I want to sincerely thank the entire Faculty Lounge crew for letting me hang out here for the month, but it's time for me to sign off. I have weddings to attend, courses to prepare, and doctoral work to attend to, and maintaining a posting schedule on two blogs (I have my own blog, The Debate Link, where you can find me year round) is more of a fun decision than a wise decision. That said, it's always worthwhile to step outside my own little corner to interact with new people and make new friends, and I appreciate the opportunity to do so here.
I'll be teaching undergraduates for the first time in the Fall, and I've taken to reflecting on what makes law and law students distinct from those in other academic disciplines. In the media there are plenty of horror stories about Students These Days, none of which I've had any experience with while teaching law school classes. In part, that's because I think more than a bit of the hysterics over Safe Spaces and Trigger Warnings and what have you are nothing more than today's moral panic. And of course law students are older, more mature, and self-select to a particular type that may be less keen on the sort of performative activism associated with certain undergraduates.
But I do think there is something to be said for the particular deliberative virtues that are inculcated in law schools. Whatever can be said about the legal job market or the challenges of being a lawyer (and there is much to be said about these things), purely as an academic discipline I think law very much can be proud of our niche in the scholarly community. Things as basic as the importance of letting all sides say their piece, of taking opposing arguments seriously, of grappling with dissenting opinions, and of keeping an open and impartial mind, are fundamental in our discipline. Developing these skills is part and parcel of what it means to be a member of the legal community. It's not that we're perfect or close to it, but I've yet to met a law professor of any persuasion who does not truly and honestly value these virtues. This is something we can be proud of. And if we are concerned that the rest of academia does not always embrace these values, then I think it is incumbent upon ourselves to export them.
It is perhaps because of the prevalence of these virtues that I've always found the legal academic community to be by and large a great place to "grow up" as a scholar. I don't think it is any accident that it was legal academia that came up with an idea like JOTWELL, for instance. In my experience, the blawgosphere has served both as an incubator of good scholarly ideas and as a community that can help bring scholars of a variety of interests, backgrounds, and career-statuses together. In a world where people usually don't have to listen and so frequently will elect not to listen, the diversity and vibrancy of this community is something we should not take for granted, but can also be very proud to have sustained for so long.