Robert C. Post

Last year, my colleague Elie Mystal opined as follows: “Any lawyer who calls himself ‘doctor,’ like a Ph.D., should get punched in the mouth.” Given the self-aggrandizing nature of a lawyer taking on the additional title of “doctor,” I can’t say I disagree with him (with all due respect to the efforts on Facebook to get lawyers referred to as doctors).

But what if lawyers — more specifically, aspiring law professors — actually got Ph.D. degrees in law? That’s what will soon be happening at Yale Law School. The school just announced a new “Ph.D. in Law” program, aimed at aspiring law professors.

How will this program work? And is it a good idea? I reached out to a number of prominent law professors, all graduates of YLS themselves, for thoughts on their alma mater’s plan to grant a new degree….

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Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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Here are a couple of things I learned last week:

1) Above the Law readers love commencement train wreck stories.
2) Emory Law students feel picked on.

Armed with this new information, I bring you stories of commencement ridiculousness at schools with student bodies mature enough to take a little scrutiny.

Graduation has come and gone at Yale Law School and Harvard Law School. And while most Yale and Harvard graduates have jobs lined up for this fall, the transition from student to graduate did not go as smoothly as possible. At one school, a Supreme Court justice essentially had to crash the ceremonies. At another school, it seems the smart people organizing the event were totally flummoxed by the naturally occurring phenomenon of rain.

You’d think that with 380-plus years of combined experience, these two law schools could figure out how to run a graduation ceremony. But apparently there’s no accounting for common sense….

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