Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spending the Money of Others and Law Porn

When a law school distributes law porn, I assume the logic goes like this. Advertising leads to a better ranking that leads to more revenue that leads to a better experience for the students that leads to a higher payoff on the public investment made by the state. Think of how tenuous the connections are. Has any school moved by virtue of better advertising or lost ground due to its absence? Has the movement of a slot or two increased donations? Have those donations been put to good use in order to increase the return to the public investment in legal education – whatever that is? I challenge any public school dean to prove he or she has gone through the analysis in even a semi rigorous way. In a rational and non shirking world all of them would have before pissing away the money.

The problem is that public law school deans and their faculties get to spend the money of others. Thus, it is doubtful they go through the calculations that they would go through with their own money. And it means spending the money of others to preserve their own positions and status whether or not the law school stakeholders are better off. Of course, the spending the money of others problem extends way beyond the law porn. I wonder how many of these free spenders when it comes to the money of others then turn around and buy a car only after consulting Consumer Reports, make sure no frequent flier mile goes unused, select their credits cards on the basis of the best rebate, and check several places before buying anything that costs over $100.

PS. Just got back from my mailbox and today's tally:

1. The University of San Francisco "A New Generation of Scholars" ( I got two of these because there are at least two people in the new generation)
2. Penn State School of Law welcomes a new prof.
3. University of Washington, "High Tech Summit"
4. Valparaiso School of Law welcomes a new prof. (big lettering on this one indicating a Princeton/Yale background, wow!)
5. Roger Williams Law School, Ranked second in scholarship among 3d and 4th tier schools (is it a good idea to say this?)
6. Southwestern Law School, Visiting Speakers (can I get a flight into Hobby for this?)
7. UMKC "Hot Topics in IP"
8. University of Akron, "40th Anniversity of the Law Review"

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The amusing thing is that Southwestern's brochure obviously did not convey much information about it's location. Isn't Hobby airport in Houston rather than Los Angeles? Were you thinking about South Texas College of Law?

More seriously, one point you do miss in the cost-benefit analysis is that some of these materials are not produced for you. They are produced for audiences (e.g., donors, employers, and prospective applicants) for whom glossy brochures may still make a difference. The question then is whether the expected return on the marginal increment of production and mailing costs is worth it. That's probably a lower bar.

10/23/2007 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so right, Jeff, about the absolute waste that this stuff represents. Could we each write, "No such person at this address; return to sender" on the junk and deposit it in the mail, so that the offending institutions are deluged in their own fowlings? I have no idea if this would work, but we have to do something to stop this madness! Just thinking out loud here.

10/23/2007 9:28 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

Actually I checked and it does say LA which gives you a good indication of how important this material is to me and I suspect many others.

I do not think I miss the point. It is addressed to me. I think any law school that has a mailing system that cannot at minimal cost be instructed to delete addresses that say "university" or to construct one of donors or grads or any combination is a law school in need of new management.

10/24/2007 10:55 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home