Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question: What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?
Building on Paul Butler's words, I’d suggest making at least half your founding faculty female. (Since one longstanding tenet of feminism is “the personal is political” I hope it's okay to note that your law professor spouse would be an excellent first hire!). Tenure gets the blame for gender imbalances on the faculties at most existing law schools, but you have plenty of open slots to fill. I'd imagine you'll do a fair amount of lateral hiring. Don’t feel guilty about depleting the already tiny ranks of tenured female law professors of elite schools like Yale. I hope you won't be afraid to also consider smart, productive women at less prestigious law schools (though I'd appreciate it if you didn't poach any of my South Carolina colleagues). Establish a world class law school where women hold up half the sky. This will pressure other law schools to follow suit, especially once you start drawing the most talented female students to Irvine. In a more women-friendly environment than the typical law school, female students are more likely to reach their full academic potential. Someday you can hire them!
Once you've got a large cohort of female faculty members, resist game playing and make sure women faculty and staff are compensated as well as the men. Focus on scholarship quality, rather than on where articles are placed, keep teaching evaluations in perspective, and avoid making female law professors do disproportionate amounts of service.