Above the Law's Elie Mystal goes after Emory Law professor Sara Stadler for making a controversial speech at commencement. Among her sins are telling students to "Get over it" regarding the lagging legal job market, that "I'm sure Emory has failed you in some way," and that "The only thing standing in the way of your happiness is a sense of entitlement." Mystal complains that these comments are insensitive to the pain of those who are anxious about finding work that will allow them to pay back their student loans.
Look, Mystal's right that lack of transparency from law schools in disclosing employment statistics is a real problem. I'd warmly welcome efforts to get them to be more honest. However, I doubt that Stadler's against such reforms.
The point is... for those who have already cast their lots in with law, you're better off trying to keep your chin up than down. You can't get back the sunk cost of tuition. One's focus should be, "How do I move forward?" Mystal didn't quote this part of the speech, but Stadler noted that, just as Emory has undoubtedly failed some students, friends or families or lovers often fail other people. There is a time to wallow in one's misery... but, ultimately, one has to move on.
I knew the type she's talking to (both at Emory and outside of it.) Statements along the lines of "The sky is blue" would be met with responses ike "Yeah, it would be bluer if I had a Biglaw job next year." I'd find myself trying to be sympathetic, but struggling not to say something like "Can we just focus on the sky being pretty and not your employment woes for five minutes?"
There are some similar defenses of the Stadler speech over at ATL a day later. I suppose I should add that, while I wasn't in Stadler's 1L section for Property and had no interest whatsoever in IP, I heard only good things about her from my classmates with different interests. I believe that she ran the clerkship program my 3L year and was particularly beloved by people who worked with her on that front.
Finally, for the non-Emory-grad bleeding heart libertarians who read this, you really should listen to the first half of the speech, which got no play on ATL or elsewhere. She takes a few leaves out of Richard Epstein's Simple Rules for a Complex World in discussing how complicated the law has become. Unlike Epstein, she declines to call it "complex" because that apparently dignifies law too much. It's rare that someone actually tries to out-libertarian Epstein, but I'm all in favor of it happening more often. All of this complicatedness is unfortunately terrible for clients, but good for lawyers. But the good lawyers are good at taking the complicatedness and boiling it down into something simple for clients. Given this, I'm not sure the message is actually "Be a giver, not a taker." It's perhaps more like "Be a creator. Help small businesses who have trouble affording lawyers figure out what they need. Don't be a rent-seeker."
Alternative interpretation of the giver/taker comment: it's perhaps better understood as "Be an internal, not an external."
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