HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

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lavarman84

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:16 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:09 pm
Look it’s clear we’re going to disagree philosophically about this, but I’ll just end by saying if the postmodern view is literally true that all letters are arbitrarily strong, that’s bad news for judges who rely on letters, calls, outreach, etc. to differentiate applicants in their pool.
Yeah, that's not what I'm saying. All letters are not equally strong (not even close). My point is that the process is arbitrary. Professors don't just say, "X got the highest grade in my class, so X gets the strongest letter." Professors have personal reasons for favoring Y over X. The process, as a whole, is very arbitrary and idiosyncratic. If a professor has a desire to boost people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, that's as valid a reason as any other. Complaining that it isn't fair to white men indicates to me that you're not seeing the forest for the frees. It's all a matter of perspective. Nothing personal.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:48 pm

lavarman84 wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:16 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:09 pm
Look it’s clear we’re going to disagree philosophically about this, but I’ll just end by saying if the postmodern view is literally true that all letters are arbitrarily strong, that’s bad news for judges who rely on letters, calls, outreach, etc. to differentiate applicants in their pool.
Yeah, that's not what I'm saying. All letters are not equally strong (not even close). My point is that the process is arbitrary. Professors don't just say, "X got the highest grade in my class, so X gets the strongest letter." Professors have personal reasons for favoring Y over X. The process, as a whole, is very arbitrary and idiosyncratic. If a professor has a desire to boost people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, that's as valid a reason as any other. Complaining that it isn't fair to white men indicates to me that you're not seeing the forest for the frees. It's all a matter of perspective. Nothing personal.

Different anon. Just want to chime in briefly on the "forest for the trees" comment. I actually think you are mischaracterizing that issue (apart from this other aspect of the professor who disparaged a student to another student. That's just a whole different can of worms). The issue isn't that treating students differently based on race/gender isn't "fair to white men." That's a straw man people (mostly liberals) use to make fun of /r/redpill and "men's rights" activists and etc. These are all real individuals, not pawns to be reconfigured as needed in some abstract theory. The worry is not about "boosting" people who may well deserve a boost, it's that this is a zero-sum thing, and what is happening is that the "boosting" is actually the very thing you want to correct, and say was a mistake when it first happened.

If you think mistreatment of minorities based on race/gender was wrong historically, you should think it's wrong now, too. The "forest" here is justice; the "trees" are individuals. You're just swapping one set of individuals, based on race/gender, with another set of individuals, based on race/gender.

You can reply that "well, there's a long history of X or a systematic subordination of Y", which may be and probably is correct. But what you really think, if you're using that to justify the swapping of the trees (to make one final use of your metaphor), is that two wrongs make a right. Because it's not like some of these individuals are responsible for the things that happened to others. In attributing that to then, it seems you are the one who is missing the forest for the trees.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:53 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:48 pm
lavarman84 wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:16 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 7:09 pm
Look it’s clear we’re going to disagree philosophically about this, but I’ll just end by saying if the postmodern view is literally true that all letters are arbitrarily strong, that’s bad news for judges who rely on letters, calls, outreach, etc. to differentiate applicants in their pool.
Yeah, that's not what I'm saying. All letters are not equally strong (not even close). My point is that the process is arbitrary. Professors don't just say, "X got the highest grade in my class, so X gets the strongest letter." Professors have personal reasons for favoring Y over X. The process, as a whole, is very arbitrary and idiosyncratic. If a professor has a desire to boost people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, that's as valid a reason as any other. Complaining that it isn't fair to white men indicates to me that you're not seeing the forest for the frees. It's all a matter of perspective. Nothing personal.

Different anon. Just want to chime in briefly on the "forest for the trees" comment. I actually think you are mischaracterizing that issue (apart from this other aspect of the professor who disparaged a student to another student. That's just a whole different can of worms). The issue isn't that treating students differently based on race/gender isn't "fair to white men." That's a straw man people (mostly liberals) use to make fun of /r/redpill and "men's rights" activists and etc. These are all real individuals, not pawns to be reconfigured as needed in some abstract theory. The worry is not about "boosting" people who may well deserve a boost, it's that this is a zero-sum thing, and what is happening is that the "boosting" is actually the very thing you want to correct, and say was a mistake when it first happened.

If you think mistreatment of minorities based on race/gender was wrong historically, you should think it's wrong now, too. The "forest" here is justice; the "trees" are individuals. You're just swapping one set of individuals, based on race/gender, with another set of individuals, based on race/gender.

You can reply that "well, there's a long history of X or a systematic subordination of Y", which may be and probably is correct. But what you really think, if you're using that to justify the swapping of the trees (to make one final use of your metaphor), is that two wrongs make a right. Because it's not like some of these individuals are responsible for the things that happened to others. In attributing that to then, it seems you are the one who is missing the forest for the trees.
“Original” anon. I’m probably not that far right on this, I just have an issue with fundamentals being distorted. For example, I think URM’s with lower stats probably should get boosts for admissions, and similarly those with slightly lower grades or slightly fewer LR-type accolades should get boosted for clerkship hiring. Those are zero-sum environments and that’s fine. What I have an issue is the actual qualifications themselves being distorted i.e. a letter being written enthusiastically to boost a URM applicant at a level that doesn’t match his or her performance or intellect. It reeks to me of giving out “adversity points” and is just fundamentally dishonest imo.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by nixy » Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:57 pm

I'm kind of confused about is actually being discussed here. It's not clear there was active sabotage of the student who asked for a letter; the story was the prof disparaged him to another student. That's completely classless and inappropriate, and getting a different prof to write for him was absolutely the right move, but it's not clear that she said she would write him a letter and then wrote a bad one (or even intended to). You could find a student personally incredibly annoying, but also recognize that their work is excellent, and write a letter focusing on the latter (the person who asked for a letter presumably asked her b/c he'd done well in her class). Again, I totally get why the applicant didn't want to risk it, but "disparaged to another student" isn't the same as "sabotaged their clerkship apps." Obviously if there's more to the story I don't know, it could be a different situation.

About the possibility that "a Black woman only needs to get an H to get the same level of enthusiasm in a letter that’s white man would need to get a DS to earn"... I mean that's what women/minorities have had to deal with for decades. And lavarman is right that there are lots of levels on which students and profs can connect, and a prof has the right to promote those they think will make the best contribution to the legal profession on a wide variety of grounds (and those things are subjective).

The whole point isn't at all that two wrongs make a right. No one is claiming that white men currently in law school are responsible for the history of systemic racism (or sexism) in this country, that's just a red herring. The point is that if you, a prof, want to do something to address the disparities in the legal profession that result from that history, you may well think it's important to promote people from groups that have historically been disadvantaged. It's not reverse racism (the term you seem to be dancing around by adopting the forest for the trees metaphor).

It's also not remotely a zero-sum game. This prof isn't the only prof out there who can write letters for students.

Anyway, this is going to go down a rabbit hole so I'm not going to comment on the issue any further.

lavarman84

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by lavarman84 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 10:59 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:48 pm
lavarman84 wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 8:16 pm
Yeah, that's not what I'm saying. All letters are not equally strong (not even close). My point is that the process is arbitrary. Professors don't just say, "X got the highest grade in my class, so X gets the strongest letter." Professors have personal reasons for favoring Y over X. The process, as a whole, is very arbitrary and idiosyncratic. If a professor has a desire to boost people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds or communities, that's as valid a reason as any other. Complaining that it isn't fair to white men indicates to me that you're not seeing the forest for the frees. It's all a matter of perspective. Nothing personal.

Different anon. Just want to chime in briefly on the "forest for the trees" comment. I actually think you are mischaracterizing that issue (apart from this other aspect of the professor who disparaged a student to another student. That's just a whole different can of worms). The issue isn't that treating students differently based on race/gender isn't "fair to white men." That's a straw man people (mostly liberals) use to make fun of /r/redpill and "men's rights" activists and etc. These are all real individuals, not pawns to be reconfigured as needed in some abstract theory. The worry is not about "boosting" people who may well deserve a boost, it's that this is a zero-sum thing, and what is happening is that the "boosting" is actually the very thing you want to correct, and say was a mistake when it first happened.

If you think mistreatment of minorities based on race/gender was wrong historically, you should think it's wrong now, too. The "forest" here is justice; the "trees" are individuals. You're just swapping one set of individuals, based on race/gender, with another set of individuals, based on race/gender.

You can reply that "well, there's a long history of X or a systematic subordination of Y", which may be and probably is correct. But what you really think, if you're using that to justify the swapping of the trees (to make one final use of your metaphor), is that two wrongs make a right. Because it's not like some of these individuals are responsible for the things that happened to others. In attributing that to then, it seems you are the one who is missing the forest for the trees.
No, Anonymous Poster, I'm not missing the forest for the trees. I see quite clearly the bigger picture here. You are focused on one professor. I am looking at the system as a whole. One professor might choose to use her influence to boost people from disadvantaged communities and backgrounds, but that is not true of the system as a whole. There are far, far more people influential with judges who choose to boost white men because they come from the right families, look like them, and talk like them.

This system is arbitrary, but that arbitrariness also biases it in favor of white men. Why? Because the majority of federal judges are white men (59.5% of sitting judges, to be exact). Unsurprisingly, a disproportionate number of federal clerks are also white men. Crying foul over one professor using her influence to boost people who normally aren't given the same opportunities by a biased system just stinks to high heaven to me. And that is exactly why you aren't seeing the forest for the trees.

As I said before, disparaging a student is wrong. But choosing not to use your influence to boost people who are already a step ahead isn't wrong, especially not in this arbitrary system. There are plenty of other professors who will act as recommenders.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by FrenchPrince » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm

The idea that white males can always just "get another professor", when top clerkships are so competitive, everyone wants as many good LORs as possible, and certain professors are *known* to carry more weight is so insidious.

Look, at the end of the day, let's just call this what it is: progressive stacking. It's straight up "double-counting" affirmative action on top of the hiring process, where judges should be looking to hire diverse candidates anyway. The idea that LORs are written arbitrarily is so laughable, and it's easy to name concrete things that matter: class performance, engagement / participation, scholarship, RA-ing, personality, etc. NONE of those are tied to URM status. I am all for supporting qualified diverse candidates, but if we're going to mess with the hard data, whether it's grades or recs (it's already happened for LR elections, which, shocker, is why masthead doesn't mean shit to most judges beyond LR membership), I'm sorry but you've lost me and probably the majority of any law school's attendees.

I'm not attacking you for expressing these views. In fact, I want every single professor who plans to progressively stack their letters of recommendation to be totally and publicly open about that philosophy. It'll save men, white kids, and ORMs a ton of time deciding among what RA projects to apply for, what office hours to show up at more regularly, and frankly even who to chat up for lunch or coffee when they know that they're not doing it for any potential professional impact from the progressive stackers.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:13 am

Popping in to say it’s funny that Lava Man read “arbitrarily strong” as “equally strong”, then used his misread to argue that far from being equal, everything was arbitrary.

Content aside, you liberals would be a whole lot more persuasive if you actually learned how to close read and stopping being so hand-wavey.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:33 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm
The idea that white males can always just "get another professor", when top clerkships are so competitive, everyone wants as many good LORs as possible, and certain professors are *known* to carry more weight is so insidious.

Look, at the end of the day, let's just call this what it is: progressive stacking. It's straight up "double-counting" affirmative action on top of the hiring process, where judges should be looking to hire diverse candidates anyway. The idea that LORs are written arbitrarily is so laughable, and it's easy to name concrete things that matter: class performance, engagement / participation, scholarship, RA-ing, personality, etc. NONE of those are tied to URM status. I am all for supporting qualified diverse candidates, but if we're going to mess with the hard data, whether it's grades or recs (it's already happened for LR elections, which, shocker, is why masthead doesn't mean shit to most judges beyond LR membership), I'm sorry but you've lost me and probably the majority of any law school's attendees.

I'm not attacking you for expressing these views. In fact, I want every single professor who plans to progressively stack their letters of recommendation to be totally and publicly open about that philosophy. It'll save men, white kids, and ORMs a ton of time deciding among what RA projects to apply for, what office hours to show up at more regularly, and frankly even who to chat up for lunch or coffee when they know that they're not doing it for any potential professional impact from the progressive stackers.
What's kind of weird about this rant is that it's pretty accepted that-- by far-- the biggest "affirmative action" benefit for clerkships is for FedSoc conservative kids from flyover states. Like a white FedSoc conservative from Idaho with above median grades at a T6 is basically guaranteed a clerkship before the end of 1L.... I mean, i get the argument that, in theory, being in FedSoc and from flyover country is not the same as being white or black, so it's a different type of 'discrimination' or 'stacking' or whatever you want to call it, but in reality it's somewhat of a distinction without a difference....

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:38 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:33 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm
The idea that white males can always just "get another professor", when top clerkships are so competitive, everyone wants as many good LORs as possible, and certain professors are *known* to carry more weight is so insidious.

Look, at the end of the day, let's just call this what it is: progressive stacking. It's straight up "double-counting" affirmative action on top of the hiring process, where judges should be looking to hire diverse candidates anyway. The idea that LORs are written arbitrarily is so laughable, and it's easy to name concrete things that matter: class performance, engagement / participation, scholarship, RA-ing, personality, etc. NONE of those are tied to URM status. I am all for supporting qualified diverse candidates, but if we're going to mess with the hard data, whether it's grades or recs (it's already happened for LR elections, which, shocker, is why masthead doesn't mean shit to most judges beyond LR membership), I'm sorry but you've lost me and probably the majority of any law school's attendees.

I'm not attacking you for expressing these views. In fact, I want every single professor who plans to progressively stack their letters of recommendation to be totally and publicly open about that philosophy. It'll save men, white kids, and ORMs a ton of time deciding among what RA projects to apply for, what office hours to show up at more regularly, and frankly even who to chat up for lunch or coffee when they know that they're not doing it for any potential professional impact from the progressive stackers.
What's kind of weird about this rant is that it's pretty accepted that-- by far-- the biggest "affirmative action" benefit for clerkships is for FedSoc conservative kids from flyover states. Like a white FedSoc conservative from Idaho with above median grades at a T6 is basically guaranteed a clerkship before the end of 1L.... I mean, i get the argument that, in theory, being in FedSoc and from flyover country is not the same as being white or black, so it's a different type of 'discrimination' or 'stacking' or whatever you want to call it, but in reality it's somewhat of a distinction without a difference....
Really solid work saying something totally wrong is “pretty accepted”. The FedSoc 1L pipeline isn’t affirmative action, it’s ideological sorting and self-selection. If you think there’s a cohort of Black liberals gunning for 11th circuit gigs at the end of 1L who can’t get them...I’ve got a lake house in Kansas for you.

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jackshunger

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by jackshunger » Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:10 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:33 am
Anonymous User wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm

What's kind of weird about this rant is that it's pretty accepted that-- by far-- the biggest "affirmative action" benefit for clerkships is for FedSoc conservative kids from flyover states. Like a white FedSoc conservative from Idaho with above median grades at a T6 is basically guaranteed a clerkship before the end of 1L.... I mean, i get the argument that, in theory, being in FedSoc and from flyover country is not the same as being white or black, so it's a different type of 'discrimination' or 'stacking' or whatever you want to call it, but in reality it's somewhat of a distinction without a difference....
Really solid work saying something totally wrong is “pretty accepted”. The FedSoc 1L pipeline isn’t affirmative action, it’s ideological sorting and self-selection. If you think there’s a cohort of Black liberals gunning for 11th circuit gigs at the end of 1L who can’t get them...I’ve got a lake house in Kansas for you.

This discussion is entirely off-topic and pointless because it isn't true. More than a few FedSoc judges hire a good amount of their clerks locally, there is an unbelievable amount of self-selection bias (liberals can and do get clerkships with off-plan judges quite frequently if they want to apply early), and the idea FedSoc member with above-median grades at a T6 is getting a clerkship 1L is just false.

Back to the main point, HLS professors are well within their rights to promote anyone they want to the judges that they know, and if they get excited about expanding the diversity of the federal judiciary, good for them, the judiciary is overwhelmingly white.

I will just say that if they don't want to promote white males to judges because of the fact they are white males, they should just be honest about that and allow that student to spend time trying to develop a relationship with a professor that doesn't write them off. Rather than spend time in an internecine argument, why doesn't anyone who goes to HLS give examples of good professors to get to know for clerkships that are not immediately obvious? The discussion about UChicago was a lot more helpful to applicants.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:45 pm

This whole argument is a tempest in a teacup insofar as we don't know what this particular professor actually said about this particular student. "Disparaged to another student" could mean something as benign as "yeah he wrote a good exam, but asked a lot of gunnery questions in my class and FYI that's not how you get participation points with me." Or it could mean "I was excited to recommend this student based on their brilliant performance, but when I met this 'Payton Washington' and found out he is not a Black woman at all but, in fact, actually a Caucasian man, my blood curdled." I kind of doubt the latter.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 12:45 pm
This whole argument is a tempest in a teacup insofar as we don't know what this particular professor actually said about this particular student. "Disparaged to another student" could mean something as benign as "yeah he wrote a good exam, but asked a lot of gunnery questions in my class and FYI that's not how you get participation points with me." Or it could mean "I was excited to recommend this student based on their brilliant performance, but when I met this 'Payton Washington' and found out he is not a Black woman at all but, in fact, actually a Caucasian man, my blood curdled." I kind of doubt the latter.

Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:10 pm

Edit: My reply was pointless.

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nixy

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by nixy » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:14 pm

So... no sabotage at all, then, but a comment on his suitability for the position. (Do you think that law students are actually going to vote against such a person for LR president based on a professor’s opinion?) Either it was based on his race/gender, in which case it’s not a personal comment at all bc it applies to all white dudes, or it was this specific white dude, which is a comment on her perception of how he’d presented himself.

(I don’t think it was a good thing to say to another student, but I also don’t think it qualifies as sabotage.)

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Joachim2017 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:19 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.

This thread is about how to go about asking professors for clerkship recommendation letters. No one's saying Leah Litman should be "cancelled" or that a professional ethics inquiry should be launched. The story obviously indicates her tendencies and is something to consider when Michigan students take classes with her now. Not much more to it, so I don't see the need for these white knights charging to her defense, or the hand-wringing from either side, really.

ETA: I do think it was unprofessional, but I don't think anyone's calling for her to censured or anything like that at this point.
Last edited by Joachim2017 on Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by jackshunger » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A an awful human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.

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Joachim2017

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Joachim2017 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:30 pm

jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A was awful as a human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.

Yes, I agree with that. I also don't think it's a stretch to call it "sabotage." But I think others will try to justify it come what may, so we won't get more mileage for OP's concerns at this point.

Anonymous User
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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:34 pm

It’s totally her right not to write the letter, though the commenting to another student is tacky and unprofessional. What’s more, I wish she had told the “entitled” philosophy for declining to the first kid TO HIS FACE. There’s nothing illegal about the practice, though I disagree with it, and like @nixy said, it’s not even a personal attack.

But beyond that, I wish every professor who had a similar philosophy made it totally public, so “entitled” kids like Student A wouldn’t bother asking in the first place, or could choose to foster stronger relationships / even pick classes elsewhere. I don’t think that’s a radically arch-conservative request.

lavarman84

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by lavarman84 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:38 pm

adoniscr33d wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm
The idea that white males can always just "get another professor", when top clerkships are so competitive, everyone wants as many good LORs as possible, and certain professors are *known* to carry more weight is so insidious.
LOL. It's not even remotely "insidious." It's funny to watch people whine about "fairness" (and let's be honest, that's the complaint) because one professor chooses to use her influence to help women/people of color in a system disproportionately slanted in the favor of white men.
adoniscr33d wrote:
Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:51 pm
Look, at the end of the day, let's just call this what it is: progressive stacking. It's straight up "double-counting" affirmative action on top of the hiring process, where judges should be looking to hire diverse candidates anyway. The idea that LORs are written arbitrarily is so laughable, and it's easy to name concrete things that matter: class performance, engagement / participation, scholarship, RA-ing, personality, etc. NONE of those are tied to URM status. I am all for supporting qualified diverse candidates, but if we're going to mess with the hard data, whether it's grades or recs (it's already happened for LR elections, which, shocker, is why masthead doesn't mean shit to most judges beyond LR membership), I'm sorry but you've lost me and probably the majority of any law school's attendees.
There's far more "affirmative action" going on with white men in federal clerkships than there is with people of color. You and others simply choose not to see it as "affirmative action" because there's always a pretext to it. But yes, I agree that it would be helpful if students knew about that sort of thing upfront.
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:33 am
What's kind of weird about this rant is that it's pretty accepted that-- by far-- the biggest "affirmative action" benefit for clerkships is for FedSoc conservative kids from flyover states. Like a white FedSoc conservative from Idaho with above median grades at a T6 is basically guaranteed a clerkship before the end of 1L.... I mean, i get the argument that, in theory, being in FedSoc and from flyover country is not the same as being white or black, so it's a different type of 'discrimination' or 'stacking' or whatever you want to call it, but in reality it's somewhat of a distinction without a difference....
Yep. Exactly. That's why it amuses me greatly to see people come in here and whine because one professor with some influence allegedly chooses to use that influence to boost people from disadvantaged backgrounds/communities. How many other influential people out there are going out of their way to boost white conservative men for reasons outside of pure merit? It's not a pure meritocracy, and white dudes benefit from that more than any other group. So I'm not here for the complaining.
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:13 am
Popping in to say it’s funny that Lava Man read “arbitrarily strong” as “equally strong”, then used his misread to argue that far from being equal, everything was arbitrary.

Content aside, you liberals would be a whole lot more persuasive if you actually learned how to close read and stopping being so hand-wavey.
I gotta chuckle at a person "popping in" to post this anonymously. :lol:

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:42 pm

jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A an awful human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.
Idk. There's a line somewhere, but this doesn't sound so bad to me. Again, I think Student B is more at fault for taking what sounds like a candid, private conversation and airing it publicly. Exec-board elections are toxic like that. Should professors be held to a higher standard? Perhaps, but if she was a super junior adjunct/fellow at HLS then it's not like she's wielding a dangerous amount of power.

For the record, I'm not exactly keen on "defending" Prof. Litman. I'm a moderate/right-of-center dude and I'm sure we have plenty to disagree about. For precisely that reason, I have some experience with approaching professors (and others) whose political valence differs from my own and my recommendation to others would be: know your audience. Talk to a professor before you ask them for a letter, and find out what kind of students they get excited about. (This is, by the way, also a good way to find out how to write better exams for that prof.) Student A clearly did not do this diligence.

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jackshunger

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by jackshunger » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:12 pm

The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:42 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A an awful human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.
Idk. There's a line somewhere, but this doesn't sound so bad to me. Again, I think Student B is more at fault for taking what sounds like a candid, private conversation and airing it publicly. Exec-board elections are toxic like that. Should professors be held to a higher standard? Perhaps, but if she was a super junior adjunct/fellow at HLS then it's not like she's wielding a dangerous amount of power.

For the record, I'm not exactly keen on "defending" Prof. Litman. I'm a moderate/right-of-center dude and I'm sure we have plenty to disagree about. For precisely that reason, I have some experience with approaching professors (and others) whose political valence differs from my own and my recommendation to others would be: know your audience. Talk to a professor before you ask them for a letter, and find out what kind of students they get excited about. (This is, by the way, also a good way to find out how to write better exams for that prof.) Student A clearly did not do this diligence.

Well, I'm just surprised commentators aren't seeing a host of issues here. First, she discussed another student's grades in her class (and maybe others), with a student, which is incredibly unprofessional and I imagine it breaks some school rules. Next, telling another student that you refused to write a recommendation for them and then bad-mouthing that student in a completely unrelated school activity is beyond the pale (which is presumably why we haven't heard similar stories to this). Regardless of politics, I would be livid if I found out any of my professors did anything like this to anyone. Whether Student A did their diligence or not, or whether Student B should have shared this, Prof. Litman behaved irresponsibly at best, and reprehensibly at worst.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:19 pm

jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:12 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:42 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A an awful human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.
Idk. There's a line somewhere, but this doesn't sound so bad to me. Again, I think Student B is more at fault for taking what sounds like a candid, private conversation and airing it publicly. Exec-board elections are toxic like that. Should professors be held to a higher standard? Perhaps, but if she was a super junior adjunct/fellow at HLS then it's not like she's wielding a dangerous amount of power.

For the record, I'm not exactly keen on "defending" Prof. Litman. I'm a moderate/right-of-center dude and I'm sure we have plenty to disagree about. For precisely that reason, I have some experience with approaching professors (and others) whose political valence differs from my own and my recommendation to others would be: know your audience. Talk to a professor before you ask them for a letter, and find out what kind of students they get excited about. (This is, by the way, also a good way to find out how to write better exams for that prof.) Student A clearly did not do this diligence.

Well, I'm just surprised commentators aren't seeing a host of issues here. First, she discussed another student's grades in her class (and maybe others), with a student, which is incredibly unprofessional and I imagine it breaks some school rules. Next, telling another student that you refused to write a recommendation for them and then bad-mouthing that student in a completely unrelated school activity is beyond the pale (which is presumably why we haven't heard similar stories to this). Regardless of politics, I would be livid if I found out any of my professors did anything like this to anyone. Whether Student A did their diligence or not, or whether Student B should have shared this, Prof. Litman behaved irresponsibly at best, and reprehensibly at worst.
I am fully on board with so-called "progressive stacking" or otherwise boosting the prospects of URMs to counter the historical disparity in their employment. I have no qualms with Prof. Litman making the decision to not write a letter for Student A; it is up to her judgment whether Student A felt "entitled" due to his identity. And, Student A being entitled based on his identity doesn't tell us whether Student A was "cis-white male" or URM with other markets of diversity.

That being said, I would be incensed if any of my Professors, even those who wrote me recs, talked to other *students* about my fitness for leadership or other activities.

Anonymous User
Posts: 350610
Joined: Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:32 am

Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by Anonymous User » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:19 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:12 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:42 pm
jackshunger wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:26 pm
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:15 pm
Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:02 pm
Student A asked Litman for a clerkship rec letter based on A's performance in her class. Litman declined, and so A had to ask other professors for letters. In passing, Student B mentioned to Litman that Student A was in the running for HLR President. Litman told B that A has asked her for a rec letter, that she had declined to write for A, that A had great grades but she felt A was too "entitled" due to his identity, and that she didn't think A should be law review president (something entirely voted on by students with, historically, no input from professors at all). B then told others about this interaction with Litman during law review elections.
Ok, so Litman behaved pretty professionally (I guess it depends a tad on whether her judgment about entitlement was correct, but it's perfectly plausible that she was correct about Student A and she's entitled to her opinion) and Student B is a jabroni for causing election drama by bringing in hearsay.
This seems very unprofessional, even if Student A an awful human being (which I doubt), a professor should never be sharing that she refused to write recs for another student by name and then gossiping about them to another student.
Idk. There's a line somewhere, but this doesn't sound so bad to me. Again, I think Student B is more at fault for taking what sounds like a candid, private conversation and airing it publicly. Exec-board elections are toxic like that. Should professors be held to a higher standard? Perhaps, but if she was a super junior adjunct/fellow at HLS then it's not like she's wielding a dangerous amount of power.

For the record, I'm not exactly keen on "defending" Prof. Litman. I'm a moderate/right-of-center dude and I'm sure we have plenty to disagree about. For precisely that reason, I have some experience with approaching professors (and others) whose political valence differs from my own and my recommendation to others would be: know your audience. Talk to a professor before you ask them for a letter, and find out what kind of students they get excited about. (This is, by the way, also a good way to find out how to write better exams for that prof.) Student A clearly did not do this diligence.

Well, I'm just surprised commentators aren't seeing a host of issues here. First, she discussed another student's grades in her class (and maybe others), with a student, which is incredibly unprofessional and I imagine it breaks some school rules. Next, telling another student that you refused to write a recommendation for them and then bad-mouthing that student in a completely unrelated school activity is beyond the pale (which is presumably why we haven't heard similar stories to this). Regardless of politics, I would be livid if I found out any of my professors did anything like this to anyone. Whether Student A did their diligence or not, or whether Student B should have shared this, Prof. Litman behaved irresponsibly at best, and reprehensibly at worst.
I am fully on board with so-called "progressive stacking" or otherwise boosting the prospects of URMs to counter the historical disparity in their employment. I have no qualms with Prof. Litman making the decision to not write a letter for Student A; it is up to her judgment whether Student A felt "entitled" due to his identity. And, Student A being entitled based on his identity doesn't tell us whether Student A was "cis-white male" or URM with other markets of diversity.

That being said, I would be incensed if any of my Professors, even those who wrote me recs, talked to other *students* about my fitness for leadership or other activities.
Would you be ok with extra GPA points for URMs to counter their historical oppression?

nixy

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Re: HLS "centrist" profs for clerkships

Post by nixy » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:24 pm

I don't actually think a prof commenting on a student's fitness to be the leader of something that represents a school as much as being president of HLR is beyond the pale. The discussion of the recommendation letter is much more of an issue (maybe grades, too, though I don't think saying something like "student A did really well in my class" would really be pushing boundaries).

I would also want to know more about what student B mentioned "in passing" because it's pretty weird that a prof would just volunteer this much information without a little more prelude. It seems entirely possible to me that student B suggested they were interested in Litman's opinion on student A, for instance. And I think if this was when Litman was a Climenko (didn't someone suggest that?), boundaries are much less clear than between students and full tenure-track faculty.

In any case, poor judgment isn't the same as sabotage, which was what the initial allegation was. I get having issues with how the conversation went down, that's totally fair, but I have a hard time thinking anything that the prof said actually damaged the student in question in any way or that this is something that should lead people to freak out about some mythical "progressive stacking." No prof is obligated to write for any one student.

Seriously? What are you waiting for?

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