Tuesday, July 12, 2011
National Law Journal, ABA Panel Considering Boosting Job Protections for Nontraditional Faculty
, by Karen Sloan:
An ABA committee is leaning toward extending job protections for law school clinicians, writing instructors and other nontraditional faculty in a way that would stop short of traditional tenure.
The Standards Review Committee on July 10 voiced initial support for a proposal to require that schools at least provide full-time faculty members with a "program of presumptively renewable long-term contracts that are at least five years in duration after a probationary period reasonably similar to that for tenure-track faculty members."
The contracts would not provide the same job security as tenure, but would offer more protection than exists at present for many nontenured faculty, who often work under short-term contracts.
The idea is to eliminate inequality between different types of law professors, said vice chairwoman Margaret Barry, a professor at Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. The committee has yet to decide whether faculty members on long-term contracts should have the same voting rights regarding faculty promotions that tenured faculty enjoy. ...
The proposal was drafted by committee member Allen Easley, dean of the University of La Verne College of Law. It would result in two tiers of law professors: those who hold tenure or are on the tenure track, and those holding long-term contracts. Proponents argued that the two-tier system at least would eliminate some of the disparities that now exist. At many law schools, clinicians and legal writing instructors lack job security and faculty voting rights.
Not everyone agrees that the committee's new direction is the right one. Loyola University Chicago School of Law Dean David Yellen said that the committee has done well to eliminate ambiguities in the existing standards pertaining to tenure. But he maintained that the ABA should not dictate how law schools employ faculty members.
Committee chairman Donald Polden, dean of Santa Clara University School of Law, warned that adding job protections for faculty members might not sit well with the public, given the job climate. "Students can't get jobs, but the Standards Review Committee has a proposal that guarantees jobs for all law professors," he said. "It looks bad and the [ABA's Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar] might not like that. We have to be aware of the political context."