my students.  But, that's just like my opinion, man.

Big 'ol hat tip to the TaxProf Blog.

I am the scholarship dude.



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