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Meet Entitlement Eric - Robot Pimp

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A Necessary Delusion - Shadow Hand

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I didn't say "I got a gun!" I said "Omanomnom!"

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Surely you remember the 7 year old who got suspended from school earlier this month for trying to shape his pop-tart into a mountain, but then his teacher thought it was a gun and then he got suspended for two days because stupidity. I mean, zero tolerance. Actually, I mean both.

And if you haven’t heard of that story, then who knows how you found us here. But, go ahead and google any combination of the words “pastry,” “gun,” and “kid,” and enjoy the 2.5 million results you’ll get.

Zero tolerance is like a dumbed down version of strict liability, which is already pretty dumb to begin with. But at least with strict liability offenses concepts like prosecutorial discretion, mitigation, leniency, and exercising thought and common sense still have their place.

Zero tolerance is supposed to be a school’s way of showing how tough it is, but in reality it’s abdication of responsibility. Making judgment calls can be tough, sometimes you make the wrong choice, and when you do make the wrong choice you get angry parents yelling at you. So, rather than having a tough job with consequences, zero tolerance policies allow schools to preemptively tie their hands and punish everything without discretion. There will still be angry phone calls from parents, but the administrators can just say “Sorry, nothing we can do, zero tolerance, blah blah, Dr. Strangelove, blah blah, stop worrying and learn to love sequestration.”

Fortunately, Maryland State Senator J.B. Jennings decided to make a judgment call.  Jennings has introduced a bill to the Maryland Senate that would ban school leaders from suspending students who make the shape of a gun with their fingers or food, or students who draw a gun on paper.  Jennings says if the gun making is done in a violent manner, then things can be taken to the next level. He hopes the bill will introduce some common sense to the state education system. The bill is headed to the Education Committee, and if it passes there, it will go to the full Senate for a vote.

None of us here at ConDaily being parents (that we know of), we aren’t especially familiar with the real life ramifications of having your seven year old get a two day suspension. But according to Jennings, parents have called his office about this issue repeatedly, with concerns about their child’s permanent and academic records. Which seems pretty valid, given that the current education system in Maryland is one that views poorly expressed food art as a weapon.

The idiocy of the whole situation has been covered ad nauseam, so we won’t beat a dead toaster pastry. But, the fact that the idiocy of the whole situation has escalated so much as to prompt a bill to stop this kind of idiocy is pretty absurd.

But, we support Jennings in his fight for the rights of kids who play with their food, and to acknowledge that no amount of strategic bite placement can turn a Pop Tart into a Pop a Cap in Yo Ass Tart.

Women: Find your voice, then use it to say "make it a double"

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Being overworked and underpaid are stressing people out at work, reveals a shocking survey from the American Psychological Association.  One-third of employees experience chronic work-related stress, and it’s worse for women than men.

27% of men feel underpaid, compared with 38% of women; while 30% of men and 32% of women say they don’t have enough opportunities for internal advancement. And in case you don’t like numbers, here’s a handy little companion graphic.

So what? Who hasn’t felt overworked, underappreciated, underpaid, stressed at work? Well, part of the problem is that chronic stress harms productivity, mental clarity, short term memory, decision making, and moods. And it seemingly affects women more so than men, though there is of course a question of whether men and women differ in how they report stress. Either way though, whether women have more stress or just report it more often, you’re going to have to deal with more bitching from your girlfriend. And if she’s less productive at work because she’s stressed, she’s just going to get more stressed. Lucky you.

According to the study, women’s stress is on the rise because more families are relying on women’s earnings. But, the article tells us that employed wives’ contributions to family earnings have hovered at around 47% for the last 4 years. So, that doesn’t really explain the recent rise in stress. Also problematic: only keeping track of “employed wives.” There are plenty of employed women whose families depend on their income that aren’t wives, past or present. The study also suggests that work-life balance is a particular struggle for these women. Guess all the “employed wives” aren’t splitting the chores with their “employed husbands.”

Presuming chronic stress at work is unavoidable, what can be done about it? The article has 0 solutions for men (whatever, dudes are less stressed anyway) and two for women. First are the clichés encouraging women to be more assertive, “give yourself a voice,” “speak up for yourself,” “stand up for behavior you see as unfair.” Well, that’s better than saying women can fix stress at work by talking to other women who are stressed at work, or by encouraging each other to be less stressed. Then again, pretty much anything is better than those. Except maybe a solution that could directly lead to more stress, such as, oh, I don’t know …speaking up, standing up for yourself more often, and engaging in other proactive ways of getting into more confrontations. Not that you shouldn’t stand up for yourself, but let’s not pretend doing so isn’t stressful.

The second solution comes implied, by way of several “success story” anecdotes of women who fixed their chronic work stress. They quit their jobs. Women who reduced their work stress through suicide were not interviewed for the story, though it’s presumable that they had the same level of work stress reduction.

So, if you’re a woman and you’re stressed at work, either “find your voice” or quit your job. And then hope stress doesn’t show up at your next job. Or just perpetually hunt for new jobs, so you can always quit when things get stressful. And if you can’t quit, well, uh, sorry bout ya.

This study is like every “problem with women in the law” piece that I’ve come to loathe so much. It identifies a problem, discusses it enough to have the appearance of depth with no real analytical insights, and then does little or nothing to suggest how to deal with the problem. Or, maybe I’m just one of those stressed women whose mental clarity has been compromised and I’m too moody to notice.

And since we don’t like to complain about something too much without providing a better solution than the non-solutions we’re complaining about, how about not trying to reinvent the wheel? Women are facing more stress at work largely because they’re at work more than they used to be and are finding work in increasingly stressful fields. They’re less likely to be stay-at-home moms, and there’s a better chance they’ll be the lawyer than the secretary than there used to be. So why not take a page from the playbook of the team that’s been dealing with work stress for a lot longer: men.

They don’t “find their voice,” and they don’t often quit. They have happy hours. Sometimes at noon.

But David Yellen Says They Must

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David Yellen is the Dean of Loyola Chicago.

David Yellen is a member of the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

In an op-ed written for Above the Law, David Yellen said, "Law schools must fully comply with the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools to receive or retain accreditation."

 

Law School Transparency conducted a survey of law school websites more than 4 months after the ABA revised Standard 509.

In a report covering the findings of its investigation, Law School Transparency said, "Of the 199 ABA-approved law schools, 78.4% (156/199) did not meet the expectations set forth by Standard 509."

Standard 509 is among the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedures for Approval of Law Schools.

In an op-ed written for Above the Law, David Yellen said, "Law schools must fully comply with the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools to receive or retain accreditation."

David Yellen is a member of the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

David Yellen is the Dean of Loyola Chicago.

 

David Yellen says, "Law schools must fully comply with the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools to receive or retain accreditation."

Law School Transparency says, "Of the 199 ABA-approved law schools, 78.4% (156/199) did not meet the expectations set forth by Standard 509."

David Yellen is the Dean of Loyola Chicago.

David Yellen is a member of the ABA's Task Force on the Future of Legal Education.

Frank Wu: Most Misguided Person in Legal Education

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Frank Wu was recently deemed by his peers to be the most influential person in legal academia. Too bad when it comes to improving legal academia he's got his head up his ass. Here he is writing at the Huffington Post about the tension between transparency reform and cost reform:

Everyone wants us to be transparent, while lowering our costs. Those goals, as is true of many human desires we feel simultaneously, are not highly compatible. Like elegant product design, transparency turns out to be pricey. Specifically it requires that we build an apparatus to find the information, organize it, verify it, submit it, and then track the trends that are revealed.

The other day, I spent the lunch hour in our cafe to chat with students. A nice fellow, a first-year student, came by to meet me. The only subject he wished to bring up was ice cream. He wanted to know if the cafe could install a machine as he recalled from his undergraduate days elsewhere, so he could enjoy soft-serve ice cream.

As I explained to him, I have nothing against ice cream. If we can make a profit as the vendor, then we would be delighted to offer ice cream. But if we cannot do so, then our strategic plan does not call for ice cream.

First, your attitude of "we'll be transparent if it turns a profit" is ridiculous. Transparency is an ethical obligation (and increasingly a regulatory requirement), and deserves more than a simple cost/benefit analysis.

Second, your school already has a NALP report. It's in your possession right now. You can publish it on your website FOR FREE. YOU CAN PUBLISH YOUR NALP REPORT FOR FREE. YOU CAN PUBLISH YOUR NALP REPORT FOR FREE RIGHT THIS VERY FREAKING MINUTE YOU INSINCERE ASSHAT.

Now that we know Wu's head is so far up his ass that the lump in his throat is his nose, let's look at Wu's explanation for why law school is so damned expensive these days:

The greatest change has been the embrace of clinical legal education. By "greatest," I mean the most sizable and the most worthwhile. Similar to the model of clinical medical education, clinical legal education is the best means by which we prepare students for practice. It has been so successful we as a profession might well be on the cusp of requiring it for every graduate. No med student graduates without examining a few actual patients.

The expense of clinical legal education can be calculated in straightforward terms. A professor in a doctrinal class, such as the first-year required curriculum of civil procedure, criminal law, property, contracts, and torts, can lecture to a hundred students at once. That is not ideal, but it is not uncommon. A professor in a clinical class, supervising student attorneys who are representing real people in real cases, cannot train more than ten students at once. That's if she cares about her responsibilities both as a teacher and a lawyer.

It happens that the "podium" professor as they are called likely makes more money than her clinical counterpart, though not by much. Thus the difference is more than an order of magnitude. Once you count the overhead required for an actual legal office, the clinical course requires ten times as much money. There are new technological advances that will alleviate some of that.

Pause for a moment on this math. If we want clinical legal education, we will need to spend much more to provide it. As curmudgeons tell the young, this is called a choice.

If only law schools were actually making a choice. They're not. When law schools expand their course offerings, well, that's just it. They expand course offerings. They never engage in choice. They don't say "X course would be great, in fact, better than Y, which is virtually useless, so let's replace Y with X." No, they say "X would be great, let's add that, and replace $$ with $$$."

Yes, clinical education is expensive. A whole lot more expensive than externships, but let's put that issue off for another time. A class with 10 students is more expensive than a class with 100. No debate there. And reformers do often ask for more of those 10 person classes. So let's look at what other expensive seminar courses UC Hastings is offering:

Accountability in International Human Rights Law - It's often joked that the bulk of law students enroll hoping to practice international human rights law, but that this of course is a practice area which is virtually non-existent. Apparently Hastings didn't get the joke.

Asian Pacific Americans and the Law - Truth is America doesn't have a great track record with Asian immigrants, what with the railroads and internment camps and all that. But, these aren't really contemporary legal issues, and the class would be better placed in a history department. There are immigration issues for Asian Americans, but that topic isn't in the course description.

China and the International Legal Order - This is a class that discusses China's role in the UN, WTO, and how it views trade and sovereignty issues. Perfect for the exactly 0 students who go on to become ambassador to China. Useless for the rest.

Critical Race Theory - Almost every school offers some version of this. And they pay a very expensive law professor for it instead of a much cheaper French postmodern literary theorist, and if at any point you discuss Foucault, Derrida, Lacan, or Baudrillard, that's really who should be teaching this class because you're using "critical" to mean "obfuscated beyond comprehension" and "theory" to mean "fashionable nonsense."

Film and the Law - It's not a class on the publication of private facts in documentaries. It's exactly what you think it is.

Law of the Human Body - Whether we should be allowed to enter into a kidney exchange is a really interesting issue. You can cancel the class and buy everyone interested in it a copy of Leo Katz's Why the Law is So Perverse instead.

 

UC Hastings does offer a number of practice-oriented seminars and simulation courses. And that's great. But remember, the operative word here was choice. Hastings isn't making a choice, it's just piling on every class a professor has an interest in and passing the increased costs along to the students. And that's basically the attitude every other school takes. "Oh my gorsh! How can you say that a wills drafting seminar is more important than a legal issue that isn't handled in the courts but rather by top-level political officials who are more beholden to voters than legal principles? Better offer both!"

Learn to make the hard choices, Dean Wu. Take the soft-serve ice cream off your course catalog until you can afford it. And for the love of God, publish your damn NALP report or shut the hell up about how expensive it is to become transparent.

 

Just for good measure, we saved the most ridiculous Hastings class for last:

Research Seminar on Career of Roger Traynor - "The student work will contribute to a biography that Professor Hazard is exploring in cooperation with Michael Traynor, the Justice's son and himself a prominent lawyer, and with Professor Emeritus James McCall of Hastings." You get to pay for the privilege of helping your professor write a book that will carry his name, and not yours, and where he'll collect royalties, and not you. Not only is this worthless as a law school class, it is incredibly exploitative and if law schools had serious ethical guidelines the professor would be sacked, along with whoever approved this class.

Guess it takes the most influential person in legal academia to pull off a system where students pay to be research assistants.

Page 16 of 337

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