Earlier this month, we wrote about an anonymous law professor — a tenured professor, at a top-tier school — essentially joining the ranks of the law school scambloggers. Writing over at a site entitled Inside the Law School Scam, under the pseudonym LawProf, the author offered a harsh indictment of legal education, purportedly from within the ivory tower.
I believed that the author was who he said he was, but others did not. Professor Ann Althouse, for example, opined that the blogger was a student, “uncharitably projecting thoughts onto [a] professor” (who talked about how little he, and his colleagues, prepared for teaching). Professor Althouse explained that she thought was student-written, “because it had some bad writing and simplistic thinking.”
Well, as it turns out, LawProf is an actual tenured law professor, at a top 50 law school. Who is he, and where does he teach?
LawProf’s real name is Paul F. Campos, and he is a tenured professor at the University of Colorado Law School — ranked #45 in the latest U.S. News law school rankings. So it turns out that LawProf was truthful about his identity. (He didn’t even pretend to be a lesbian.)
As stated in his Colorado Law bio, Professor Campos teaches and writes in the areas of constitutional law, legal theory, and legislation. He has written several law review articles and three books (affiliate links): The Obesity Myth: Why America’s Obsession with Weight is Hazardous to Your Health (2004), Jurismania: The Madness of American Law (1999), and Against the Law (1996; co-authored with Pierre Schlag and Steven D. Smith).
Campos has taught at Colorado Law since 1990, which he joined after practicing at a Chicago law firm. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan, in 1982 and 1989, respectively. He also holds a master’s degree in English literature from Michigan.
Campos revealed his identity in a somewhat oblique way. Here’s what LawProf wrote over the weekend on Inside the Law School Scam, in responding to one of his critics, Professor Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago:
When I was doing background research for this piece I was reminded that the law faculty on which Professor Leiter currently serves includes several legal academics whose own professional work is in every sense admirable. I can only imagine how pleased they are to have acquired someone with Professor Leiter’s unique set of talents.
Should Professor Campos’s authorship of Inside the Law School Scam come as a surprise? In hindsight, perhaps not. The universe of law professors writing negatively about the legal academy is not huge. For a law prof, saying that the status quo in legal education has problems constitutes a declaration against interest.
Some commenters on our prior post mentioned Professor Brian Tamanaha, who wrote this critique of legal education, “Wake Up, Fellow Law Professors, to the Casualties of Our Enterprise.” Aside from Professor Tamanaha, the other major critic of the law school system — and by “major critic” I mean “major critic,” not someone arguing that the current scheme is imperfect and needs some minor tweaking — would be Paul Campos.
As you may recall, Professor Campos wrote a high-profile piece for The New Republic (discussed in these pages by Juggalo Law), alleging that law schools manipulate employment data to make themselves look better at landing jobs for their graduates than they actually are. Check out this excerpt from The New Republic article:
If you’re a law professor and you want to get depressed, try to figure out how many of your recent graduates have real legal jobs that pay enough to justify the tuition that funds your salary, and also involve doing the kind of work they wanted to do when they went to law school.
All of this suggests the extent to which prospective law students need more and better information. Of course, such information will make law school look like a far worse investment than it does at present. Still, if we assume that the point of academic work is to reveal the truth, rather than to engage in the defense of a professional cartel from which law professors benefit more than almost anyone else, then this work needs to be done.
This discussion makes Campos’s authorship of Inside the Law School Scam seem quite obvious in hindsight.
How are Professor Campos’s fellow law professors reacting? We’ve collected some links at the end of this post. It’s fair to say, though, that the general consensus is negative, at least among law profs. (Not surprisingly, law students and practicing lawyers, like Scott Greenfield, feel differently.)
The opposition to Campos is being spearheaded by Professor Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago, who has dubbed Campos “ScamProf” (a catchy moniker, which Scott Greenfield observes is reminiscent of Nancy Grace’s “Tot Mom” nickname for Casey Anthony). Professor Leiter writes:
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.
Professor Leiter brings some anonymous academics into his anti-Campos posse:
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.
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.”
In the rest of his post, which you can read in full over here, Professor Leiter calls Professor Campos “a hack”; alleges that Campos has been trying for years to trade up from Colorado Law, but “couldn’t get better offers, unsurprisingly”; condemns Campos’s scholarship as “sophomoric drivel”; and dismisses Inside the Law School Scam as Campos’s “latest publicity stunt in a long line of malicious behavior.” Leiter concludes as follows:
I suppose we should be grateful that in the dog days of summer the blogosphere has the distraction of a showboat charlatan like ScamProf Campos. The University of Colorado has a very good faculty, and a distinguished history, and they certainly do not deserve this embarrassment. Hopefully by after Labor Day, this sorry display will all be ancient history. I intend to say no more about it.
That’s quite the scathing indictment. And I’ve only given you excerpts; check out the full thing if you like.
Let’s balance it out with some positive commentary. Here are some reader responses to Campos’s post outing himself:
“It should be interesting to see how things proceed from here. You’ve earned a spot in history with this blog and you’ll be judged accordingly. You were the only one willing to speak out. That makes you a hero to many of us.”
“You’re doing God’s work Mr. Campos. Pay no attention to the ankle-biting apologists like Leiter.”
“LawProf: Keep going. Don’t worry about Brian Leiter or others. We all know how this party is going to end; and when the music stops, you will be in the right side of history.”
“I said it before, I’ll say it again. Your work on this blog is more important than all of Leiter’s cumulative work, and it has had a greater impact on academia than all of Leiter’s work. I am certain that if you took your posts here, and instead of putting them on a blog, put them in a book, it would be a best seller. You have taken your intelligence and writing ability, both of which are obviously outstanding (excuse my flattery), and applied it to a real world problem.”
We’ve now given you both sides of the story. Is Professor Campos a poor professor who is projecting his own failings on an entire profession, in order to gain publicity for himself? Or is he a hero, speaking truth to power, and advancing an important discussion even though it’s contrary to his own self-interest?
Readers, what do you think of Professor Paul Campos and his blogging about law schools and legal academia? You can opine in the comments, and take our (admittedly unscientific) reader poll. For purposes of this poll, 1 = what Professor Leiter thinks of Professor Campos, 3 = neutrality, and 5 = Professor Campos is a hero. (The poll appears at the very end of this post, below all of the updates and links.)
UPDATE (10:30 PM): Professor Campos gave additional comment to the ABA Journal about his unmasking. He stated that he plans to continue his blogging “for the time being,” that he has “full confidence in the professional integrity of the law school’s new dean, Phil Weiser,” and that he does not regret starting the blog.
UPDATE (12:20 PM): If you want to see the poll results but don’t want to vote, just surf over to Vizu. At the current time, about 75 percent of ATL readers have a “favorable” or “very favorable” view of Professor Campos.
UPDATE (4:15 PM): Interesting additional thoughts from Paul Horwitz appear at PrawfsBlawg (post-Campos’s unmasking of himself).
An apology (originally titled “Apologia Pro Vita Sua”) [Inside the Law School Scam]
Paul F. Campos bio [University of Colorado Law School]
Served: How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers. [The New Republic]
Update on ScamProf [Brian Leiter's Law School Reports]
Anonymous Law Prof Behind Law School Scam Blog Outs Himself: Paul Campos [TaxProf Blog]
Law Prof Blogging on ‘Law School Scam’ Is No Longer Anonymous [ABA Journal]
Brian Leiter Smears ScamProf [Simple Justice (Scott Greenfield)]
“Anonymous Law Prof Behind Law School Scam Blog Outs Himself: Paul Campos.” [Althouse]
“Anonymous Law Prof: ‘Law Professors Are Scamming Their Students.'” [Althouse]
LawProf “Scam Blog” [Volokh Conspiracy (Orin Kerr)]
The LawProf Behind “Inside the Law School Scam” [Volokh Conspiracy (Jonathan Adler)]
IT WAS PAUL CAMPOS [Instapundit (Glenn Reynolds)]
No Longer Anonymous, But Still Not Quite Right [PrawfsBlawg (Paul Horwitz)]
I Am LawProf [PrawfsBlawg (Paul Horwitz)]
Brian Leiter Understands Academic Freedom [Volokh Conspiracy (Jonathan Adler)]