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Around the Blawgosphere: Law Prof Bloggers See Initial Anonymity of ‘LawProf’ as Strategic

Posted Aug 26, 2011 8:30 AM CDT
By Sarah Mui

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The word got out last weekend that University of Colorado Law School professor Paul Campos is the author of the Inside the Law School Scam, a blog that offers his take on the cost of legal education and questions the quality of law professors' teaching and the value of their scholarship.

Campos, who confirmed his identity to the ABA Journal, told Wall Street Journal Law Blog that he decided to reveal himself because he perceived there was "a junior high Gossip Girl contest of figuring out who I was, which was even more detrimental to actual debate than straight, ad hominem invective."

Some law professors see Campos' launch from anonymity as a strategic move.

"If it had just been Paul Campos's next diatribe, who would have cared?" University of Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse wrote at Althouse. "Maybe by the time he'd worked the whole thing into a book, with an impressive publisher—like his Jurismania: The Madness of American Law, published by Oxford University Press—everyone would take the trouble to read and talk about it. But this way, he got lots of publicity for his project, right at the outset."

George Washington University Law Professor Orin Kerr wrote at The Volokh Conspiracy: "By hiding his identity, and by claiming that he hid it to avoid repercussions, Campos created the impression that he was taking a very courageous and daring step. That impression is what made the blog newsworthy, and that newsworthiness led to press coverage."

And University of Alabama law professor Paul Horowitz wrote at Prawfsblawg) that he doesn't quite buy Campos' assertion at Inside the Law School Scam that he chose anonymity to "to keep the argument focused on the substance of the debate, rather than on the hierarchical status and personal qualities of those participating in it." Campos was trading on his status as someone on the "inside," i.e., a tenured law professor. "If you really want to focus on the message and not the messenger, there are better ways to go about it than by invoking your authority in the first place, even if you don't sign your name to that invocation."

In a Tuesday post on Inside the Law School Scam, Campos wrote that he was "a bit bemused by the claims of a couple of other legal academic bloggers that I’m just a publicity whore, given that, by comparison to their own hunger for public attention, Kim Kardashian look like J.D. Salinger."

University of South Carolina law professor Ann Bartow at Feminist Law Professors took issue with that "somewhat incoherent" remark, as well as another one in the same post comparing law school faculty members to "Mafia wives [who have] managed to maintain a marked lack of curiosity about what Tony was doing down at the waste management company, as long as he kept bringing us nice presents and let us redecorate the living room every other year."

Bartow calls these remarks "sexist slurs" that remind her that "in the legal academy, feminizing somebody you disagree with is a great way to insult them."

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley took issue with Campos' opinion, mentioned in the Law Blog interview, that the third year of law school could be done away with. "I view three years as already too short and such moves would likely result in few courses on history, philosophy, and the foundations of legal analysis," Turley wrote. "It would put law school more on the footing of trade schools. There are already new schools offering short and easy tracks to J.D. degrees. The result are lawyers who learn little depth about the legacy and theories that support our profession."

Legal writing teacher E. Scott Fruehwald wrote at Legal Skills Prof Blog that Campos, when making assertions that many professors have only superficial knowledge of their subjects and spend little time preparing for class, should take a separate look at "those who are not tenure track and who teach important courses like legal writing, clinics, and other legal skills courses. These teachers do not generally make nearly the same salaries as tenured law professors, yet they go to work every day and teach law students with a great deal of dedication and enthusiasm. In fact, these professors usually interact with students much more than other professors."

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