On of the things I have to do as a result of serving as Director of Faculty Development for the law school is act as head cheerleader for the faculty's scholarly activities (another is to nag folks to put their writing on SSRN – an uphill struggle). We had our annual 'Celebration of Faculty Scholarship' reception yesterday, and I was told I would have to give a speech. Here's more or less what I said:
I'd like to thank Raquel Matas, Amy Leitman, and especially Robin Schard for all their work in making this event, and this brochure, possible.
The Dean Search Committee members can't be here as they have yet another meeting – just another example of the many demands on people's time that might draw them away from writing, conflicts that each of you listed here have overcome.
It's worth looking at this list of publications: it includes many things you might otherwise not know about – indeed a very substantial number of things that are not on SSRN…you know who you are, and you'll be hearing from me.
I mourn the death of our former custom of putting every offprint in every faculty mailbox – I understand why, for environmental reasons, this practice went out of fashion, but I wish people would more frequently at least put the abstract, or the intro, in a memo so we wouldn't have to wait until this list comes out to see what so many people have been up to.
More generally, as long as I'm wishing for stuff, I think that we as a community could probably stand to do more celebrating of achievements. But if we are still celebrating too few things, too infrequently, I am glad that this is one of the things we do celebrate: today we are celebrating our community's scholarship, which has a very special, very central place in our collective enterprise.
This afternoon, I was talking to Ben Depoorter, who's at that Dean Search meeting right now. I was urging him to drop by later if the meeting breaks up in time. Economist that he is, Ben went straight to the point: “At what time do they give out the prizes?”
I had to confess that, as far as I know, we will not be giving out prizes today.
But that's because those of you who are writing have in some sense already had the prizes: I mean of course the 50 free offprints.
No, more seriously, you have already had the prizes:
- the time to think,
- the time to write,
- the chance to speak truth to power (or, as the case may be, to shout “power” to truth),
- the chance to take part in a national or a global conversation,
- the chance make a difference in the world
You do this by your contributions to doctrine, to discourse, to law reform, to clarity of understanding and, yes, to truth, and in so doing you justify our claim to be in a university rather than a trade school, and to take our place in the great invisible college of thoughtful citizens and intellectuals.
I leave you with the immortal words of Oliver Twist, “More, please”.
I much prefer giving academic papers – it's so much easier.