Home / General / Law professor tries to leverage phony claims of racial victimization into better job

Law professor tries to leverage phony claims of racial victimization into better job


Updated below

In the fall of 2012, Nancy Leong, a law professor at the University of Denver, was taken to task on JD Underground for authoring what a commenter considered a very bad law review article, which, in the critic’s view, highlighted the absurdity of a system in which law professors with literally no experience in the practice of law are paid to churn out dilettantish “cultural criticism” of the sort that could be produced — at almost infinitely lower cost — by any clever undergraduate. (Note that the very first response to the JDU post came from cyber-stalker extraordinaire Brian Leiter, using one of his many internet pseudonyms).

The JDU post led to a series of events that have concluded with Leong accusing the JDU poster of racially motivated harassment, and filing a complaint against him with the bar in the state where the poster practices.

Here is the sum total of Leong’s “evidence” for her claim that the JDU poster has subjected her to racist harassment:

The only example Leong offers to substantiate her contention that I made numerous racist posts is particularly ludicrous. In a comment on a JD Underground (JDU) thread last year, I referred to a law professor conference in Hawaii, where Leong was one of the speakers, as “a gravy train, or shall I say, a luau train.” “Gravy train” was a reference to the free vacations masquerading as scholarly conferences that law professors routinely hold for themselves, vacations ultimately paid for by their massively indebted students. “Luau train” was my reference to the fact that this particular law professor conference was held at a Waikiki beach resort, where they stage starlight luaus for the pampered resort guests.

Leong described my joke about a “luau train” as an effort to disparage her Native Hawaiian ancestry, something I had no idea she possessed. Personally, I doubt that Leong herself believes that that comment was racist. It is yet another irony that a lawprof, who blogs in an authoritative tone about the proper way to converse about race, grants herself permission to defend her wounded pride with false accusations of racism.

More generally, Leong’s definition of “harassment” seems to be that a few anonymous commenters on a couple of fairly obscure web sites have said some mean things about her cv and her law review articles (A couple of these comments could be described fairly as sexist, in that they implied or asserted that Leong’s professional success has been in part due to her appearance. Characterizing this as adding up to harassment seems like quite a stretch, although absurdly enough a Slate columnist recently went so far as to equate Leong’s almost completely imaginary “victimization” with that experienced by Jonathan Martin. Note that Leong could avoid being “harassed” in this way by choosing not to read JD Underground and OTLSS. Update:Per JDU posters some offensive comments were scrubbed by the administrator from at least one of the JDU threads. So the links probably don’t give a complete picture of the extent to which Leong was the target of sexist or racist comments. It should go without saying that such comments are deplorable, and also tend to take attention away from the many legitimate criticisms aimed at Leong in these threads.).

Indeed, in what appears to be a classic case of projection, the only actual harasser in this context appears to be Leong herself, who, after tracking down her critic’s identity, both emailed him and called him at his place of employment, demanding that he have a telephone conversation with her, and threatening to “out” him if he refused. When he declined her offer, she decided to file the bar complaint.

All this is adding up to a particularly preposterous example of how some people who have spent their entire lives near the top of the American SES pyramid will strive to leverage their very tenuously racialized identities into yet more social privilege. (Leong is currently angling for a job at UCLA. In the kind of plot twist you can’t put in an academic novel because it would be much too heavy-handed, her newest law review article is entitled “Identity Entrepreneurs.”)

People who wish to judge for themselves whether Leong has been subjected to “harassment” (racial or otherwise) in any meaningful sense can look at the threads on JDU and OTLSS that reference her:








Update: This post should have been more precisely focused on Leong’s decision to file a bar complaint against Dybbuk. Leong is giving off every sign of trying to get out of Denver faster than the protagonist of a Bob Seger song, so I tend to interpret her decision to try to make a huge deal out of Dybbuk’s comments as a tactical career move (Oppressed Woman of Color Fights the Power — “the power” here being a couple of scamblogs of all things).

But that’s not really the central point. The central point is that a law professor is trying to get a lawyer professionally sanctioned for having the temerity to publish harsh and wholly justified criticisms of her. Leong is understandably eager to focus attention on the fact that the lawyer made the mistake of making a couple of arguably sexist remarks in the process, all the better to deflect attention from both her wholly false accusation of racism against him, and the essential accuracy of his substantive criticisms.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Anonymous

    I think in the end the issue boils down to overcharging

  • Jaded

    Leong’s law review article was awful. The fact that Leong is a professor of future lawyers given her lack of any experience as a lawyer is pitiful. Her blog posts complaining of sexism and racism were pathetic. And her effort to staunch dybbuk’s First Amendment rights to criticize her is reprehensible.

  • Jake

    Dybbuk was being an asshole and trying to disrupt Leong’s career because he thought her law review article was crap, she’s returning the favor on the grounds that he’s a jerk.

    Luckily for both of them the relevant sanctioning bodies don’t give a shit about either alleged infraction. No one is commingling client funds or sleeping with students or anything.

    And if dybbuk is a decent lawyer, his boss won’t care either.

    But his “oh no people are being mean to me” schtick is a little pathetic for an internet tough guy. Don’t like the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

    • Anonymous

      “Luckily for both of them the relevant sanctioning bodies don’t give a shit about either alleged infraction.”


  • Sameo

    This situation so blatantly speaks for itself. This woman is a delusional moron. If she is representative of a majority of law professors, then it is no wonder the state of legal education has become so far disconnected with reality. A true and bitter shame.

    It isn’t even worth talking about anymore; kill the federal loan program and all of this nonsense dies. The Leongs, the Leiters, the Indiana Techs, The Valvoline Deans, the conferences in Malibu, Hawaii, Vienna, and Florence. No more scammed students, equilibrium in the market, the entire charade. Over.

    It’ll never happen. Even the President made money off this racket. Too many slaves are being created. Way too much money to be extracted from the masses to the upper classes.

    The scam blogs are essentially the only hope to expose these horrible truths, and they have a long way to go. More pens need to be pointed at Washington

  • anonymous

    Nancy’s latest scholarship – posting sexy photos of herself on the Asian section of AshleyMadison (yeah, the site for sleazy cheap sexual encounters), then complaining that she received sexual advances online, some of which made reference to the fact she is Asian.

    Sadly, I’m NOT MAKING THIS UP!!!

    This is what happens when an English major with no research training ends up as a professor and has to try and conduct research. This is barely above high school level.

    • andrewafine

      Those of you making a big deal about the supposedly sexist remarks by Dybbuk, you are all insufferable. This is the internet not a corporate board room. You can put a young, pretty woman in a suit, give her a job as a law Prof, but she is still in the end a young, pretty, woman. And if you are a normal guy instead of feminized caricature of one, you are going to notice. And that we comment is just too damn bad. If pretty women don’t want to be noticed, I’m sure there is lots they can do to make themselves not as pretty. But they always try to make themselves look their best, not their worst.

    • Paul Campos


      • Helpful

        It’s on her blog. http://www.nancyleong.com. She’s apparently disappointed that posting a profile in the “Asian” section of a notorious hook-up website generates inquiries from people who are especially interested in hooking up with Asian women.

    • justaguy

      Eh, yes you are making it up. She didn’t describe the pictures she posted as “sexy”, she described them as “racially ambiguous”. She didn’t express surprise that she got sexual advances, or that they referenced her race. She was comparing the content of the responses to ads where she self-identified as white to ones where she self-identified as Asian, and the extent to which the latter responses evoked stereotypes of Asian women as hypersexual and submissive. So, as much as there’s plenty to criticize in her research, your reading comprehension has issues as well.

      • Helpful

        Yeah, but what is her point? That a profile posted in the “Asian” section of Ashley Madison tends to generate responses remarking how much the responders like Asian women? Or that the types of men who respond to such an ad skew a bit on the creepy side? I’m sure all of that is shocking. (She also provides nothing to support her proposition that Asian women are seen as submissive and hypersexualized — presumably vis a vis non-Asian women, but she doesn’t actually say this — but I’ll set that aside.)

        This isn’t research. It’s agenda-driven propaganda, designed to reinforce an ideological viewpoint. And maybe that viewpoint is correct! (I tend to think it is.) But insofar as it’s offered as “scholarship,” it’s really distasteful.

        • justaguy

          Are you suggesting that it isn’t possible to do research on race as a social phenomenon? That’s just absurd. And as far as critiquing the scholarly rigor of a blog post in which she offers a preliminary discussion of a project she’s working on… really?

          • Helpful

            No, of course not. There has been a lot of interesting work done on the topic of race and dating. Leong cites some of it in her post.

            But HER experiment isn’t very interesting. It’s actually pretty puerile. Again, she posts two profiles on an infamous online hook-up website, one in the “white” section and one in the “Asian” section. She then observes that the Asian post is somewhat more popular. (Query: How many total profiles are in the respective sections? If, as I suspect, there are exponentially more women posting in the “white” section, you’d EXPECT the “Asian” profile to draw a lot more interest. Alas, Leong doesn’t address this issue.) She also observes that the people responding to the “Asian” profile seem to reference the fact that she’s identifying as Asian. Oh how shocking. Someone who logs on to the hook-up site, goes specifically to the “Asian” section, and starts browsing profiles, just might have a particular interest in Asian women. Go figure.

            As I said above. What’s the point? Really, what was she trying to show? That some (presumably white) men have a predilection for Asian women? That Asian women are sexualized in a way that white women aren’t? Her experiment was really crappily designed if it’s either of those (not to mention I don’t think she’s come close to supporting the latter statement, even on the face of her findings).

            This really smacks of someone who starts off with an ideological hypothesis and designs a heavy-handed experiment to prove that point. That’s not research. It’s propaganda.

            • Anon LP

              That’s the point the study was poorly designed. This is true and proper criticism.

    • Concerned

      Isn’t it against the terms of service of those sites to make up fake accounts? And isn’t there some vastly overbroad 1980’s federal statute dealing with unauthorized access of a computer network that makes such behavior a federal crime (I recall they charged some lady who harassed her daughter’s enemy on Facebook or myspace under that statute)? If this young woman is gonna try to teach criminal law, the least she could do for her students is read Three Felonies a Day and be smart enough not to admit to behavior that a political enemy could later use to trump up charges against her.

  • Lee Rudolph

    But they always try to make themselves look their best, not their worst.

    As I’m sure you do, too, dear. Even though this is the internet not a corporate board room, and—for all we can tell, this being the internet—

    • andrewafine

      “As I’m sure you do, too, dear. Even though this is the internet not a corporate board room, and—for all we can tell, this being the internet—”

      Looks like Lee Rudolph is offended by truth and facts. Lee is going to stand up for all of the oppressed, pretty young women from everywhere. Good for you Lee. Go get em.

  • larry

    The law reviews are enablers of junk like Leong’s articles.

  • Hope

    Those poor students of Nancy Leong. Do they know she’s never practiced? Do they know their student loans are paying for this garbage? How do these people sleep at night?

  • Lawprof

    I really cannot understand the brouhaha here. The comments made by Dyybuk, (love the name since in Jewish lore the Dyybuk is a loathsome and fearful character) were truly distasteful and diminished his critique 100 fold. I usually attribute such trite, nasty comments to a poster who cannot really deal with what is causing such inappropriate anger…and then I move on. I am a law proff. I practiced law for over 15 years….in criminal, family and appellate courts. I am an anomaly in the legal academy, indeed my years of practice actually worked against me when I decided to leave the courtroom for the classroom. I am published up the ying yang have a few Fulbrights, teaching and lawyering awards under my belt. But I am not the rule in the legal academy. Folks like Leong are…and there is pedagogical currency to the critique that in law school, those that have not done….teach. Which makes little sense when you think of what we are teaching our students for….moreover there is an insuperable chasm between theory and practice…with the legal academy finally discovering what educators have known for eons…experiential learning is key! And I have read Leong’s work and find it too precious to be serious, and seriously derivative….BUT…with this said…I find the comments by the ” boys” and it is mostly guys….to be at once offensive and sophomoric. It is neither worthy of further comment nor expenditure of time & energy. I do wish that Prof Leong had told the feckin idjits to ” feck off.” And called it a day! For the countless feminists who have been derided, threatened and harassed for the work they accomplished on behalf of women & kids and folks of color….we know all too well that it is better to use our anger to continue our work…not in tracking down the insipid WOLs who write such unmitigated swill.

    • federal lawyer

      I am having a hard time following all of these comments because I have not read some of the articles that are evidently attracting outrage. But As a lawyer practicing in federal court, I am sort of shocked to see folks defending dybbuk and demeaning professor Leong.

      Has anyone looked at her work on qualified immunity? People cavalierly refer to it as unimpressive or derivative — let’s see what you have done in court or in published papers. It is easy to dismiss the work of others when yours is not under the microscope. A few years ago Leong had one or two pieces that were the go to works for empirical data regarding decision making under the Saucier v. Katz regime. I found her work grounded and considerably more helpful than the stale briefs that lawyers sent to me on a listserv. I know many of us used her work, though I don’t recall if I cited it in my briefs or not. I also contacted her for clarification and she graciously answered my questions (and accepted my constructive criticism).

      This is not to say that she is perfect. None of us are. But why act as though some guy who is saying sexist things should be celebrated as a great whistle-blower? We are supposed to feel sorry for some guy who sits in his office typing scurrilous posts when his turn comes to get some negative attention? I bet this dybbuk is a mediocre lawyer who spends more time doing these posts than on his own legal work. I would pay for the opportunity to publicly review one of his briefs and talk about what a value he is giving his clients.

      • BH

        Because that’s what they do…

  • Lawprof


    You make note of the fact that Prof Leong has relatively no experience. True. But, if your CV is on target and truthful, neither do you! Actually you and she have almost the same amount, so I wonder how you think for even a minute that your comments, writing etc carry any more weight than hers? Hmmmmm, is something rotten in the State of Campos? Or do you think the experience of others has somehow rubbed off on thee? Just something to think about.

    federal lawyer… My comment about derivative was directed at the article entitled Racial Capitalism. First, there is really nothing new here save for the use of theory speak (heuristic ) second, there was much better stuff written by feminist scholars in the 70’s and that covered Marxist, Capitalist, Socialist thread regarding notion of property, and third, the concept of deriving beneft from tokenism has been covered by some of the deepest thinkers and actors ( e.g Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s work). The problem, and it is not unique to !eong, is that the young’uns and the uninitiated always think they discovered something new ….her article demonstrates this point.

    • right.

      Lawprof. From Paul’s other post on this topic:

      But as I said, this isn’t ultimately about Leong, because in the legal academy today, people like her — brandishing impressive credentials that don’t actually have much if anything to do with either carrying out serious academic work or training people to practice law — are legion. (Indeed I’m one of them).

      So none of this is coming from a putative position of superiority. Not at all. We are all, as a great philosopher once observed, part of the same hypocrisy. Recognizing that is merely the first step toward doing something about it.

      This is nothing new.

  • My relatives always say that I am killing my time here at web, except I know I am getting experience all the time by reading such
    fastidious articles or reviews.

  • no name

    I’m sure you’ve probably heard about this already. She might really need an offer at UCLA…

    Or she can get a high paying firm job.

  • However, Homeland Security officials through different administrations
    have learned just how to extend green card how difficult, and expensive,
    it is not dead. Thus, the U. If I worry he would selectively enforce the law that’s on the book.
    The numbers are also supplemented with material
    from William H. In her experience, Sister Mercedes said coyotes
    in Altar charge each border crosser 3, 000 were left.

    My blog post – http://greencardspouse23.soup.io

It is main inner container footer text