October 19, 2006
JONATHAN ADLER: "As one of the two most recently tenured faculty members at Case, I've noticed that the volume of law porn has skyrocketed this year."
"Law porn," alas, bears the same relationship to real porn that "legal ethics" bear to actual ethics. It refers to self-promotional literature sent out by law schools, mostly in the hopes of boosting their reputation-score in the U.S. News rankings. And, yes, I've noticed that the volume seems to have drastically increased this year over the already copious quantities of past years. I think it's hit the saturation point: I used to at least glance at the stuff, but now it goes straight into the recycle bin conveniently located in the faculty mailroom -- and I notice that the bin is full of the same stuff from other faculty members' culling, too. While there may have been an advantage to being an early adopter in this area, it's now largely a waste of money, I think.
UPDATE: Gordon Smith notes that research seems to support my off-the-cuff impression: "Two weeks ago, sociologist Michael Sauder of the University of Iowa was here to present his work on reactivity to the U.S. New rankings. He has interviewed deans (among others) to evaluate the way in which law schools respond to rankings, and his conclusions track Glenn's."