Law Profs and Students

In asking the relevant and useful question “What is/should be a law student?,” Professor Morrison begins ill: “Actual and potential law students are arguably the most powerful parties in this system.”

This claim doesn’t warrant a response, but the professor ironically comes away seeming dignified when it combines with the generally unserious tenor of his post to provoke an array of juvenile criticisms — to which he naturally does not deign to respond.

Prof. Morrison concludes that a law student is/should be:

  • A well informed, intelligent agent who can make informed choices prior to entering law school regarding debt load, job prospects, and the like
  • A student who is actively engaged in class work, extracurricular activities, networking, skills building, etc.  A student, in short, who takes ownership of her education and uses the school, the faculty, and their resources to self-direct her career.

A charming sentiment, to be sure, but the current legal education system requires that “Who is a law student?” be answered in substance “Somebody who pays law professors.”


State of the Prawf: “WOC” Edition

Professor Baradaran has a good post over at Prawf’s Blawg on the topic of what a female professor ought to do to secure control of her classroom early in the course. She seems to have a pretty good handle on the situation and I expect that her advice is quite sound for those to whom she directs it.

But far more interesting than the post itself are the comments, particularly those authored by “women of color” (WOC) professors (WAWCs?).

There’s so much of note here that it’s difficult to fit into a single post under a heading more specific than “Minority Female Law Professors Confess Anonymously to Wide-Ranging Bias Against White Male Law Students.” Nonetheless, I feel compelled to address a few highlights.

First of all, some of this stuff is really pretty extraordinary, if only one imagines that prejudice against white males is as inappropriate as against anyone else. And remember that the prejudiced individuals here are figures of authority. Take just a single phrase for instance: “misbehaving, entitled white men,” and replace white with black, such that you have “misbehaving, entitled [black] men.” This is, I think, shocking to most self-selecting people of conscience. Do the same with men/women and these same will be less shocked but not less outraged. The poster, “Depends on the School?” might think it unfair of me to post this quotation out of context (although the context does not obviously improve upon it), but I shan’t concern myself. An author of the modified version above would be pilloried no matter the context and I see no reason to vary the standard here.

Second, although I believe it’s likely that students “test” female professors more than male professors because all people are biologically programmed to interpret certain masculine characteristics like height and deep voice as authoritative (it’s not clear to me that this is exacerbated by the professor being “of color,” except possibly as to black women), I also wonder whether some “WOC” professors1 might be hired based in some part on their Critical credentials. I don’t know enough about the hiring process to more than conceive of this as a possibility, but it’s not an extraordinary stretch to imagine a feminist/critical race studies professor being less well-versed in doctrine than a professor with relevant scholarly interests. Or perhaps better put, since many professors teach (especially 1L) courses outside their area of expertise, I think it’s possible that crit-focused professors might tend in classroom discussions to stray from relevant doctrine toward areas not concededly of interest to people outside of the critical fields. It doesn’t take a genius (or even a 2L) to notice when this is going on, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable for an xL to object when that stuff is bandied about outside of appropriately titled courses.

Third, both male and female professors complain about receiving sartorial comments in their end-of-semester reviews. To the extent (entire, I think) that these professors perceive such commentary to proceed from white males, a bit of incredulity is in order. I submit that students discussing clothing in their reviews are, in order of descending likelihood:

  • (a) For female professors: (1) girls; (2) gay guys; (3) straight guys.
  • (b) For male professors: (1) girls; (2) gay guys.

And really, anyone whose clothing provokes commentary not in the order above ought to consider spending at least as much time on their wardrobe as they do complaining about said commentary on law prof blogs.

  1. Not Prof. Baradaran, to be sure, though I cannot second her support for postal banking.