In a stunning last-minute upset, Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow’s NYT piece appears to have been nipped at the wire by Oregon Law School professor Rob Illig for top honors in today’s Law Profs Posting Clueless Tone-Deaf Things on the Internet contest. Illig sent a couple of emails around, bewailing a proposal by the dean to dedicate this year’s faculty raise pool to funding public interest sector fellowships for what would otherwise be unemployed grads of the school (Oregon’s employment stats are horrendous).
I’ve watched as our culture has eroded now for almost three years.
Everyone is in everyone else’s business, instead of their own. Everyone
is worried about what everyone else is getting, not what they can
personally contribute. If some professor or professors want to donate
their raise to the students – or to some other worthy charity – that’s
their business. (Personally, i give to Food for Lane Country, Planned
Parenthood, and the United Way. I feel that having given up the chance
at a seven-figure annual income is charity enough for the students, and
I am particularly saddened by hungry children. Maybe I should move that
the recipients of summer stipends donate those funds to the poor and
I believe the children these days favor the acronym WTF? to describe the appropriate reaction to this.
But wait there’s more. In reaction to a commenter pointing out, reasonably enough, that under the circumstances Illig should count himself lucky to have his current job:
No Justin, it’s quite the opposite. The UO and its students are lucky to have me and all the other wonderful university faculty and staff who have sacrificed to be here. It’s time somebody said out loud what a great contribution every faculty and staff member is making to this community And all of us would be making more money at any of our competitor universities.
We know jobs for graduates are scarce, but scaring us away won’t make more jobs appear. And believe me, we’re working hard to help the students. That’s our job.
In my former life, I was an M&A lawyer at a large New York law firm, where I was all but certain to be earning more that $1 million annually. No one can tell me I’m not on the students’ side.
My students are my life. I sacrifice for them every day. Today, I spent the morning trying to get one of them a summer job at Nike. I do the same every day.
But ask yourself how many of those UO graduates would have jobs if I and the other dedicated faculty and staff at this university left.
Illig was an associate at Nixon Peabody, a mid-sized Boston firm, for seven years, so how he knows that he was “all but certain” to end up getting paid like a top rain-making partner is fairly mysterious, as is his belief that there’s a tremendous demand out there right now for former Oregon Law School faculty members who dump their $150,000 jobs in a fit of pique. (How this act of professional self-immolation would depress Oregon’s already abysmal employment results is also left unexplained).
There’s a bunch of other stuff in there about his Summer Sports Institute, the financial struggles of law professors, the ingrates who fail to appreciate the sacrifices he’s making etc., that has to be read to be believed.
Or maybe this is all an elaborate parody.
Update: I suppose it’s a sign of progress that the Chemerinsky/Menkel-Meadow NYT piece has produced nothing but what sounds very much like embarrassed silence from all the top legal academic blogs, not one of which so much as mentioned it today (Normally of course a NYT op-ed regarding the state of legal education would set off a commenting frenzy in our severely self-referential little world).