The American Bar Association president’s suggestion that unemployed law-school graduates have no one to blame for their predicament but themselves elicited a range of reactions from law professors and administrators at a major law-school conference, with many expressing dismay at what they called insensitive and misguided remarks. …
Some at the conference of the Association of American Law Schools — the largest annual gathering of law professors — called the comments tactless.
“A lack of concern for law graduates — or anyone, for that matter — looking for a job in this economy smacks of questionable character,” said Robert Ashford, a professor at Syracuse University College of Law who founded the AALS’s Section on Socio-Economics, which focuses on economic issues in the legal profession and in legal education.
Others said Robinson was unfairly picking on students.
“Robinson focuses on the individuals who incurred debt rather than the institutions that induced them to incur that debt,” said Kathleen Clark, a professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis. “Individuals can be held responsible for their decisions, but we should also examine the responsibility of institutions that have benefited from those individuals’ ill-advised decisions.”
‘OUT OF TOUCH’
Steven Hobbs, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, was critical of Robinson’s comment that he sold his car to help pay for law school at the University of Kentucky, from which he graduated in 1971. …
“[Robinson] is out of touch in the sense of understanding the current situation and how to address it,” Hobbs said.
But not all disagreed with Robinson’s remarks.
“I think [Robinson] is absolutely right,” said Paul R. Baier, a law professor at Louisiana State University. “The dire economy is obvious. In law we have a doctrine: You are assumed to know the law. I’d add to that and say you must know the economy.”
Robinson did not respond to email or phone messages left Friday afternoon. An ABA spokeswoman said he was not available for comment, but said, “We are very concerned about the way William Robinson’s quotes were used out of context by Reuters.” …
David Logan, dean of Roger Williams University School of Law, who did not attend the conference, said he agreed with Robinson that “law students are adults who should be expected to make reasonable decisions about their future.” But, he said, there remains “a broad consensus about the need for more transparency about costs and outcomes than has been required by the ABA up to this point.”