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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Law School Cannibalism

Brian Tamanaha (St. John's) has unearthed a wonderful 1927 speech at the AALS annual meeting by Thomas Reed Powell (Harvard), The Recruiting of Law Teachers, 13 A.B.A. J. 69 (Jan. 1927):

Robbing each other's hen-roosts is facilitated by the graduation in the salary scale from school to school and by these annual opportunities for getting acquainted. We can know a man by his larynx without waiting for the fruits from his fingers. Whatever the reason, most of our law schools now feed frequently on each other.

Such cannibalism is not of great importance to legal education as a whole. ... I hear of frequent attempted larcenies that have been frustrated notwithstanding the allurement of higher salaries. This competition of school with school may be bad for university budgets, but this has its brighter side....

On the whole it seems to me a good thing for legal education that teachers are not tethered too tightly....The school that loses a man it longs to keep is apt to take steps to make its post more attractive to others. Our law schools have grown in merit as their sister schools have grown in merit. The secure and satisfied school is in danger of stagnation.

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