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A brief comment on comment policies


Updated below

Over at The Faculty Lounge, Steve Freedman, assistant dean of admissions at the University of Kansas Law School, announced a couple of days ago that he was going to offer a series of posts about why right now is a great time to go to law school. (The first two are here and here. TL;DR: Less law students means more jobs for law graduates.)

Freedman predictably got some push back regarding his thesis, with Brian Tamanaha providing the most trenchant criticism:

Please address the apparent contradiction in advice like this. Assuming no substantial change in the legal market (for better or worse), the job outlook for graduates stands to improve precisely because fewer students are enrolling in law school these days. But of course, if significant numbers of people take your advice and “enroll today” (thinking three years hence the oversupply of law grads will be eliminated by falling enrollment), then the job outlook will worsen as a consequence because the oversupply will not go down as much. So your prediction will bear out only if most people thinking about law school do not take your advice.

It’s notable that Freedman has already closed comments to his second post, even though none of the comments were inappropriate in tone or substance, unless of course harsh criticism of one’s arguments is considered inappropriate per se.

I’m not picking on Freedman in particular in this regard, as I’ve noticed there’s a strong tendency among legal academic bloggers to either not allow comments at all, or to cut them off for no apparent reason other than that they’re highly critical. This fact says something, I think, about the level of deference that legal academics become accustomed to from their usual audiences. Apparently failure to provide that deference can easily get interpreted as “lack of civility,” or “insolence,” or some other form of lese majeste.

This in turn probably helps explain why it took so comparatively long for the legal academy to notice the disaster that was overtaking so many of our graduates. Under the circumstances, developing something other than a flypaper-thin skin in regard to criticism might be in order (especially given that we’re supposed to be training future lawyers).

Update: In regard to Prof. Lisa McElroy’s comments in the closed thread, comments at JD Underground are most definitely not closed.

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