On the Value of Professor to Law

Frank Cross crossf at mail.utexas.edu
Fri Sep 24 17:10:12 PDT 2010

I confess to a little more cynicism about professors/PhDs.   Not that 
they don't offer expertise and knowledge.  But in my experience they 
are not particularly  attentive to the pitfalls of whatever
belief systems they adopt.  Especially when freighted ideological 
matters are at stake.

At 05:42 PM 9/24/2010, Sean Wilson wrote:
>Hi Sandy.
>I begin my con law course with the Glorious Revolution. (But it's 
>actually con
>development). Let me offer these thoughts about the relevance of 
>being a lawyer
>versus an academic for discussions about "constitutional law."
>Academics are more likely to be free of what I call a "bent 
>perspective." What I
>mean by this is NOT that academics don't have goofy beliefs (for surely some
>do). But rather that they will have been attentive to the pitfalls 
>of whatever
>belief systems they adopt. And if they haven't been sufficiently 
>attentive, it
>is usually owed to neglect rather than poor character -- meaning 
>they'll go back
>to deal with it when shown. In fact, good academics will be 
>embarrassed to find
>that a pitfall in his or her beliefs is overlooked. You don't get the same
>behavior (as a general rule) among people who do not take on as a life career
>the pursuit of truth and meaning.
>As such, you shouldn't find among professors the sort of behaviors in
>opinion-making that you do on the A.M. radio. The way the mind maneuvers is
>different. It isn't debate; it's discussion. It isn't a sword or a 
>contest; it's
>like a food or a wine. You come to appreciate the working of minds and the
>integrity of thought.
>All professors have this in them to some degree, merely because of what their
>work consists of. We're so insulated from the world. It's like 
>living life in a
>bottle. Your job, 24/7, is to make sense of things (one way or 
>another).  It is
>because of this that a discussion group devoted to topic X might want to
>favorably indulge those whose life's work involves thinking properly 
>of things
>concerning X.
>(P.S. Sent to Law and Meta Perspective)
>Regards and thanks.
>Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.
>Assistant Professor
>Wright State University
>Personal Website: http://seanwilson.org
>   (Subscribe:  http://ludwig.squarespace.com/sworg-subscribe/ )
>SSRN papers: http://ssrn.com/author=596860
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>From: Sanford Levinson <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu>
>To: Sean Wilson <whoooo26505 at yahoo.com>; "CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu"
><CONLAWPROF at lists.ucla.edu>
>Sent: Fri, September 24, 2010 4:58:37 PM
>Subject: RE: union cards
>I begin my constitutional law courses with "the case of the United 
>States Bank,"
>which, of course, for me is decidedly not the same as beginning with 
>since the initial debate is that among Madison, Jefferson, Hamilton, and
>Randolph  and the decision by Washington.  The reason I mention this 
>is that I
>always ask students how it is, exactly, that the non-lawyer Washington was
>supposed to decide who had the better argument (not to mention that 
>two of the
>three lawyers, Jefferson and Randolph,  believed the bill was 
>as against Hamilton, of couse).  Does one not have to be a lawyer to 
>constitutional law (which, of course, is my own position)?  If, on the other
>hand, professional expertise is required, then why shouldn't  Washington have
>simply said, the anti's, one of whom is my Attorney General, 
>explicitly to give
>his opinon as to constituitonality of legislation, have it?
>Obviously, I see no reason to believe that law professors, any more than
>certified lawyers, have a monopoly on useful discussions of the United States
>Constitution.  I suspect it is highly desirable to be a lawyer  to 
>be a district
>judge, since one must know the rules of evidence (which almost no 
>law professor
>who does not teach teh subject does).  Does anyone really believe 
>that every one
>of the members of the United States Supreme Court really needs to be a
>(And does this mean being a member of the Bar or only graduating from law
>school?  I suspect that all of us know distinguished law professors who have
>never taken a bar exam.)
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Frank B. Cross
Herbert D. Kelleher Centennial Professor of Business Law
McCombs School of Business
University of Texas
CBA 5.202 (B6500)
Austin, TX 78712-0212

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