I'm writing a short essay on a survey of student attitudes towards intestacy and also towards the marital elective share that I conduct on the first day of my trusts and estates class. I survey student attitudes on those issues as a way of introducing them to some of the topics we're going to be talking about in class -- and I often find that the students' ideas about what should happen don't really match up at all with what does happen. And therein begins some great discussion both on the first day of class and down the road in the semester. I use surveys at other points in the class to gauge students' attitudes towards cases and see if they vary according to gender. It won't surprise any trusts and estates teachers that male and female students differ greatly in their attitude toward In re Strittmater. But that's really a story for another time.
I remember about fifteen years ago -- back when I was teaching administrative law -- really enjoying an article that Cass Sunstein wrote (actually co-authored, though I'd forgotten this) on a survey he conducted in his administrative law class about students' attitudes towards allocation of resources in response to risk. (The article is by Christopher E. Houston and Sunstein, Risk Assessment, Resource Allocation, and Fairness: Evidence from Law Students 48 Journal of Legal Education 496-523 (December 1998).) And so I was looking for that article this weekend as a sort of model for this very compact essay I'm writing. I remembered that it was in the Journal of Legal Education, but I'd forgotten the title. But I figured that it would have been cited a bunch and would be easy to find. It actually didn't take long to find, thanks to the magic of westlaw, but I was surprised that it hadn't been cited much, at all -- I think only twice in westlaw's JLR file.
I mean, I'd understand it if it were on pre-Civil War popular constitutional thought -- even more so if it were on pre-Civil War trusts and estates or landscape art and property law. But this is Cass Sunstein -- and it's on adminstrative law and risk. Just further evidence that you shouldn't judge an article -- even an article's utility -- solely by its citations.