Saturday, March 2, 2013

Paul Campos: “Damn it feels good to be a gansta”

Paul Campos is a law professor who started and, sadly, recently ended a blog titled “Inside the Law School Scam.”  The title of the blog speaks for itself, and there is little I can write about Campos that hasn’t already been written.  But a little is better than nothing, so here goes:

First, I derived great joy from his iconoclastic style, and also enjoyed "the academy's" often desperate attempts to respond to him.

Second, although countless students and almost-students credit him for saving them from staggering law school debt, possible unemployment, and probable financial ruin, he also did a great service to practicing lawyers.  He, to some degree, is responsible for the decline in law school applicants from 103,000 per year to the current thirty-year low of about 54,000.  This means that practicing lawyers in the future have a better chance of earning a living, something that is becoming increasingly difficult for many

And third, when I think of Paul Campos, I can’t help but think of Peter Gibbons in Office Space.  I admit: the analogy isn't perfect.  But Peter Gibbons drew a paycheck while playing Tetris and, eventually, destroying his company from within.  Similarly, Campos drew his paycheck while using the protection of tenure to attack the industry and the very employer that granted him that tenure and continued to pay him.  (This is not a criticism; being a law prof gave his message “street cred” that it wouldn’t have had if he had quit his job, and then started his blog.  Had he done that, “the academy” would simply have dismissed him as a disgruntled former law prof.) 

This ironically rich scenario makes me wonder what the dean of his law school says about him.  I’m picturing the dean as Peter Gibbons’ boss, Bill Lumbergh, talking to his flock of under-deans, dean-lings, and dean-lets: “Yeah, I'm gonna have to ask you all to come in this weekend, and we’re gonna have to go ahead and revisit our policy on this whole 'tenure' thing, mmmkaaay?”

I like it.  Office Space II: The Law School Industrial Complex.   

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