Last night, Campos announced that he is going to stop writing his blog, Inside the Law School Scam. There are a number of so-called “scam blogs” by law school graduates that are devoted to exposing the high cost and low return of going to law school. But Campos is one of the few law school professors who has chosen to be part of the solution instead of part of the problem.
But after 499 posts, there wasn’t a lot more to say…
Campos was and is an important figure in the debate about the value proposition of law schools. Given his status as a tenured professor, law deans (and mainstream media outlets) aren’t able to dismiss his work as the ravings of a failed lawyer who couldn’t find a job.
By adopting the “scam blog” moniker, Campos legitimatized the efforts of many, and he brought rigorous academic analysis to his topics.
He also wrote with the fire and passion of a person truly outraged by the misrepresentations of law schools. There’s a reason why he was Above the Law’s Lawyer of the Year for 2011.
Campos himself neatly sums up what’s changed since he started blogging:
19 months and 499 posts later, it turns out that the core message of this blog – that legal academia is operating on the basis of an unsustainable economic model, which requires most law students to borrow more money to get law degrees than it makes sense for them to borrow, given their career prospects, and that for many years law schools worked hard, wittingly or unwittingly, to hide this increasingly inconvenient truth from both themselves and their potential matriculants – has evolved from a horrible heresy to something close to conventional wisdom.
Well, not conventional wisdom for law school deans. But that’s been a big part of the impact of Campos (and the scam blogs, and people like Professor Brian Tamanaha): directing public attention to what law schools are offering has inspired a few law deans to lash out in defensive, intellectually dishonest ways. You don’t have Denver Law Dean Martin Katz’s factual meltdown without guys like Campos. You don’t have Case Western Law Dean Lawrence Mitchell embarrass even his own students without guys like Campos.
But, and I speak from some experience here, once you’ve eviscerated one bad law dean argument, you’ve kind of done it all. How many times can you say “that guy is not telling you the whole truth”? As Campos puts it:
This blog is now the length of about four typical academic books. Anyone who wants to browse through it will find posts touching on just about every topic related to legal education and the legal profession regarding which I have something to say. Readers looking for a more concise statement can buy or borrow a copy of my book Don’t Go to Law School (Unless), either in paperback or e-book form.
All of which is to say that I’ve said what I have to say, at least in this format.
In 2008, you could make the argument that prospective law students really didn’t know what they were getting into. Today, prospective law students who don’t know what’s going on don’t understand how to use Google and only listen to self-affirming information.
Campos still wants to be a voice for change, both from inside legal academia and in print. I’m sure he will be.
But the bottom line is that we need more people like Paul Campos. We need more tenured law faculty who will look at the obvious ways their schools are taking advantage of students, who will stand up and say so. Yes, it requires some courage.
But somebody needs to write the next 499 posts. Who will pick up this torch?
Goodbye is too good a word [Inside the Law School Scam]
Don’t Go To Law School (Unless) [Amazon (affiliate link)]
Law Blog Fireside: Law Prof (and Legal Education Critic) Paul Campos [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]