Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Deans Respond to TaxProf Blog Posts on Faculty Layoffs

Appalachian LogoAppalachian Law School to Lay Off 63% Of Its Faculty? (Mar. 23, 2014):

  • Jackie Pruitt (Appalachian):  I want to take this opportunity to provide corrected numbers on the changes happening at the Appalachian School of Law that you recently discussed on your blog. I believe that your calculations relied on three numbers that are difficult to predict at this time: the number of total students at the school and in our incoming Fall 2014 class; the student faculty ratio; and the number of faculty members needed to provide a quality legal education to a smaller community of students.

DenverDenver to Slash Ten Junior Faculty Positions Through Voluntary Buyouts (Mar. 25, 2014):

  • Martin Katz (Denver):  Not sure if it is worth correcting on TaxProfBlog, but there is an inaccuracy in the report by Above the Law. I am not sure where Above the Law gets the idea that “junior faculty members are expected to self-select out of their own jobs – for cash.” The voluntary buy-out package will not be available to junior faculty members.
  • Dan Rodriguez (Northwestern; President, AALS): 

    That law schools are looking to manage their costs by taking close looks at their faculty labor force seems entirely sensible.  It is hardly the harbinger of disaster; and, like the press releases that are attached to these proposals, these are important messages to the wider community of students and alumni that the law schools are looking at constructive ways of preserving strong academic programs and high quality in their student bodies.

    These should be welcome developments.  Folks like our friends at Above the Law, who are habitually cranky about law school decisionmaking and the motivations of academic leaders, should say:  “Hurray.  It’s about time law schools take a hard look at costs.”  But, instead, the headline of the day is essentially “Law Schools are Crashing Around Us.  Witness the Scramble to ‘Kick Out’ Faculty Members.”  Think I am exaggerating?  Here’s a link to a post by the sober Pepperdine Law professor and influential blogger, Paul Caron.

    Take a breath, doomsayers.  Have some perspective.  This is evidence of adaptation, not desperation.  And you are not helping the general situation, IMHO!

See also Brian Leiter (Chicago), Dean Rodriguez (Northwestern) on Hysteria About Law Schools

Update #1:  Above the Law has updated its post:  The law school explained to TaxProf Blog that the voluntary buyouts will not be available to junior (i.e., tenure-track) faculty members.

Update #2:  Brian Leiter (Chicago), What Is REALLY Going on at Denver (Contrary to ATL's Fabrications)

Legal Education | Permalink


Dean Rodriguez makes a lot of sense here. This should be positive news for those continuously questioning the cost structure of law schools. ATL, not surprisingly, got this one all wrong.

Posted by: HTA | Mar 26, 2014 5:58:08 AM

The ALS offer of buyouts that got so much attention a few weeks ago is looking more and more like trend among lower ranked schools.

Posted by: Third Tier | Mar 26, 2014 6:45:23 AM

Why would anyone treat anything from Above the Law as serious news?

Posted by: Publlius Novus | Mar 26, 2014 7:03:04 AM

Because it's sometimes the only or first source on a topic related to legal education?

Posted by: Third Tier | Mar 26, 2014 8:00:56 AM

More Sturm und Drang out of Denver...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 26, 2014 9:12:51 AM

TT, if you are basing any decisions on what you read in ATL, you are not a serious person. ATL is run by a bunch of refugees from BigLaw who didn't like getting paid $160k/yr for sitting in a windowless room sorting piles of paper.

Posted by: Publlius Novus | Mar 26, 2014 11:19:26 AM