Bleg About Questions from Law Students at Other Schools:
I occasionally receive e-mails from law students at other schools (that is, not from GW, where I teach) asking me questions about various areas of law in which I have written. In some cases, students provide the context: Perhaps they are writing a law review note and are stuck on something, or maybe they are working on an issue that came up in a clinic. Sometimes the questions are excellent and I'm happy to help, especially when a student is working on a note related to my work. But sometimes students will write and just ask a question with no context at all. For example, a student might write, "I am a law student at school X, and I am wondering if you could explain to me how the Fourth Amendment applies in the following situation" or something like that.

  Is there a best way to respond to such e-mails? On one hand, I'd like to be helpful if it's easy to be helpful. On the other hand, as much as I would like to be a resource for the entire legal world on questions in which I write, I do feel a bit odd when students aren't particularly polite about asking me to spend my time responding to their questions (especially when it becomes clear they only know my name because they googled the topic and found a paper I wrote). I also worry about the possibility students may be cheating: for all I know they are writing a take-home exam and that's the exam question. Finally, I only have so much time, and it seems to me that I should be helping students where I teach before I take the time to help students elsewhere. I suppose one answer would be not to respond at all, but that seems rude.

  Any ideas for the best way to respond? Sorry for posting what amounts to a bleg, but I'm curious if readers have any bright ideas here.