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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Spotting the Yeti, er the Chicken

Did you ever notice how there are some urban legends about law schools and universities that never die?  Like the old saw (debunked here) that if your roommate commits suicide, you get a 4.0?  Or the one about the professor stuck in the law school during an ice storm, who had to raid the vending machines for sustenance?   

Well, when I started teaching contracts three years ago, a colleague at Cumberland told me that he knew of a professor who dressed up in a chicken costume once a year.  The costume went with a particular lesson on the interpretation of the term “chicken” in a contract. See Frigaliment Importing Co. v. B.N.S. Int’l Sales Corp., 190 F. Supp. 116 (1960).  It’s truly a casebook classic, and Judge Friendly’s opinion begins in high dudgeon by saying “The issue is, what is chicken?”  (And it just gets better from there…).

Anyway, I thought that this claim about the chicken outfit was just an effort by my colleague to pull my leg.  A practical joke that could result in my embarrassment (since he seemed to imply that any contracts teacher worth her salt would of course don a chicken costume).  I chalked it up to an urban legend – until I asked the ever fabulous AALS contracts listserve about it.  A couple people mentioned names of professors who they thought had dressed up as chickens, but those professors never wrote in to confirm, so I was unwilling to take that as proof.  One professor wrote in to say that of course he dressed as a chicken, as opposed to the other days when he dressed as a duck or a swan.  Somehow I don’t think he was serious.

But then, the other day, I got independent confirmation from a source who would prefer to remain anonymous.  Two photos.  Not an urban legend.  The chicken lives!

Do you have any urban legends at your law school?

Posted by Miriam Cherry on October 25, 2006 at 10:05 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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I can’t imagine doing anything as radical as wearing a chicken suit when teaching the chicken case in Contracts, but I do like to find ways to reinforce classroom pedagogical lessons in entertaining ways. In particular, when timed right, it’s... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 11, 2007 9:46:20 PM


Update: An additional first-hand account of a chicken sighting was emailed to me this morning.

Posted by: Miriam Cherry | Oct 26, 2006 3:33:57 PM

There is a certain torts professor at Hastings who wears a Batman costume when teaching a case in which a woman thought she could "fly like Batman."

Posted by: Bev | Oct 26, 2006 2:57:22 PM

Professor Kenneth Hirsch at the Duquesne University School of Law always wore a wildly colorful vest when he was teaching about vested remainders in his property law class.

Posted by: Dale Walker | Oct 26, 2006 11:58:53 AM

There was that time Professor Moss singlehandedly fought off a joint Al Qaeda / North Korea attack on Marquette Law School -- wow, that was something.

(Hey, urban legends have to start somewhere, right?)

Posted by: Scott Moss | Oct 26, 2006 9:33:23 AM

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