Quiz for Aspiring Legal Academics

Tim Wu

The following quiz will help you figure out whether legal academia is for you. 


1.        In legal academia, what counts as a “publication?”

            a.            Blog entries
            b.            A casebook or treatise
            c.            A symposium paper
            c.            A well-reviewed popular book
            d.            All of the above are suspect

2.        At faculty meetings, it is sometimes better for junior faculty not to 

            a.            Object to the appointment of people smarter than themselves
            b.            Suggest changing the name of the school
            c.            Open their mouths.

3.       You are giving at a talk.  A prominent faculty member asks, “I take it that you’re right.  But isn’t your argument obvious?” 

            What is the correct response? 

            a.            It is only obvious to you because you are a genius.
            b.            The discovery of gravity also seemed obvious in retrospect.
            c.            I think so too, but everyone at Chicago disagrees with me. 

4.        Which of the following is most helpful for tenure? 

            a.            Blogging your frustrations as a junior academic
            b.            Appearing on reality television
            c.            Devoting time to student conferences
            d.            None of the above. 

5.         What is the best way to avoid being assigned to committees with lots of work? 

            a.            Cultivate an image as an unreliable genius
            b.            Express extreme political opinions at faculty meetings           
            c.            Be male
            d.            All of the above                       

6.         Despite the open and accepting nature of academia, which of the following are probably                  not good topics for jokes? 

            a.            Your drug habit
            b.            Your severe distaste for writing papers
            c.            That you secretly hate Opera


Norms & Jurisprudence 

1.    Which of the following theories best describes why men hold open doors for women: 

            a.    Some men prefer to open doors for women, and therefore do.
            b.    Men open doors for women because they fear community punishment and public                         shaming.
            c.    Men hold doors for woman because they think doing so will maximize their chances                    of reproduction. 

2.    Is the following statement descriptive or normative? 

       “John’s article was moronic.” 

                a.    Descriptive.
                b.    Normative.
                c.    It describes a norm of criticism. 

3.   Is the law against adultery a law?

            a.            Yes, because adultery is wrong.
            b.            No, because the institution of marriage is wrong.
            c.            Only if you get caught. 

Legal History 

4.               Please identify the schools of thought affiliated with the following attitudes toward                        history and law.

                a.    A sentence of history is worth a page of logic. However, judges should do
                       whatever makes sense.
                b.    Congressional history is irrelevant claptrap.  However, the statements of the
 framers about the constitution are not irrelevant claptrap.
                c.    When done properly, the careful study of legal history will show that history offers                        no particular guidance for current problems.  However, years of careful study     
                       remain necessary to show that. 

Law & Economics 

6.            Crime rates went down in the 1990s because 

            a.            People had abortions in the 1970s
            b.            Hip hop music became popular
            c.            Sitcoms got better
            d.            People bought more guns
            e.            I'd like to dispute the definition of "crime."

7.            Which of the following answers best avoids difficult questions at law and economics workshops?

           a.            Well, we’re dealing with theories of the second best here.
           b.            I’d love to answer that question, but it requires some formal                                                   modeling that I don’t want to get into.
           c .           That’s a good question. It reminds me that every co-authorship                                                    has points of disagreement.
           d.            Very useful, thanks.
                           [pause].  Who’s next?

8.            Rent-seeking is

            a.            Wasteful duplication of efforts spent competing for government                                                    prizes.
            b.            Another word for the free market system.
            c.            What academics do when negotiating a lateral move.


How you score the test is up to you. You're an academic, remember?