‘Tis the season.
Law professors and some judges and practicing lawyers will shortly be deluged with the glossy and mostly vapid promotional brochures that Professor Pam Karlan, among others,Â memorably labeled “law porn” and others prefer to call law school “puffspam.”Â
A handful of law schools send out thicker books that compile excerpts of recent faculty scholarship.Â Virginia has done this in the past; Stanford just sent its most recent edition.
Here is the survey question:Â Either, neither, or both?Â The “law porn”/puffspam mailings are designed to influence USNews rankings voters.Â (Virginia and Stanford have related but distinct prestige interests at stake.)Â For a lower-ranked school that thinks that a mailer may catch the eye of USNews voters, is the scholarship summary a viable or even superior supplement?Â Alternative?Â Does anyone (remember, USNews voters include faculty, lawyers, and judges) read them?Â Weigh them?Â Notice them?Â I am particularly interested in thoughts from lawyers and judges, and/or folks who know lawyers and judges, who vote or have voted in USNews surveys.
The implicit tech-related question is whether law schools that now invest in brochures might accomplish their goals more effectively, more directly,Â and more cheaply by abandoning the pretense that they are communicating anything substantive andÂ abandoning paper mailings altogether.Â Why not move to virtual puffspam?Â The scholarship summary is at least partly substantive, but there, too, would a nice PDF download posted to SSRN and the law school’s blogs and website, and promoted via email, serve as a nice substitute?
(Disclaimer:Â I do not now have and have never had any role in deciding whether to send promotional materials to USNews voters!)