And on the General Ethics Front: We Law Professors, We’re Underpaid and Overworked

No, that's not what I think, but some of my fellow law professors do feel that way, a fact I learned from a wonderful book by Brian Z. Tamanaha called "Failing Law Schools," that I'm about half way through.

I'll post more about the salary issue later, but on this lazy day (I'm at the beach with my wife, on a well-deserved but brief vacation after serving as an expert witness in the Monsanto v. DuPont case just tried in St. Louis (I was an expert retained by DuPont)), I wanted to just ask a question that underlies some strong opinions I have on that I'll leave aside for now, but the question is this:

Do law professors' writings ever help you in your practice?  How often if ever to they really give you help, or give you information that you cite in a brief? (I'd like to focus on law reviews, etc., but blogs matter too, but if you mean a blog rather than an article, please say so.  I'm curious.


About David

Professor of Law, Mercer University School of Law. Formerly Of Counsel, Taylor English Duma, LLP and in 2012-13, judicial clerk to Chief Judge Rader.

7 thoughts on “And on the General Ethics Front: We Law Professors, We’re Underpaid and Overworked

  1. 7

    “The justices had very little good to say about articles published in law reviews.

    ‘What the academy is doing, as far as I can tell,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, ‘is largely of no use or interest to people who actually practice law.’

    link to

  2. 6

    Bored? Sure– litigation is like war– boredom punctuated by terror. Have a couple of hours? No. Read something I don’t have to, about a phase of my life that’s over and done with (except paying for it)? No way. That’s the value of the blogs, isn’t it? Quick easy news I can use and then back to work.

  3. 5

    Interesting stuff so far.

    I question the cost/benefit of the volume of law review articles that have no meaning to practitioners. It seems like my own conversations with lawyers over the years is consistent with what a few of you are saying (apart from the anti-patent stuff, which I’ll have to think on). Still want to know if others find otherwise,…

    If you’re bored and have a couple hours, read the Failing Law School book. I think it’s $18 as an e-book or $25 hardcopy, or at least that’s my recollection.

  4. 4

    I find the blogs and the occasional law-review article to be very helpful in patent and trademark litigation, and in trademark prosecution– not so much in patent prosecution. I check Tushnet and Welch every day, and the rest 2 or 3 times a week. The most direct and practical benefit has been the identification of interesting district-court or TTAB decisions within a couple of days after entry, from which I have cribbed argument and caselaw that I’ve used in briefs. I have used law-review articles mostly to illustrate either that a point of law is well-settled– so settled that even the academics agree– or that a point of law is a train wreck, so we might as well talk about policy.

  5. 3

    Law review articles definitely help.

    Perhaps, though, not in the way that you might think; take any article by Lemley for example and you will know where the anti-patent believers can be found.

    If you want to figure out how patent law should work, read what the proessors say and go in the opposite direction.

  6. 2

    Well, I know where you stand, and I do know that you’re not alone at least on the notions of law reviews. (I like Mark’s work and don’t know enough about Judge Moore’s work to have a view, but that’s beside my point for now.)

    btw, I think you might like this law review article – an article I co-wrote called “Why there should be fewer articles like this one….”

    link to

  7. 1

    Law review articles have to be the most boring form of literature ever devised by man. Look up “tendentious” in the dictionary and the first definition will be, “See law review article”.

    Help me? Are you kidding? A Big Mac wrapper would usually be a greater help to my work than a law review article. Remember the adage, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Most profs are clueless about the patent procurement process, not just because so many of them spent little or no time working for firms but even fewer of them actually worked in industry and have even an inkling of how the inventive process works and how that ties into the patenting process. So I have little reason to look at anything written by someone who teaches at a law school. Indeed, when I see the damage done by the likes of Kimberly Moore and Mark Lemley, why would I think for second that reading their work would help me? (A view that has been confirmed by Moore since she became a CAFC judge. What was Bush smoking the day he appointed her?)

    What I sometimes find useful is using blogs to get case cites or references to the statute when I’m hunting for case law or a particular section of the statute or rules. But usually when I do that I’ll use blogs written by professionals, not law school teachers (patentlyo being the one exception). Same reason I tend to skip conferences on trends in patent law where law school staff are the speakers – a waste of time.

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