The New York Times Still Matters
Mainstream media isn't dead. At least not when it's the New York Times, as was proven when Clifford Winston's op-ed, Are Law Schools and Bar Exams Necessary? appeared. Cackles were raised around the blawgosphere, as debunkers typed furiously to show how simplistic, ignorant and dangerous Winston's ideas were.
Winston's a dolt. But he did get his op-ed into the Times.
The reason is the Winston, a senior fellow at Brookings, got space in the Times is that he and another Brookings guy, Robert Crandall, wrote a book entitled "First Thing We Do, Let’s Deregulate All the Lawyers." Cute title, right? It feeds into all the paranoid tendencies of people angry that they can't afford a lawyer but have no clue what lawyers do. They just know they need lawyers and hate them for it.
So they came up with a solution: Make everyone a lawyer, only incompetent. It's like a $5.99 all-you-can-eat buffet, but most of the food tastes awful and every once in a while, someone is going to get salmonella and die. The price is right, but you take your chances.
This evoked sharp, thoughtful and powerful reactions in many, including such luminaries as Elie Mystal, Carolyn Elefant and Nathan(s) Burney. This Winston wasn't going to get away with such idiotic heresy, destined to bend stupid minds to his moronic scheme. Nuh uh.
But what if this was nothing new? Not the issue, which has been bandied about for a while, but the particulars of Winston's book? You see, this gave rise to a whole freakin' symposium called "Unlocking the Law: Deregulating the Legal Profession," at Truth on the Market. There, Bob Crandall argued his case, as did a bunch of lawprofs who, by and large, proved they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near students or sharp objects.
You missed it? I didn't. I read much of what was written. I would have read all of it but I kept nodding off. And then I wrote a post about it. No really, I wrote a post. And it sent ripples through the
world legal community a few people who had nothing better to do that day.
Walter Olson knew about it. He participated in the symposium, where they likely suspected he would be a full-fledged backer of the He-Man Lawyer Haters Club. Instead, he showed the lawprofs up by being the most thoughtful, reasonable guy in the whole symposium. Worse still, he wrote in language comprehensible to the English speaking world.
You didn't read the symposium posts, did you? Not the ones by the lawprofs. Not the ones by Wally. Not even the ones by Winston's co-conspirator, Bob Crandall. You didn't even read my post. It's okay, you won't hurt my feelings. There were a great many posts by a variety of people, all of similar mind since there's no point to an academic symposium if not to be an echo chamber for unsound thoughts, but still, there's strength in numbers. And you couldn't have cared less.
But you did read Winston's New York Times op-ed. And it made your blood boil, wondering why the Times would publish something so insipid, so baseless, so...so...wrong. All those non-lawyers, from pseudo-intellectuals to hipsters to angry birds in Guy Fawkes masks, cheering on this idea without the slightest clue how ill-conceived the arguments and empty the rhetoric.
Aargh. You're angry. Not too angry. Just the right amount of angry.
This time it matters because Clifford Winston's op-ed appeared in the New York Times. And that's because the New York Times still matters.
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