Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

NLJ: ABA Considers Job Protections for Nontraditional Faculty

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."

Legal Education | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference NLJ: ABA Considers Job Protections for Nontraditional Faculty:


Almost every member of our faculty has a significant amount of practice experience and that is true at many law schools. How else do you explain the fact that law school salaries (and tuitions) often exceed those of professors in the English department, for example, by 20 to 50%?

Posted by: Steve Diamond | Jul 14, 2011 4:28:31 PM

I don't see how that would necessarily follow, Steve. Those who can't do will still teach.

Posted by: Ryan Waxx | Jul 14, 2011 1:31:31 PM

Well, you could try a system of at will employment for law professors, but then ask what salary would be required to lure faculty out of legal practice in order to teach. I assure you it would be substantially more than it is today. In any case, I would dispute the notion that at will employment is the model in the wider legal profession. Judges have job security, especially Article III judges. Public defenders and DA's have civil service protections and even union contracts in some circumstances. And of course there is still such a thing as equity partnership at many firms.

Posted by: Steve Diamond | Jul 13, 2011 7:43:36 PM

"The idea is to eliminate inequality between different types of law professors"

Why not make it equal between professors, and the rest of the legal profession. Everyone is an employee at will, and they all can be fired at any time, without any notice, and for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Jul 13, 2011 2:39:45 PM

Law professors make their money on the backs of naive or stupid students who will be crushed by debt with little in the way of job prospects. They love to act superior to practitioners, and they love to describe practicing lawyers as unethical or amoral, but in fact professors contribute far less to society and do more harm to innocents than all of the V100 combined. No professor, at any level, deserves special protection. The market is ravaging the students. Let it ravage the faculty as well.

Posted by: Student | Jul 13, 2011 1:39:44 PM

Why stop here? Why not require every graduate of a four year college to attend one and one half years of law school? I'd call that a chicken in every pot. Yippee!!!

---"there's only one way to handle this, regulate everything."

Posted by: perry | Jul 13, 2011 5:48:04 AM

Won't matter when there is no one to teach... Keep raising those tuitions, lying about post graduate employment rates and yanking scholarships!!! Formula for success!!!

Posted by: Mark M | Jul 13, 2011 4:39:46 AM

Wait, the proposal was drafted by the dean from The University of La Verne College of Law? That law school isn't accredited by the ABA. How is this. What

Posted by: anon | Jul 13, 2011 12:09:03 AM

The problem is the ABA proposal does not go far enough!

All faculty deserve the protection of academic freedom and only the tenure system, worked out over hundreds of years in the relationship between universities and the wider society in which they operate, guarantees that protection. In modern society the AAUP 1940 Principles serve as the basis of the tenure system in most universities and by extension most law schools.

It is very odd that the ABA is allegedly strengthening protection for clinicians while with the other hand removing tenure as a requirement for accreditation. The one problem with the approach to job security for clinicians is that it can place control over their hiring and retention the hands of deans removed from the obligation of shared faculty governance.

Posted by: Steve Diamond | Jul 12, 2011 9:06:46 PM

Why on Earth would an accrediting body care about the employment practices of its schools? If nontrad faculty members don't like their current arrangement, they should ask to change it. If their employer won't, they should find a new employer.

This would only serve to make law school more expensive. I've got enough debt upon graduation, and my profs managed to teach me just fine without a job guaranteed for five years. This policy idea just boggles the mind.

Posted by: Confused 3L | Jul 12, 2011 3:18:16 PM

Short term contracts? Who do these schools think they're dealing with, graduates? Pish-tosh!

Posted by: BL1Y | Jul 12, 2011 2:46:22 PM