Brian Leiter Smears ScamProf

The law professor who started the blog  Inside the Law School Scam has  finally been outed as University of Colorado lawprof  Paul Campos.  As anyone with the intelligence of a brick might guess, his views on law school, and particularly the price of the Academy, didn’t make him a popular fellow in the faculty lounge.

He was far more popular with practicing lawyers and law students, but then, we don’t get a law school paycheck or judge our manhood by the number of articles published in law reviews.

Naturally, some anger and animosity has been directed toward Campos from others in the Academy, but Brian Leiter, channeling Nancy Grace by giving him the epithet “scamprof” (it could have been “tot mom” except he’s not a mom and law students aren’t tots), does what no lawprof since  Ann  Bartow has been able or willing to do.  He got nasty.

ScamProf is the failed academic who has done almost no scholarly work in the last decade, teaches the same courses and seminars year in and year out, and spends his time trying to attract public attention, sometimes under his own name, this time anonymously.  These are important facts about ScamProf, since he is indeed scamming his students and his state, and his initial posts were tantamount to a confession that he’s not doing his job.


A colleague from Penn writes:

I don’t know who this jerk is, but I appreciate you calling him out.   I clicked through to his posts and felt the urge to throw something.   I bust my butt preparing for class and educating myself deeply in my  fields (and, indeed, refuse to teach any class in which I don’t consider myself highly qualified), and students clearly understand and  appreciate those efforts, but this kind of recklessly expressed  cynicism can undermine an enormous amount of good work in the creation  of a cooperative and engaged learning environment.  It’s the  functional equivalent of writing about how every man on the planet regularly violates the terms of his intimate relationships and pushing  out that message with the aim of making even the happiest partners and  spouses suddenly experience doubt.   What a jerk.

This captures rather well why ScamProf is so offensive to those who actually do their jobs.

Any numbers on how many “actually do their jobs?” Names, maybe? Salary data?

ANOTHER:  A colleague at Maryland writes:  “Scamprof is easily explained by the well known proverb that ‘a thief thinks everyone steals.’  Don’t let up on him.”   By the way, several readers tell me that ScamProf moderates comments, and will not approve those that are too critical.

Several readers told me he eats babies.  Don’t you believe me?

For Paul Campos is, of course, most notorious in the legal academy for going on the O’Reilly Factor--yes,the O’Reilly Factor–to  call for Ward Churchill to be fired for his offensive political opinions (long before any allegations of academic misconduct arose).  And this wasn’t an anomaly:   he also called for Glenn Reynolds  (Tennessee) to be sanctioned by his university for his offensive political opinions.   Fortunately for Professor Campos, his contempt for the First Amendment rights of state university professors do not constitute binding precedents on the courts, and I am confident his university won’t sanction him for his irresponsible speech.  They should, however, launch an investigation into whether he is performing his duties, since his blog is tantamount to an admission of dereliction of duties and his ‘scholarly’ record is  prima facie  evidence of failure to do his job as a professor at a major research university.

The O’Reilly Factor?  That’s academic heresy per se, and with pretty good reason, but this has what to do with the law school scam?

I understand that Paul Campos, our ScamProf, is feeling desperate, given the hole he’s dug for himself.  His colleagues are furious, he was already an embarrassment to his institution, and now he’s added fuel to the fire by openly insulting his colleagues.  But whereas the facts about Campos that I’ve adduced (he disputes none of them, for obvious reasons) are highly relevant to understanding why he would lie, exaggerate and engage in reckless generalizations about his professional colleagues, the facts and non-facts he adduces about me are just irrelevant ad hominems.

From what I see at inside the Law School Scam, Campos has  nothing but kind words for his distinguished colleague, Brian Leiter.

It is thus with a certain sadness that I note one of the leading lights of contemporary legal academia, Professor Brian Leiter, the Karl N. Llewellyn Professor of Jurisprudence and Director, Center for Law, Philosophy, and Human Value, at the University of Chicago Law School, has, I have been told, chosen to point out to the world that, in comparison to himself, I am a poor scholar and have reprehensible work habits, rather than responding to any of my arguments about the state of the contemporary law school.

Having spent a fairly good amount of time reading the words of lawprofs so that you don’t have to, there is one thing that stands out above all else in this flagrant display of outrage.  What’s particularly impressive about all of this is to see some law professors (with the obvious exception of Ann Bartow) finally grow a pair and start using language that means what it says.  It’s so . . . manly.

But I do offer this word of caution to Brian Leiter: When you piss into the wind, expect to get hit with some spray.  No matter how much of a jerk Paul Campos may be, neither Holocaust deniers nor lawprofs are going to be warmly received by merely pretending that everything is hunky dory aside from this O’Reilly Factor lover.

Now strip off your clothes, step into the mud and start rolling.  We’ll get the popcorn.  And maybe this airing of harsh words will end up producing a wee bit of honesty about how the Academy has completely screwed the pooch on law school.

25 thoughts on “Brian Leiter Smears ScamProf

  1. REvers

    Wouldn’t it be interesting to know the number of trials each of the folks in the melee have conducted during their careers?

  2. SHG

    Trials?  No need for experience trying cases to write law review articles. You’re so doctrinaire.

  3. A Voice of Sanity

    Would it be improper of me to point out that this again underlines the religious nature of the US legal system? How are these ‘learned’ scholarly articles any different from those which once postulated about the number of angels who dance on the head of a pin or about the attributes of a homunculus? Do they ever affect ‘trench’ lawyering?

  4. SHG

    I can’t speak for all lawyers, but I once used the Harvard Law Review to steady the leg of the defense table during trial. It came in very handy.

  5. Dan

    The law review from a less prestigious law school, perhaps one charging in-state tuition, would do just as well.

  6. Laughing at the Silliness

    Aw! Did the high-and-mighty professors get mad because someone said something mean? Go practice and see how far that kind of attitude gets you. As for law review articles, usually, they are little more than vanity publications and should be considered as such.

  7. Observer

    The relevance of Campos going on the O’Reilly Factor was pretty obvious: it was yet more evidence of his penchant for publicity stunts. Imagine, a constitutional law professor goes on a TV show to say a professor should be fired for his constitutionally protected speech. “Showboat charlatan” sounds about right to describe Campos.

  8. SHG

    Perhaps, though I see lawprofs in the media where they shouldn’t be all the time, like priests discussing their favorite sex positions.  I suppose they could all be called “showboat charlatans” by those who don’t care for them, and forgiven their excesses by those who do.

  9. dufu

    “Nothing but kind words…for…Brian Leiter.”

    Acutally in this post, he wrote:

    “Indeed one of my most strident public critics has constructed an entire legal academic career around trafficking in junior-high level gossip.”

    While Leiter does have blogs solely concerned with coming and goings in legal and philosophy academia. It’s a bit unfair to say that his entire career is built on them. I seriously doubt tenure comittees cared about these blogs one way or the other.

    That said, Leiter’s criticisms mostly amount to nothing more than ad hominems. How a trained philosopher can commit this logical fallacy with a straight face is beyond me.

  10. SHG

    Ah, I missed the earlier post. You’re quite right, that’s pretty snarky, even if his subsequent post was generally kind to Leiter.

  11. dave hoffman

    Two things – one, your sarcasm meter is off. Re-read the post- it’s all sarcastic passive aggression.

    Second, what’s so irritating is that Professor Campos hasn’t said anything new – on the merits – except for a truly wrong claim about how little professors work. It’s a generalization that perhaps many people would like to believe, but it doesn’t make it true. And slander, coming from someone who traded on his reputation and who will suffer no market or job consequences for it, is much worse than similar talk coming from unemployed students, or even often-insightful-but-sadly-misguided practicing lawyers like yourself. He should have known better. Treating a global recession as the fault of law faculty self-interest and self-absorption is, well, silly.

    Wait…maybe that’s what you are doing.

  12. SHG

    You may be right. You know how I’m stymied by that nuanced lawprof-talking stuff.

    As for global recession, that certainly affected the market for Biglaw associates.  It didn’t seem to affect law school tuition or lawprof salaries. Thank goodness for small favors.  Seriously, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but until lawprofs take a step away and a deep breath, the discussion isn’t going to get better and the problem isn’t going to go away.

  13. RustyJohn

    Personally, I’ve never made it through a law review article. I typically nap a couple of pages in and then leave the sucker on my coffee table for my non-lawyer friends to see. “Look how smart he is, he reads law reviews!”

    My professors in law school included the following: 1) a criminal law professor who had not practiced criminal law in 23 years and who taught us Pennsylvania Common Law even though we were in Washington; 2) a property professor who was suspected of being an alcoholic and took two weeks to teach us about the rule against perpetuities, then finished with, “You’ll never need to know that.” That was followed with two months on adverse possession; 3) an evidence instructor who bragged that, during her 20 years of practice, she had six trials. I had six in my first two months of public defense; 4) a legal research and writing instructor who admitted she never had to research while in private practice. “We just gave it to some intern to look up.”; 5) Another professor who returned our graded tests with track times written on them. Seems he took them to his daughter’s track meet and graded them while simultaneously watching the state finals. And this was just in my first year.

    The reason so many practicing attorneys enjoy Campos’ blog is we realize how full of crap 75% of our law professors were. I found the most knowledgeable professors were the adjuncts who were still in practice or who had recently left practice.

    I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship and leave with “only” $45,000 in debt. Some friends graduated with $120,000 in debt and, ten years after graduation, have yet to find consistent employment.

  14. Pushkin

    It’s doubtful Leiter will spend much time reading your comments or responding to them. It might do a lot for your C.V. but it wouldn’t do anything for his. Besides, he understands that you don’t mud wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it. I’m sure he’s content to let you be the king of the yahoos, droolers, and pimps.

    BTW – I see you blew the Roger Clemens retrial prediction as well. When was the last time you were right, about anything?

  15. SHG

    I’m happy to be king of the yahoos, droolers and pimps. Are you happy to play the fool behind a pseudonym?

  16. SHG

    Anyone so ridiculously foolish to think that Leiter matters to lawyers, or to try to goad inductively, is no Pushkin. My suspicion is that he spelled “pathetic” wrong.

  17. The Real Pushkin

    Who else could this possibly be but Brian Leiter, given that no one else would possibly care enough to spend one’s time extolling Leiter against the pig.

    And so it appears that it will do a lot for his C.V. to have his name associated with a popular blawg, and one outside of the very small and puny community of lawprofs.

    Hi Brian.

  18. Not Brian Leiter

    No I’m not Brian Leiter. I’m not, I’m not, I’m not. And I’m not even going to put this on my C.V., so there.

  19. SHG

    Fine. Be that way, but don’t come crying to me when you need a letter of recommendation for your tenure committee.

  20. Laughing at the Silliness

    And we all know how much you work is directly related to the value of what you provide. Ask the ditch digger who does his job with a spoon, he’ll tell you. And some of what passes for work by law profs is … questionable at best.

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