I recall sitting in an appointments committee some years ago discussing a high level lateral. There were “womanizing” issues including complaints. The committee discussed this for some time and then the dean, who was sitting in on the meeting, suggested we begin discussing the “merits” of a possible offer. Somehow the “type” of person we were hiring was independent of the splash we could make.
And then I remember my second year of teaching. The faculty, as law faculties do, had a long battle on a procedural issue when there was a substantive issue coming down the pike that would be affected by the procedural decision. The next year a similar circumstance arose – procedure affecting substantive outcome – and one of the most esteemed professors was on the opposite side of the procedural issue. Being new I asked him about it and his response after pausing – “Oh, you have the mistaken impression that principle has anything do to with it.”
But my real reason for writing is to express what may be a disagreement with Jim. It is not that character as not entered the realm of law school decision making. In fact, it has and it is more often than not counted against the candidate with character. Unfortunately in legal education the person with character is running against the tide. The people with character are not the making nice, knowing better, doing nothing ones. But to be sure, making nice, knowing better and doing nothing people are more highly valued colleagues. So too are those who write only positive tenure review letters, compliment everyone on the quality of their work and work the law review placement system for every possible advantage.
So, Jim, my impression is that low character, at least in practice, is the more valued trait in our profession.