Wednesday, January 17, 2007

7 Up -- Not the Drink

A few weeks ago I wrote a three part series on class and legal education. People interested in class bias in all its forms will find an article in the December 2006 the Atlantic Monthly interesting. The article, “Ordinary People” by Clive Crook (sorry, I would provide a link but you would still have to pay), is an overview of the documentary series that started with “7 Up!” in 1964. That film was an examination of the lives of 14 seven year old children. Every seven years the process has been repeated with the focus on the same group of “children” who are now 49 years old -- thus "49 Up!" is now out. (I have not seen all of them including the last one.)

According to the author, much of the seven year olds’ futures have been determined by the class that they were born into. In addition, it is not at all clear that class determines happiness. The author suggests that a capacity to experience happiness may not be class based. This is consistent with a December 16th article in The Economist on the importance of assessing happiness as opposed to standard measures of economic welfare.

The children are all British and some may argue that the lessons from the series do not translate to the U.S. The author says that is not the case and I doubt anyone paying attention will disagree.

Bringing this into the context of law schools, as I feel obligated to do, I wonder if there is a relationship between law school ranking in any form and faculty happinesss. My fear is that a really happy faculty may be one that has fully captured the law school, is without remorse, and completely devoted to the Matrix. On the other hand, maybe some faculties are composed of people who realize that, next to a job as an all-expense-paid, world-wide, roving guest lecturer on any thing that strikes your fancy, law teaching may be the best job in the world and in light of that feel obligated to repond as a team to stakeholder needs. If so, that could be a pretty happy faculty. My guess is that a really productive faculty is neither overly happy or unhappy. Seems unfortunate.

One more thing. Over on classbias I have asked professors with working class backgrounds to report on the event that explains their elevation to a decidedly non working class profession. If you fit the description please go over there and participate. Thanks.

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