Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why the Disdain for Academics?

Jim’s Sept. 10th posts repeats the practicing attorney/ judge/academic divide.

In New York State, Chief Judge Kaye announced the creation of the Judicial Institute to encourage discussion amongst these groups. Its seminars have been very successful.

I also believe that UB’s Law School has supported similar programs and even has opened its moot court to the local judiciary for hearings

The divide exists for many reasons. Here are some reasons why:

Deadlines and overwork. People who work under deadline pressure resent people who don’t. I have seen similar disdain amongst emergency room nurses and newspaper printers. Working under deadline doesn’t allow for reflection; you do the job, go through the motions and move on. The criminal judge who rules on 145 motions a day works under a time pressure few can understand.

Inner city decay. Courthouses (except for adoptions) are not happy places. It’s where as one attorney put it, “I am expected to straighten up someone else’s mess up.” Judges and attorneys often suffer from ptsd. Academia is seen as the place where people have time to read in an environment where middle class norms of respect and etiquette are respected.

Librarians can help overcome this divide by providing materials and bridging scholarship to practicing attorneys. When Jim returns from his sabbatical, we should discuss joint projects between his librarians and OCA’s. I know that NYC Housing Court has a program with Columbia’s School of Social Work to help elderly tenants. Surely, we bloggers can do similar work in the meat world.

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Very interesting and thought-provoking! I know I felt as though I had come in from the trenches when I came back to library school after working as a lawyer for a couple years. I certainly love the freedom to think and reflect that is part of academia. I met a visiting prof just the other day, who is visiting us from a law firm. He was very much enjoying that expansiveness and time to engage and think beyond the immediate task. Wouldn't it be cool if ALL jobs had sabbaticals?