Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Being the subject of the New York Times' attentions

My school, New York Law School, recently was. To my mind, the article is noteworthy for its seeming indifference to what we, and other schools, do -- namely to teach law. The article's focus is on the business of law schools, a topic that certainly deserves attention, but unfortunately that broad topic doesn't get very much attention, because the author seems preoccupied with a critique of our dean, Rick Matasar. The result is painful to read, not only because the author gets so much wrong about New York Law School, but because I don't know of anyone who cares more deeply about reforming American legal education, and protecting the interests of law students, than Rick Matasar. For Rick's response, which speaks both to issues of general philosophy and to what we at NYLS are actually doing, see this post on our school website.

It is not easy to refute an article in the New York Times. Americans are fortunate, really, that we have some newspapers with the institutional resources and reputation of the Times, and fortunate as well to have a constitution that protects the freedom of the press as firmly as ours does. I applaud the overall institutional picture. But when a powerful voice speaks, those less powerful -- not just ordinary individuals, but even ordinary institutions such as a law school -- must struggle to speak back. And when an institution with power makes mistakes, those mistakes are felt and not easily corrected. This post is one contribution to that effort at correction, but also simply an observation that power matters, even in the marketplace of ideas.

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