Document Type



The Journal of Contemporary Legal Issues




Here are some observations drawn from nearly seventeen years spent as a legal academic, using a particular device: the depiction of several fictional yet all-too-familiar legal academic characters. With one exception these characters are imaginary - yet their name is legion. The characters are The Drone, The Bully, The Hack, and The Fraud.

What can be done about them - or about us? Answering this question at all satisfactorily requires confronting more than the personal flaws of particular individuals: it necessitates grappling with the structural failures of the contemporary law school. It's true that some of what is wrong with legal education is no different than what's wrong with higher education in general. But in legal academia, the especially problematic relationship between the requirements of professional training and of pursuing knowledge create special problems for the integrity of the discipline.

All the "characters" I describe--and the institutional structures that make them possible--pose serious ethical and economic problems for the contemporary law school. They undermine intellectual standards and interfere with professional training. As to solutions, a first step would surely involve legal academics facing up to various uncomfortable truths about the way we live now.