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Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, July 15, 2013

ABA Accreditation Committee Recommends Dilution of Faculty Tenure, Punts on Toughening Bar Passage Requirement

ABA Logo 2ABA Journal:  Keep Job Protections for Law School Faculty, ABA Committee Recommends:

An ABA committee has voted to recommend that the law school accreditation standards be amended to require that law schools provide some form of security of position short of tenure to all full-time faculty members.

But the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar’s Standards Review Committee, which met Friday and Saturday in Chicago, also voted to give the section’s governing council -- which must approve any changes in the standards -- three other ways of dealing with the whole tenure issue:

  • One would keep a cleaned-up version of the current standard, which is widely understood to require tenure or a comparable form of security of position for all full-time faculty, except for clinical professors and legal-writing instructors.
  • Another would require law schools to provide all full-time faculty members the same job protections, irrespective of academic field or teaching methodology.
  • The third would eliminate any job security requirements from the standards altogether.

The committee, which is wrapping up a comprehensive review of the standards, based its recommendation on a straw poll of members following a lengthy discussion of the four draft proposals before it. The poll indicated a clear preference for requiring some form of security of position short of tenure for all full-time faculty members, over any of the other alternatives. The option with no job protection requirements for anybody was the least popular. ...

With that issue decided, the committee made a lot of headway at its meeting in Chicago. It finished its proposed overhaul of two more chapters of the standards: Chapter One, which covers general purposes and practices; and Chapter Four, which covers the faculty. And it wrapped up its work on Chapter Three, which covers the program of legal education -- but for one provision: the so-called bar passage requirement.

The committee agreed in concept with a proposal to tighten and simplify the current requirement, but got bogged down in the particulars of some of the individual provisions before deciding to table the matter until its next meeting in October.

The committee also agreed to increase the experiential learning requirement from one credit hour to six credit hours, and to eliminate the current requirement that the student/faculty ratio be considered in determining whether a school is in compliance with the standards.

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