f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

March 16, 2005

the Volokh Contingency?

Filed under: — David Giacalone @ 10:30 pm


    Yabut’s Advice to the Law Lorn

               March 16, 2005

Dear Prof. Yabut:


I know you’re retired and would rather be napping, but I really need advice.

Evan Schaeffer has been very busy lately (and he seems to specialize

in advising young associates who have very little common sense), so I

hope you’ll help a gender-neutral person in distress.


I’m a law student at UCLA and my problem involves a professor who is really

a big shot on campus and in the blogosphere, Eugene Volokh.  I’m a very big

fan of his, and plan to take all of his courses, so I need help being diplomatic.

You see, Prof. V. made a big mistake at his weblog, the Volokh Conspiracy,

two days ago, and I want to help him correct it, without antagonizing him. On

the other hand, I don’t want to be anonymous, since I’d like to get credit for my

knowledge, research and initiative.


The mistake showed up in the following posting (March 14, 2005):


Occasionally, I get e-mail from new readers who haven’t

noticed that there are multiple bloggers here. Sometimes,

it’s of the “How can you say X when yesterday you say Y?”

variety, to which my response is “careful with that ‘you.'”


More broadly, let this be a reminder to new readers:

It’s not just Volokh — it’s a Conspiracy.

Geez, on first reading, I almost thought this was an issue-spotting lesson

from Prof. V.   Since you’re an antitrust expert, and hang out online with

criminal law buffs like Fed84, I’m sure you saw the problem right off: 

By definition, every member of a conspiracy is liable for

the actions of every other member of the conspiracy — they

each become partners or agents of eachother. (see here

about 18 U.S.C.371; and here on Sherman Act Sec.1; and

there on California conspiracy law) 

If Prof. Volokh doesn’t want to be responsible for his co-bloggers’ posts,

he’s going to have to stop holding himself out as being part of a

conspiracy, and he really needs a new name for the weblog.  That’s

my other problem: I want to be constructive and suggest a name, but

all us insiders refer to Prof. Volokh’s weblog as “VC“, so I feel very limited

in my options.   The  “c” words that I’ve learned in law school have the same

problem as “conspiracy” — they suggest joint action. E.g., contract,

combination, concert, consolidated, confederacy, and con-job. 


Do you have any ideas?  Please hurry with your reply, because I really want

to be the first person pointing out the issue and the solution.


                                                     s/ Sweet Sixteen but Already 2L



the woodpecker
pecks it to death…
the post

             ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue



“prof Yabut small flip”  Dear Already:


I see you’re just as precocious as Prof. V., and you sound like a good

candidate for the legal profession.  So, I’m typing as fast as I can, to help

further your career.  However, I’m new to the advice-column game, so I need

to make a couple things clear, with this Disclaimer:

This is not legal advice, and I make no warranty that it is

good advice or likely to achieve any of your goals.  By

submitting your question, you agree that you have read

a substantial amount of my posting at this site and are

aware of my eccentricities and ulterior motives.  Of course,

you hold me harlmess for any damage to your career or


Your analysis of the word “conspiracy” is flawless (couldn’t have done better

myself).   I’d suggest that you be as forthright as possible and contact Prof. V.

directly about this problem.  He might be young, but he’s a big boy with a 

healthy ego.  I’m sure he’d prefer to deal with the issue, and maybe bury it, rather

than have some smart-aleck weblog editor (especially a professor) come along 

and try to put egg on his face, for the sake of a few extra page hits.


I agree that you should bring Prof. V. suggestions for a new weblog name, and

that keeping the VC acronym is important.   Looking at the weblog’s lineup,  I was 

going to try to slip “confederacy” by you, but you’re too sharp.  “Independent

Contractors” is the right notion, but VIC won’t do, despite the nifty counterpart

of Virtual Information Center.   After flipping through my old desk dictionary, I

have wittled the possibilities down to two for the new VC name:


First, The Volokh Club — just a bunch of folk under the same webroof,

but with no particular connotation of concerted action.  The other, macho

meanings of a weapon, or a nightspot for entertainment might also appeal

to Prof. V and his crew.  


Second, The Volokh Cabinet — a group of advisors, usually to a

head of state or important official.  Nobody expects cabinet members

to agree on much, nor act in unison.  The notion of a Big Shot appointing

a cabinet of distinguished advisors might appeal to the Professor. On

the other hand, the fact that a cabinet is a milk shake in Massachu-

setts might be a drawback. 

I’m sure Professor Volokh will appreciate your bringing this issue to his attention.

In case he doesn’t, and instead tries to remove the post from the website to save

face, refer him to this Google cache page.  And, don’t worry about Prof. V. finding

out you got a little help from me.  Trust me, he never reads this humble little weblog.


One last thing: next time, run your problems past T. Evan Schaeffer, before waking

up the ol’ professor.  Evan’s young, talented, and will work on contingency.  [He

might not be available on St. Patrick’s Day, however.]


s/ Prof. Yabut



rain is over–
on the post a splendid

        ISSA, translated by David G. Lanoue

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