Paul L. Caron

Monday, April 3, 2006

Law Deans' Association Fights Tenure Requirement

Ann Bartow (South Carolina) has posted on Feminist Law Professors a copy of a March 30 memorandum from Marina Angel (Temple) challenging the actions of The American Law Deans Association (ALDA) in contesting the ABA's authority to use its accreditation power to require tenure or long-term contracts for deans, faculty, clinical faculty, legal writing instructors, and law library directors.  From ALDA's submission to the Department of Education:

Our concern is very straightforward: the ABA continues to impose requirements on the law schools it accredits that are not only extraneous to the process of "assuring the quality of [legal] education," but also that improperly intrude on institutional autonomy in seeking to dictate terms and conditions of employment. Such extraneous requirements are in fact counterproductive in that they discourage precisely the innovation and flexibility that are called for in contemporary professional education. We therefore believe that certain ABA requirements do not "effectively address the quality of the institution or its program." as required by 34 C.F.R. § 602.16(a)(1), and that the ABA has failed to demonstrate that it "maintain[s] a systematic program of review that demonstrates that its standards Are relevant to the educational or training needs of students" as required by 34 C.F.R. § 602.21(a). As such, we respectfully request that Secretary require the ABA to revise or rescind these standards prior to granting continued recognition.

ALDA objects to the ABA using its power as an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary to seek to enforce upon its accredited institutions terms and conditions of employment that are extrinsic to educational quality. Specifically, we wish to call to the Committee’s attention to Standards 205(c), the entirety of Standard 405 and 603(d), which, respectively, essentially define the terms of employment of the law school dean, faculty (including those who supervise clinical programs), legal writing instructors and the director of the institution’s law library. The referenced ABA Standards either state, or have been interpreted in the course of accreditation actions to mean, that compliance requires either the granting of tenure or incorporating a tenure-like equivalent in Personnel policies. At a minimum, it is a short step from requiring long-term contracts to mandating tenure.

The submission was made on behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Law Deans Association by:

  • Saul Levmore, Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, President, ALDA
  • David Van Zandt, Dean of the Northwestern University Law School, Vice-President, ALDA
  • Katharine Bartlett, Dean of the Duke Law School
  • James Huffman, Dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School, Treasurer, ALDA

Marina's memorandum in opposition to the ALDA's submission notes:

So far I’ve determined:

  1. The statement was probably sent in early March
  2. The Board took no vote of their membership
  3. The ABA was not copied and did not know until I called this morning
  4. The AALS was not copied and did not know until last night
  5. It is not clear who is on the ALDA’s Board or who their members are

We need to organize quickly to counter this effort with counterstatements and with organizing to get our most eloquent spokespersons to the June Department of Education hearing.

The deans who signed need to be called to task by their faculties. All of the deans who did not sign need to be energized to voice opposition.

Please move ASAP as individuals and organizations.

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No prob. For coverage by the NLJ, see:

Posted by: Ann Bartow | Apr 9, 2006 10:33:12 AM


Posted by: Paul Caron | Apr 3, 2006 5:46:40 AM

Thanks muchly for the attention to this. I did want to point out, though, that there is no particular reason to credit (or blame) me personally with every posting at the Feminist Law Professors blog. It's a collective effort and participants make independent choices about what should be posted. Don't be so quick to assume a hierarchical model of blogging where there isn't one. Thanks.

Posted by: Ann Bartow | Apr 3, 2006 5:41:14 AM