Monday Morning Rant: Law Professors’ Writings.

Okay, the New York Times is copying me!  Kidding, of course, but there’s an op-ed here about how professors (all of them, not law alone) write garbage that no one reads.  Nicholas Kristof wrote it.  In part he says:

The latest attempt by academia to wall itself off from the world came when the executive council of the prestigious International Studies Association proposed that its publication editors be barred from having personal blogs. The association might as well scream: We want our scholars to be less influential!

A related problem is that academics seeking tenure must encode their insights into turgid prose. As a double protection against public consumption, this gobbledygook is then sometimes hidden in obscure journals — or published by university presses whose reputations for soporifics keep readers at a distance.

I co-authored a piece a long time ago when I had become tenured, and my colleague was pre-tenured. We watered it down a lot due to the latter fact, but it still made some good points. The title?  Why there should be fewer articles like this one.  It’s here.

9 thoughts on “Monday Morning Rant: Law Professors’ Writings.

  1. Speaking of “wall itself off from the world” academia, I have been bothered by the many academics, including economists, now writing about patent law and practice who do not even attempt to develop informative contacts or information-gathering from those with extensive actual practice in this unique field. There should be far more law school support for academics who have had real world patent practice experience and seek constructive comments on their drafts [such as Dennis or Lisa Dolak].
    [Dennis provides the opportunity, for some who dare, to post their drafts on this blog, but too often the posted comments are nonconstructive rants.]
    The issue raised by this author is important, as often it is academics who get the opportunity to present their views to Congress or the FTC.

    1. Paul, “nonconstructive rants.” No doubt this is true, but when somebody has a point of view on any topic, shouldn’t that point of view be subject to criticism? The debate sharpens the issue, sees it from all sides, and is itself quite useful.

      Academics that deride the debate here, who refuse to have their views challenged, are not worthy of a good read in the first place in my view.

  2. I agree we have our own biases, no matter our best intent. I personally think that, even putting that to the side, most of our writing is self-gratification, not providing value to society.

    I read that 45% of law review articles are never cited, ever. (Caveat: I read that in Funny Times, my favorite magazine.)

    http://www.funnytimes.com

    1. I read that 45% of law review articles are never cited, ever.

      I read that 65% of all quoted statistics are made up on the spot.

      1. Clearly that number can easily be modified given the characteristics of the particular poster.

        How are those apologies coming along Leopold?

        Read that Professor’s article yet?
        How are those Ladders of Abstraction references coming along?

        Any other vacuous “LOL’s” to post?

        Or are you done being a schmuck for awhile?

  3. A major fault I would have with the paper after a first reading is that it does not recognize that bias exists in the academic world (in truth, such bias is not a small matter).

    “Publish or perish” and a lack of a true meritocracy indicates that too lofty a view of academia – as if the Ivory Tower is immune from bias – is a fatal flaw to one of the article’s foundations.

    I would posit that the academic world is even more susceptible to group think biases than are practicing attorneys and judges. In fact, I would posit that such underlying group think biases drive the disassociation that practitioners readily recognize in the current ‘state of the art.’ Ignoring this fundamental driver leaves the article with a gaping hole.

    1. In fact, I would posit that such underlying group think biases drive the disassociation that practitioners readily recognize in the current ‘state of the art.’

      LOL.

  4. Interesting article – still digesting it.

    This does bring to mind my recent comment that law professors should have heightened ethical duties, beyond that of either lawyers alone or other types of professors alone.

    I am also reminded of the line from Will Smith’s Enemy of the State, but having ancient roots: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

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