Two discouraging events this week. First, Inside the Law School Scam author Paul Campos called it a day with Goodbye is too good a word. I didn't get the Dylan reference, but lyrics and a recording were immediately forthcoming from others. What makes it sad is the reason he abruptly ended his blog: they got to him.
I've never written anything about the professional and personal price I ended up paying for starting to investigate, more than a year before I began this blog, the structure of contemporary American legal education. Perhaps I'll tell that story someday. For now I'll merely note that if people enjoying the extraordinary protections afforded by tenure aren't willing to confront institutional corruption, then academic tenure is an indefensible privilege.
I've had mixed feelings about Campos. I used to consider him an opportunist preaching from his sybaritic law professor gig, but his impact cannot be overstated. Now he'll never have a chance to cover the first modern law school failure, nor the first successful lawsuit against a school, nor, lord willing, the government turning off the loan spigot. At least not as the author of ITLSS.
Pointing out the elephant in the room is bad for business. Let's hope Campos doesn't delete the blog; a foreign entrepreneur will recycle it (see, e.g. ShillingMeSoftly).
In other news, Rutgers is preparing to
close merge its two distinct law schools; Nando has a good write-up. Briefly, the stated dual intent is to become a more regionally-prominent school and to achieve the economy of scale and curriculum possible from combining resources.
Imagine if law schools were run like a business. Hell, they are a business, which is why Farmer describes Rutgers as a "brand." Its business plan is to consolidate two middling, horribly-sited law schools into one large school, change the signs, and call it done. This might be an efficient approach if there were opportunities for its graduates.
The legal market is obsessed with presTTTige. It's a fact of life and the most honorable intentions won't change it. Even as much of the academy gamed U.S. News in recent decades, Rutgers-Newark succored its moonbat faculty, opened an Animal Rights Law Clinic, and clung to Newark like its life depended on it. Meanwhile, Rutgers-Camden merited four (that I found) ITLSS posts in 2012 alone, culminating in this. Reorganizations are best left to Dilbert strips. It's a little late to be worrying about establishing a brand. Probably about thirty years late.
At the end of the day, the reason the Rutgers announcement is sad is because it portends business as usual in the legal academy, where reality doesn't intrude until the loan payments start. The market has changed dramatically but the institutions not a wit. Two schools pumping out unneeded graduates at taxpayer expense will become one school pumping out unneeded graduates at taxpayer expense. The school needs to shrink into one, selective campus in New Brunswick. If bigger were better, and a well-known brand a sustainable competitive advantage, then Cooley would truly be the second best school in the country.