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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Getman on Being Where You Are Right Now

For a short piece for another online law review companion, I've been reading through Julius Getman's book In the Company of Scholars.  Here's a thought from that interesting volume:

[B]eing a younger faculty member at a prestigious school where the seniors are likely to have firm ideas about scholarship is not always a blessing.  At such schools the junior faculty often live uneasily in the shadow of their illustrious predecessors.  At Yale I realized how lucky I was to begin my career at Indiana University at a time when the school had many able young people, few seniors seeking to influence our work, and little prestige among elite law schools.

From my limited first- and second-hand experience, I think there is something quite true about this -- and that in this season, as the blogs announce the arrival of a new crop of young legal scholars who now, decisions made, must sort out exactly where they fit in the world of legal academia and how they feel about it, it's a useful thing to ponder.  What do you think?  Is Getman being a little naive here?  Or is he right to warn that the most prestigious schools, unless they are very careful, will sometimes tend to eat their young, or at least curb their ambition and courage, unintentionally or otherwise?

Posted by Paul Horwitz on March 24, 2007 at 01:28 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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Comments

Does Getman mention Robert Weisberg, Douglas Baird or me? It would go something like this:

"I visited from Indiana at Stanford during the 1976-77 school year, and the school assigned me to teach a small section (25 or so) of first semester, first year contracts (I really didn't want to; I was a labor lawyer and a world renowned mediator). It was apparent from the first session of their first class of their first year in law school that I had two students destined to be great legal scholars, Robert Weisberg and Douglas Baird. By the end of the first fifty minutes, they had dissected both the opinion and the dissent in Groves v. John Wunder Co. as though they had both been doing tenure-level analysis for twenty-five years. As they were doing that, somebody, Lipfutz or something, first started gagging and then had to be carried from the room in the midst of what appeared to be a panic attack."

Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Mar 24, 2007 4:44:14 PM

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