A Law Porn Blog

law-porn.jpgIt’s known as “law porn” — those glossy brochures that arrive in torrents in every professor’s mailbox touting the wonderful accomplishments of law schools. There’s been a recent swell in posting lately in the legal blogosphere about law porn — from tips by David Bernstein about how best to produce the porn to Jeff Harrison’s plea for a Do Not Mail list.

Why does law porn exist? To raise up a law school’s US News Ranking. Law schools like to tout their accomplishments. Without law porn, how would we know that Professor X published a new book? Or that Professor Y spoke at the school? Or that the school put on a symposium? Or that Professor Z got an honorary degree from the University of Antarctica Law School?

Brian Leiter has devoted a significant amount of time to mocking the obscene claims made within some law school promotional materials.

What should be done? How do we stamp out law porn?

The answer, I believe, is to give the law schools a different outlet for releasing all this information. After all, we want to encourage law schools to do the kinds of things depicted in law porn — publish articles and books, hold conferences, have faculty workshops, and otherwise create a vibrant intellectual community. We want this healthy activity to be reflected in a law school’s ranking. We just don’t like it placed in our mailboxes.

My solution is for law schools to create a law porn blog. A representative from each school can post about the various news, conferences, and publications at the school. Of course, it need not be called “law porn blog,” although with a moniker like that, I’m sure it would enhance the visitor traffic. But a blog can serve as a centralized resource for announcing law school news, and it can save countless money and trees.

So we don’t need to end law porn — just steer it to a new venue, an online red-light district for the legal blogosphere. It’s time for the law schools to join together to create a law porn blog.

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13 Responses

  1. Eric Goldman says:

    And we should create a neww .xxx TLD for it. 🙂 Eric.

  2. It must have been quite a trick to find the image for this post. I imagine a google image search for “porn protest” wouldn’t have cut it….

  3. anon says:

    This is a bit underinclusive because it doesn’t cover papers published, but it certainly covers speeches, colloquium, and conferences/symposia:


  4. anon says:

    This is a bit underinclusive because it doesn’t cover papers published, but it certainly covers speeches, colloquium, and conferences/symposia:


  5. Ann Bartow says:

    I’m curious, why is the analogy/metaphor law PORN?

  6. Mike Madison says:

    Instead of law PORN, how about a ratings system for promotionial mailers? We’ll need a ratings board, and “voluntary” participation by law schools.

    Fill in the appropriate descriptors next to parallels for the MPAA ratings: G // PG // PG-13 // R // NC-17 // XXX (not an official rating!).

    Or, since law schools are arguably trying to “game” the US News system, borrow the ratings from the Entertainment Software Rating Board: EC (Early Childhood) // E (Everyone) // E-10+ (Everyone 10 and older) // T (Teen) // M (Mature) // AO (Adults Only).

  7. Just Sayin' says:

    Isn’t Leiter’s blog essentially a law porn blog?

  8. Brian says:

    If you think my blog is “law porn,” then you must never have seen the real thing!

  9. Bridget Crawford says:

    Ann raises an excellent question. I have two working hypotheses.

    First, for some people, these glossy brochures are a “guilty pleasure,” like pornography. Just as noone wants to admit looking at Playboy for anything other than the articles, noone (written gender neutral, but more accurately, no male blogger) wants to admit looking at these brochures.

    Second, the glossy brochures present an airbrushed and limited view of a law school’s intellectual life, just as pornography presents an airbrushed and limited view of women (and sometimes men). The brochures do not show us faculty members who haven’t written a law review article in years or who haven’t attended conference in recent memory don’t make it into the glossy brochures. So, too, pornography rarely shows us women with natural bodies. Instead, pornography presents an unrealistic, distorted image of women’s bodies, pleasure and pain for purposes of (mostly) male consumption. Law “porn” distorts a law school for purposes of consumption by U.S. News rankers. (Full disclosure, I filled out my survey last week. If I interpreted the glossy brochures with irony, does that mean I couldn’t possibly have a false consciousness?)

    We know, however, that some real women (and men) are hurt in making some pornography. Only a law school’s budget gets hurt in making those glossy brochures.

    (Cross-Comment from FeministLawProfs)

  10. Thanks for raising the nomenclature question, Ann. I want to renew my dissent to the silly term “law porn,” as explained in my posting from October 2005, “more bad neology: “law porn” – http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/ethicalesq/2005/10/26/more-bad-neology-law-porn/

  11. Larry Flynt says:

    The use of the term “law porn” is an insult to we legitimate pornographers.

  12. Ann Bartow says:

    Okay, here’s the thing: The comment above by Larry Flynt is funny at first, but then it isn’t, if you really think about it. And that’s why calling brochures “law porn” troubles me. If everybody appearing in “actual” porn was there voluntarily, and there was a high likelihood they were safe and well paid, that would be one thing. But that isn’t the case, and there is nothing funny about high risk unsafe sex, forced drug dependence or filmed rapes.