Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

More on Law Deans' Tenure Challenge

Following up on yesterday's post, Law Deans' Association Fights Tenure Requirement:

The law deans' recent comment sent to the Education Department illustrates what may be a growing divide between the ABA and the law schools it governs. Although several individuals, including law school deans, university presidents and judges, wrote to the Education Department supporting the renewal of the ABA accreditation council's certification, the ALDA comment represents a contrary contingent that is becoming increasingly vocal. "There is a dissatisfaction with the level of activity on the part of the bar association in terms of oversight," said Michael Schill, dean of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law. He added, "There's concern that the bar association may be trying to influence schools in ways that are separate from the role that it is supposed to play in ensuring quality of education."

Information continues to come in [about “ALDA”]. This is a right wing rump group of deans, a combination of deans of elite law schools who do not want to meet diversity requirements and barely accredited law schools who don’t want to meet any requirements. They first surfaced about fifteen years ago supporting the anti-trust action against the American Bar Associations accreditation efforts. It is not yet clear how many deans are in this group, but they are purporting to speak for the entire 110 membership of ALDA. The requirement of long-term contracts for clinical and legal writing faculty seems to have provided the impetus for this new effort.

The fight isn’t over the practice of tenure; rather the fight is over the relative power of the ABA and its member schools. The ABA is reliably lefty and unashamedly so (only an institution with no shame could adopt this scheme). The named signatories to the ALDA comment are Saul Levmore, David Van Zandt, Katharine Bartlett and Jim Huffman. They are, as a group at least, far less reliably left wing. If memory serves, the ALDA was founded for the very purpose of opposing the ABA’s non-qualitative accreditation standards (stuff like tenure for clinical faculties, minimum salary requirements, faculties’ racial composition, etc.). The ALDA is here challenging the imposition of ideology masquerading as qualitative standard-setting. It might very well be, in contrast, that this is precisely what Angel is fighting for.

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