Bricks on the Brain

UM Law

Friday, September 10, 2004

Is UM Law too Liberal?

My friends and collegues know that I take an above-average interest in politics. I am often asked my estimation of the leanings of UM Law faculty and students. Most outsiders have the impression UM Law is a haven for liberal academics. I usually give the following answers:

Without a doubt the majority of UM Law professors are left-leaning. But usually politics are kept out of the classrooms, and policy issues within the law receive balanced coverage. During socratic excercises, even liberal leaning professors challenge classes with conservative views on an issues and defend them well.

This is not to say that there aren't exceptions. I have had one class where I felt the professor's bias (liberal in this case) was so extreme that the quality of the course suffered. His interpretations of cases were not consistent with other commentaries I read. That is not in and of itself bad, except for the fact that he did not expose the class to the alternative interpretations. He clearly had an agenda. I felt my outside work overcame his shortcomings and gave me a balanced view of that area of law. As for the rest of the students--they were short-changed.

To summarize the faculty's impact on students:
1. A conservative student would not feel uncomfortable at UM Law. To the contrary, a few conservative-leaning students I know enjoy the good natured sparring that most professors are willing to entertain.
2. A liberal student would be very comfortable, and could make marvelous use of office hours.

I find it very difficult to guage where the student body is, despite the many politically-centered conversations I have with a variety of students. The reality is, most law students have little if any time to devote to political thought. Many are at an age where political views are developing and in a constant state of flux.

I have never seen any protests or other nonsense on the Bricks. Students at UM are very respectful of eachother's political and religious views. With one exception, I have never seen any flyers I felt were objectionable, inflammatory, or in bad taste. For political discussions on the Bricks, civility is the norm.

To be sure, not everyone will agree with my views. In fact, one top student transferred after 1L to get away from what called a "communist den".


  • At 9:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I work at the Law School as a work-study, and I'd have to agree that while most of the professors I work for tend to be rather left-leaning, I have never seen them inject this into their work.

    As for the University of Miami as a whole, the faculty comes off as rather moderate on the whole. I never feel that any of my classes are overly politicized, and when they are, it's usually because they are that sort of class (ie a Poli Sci clas or an INS class).

    And yes, I agree that most professors on either end of the political spectrum are more than accomodating of opposing views, and usually allow a spirited debate.

    - Alex T.

  • At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Irwin is the worst - "Did how hear how the Bush admin is doing X? Isn't that terrible?" It makes me want to puke. I knew all the professors would be liberal, so you just go through class like a member of the communist party that secretly supprts democracy.

    But why transfer? Isn't it like this everywhere?

  • At 6:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…


  • At 10:50 PM, Blogger NoTONoEagles said…

    Help Mommy, there are Liberals! underneath my bed!!! (No, seriously, that's the name of the book...) Don't believe me? The dang thing's on Amazon, not some hippie-press bullcrap ;) Anyway, thought you might enjoy, pinko ;)


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