They’re having a, um, heated discussion about whether academics, particularly Mark Lemley, is qualified to talk about patent law and policy.
My own view is that I think teaching doesn’t qualify you to do what your subject matter relates to. I would never hire a professor to draft a patent simply because he’s taught patent law for years (even if he were registered). I’d never hire a professor to represent me in a personal injury case simply because he’s taught torts. I’d hire an experienced patent prosecutor and PI attorney, respectively, to do those things.
But the sniping over there on the main page seems to suggest that by teaching patent law or teaching torts, one does not gain knowledge and insight to the subject matter. There, I have to disagree, and strongly. I’ll give a personal example to explain why. As a lawyer (litigated complex commercial litigation, etc., for 15 years before starting to teach 11 years ago) I knew about federal subject matter jurisdiction, and for example dealt with far too many efforts by plaintiffs to fraudulently join defendants, etc. I was “good” at procedure.
But I have no doubt that, in the twelve years of teaching that subject (and writing a book on it; you should buy Mastering Civil Procedure or recommend it to law students everywhere so I can retire!), I’ve learned far more about procedure than I would have as a lawyer in that same time. I get hired sometimes in cases to simply fix procedural problems, which confirms my belief.
I think I know more about civil procedure than the vast majority of lawyers with 25 years of experience, in other words. To say that one only learns about procedure by doing it, in other words, is way wide of the mark.
It also in my view shows that the criticisms of Mark are also off the mark. I honestly don’t read even half of what he writes (sorry, Mark), but to say that because he is not registered to file an application means he can’t write about and have a valued opinion about patent law is silly.
Finally, I think it is beyond absurd to suggest — as Mr. Wegner does — that clerking at the CAFC makes you qualified to teach patent law. That in my opinion simply doesn’t jibe with my own actual experience there last year, clerking for Chief.
Anyhow, a Thursday afternoon rant over. I’m going to get a beer and some wings with a fellow Arizona Wildcat alum. We’ll talk about “next year,” like UA fans always do.