Payback Time: The Worst Things Law Students Say About Their Professors

by Jeff Schmitt on

Yelling

The Harshest Comments:

Paul Chevigny, New York University (2007): “When in this class i try to imagine myself in a better place such as nazi germany, communist russia, cuba, a yankees fan club and hell.” (Editor’s Note: Chevigny is an emeritus faculty member at NYU.)

Andrew Koppelman, Northwestern (2011): “Invites students to banter with him and then uses it as an opportunity to summarily cut them down. When he is wrong, he will obfuscate the point where it is completely unintelligible and can move on. When he wanders into economics or int’l relations, he is well outside of his expertise; however, he will still unabashedly defend poor positions.”

Amy Wax, University of Pennsylvania (2006): “I can’t wait to become a personal injury lawyer so that I can sue her for all the pain and suffering that she put me through in this class!”

Jane Ginsburg, Columbia (2006): “Cut your losses and buy her casebook to read at your leisure. Save yourself the frustration of sitting through digressions on the heirs of Victor Hugo and statutory exegeses during the course of which she presumes students are illiterate interspersed with Socratic rape. Be forthcoming with inanities in class; you will be shot down but graded up.”

James Gross, Cornell (2012): “Professor Gross is a completely biased individual. He spends his entire lecture espousing his socialist ideals, urging us comrades to join him in the fight against the evil corporations. He is extremely forgetful and tends to repeat things he has already taught. Don’t ever ask him for advice on papers, he doesn’t even look at them, his TA grades.”

Christopher Springman, University of Virginia (2011): “Professor has huge ego and doesn’t teach. Is more interested in telling you how brilliant he us.”

David Barron, Harvard (2006): “Don’t waste your time… your better off watching Court TV!!!” (Editor’s Note: Barron was confirmed to the First Circuit Court in 2014)

Anita Allen, University of Pennsylvania (2009): “Worst teacher I have ever had. Including the 4th grade teacher I had that threw my friend to the ground and broke his collar bone.” (Allen was named Penn’s Vice Provost for Faculty in 2013.)

Eleanor Fox, New York University (2008): “Boring! Old! Reads straight from the book! She has been teaching this class for over 30 years and she obviously could care less about it. I wish I had skipped every class session and used the time to study. Not that it matters – she grades by scattering the papers on the ground and seeing where they fall.”

James Boyle, Duke (2012): “Prof. Boyle is a very intelligent man but I doubt he’s the most intelligent man in the world, which appears to be his opinion. I’ve never had a prof. who is so in love with his own voice and “wit”. If he would concentrate less on how he comes off and more on actually teaching, both sides would be better off. A smart bore.”

Robert Sarachan, Cornell (2011): “Completely full of himself. Enjoys enforcing ridiculous policies. Loves hearing himself talk (though not to your educational benefit). Do not waste your time.”

Richard Parker, Harvard (2013): “Ridiculously bad. I was totally into Con. law until I went for his class. He has a worldview that only he fully understands and is at peace with. This class was an attempt at inducting us into his world. Only except a couple of people , no one was buying it. I actually began to hate the class in 2 weeks. But, it was a LCTH exam. No coldcalling.”

Amy Wax, University of Pennsylvania (2012): “A thoroughly unpleasant human being. Obsessed with her own victimization at the hands of forces she believes deserve blame for being victims themselves. Uses anecdotal evidence and uncareful interpretations of social scientific data to support many of her policy prescriptions. Decent instructor when she can just stick to the course content.”

Patricia Williams, Columbia (2006): “Seems to have a gift for taking simple concepts and making them complicated for her students. Class was a total waste of time. I seriously considered demanding a refund from Columbia. Possibly the worst teacher I have ever had.”

Geoffrey Hazard, University of Pennsylvania (2006): “BO-ring. Like listening to your grampa tell war stories. There are some useful nuggets in the meandering tales of back in the day, if you can stay awake for them. Oh, and don’t bother buying his $80 textbook– he only uses about 6 cases, which you can print off Lexis for free.”

Susan Sturm, Columbia (2011): “Worst Civ Pro teacher (it was her first year) in history. Half-way through the semester, several students could not define federalism and had no idea that Civ Pro was about litigation.”

Seth Kreimer, University of Pennsylvania (2006): “Interesting class, but I wouldn’t advise taking it if you think you may need to ask a question during office hours. The couple of times I went to office hours, Prof. Kreimer’s reaction was essentially, “you’re an idiot, get lost.” Thank goodness for hand-me-down outlines.”

Robert Burns, Northwestern (2006): “Displays an astounding lack of judgment in both ethics and evidence. ITA volunteers tend to say his points are wrong. Peppers his rambling lectures with Wigmore nonsense and swipes at economics. The simulations are stupid. Exam is ridiculously tough and he’ll pick a couple pretty boys as teacher’s pets. Take ITA without these two classes.”

Janet Alexander, Stanford (2012): “Take her if you want to learn absolute nothing and be ready to fail.”

Lester Lawrence Lessig, Stanford (2006): “Felt like he read the material the night before, and was blessing us with his insights.” (Editor’s Note: Lessig has since joined the Harvard Law faculty.)

Eben Moglen, Columbia (2006): “sockless loafers and unbuttoned shirt… yucks…”

Mark Kelman, Stanford (2004): “Has no idea or has forgotten what it is like to be learning this stuff for the first time.” (Editor’s Note: Kelman is now vice dean at the school.)

Frank Upham, New York University (2007): “Professor Upham admitted to us halfway through the semester that he brushed our questions aside, and that he spent the first half of the semester not wanting to teach the class. He tried to improve as the semester went on, but his contempt for his students, and their resulting contempt for him, kept the class from being useful, or educational.”

Deborah Rhode, Stanford (2010): “Lazy. Basically turns the class over to students to teach and uses student final papers to supplement her casebook. The cliche of a liberal who means well, but is hopelessly stuck in her white, middle-class world view. Also, thinks very highly of herself.”

Amar Akhil, Yale, (2010): “Awful class. Amar is a little too full of himself to make this an enjoyable experience. He is incredibly smart and spends the entire class trying to show that to you. Way better classes available at Yale.”

Jon Hanson, Harvard (2006): “Rather than teach torts, (a) he covers the law & econ theory that he finds interesting, and (b) he does it very one-sided (I actually agree with his side, but it wold’ve been nice to hear the other side). Seems to enjoy student admiration a little too much. Plays favorites badly. A nice guy whose teaching is self-indulgent and unhelpful.”

Kevin Davis, New York University (2008): “Davis couldn’t tell you his phone number without being confused. Get a good hornbook and a solid commercial outline if you want to learn anything about contracts. He clearly has other things on his mind.”

Donnie Herzhog, University of Michigan (2006): “Delusional: He does not seem to understand that law is not an academic discipline. But in that regard he is like most other law professors.”

(Go to the next page for the best things that students say about their law professors)

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