The Slackoisie Take The Lectern

That the seats in our law schools are filled with the Slackoisie is nothing new.  But do they own the lectern as well?  From Jeffrey Harrison’s description at MoneyLaw, so it would seem.

I analogized it to regulatory capture in the sense that faculty who were supposed to govern law schools for the benefit of shareholders — students, taxpayers, donors — actually governed to benefit themselves. The range of questionable activities ran from teaching specialized low enrollment courses because the topic was of interest to the teacher (but not to very many students) to foreign boondoggles, pushing ideology in the classroom, and hiring and tenure decisions based on social and political considerations rather than the merits of the candidates.

Harrison called lawprofs as “shirkers”, putting their responsibilities to others second, and making sure that they were taking care of number one.  He attributes it to an unbearable sense of entitlement.

After all, law faculties are largely populated by children of privilege. (I wonder what the record is for the most expensive education. I think we have it.) Many times their sense of entitlement is over the top. They deserve, therefore, to teach what they want to teach at the time they want to teach it, they deserve that new furniture or to vote yes on tenure for a pal because they have been told, since birth, that they are special. Some have a virtually infinite capacity to explain why they are deserving and why they are on the moral high road whether or not they are.

Does any of this sound familiar?  While Harrison’s focus is limited to his colleagues in academia, and hence his attribution of their ways to their “elite” educations, there’s little to distinguish these entitled lawprofs from the young Slackoisie lawyers that sat next to them in class and are now taking up office space in law firms around the country. 

Well, maybe two differences.  First, they may be a bit smarter than most, and thus more capable of manufacturing arguments to explain why their entitlement is more worthy than others.  Second, they exist in an environment where they can get away with putting self-interest ahead of all else.  The “shareholders” in law school aren’t in a position to be quite as demanding as clients.  Or quite as unforgiving.

Harrison struggles to clean up some loose ends about his belief that entitlement stems from attendance at our “elite” institutions of learning, noting that not every lawprof is a shirker, and that some who attended the less-elite schools seem even more entitled than those who went to the Big Time law schools. 

More importantly, not all those with an elite education seem to feel entitled. Far from it. Plus, some of those who do not have an elite education seem to feel an extreme sense of entitlement. Maybe all that can be said is those with the elite educations are more likely to have a sense of entitlement and more likely to justify their anti stakeholder activities than those without the same background.

With a few steps backward, I suspect Harrison will recognize that it’s not an elite law school issue at all, but the pervasive narcissism of the Slackoisie that has invaded his ivory tower.  The elites are simply better able to rationalize their narcissism, while the back-benchers have learned a lesson or two from getting kicked in the teeth on their way to work. 

None of this need be tolerated.  Lawprofs have a job to do, just like everyone else.  But it requires someone to cut them down to size, burst their bubble and give them a good smack in the face.  Teach the darn students, and forget about twirling around in your ermine stole.  Lawprofs exist to teach law students.  Law students don’t exist to fund lawprofs’ flights of fancy.

Worse still, if the lawprofs are so self-absorbed that they can’t see their own sense of entitlement undermining the very purpose of their existence, how will they be able to grow law students beyond their own Slackoisie narcissism?  Who will teach them that being a lawyer is about serving clients rather than feeling good about yourself or making happy hour at the tavern?  As we criticize the young lawyers coming out for their lack of dedication to clients, their inability to comprehend the notion of hard or disagreeable work, their entitlement, we can’t forget about the group of men and women, the last vanguard, who stand between the students and the lawyers.  They are supposed to teach them how to be lawyers, provided they aren’t too busy indulging their own self-important fantasies to notice the room full of students in front of them.

Not every law student will get a trophy.  Yet, every lawprof thinks they deserve one, and their fellow lawprofs are only too happy to oblige.  After all, they’re entitled.  They’re the Slackoisie.

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