Around the Blawgosphere: A Law Prof Scamblogger?; Trying Cases and Doing Triathlons

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‘Inside the Law School Scam’

An anonymous tenured “LawProf” at a school “located within a good regional university with some nationally recognized departments” who asserts that he is tenured has gone into the confessional to author Inside the Law School Scam, which launched this week and is six posts strong at the time of this writing. In his inaugural post, titled Welcome to my Nightmare, he writes: “There is no such thing as a ‘law school’ that scams its students—law schools are abstract social institutions, not concrete moral agents. When people say ‘law school is a scam,’ what that really means, at the level of actual moral responsibility, is that law professors are scamming their students.”

LawProf makes assertions in subsequent posts that many profs have only superficial knowledge of the areas of law in which they teach; that they spend very little time preparing for class; and how changing attitudes toward legal scholarship led to a trend of hiring law profs who haven’t necessarily practice law.

Since this is an anonymous blawg, it’s possible that it’s the reader getting scammed here. But in this article, Inside Higher Ed writes that the blogger “agreed to reveal his identity to Inside Higher Ed, and his description is accurate. He teaches at a law school that doesn’t make the ‘top 10’ lists, but that is generally considered the best in its state and is well regarded nationally. His C.V. shows plenty of scholarship and professional involvement. “

University of Louisville law professor Jim Chen is paying attention. “This is prose as potent as it is provocative,” Chen writes at MoneyLaw.

University of Alabama law professor Paul Horwitz writes at Prawfsblawg that his own professional experience is similar to how LawProf describes his to be, and in his experience, most profs “work hard at teaching and many are quite good at it.” And he doesn’t see why LawProf, if he really is tenured, should be blogging anonymously. “It seems to me that tenure is a reward for showing that you will write the truth as you see it despite possible repercussions (in theory, at least; obviously, we’re all human, and I’m convinced that too many scholars truckle to others for various reasons), and LawProf doesn’t measure up splendidly according to that standard.”

‘Ironman at Law’

The Westlaw Insider blog caught up with Barry Brooks, who practices business and construction litigation at Brooks Ross in Rockwall, Texas, and manages to balance it with competing in triathlons. Brooks, who is @IronmanAtLaw on Twitter, qualified for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships events in 2008 and 2009, according to a team website.

“I think a lot of attorneys, especially litigators, kind of have a type A, aggressive personality, and once we get into something then we really get into it,” Brooks told Westlaw Insider.

He also said his firm takes on cyclist clients who have been injured in accidents. “All of our cycling clients so far have been pretty high-level athletes that are actually having their training and race results diminished,” Brooks told the blog. “It has been really interesting because the biggest struggle is getting the insurance companies to understand that these are not typical car accident cases, and there are some unique damages that occur to an athlete when they get an injury.”

‘The New and Improved Fourth Circuit’

Takoma Park, Md., criminal defense solo Mirriam Seddiq wrote a post at Not Guilty to rejoice over the Richmond, Va.-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling last week in U.S. v. Bonner. In the case, Calvin Antonio Bonner was tried for the robbery of a Subway in spite of thin forensic evidence and the fact that “neither store employee identified Bonner using ‘any facial characteristics, height or other distinguishing feature.’ “

Bonner was convicted at trial and lost at in federal district court in North Carolina. But why shouldn’t the government appeal? This is the 4th Circuit, after all “and there is no way this type of thing will fly. What? A lack of evidence? Has that ever stopped us before? Pishaw, I say.”

But the 4th Circuit affirmed, admonishing one piece of DNA evidence this way: “As the gatekeepers of expert testimony, courts must be careful to avoid the potential pitfalls of junk science.”

Seddiq concludes: “And, while we can all engage in Obamarage, I, myself, thank him for putting some decent folks on the bench. And while they don’t always go in our favor, they are certainly giving the government the whatfor now and again.”

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