Paul L. Caron
Dean




Monday, February 16, 2015

Livingston: Rutgers Administration Is 'Pulling a Fast One' With Merger of Camden and Newark Law Schools

Rutgers Law SchoolsFollowing up on my previous post, Rutgers-Camden and Rutgers-Newark Law Schools to Merge:  Tax Prof Michael Livingston (Rutgers-Camden), The Rutgers Law "Merger":  Lots of Form, Not Much Substance:

[T]he proposed merger of the Camden and Newark Law Schools into one "R-Law" brand ... is high on form, but low on content, and the style is--well, read on.

The merger was originally prompted by a desire to fend off a proposed takeover of the Camden law school by Rowan University, which was perceived as less prestigious than Rutgers. An unstated goal is to distract attention from the relatively poor performance of both, but especially the Camden, law schools since the Rowan proposal was blocked. In the most recent US News survey, the Camden law school ranked 81 and Newark 83; since Camden has since been forced to accept more (read weaker) students by the central administration, there is a good chance it will fall out of the top 100 in the next survey.

What else has Camden done since the Rowan fiasco? So far as I can tell three main things.

First, it hired about a half dozen new faculty, all or nearly all women and heavily concentrated in the areas of law and philosophy, on the one hand, and what might be called progressive social change--primarily race and gender studies--on the other. ...

Second the Camden campus--the one whose largest unit (the law school) is supposed to be merging with Newark--has decided to spend an extraordinary and unprecedented sum on administrative expenses. ...

Finally, the law school has actually reduced the budget for adjunct faculty, who are the most cost effective and the most likely to have contacts that can help students get jobs.

Oh, did I mention that the law school emphasizes two-year employment statistics and brags of its placement of students in judicial clerkships? The vast majority of these clerkships are with local New Jersey courts and there is little if any evidence that they lead to permanent jobs.

Not surprisingly for a school that emphasizes race, gender and philosophy and has a history of misleading employment statistics, the Camden law school has had trouble attracting students. Hence the merger, which it is hoped will improve its marketing or (at very least) distract attention by rolling the law school's statistics into the larger university.

The problem is that the merger, as almost anyone can say, has little if any substance. As best as I can tell, it consists largely of an administrative reshuffling together with the addition of one small distance learning classroom. ... The Rutgers merger is a good example of how form frequently trumps substance, especially when the industry in question (here law schools) is in a crisis mode. Will they get away with it? For a time, perhaps. But the facts have a way of catching up with you. Instead of dealing honestly and forthrightly with a crisis--one largely, although not exclusively, of its own making--Rutgers is attempting to pull a fast one. I think that, deep down, the participants themselves realize this. Do they really think nobody else will notice?

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/02/livingston-rutgers-administration-is-pulling-a-fast-one-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

If there's a surfeit of law schools, why not just shut this one down?

Posted by: Art Deco | Feb 18, 2015 12:58:29 PM

Darryl Jones,

How about starting with Bar Exam tested subjects. I hope I don't need to go through the list for you. Pick out the bestselling textbook on each one of these topics. How many cases deal with gay rights, race, environmental law, etc.? Probably less than 1% overall. Then why is it that law schools place such a huge emphasis on political issues?

I never said law (traditional or otherwise) is supposed to be explored without reference to context. The question is what context. The context that relates to the work most grads can expect to do, or the context that has evolved for the sheltered academy?

Posted by: JM | Feb 17, 2015 3:28:46 PM

What, pray tell, is "traditional Law" and how is it to be explored without reference to context?

Posted by: Darryll Jones | Feb 17, 2015 10:25:10 AM

GamerGate,

Did you miss this sentence: "I get that there will be some overlap between these topics and the law, but they should be restricted to when the topic actually comes us and not woven mercilessly throughout the general curriculum."

Posted by: JM | Feb 16, 2015 8:31:05 AM

"These professors, who are largely female, want to talk about anything but traditional law. Their focus is instead on abortion, parenting..."

Yeah, there's no "traditional law" regulating abortion or parenting. Just a law-free realm of social work and maternal/paternal love.

& where's Livingston's evidence for the clerkship jobs not leading to permanent jobs?

Posted by: GamerGate Right Here | Feb 16, 2015 7:08:15 AM

“First, it hired about a half dozen new faculty, all or nearly all women and heavily concentrated in the areas of law and philosophy, on the one hand, and what might be called progressive social change--primarily race and gender studies--on the other. ...”

“Not surprisingly for a school that emphasizes race, gender and philosophy and has a history of misleading employment statistics, the Camden law school has had trouble attracting students.”


I was wondering when someone was finally going to address this issue. A large number of junior ranking faculty are trying to transform law schools into something completely different. These professors, who are largely female, want to talk about anything but traditional law. Their focus is instead on abortion, parenting, racism, sexism, human rights violations and the environment. I get that there will be some overlap between these topics and the law, but they should be restricted to when the topic actually comes us and not woven mercilessly throughout the general curriculum. Since traditional topics still need to be taught for the bar exam and some business courses need to be offered, schools end up with a bloated faculty just so that they can have a strange panoply of socially progressive seminars that fit each faculty member’s niche interest. Perversely, this effect is most pronounced at low ranking schools, where students really should be focusing on basic legal skills since there is no way that they will ever have the resume to become constitutional law attorneys or public interest lawyers.

Posted by: JM | Feb 16, 2015 5:37:57 AM