My answer doesn't appear on my curriculum vitae. That's because many Louisvillians, the vast majority of whom (hard as this may be for fellow legal academics to understand) do not work for the University of Louisville, aren't interested in my undergraduate, graduate, or professional credentials. So I answer the question exactly as it was asked: "I attended Clarkston High School, DeKalb County, Georgia."
It's an obnoxious answer, really. Not because it is untrue, but because it defeats the social purpose of asking. High school allegiances, at least in Louisville, expose a host of presumptions about race, class, religion, and every other badge of social status vel non.
In defense of my neighbors here in Jefferson County, Kentucky, the "school question" gives the asking party a quick way of assessing a new acquaintance's core allegiances. Dare I reveal that my favorite college football teams are Louisville, Georgia, and Notre Dame's opponents? If my dinner companion went to Sacred Heart Academy, I'll save that last item for some other time and probably some other conversational partner.
And here in the legal academy, or at least in that corner covered by MoneyLaw, some readers have questioned my admitted assumption that J.D./Ph.D. types, ceteris paribus, are less likely than their strictly legal counterparts to be dedicated to teaching the core law school curriculum and to teaching it well. No, I haven't conducted any rigorous empirical test of the proposition. It's based on a dangerously casual assessment of patterns I think I've observed, bolstered by this little insight drawn from the dismal science: Comparative advantage applies to people as well as countries. Sure, a moral philosopher could cover criminal law, quite well at that, and an economist might well become this recruiting year's best pick in corporate law. And for a substantial boost in salary relative to other university departments where this philosopher and this economist might find work, these scholars have every incentive to add the Model Penal Code and the Delaware Corporation Code to their bedside tables. But no shift in primary intellectual allegiance comes free of cost, either to the person reinventing herself as a law professor or to the law school that would appoint her to its faculty.
So here's the question. Imagine yourself a member of the hippest clique in today's legal academy, doubly credentialed interdisciplinarians. You are attending a conference with equal numbers of professors in law and in your nonlegal discipline. A friendly stranger approaches and asks, "Say, don't I know you? Where did you go to school?"
For the love of God, think fast. What pops up first? Your J.D. program or your Ph.D. program? Where your mind turns first is where your heart rests best. Within an academic setting where costs matter and faculty salaries cost more than anything else, this cost-conscious dean would like to offer you a little career advice:
Be true to your school.