Thursday, February 17, 2011

Law School Intervention

There is a program on one of the dozens of channels that I do not really know how to identify. Essentially cameras follow an addict around to show what his or her life is like and at the end there is a tearful intervention at which the addict is talking into going to rehab. It is hard to watch and pretty intrusive. I am not sure I have watched an entire episode. Since the intervention comes as a surprise I wonder what the addict thinks when the cameras are following him or her around for days.

Addiction is not a pretty thing and I am not equating law school addictions to the stories on the program but there are addicts on law faculties or maybe it is just people with "challenges."

For example there is "over talking." This is the person who holds forth in faculty meetings on every issue never realizing that he is keeping other from talking nor that everyone knows what he will say before he says it.

And there are the rationality challenged. They will say almost anything to avoid focusing on the actual issue. The move to ad hominen attacks or when cornered say "I am offended." It's a bit like trying to reason with your cat.

Closely related are the pathologically self-interested. By this I mean those who always take the position that advances their own interest and somehow justify it as good for the whole or especially the students. Mostly they view a law school as a means to their ends.

So, here is the idea. Someone documents the history of behavior and then one day "Boom" a bunch of people descend on the person, explain the damage they do and urge them to get treatment -- rehab, if you will.

What a great idea, right? No, wrong. In the real intervention show there are two factors at work that do not work with law faculties. First, there is a norm established and uniformly accepted that shooting up is not a good thing. On law faculties, over talking, reasoning like an cat, and obsessive self interest are accepted behaviors. Second, on the real show the intervenors really care about each other. There are good friends among law faculty but ultimate in the life long negotiation of the elites true friendships do not run nearly as deep.

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