Having declared in this forum my unmitigated embrace of meritocracy
, of valuing performance over pedigree in every instance, I know there is no turning back. Meritocracy unmodified may be the most unforgivable of ideologies in a profession beholden to a view of "academic quality" derived more from privilege and prestige than from perspiration and performance.
I do aspire to intellectual magnanimity. Those who find greater value in the traditional indicia of pedigree are hereby invited to tell me why and/or tell me off
. For my part, I offer my own tentative list of core principles for evaluating academic talent, whether on an individual or an institutional basis:
- Pedigree never matters. Performance always does.
- In gauging performance, you can measure anything you want except other professors' opinions. In other words . . . .
- No academic ratings system is valid if it depends in whole or in part on a subjective survey of academic reputation.
Stripped of all surplusage, this "rock of sages" explains why I am highly skeptical of this prominent survey of academic quality among law schools
and, for that matter, of this much ballyhooed alternative
. As much as Brian Leiter's Law School Rankings
have sharpened the legal academy's assessment of itself, no true advance will occur until law professors shed reputation as an explicit component of academic quality.