Robert Anderson

Associate Professor Pepperdine University School of Law

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« Who really killed Whittier Law School? The shocking truth that you won't believe! | Main | Why is Brian Leiter so interested in me? »

04/27/2017

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How do you propose to solve this collective action problem short of social planning?

"Faculty members at Whittier are going to lose their jobs, and some may never work again as law teachers or work again at all."

Now that's just plain crazy talk, there. We all know that any law prof can walk off campus and directly into a BigLaw partnership.

At least, that's the common wisdom.

If they don't go into a partnership directly, they could always go into legal consulting. Many former teachers I know of have taken the consultation path, to great success. Of course, it's not an easy proposition, but if they have a built reputation, offering their services for legal consultation through networking could help them greatly!

Leiter has long disparaged scambloggers for correctly pointing out that the recent problems in legal academia have been caused by legal academia itself. Apparently even when a fellow professor takes to web to engage in honest, thoughtful reflection on what went wrong at Whittier, a contention that anything but uncontrollable external forces to which there was no possible response was the cause of the school's decline is tantamount to scamblogging. I believe his ad homonym attacks reflect a cognitively dissonant and increasingly stubborn conviction that in spite of all the dis-confirming evidence, the realities of the last decade should have no lasting impact on legal education. On the contrary, he seems to believe that legal academia could and should more or less return to its pre-recession incarnation any day now.

When the next Whittier comes down the pike (and it will), I would like to see it adapt, instead of closing. I would like to see it shrink its faculty size, have professors completely eschew legal research in favor of a major increase in teaching load, and have the associated decrease in fixed costs passed on to the students in the form of greatly reduced tuition. Instead of trying to vainly emulate an elite law school, I would like to see it own the mission of training the next generation of competent working attorneys without saddling them with massive amounts of debt. Would such an experiment work? I don't know. But I would like to see it try since the existing system has not been kind to the fourth tier. And it sure beats going out of business.

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