The answer is, hopefully, no law school’s. Unless it’s one of those Boston Dynamics robot dogs. Those might be able to sneak out of one of the old Infilaw schools if they had the right financial aid package. Maybe George Mason if they’re the right cultural fit for that particular institution.
But today’s blind item tip deals with a dean who reportedly compared the knowledge level of some of the school’s 3Ls “to that of his dog.” In his defense, he might really like dogs! Seriously though, the students felt demeaned by the whole experience and even claimed that one student diagnosed with a brain tumor was told that she wouldn’t be able to succeed as a lawyer.
It’s never easy to approach these subjects without more context, but it’s hard to imagine any scenario where this amounts to a misunderstanding. Even if this was a clumsy attempt to say that law school is just about learning and applying simple tricks to new situations — like one would train a dog — going after someone who just went through a cancer diagnosis erases a lot of the benefit of the doubt.
Students went to the administration in good faith seeking some old-fashioned education and got mean-spirited snark for their trouble. It’s not easy to put yourself out there as students with lifelong histories of academic ass-kicking like law students bring to the table. When those teaching moments come up, students need to be met halfway.
Preferably more than halfway.
Insulting your own students may not be as dangerous as deans skirting Title IX obligations, but it’s not great either. Law school isn’t Parris Island and professionals don’t get better just because they’re getting berated. Even Biglaw has mostly purged the screamers and replaced them with an unstoppable stream of withering passive-aggression. Which is… an improvement? I guess.
And not for nothing, if the students really are behind the eight ball, whose fault is that? Because the buck has to stop somewhere and the dean’s office seems like a pretty good candidate.
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.