Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Putting Legal Writing Faculty On The Tenure Track: One Law School's Experience

Catherine Martin Christopher (Texas Tech), Putting Legal Writing on the Tenure Track: One School's Experience, 31 Colum. J. Gender & L. 65 (2015):

This Article discusses the statistics behind the gendered segregation of law school faculties, in which women occupy a disproportionate number of legal writing and other low-status positions, while men continue to hold a disproportionate number of tenured faculty positions. The Article explores the rationales for and against converting legal writing faculty to tenure-track, and shares one law school’s experience of doing so. The Article then suggests lessons and approaches that other schools may wish to take in converting their own legal writing faculty to tenure-track positions.


Legal writing faculty deserve tenured status for a host of reasons: academic freedom, participation in law school governance, recognition of the importance of the subject matter they teach, and rectification of the historical sexism that segregated them from the rest of the faculty. It is my hope that Texas Tech’s decision to convert its legal writing faculty to tenure-track positions will serve as an example and catalyst for other law schools to follow suit. In this way, law schools can take advantage of the gender diversity already in the building and progress toward equality among all faculty.

Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink


Bryan: As I said the numbers quoted in the article for assistant deans and directors are egregiously wrong, and would be recognized as so by anyone who thought about it. This has nothing to do with who is or isn’t on the tenure track: I’m aware that at most if not all law schools the majority of people with the titles assistant dean or director are not tenure track. There were 201 ABA approved schools in 2012, which means the quoted stats for that year indicate an average of 66 people per school with the title assistant dean or director. That, again, is obviously impossible, and this is confirmed by looking at the ABA stats for 2013, which indicate an average of 15 people per school with those titles, which still seems very high but not out of the realm of possibility, as 15 assistant deans or directors per school seems like plenty of evidence of extreme administrative bloat. I suspect someone in the ABA offices who wasn’t very good at using Excel put together those 2012 stats.

Posted by: Paul Campos | Nov 19, 2015 5:00:22 AM

To JA and JM: These are the credentials of the folks who teach Legal Writing and Reasoning at Chicago Kent. We are ranked about 17 by US News, not that that is an realistic ranking. But it exemplifies the staffs at at least 40% of the Legal Writing programs in the country, in my experience:

1. Cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center; B.A. in Policy Studies (Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude) from Syracuse University and a Master of Public Administration from Syracuse's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Attorney, Grant Thornton; Associate in the litigation department at Winston & Strawn LLP.

2. B.S. in Information & Computer Science, Georgia Institute of Technology; J.D. (magna cum laude), Notre Dame Law School,(articles editor for the Notre Dame Law Review),.LL.M., Harvard Law School . Clerk, the Honorable Cornelia G. Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit; attorney, North Texas Legal Services

3. B.A. (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa), Williams College; J.D.The University of Chicago Law School; Associate, Mayer, Brown & Plat; Staff Attorney, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

4. B.A. with honors (history and philosophy) and M.A. (literature), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; J.D. University of Michigan Law School; Prosecutor in the Kings County District Attorney's office; solo practice; Atttorney, Katten, Muchin and Zavis.

5. Bachelor's degree in public affairs, Princeton University; M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in political science, University of California, Berkeley; J.D.(highest honors and Order of the Coif), George Washington University; Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kalamazoo College; Legislative assistant in both the Texas and U.S. House of Representatives; . Clerk, the Honorable Kenneth Ripple (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit); Associate, Covington & Burling

6. B.A. with distinction from St. Olaf College in Minnesota, ( degrees in English and philosophy); J.D., University of Minnesota, Clerk, the Honorable Gary Crippen of the Minnesota Court of Appeals; Bigelow Fellow at the University of Chicago Law School,

7. J.D. Columbia Law School; A.B. in Government from Harvard University. Attorney at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in Rockville, Maryland; Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, prosecuting domestic violence misdemeanor cases.

8. J.D. Harvard Law School, where she was editor-in-chief , Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics. In 2001, A.B. from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy,(focus in bioethics);senior attorney to the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law,

9. J/D. cum laude, University of Chicago Law School, B.A, magna cum laude, University of Florida (double major in political science and English) . His article A Little Birdie Said: How Twitter Is Disrupting Shareholder Activism was recently published in the Fordham Journal of Corporate & Financial Law, his article Bridgefunding is forthcoming in the Cornell Journal of Law & Public Policy, and his articles Democratizing Startup Success and The Non-Pecuniary Value of Equity Crowdfunding are available on SSRN. He has also written for the Columbia Law School Blue Sky Blog and Professor Oranburg has recently been quoted in articles about crowdfunding and shareholder activism in AboveTheLaw and

Posted by: Ralh Brill | Nov 18, 2015 1:42:21 PM

@ Paul Campos. Paul, your critique is not very thoughtful. If one checks the citation that the author gives for her statistics, the stats check out. She is correct on the numbers she reports. While you don’t give any citation for your numbers, I will assume that your numbers are also accurate. So the thoughtful question to ask is why your numbers and hers might be different. One thought that comes immediately to mind is that the numbers might be measuring different things. Since you do not give a citation for your numbers, I cannot be sure, but I did look at Professor Christopher’s source (an ABA publication) and those numbers are measuring ALL law school employees who self-report having a title similar to “Assistant Dean” or “Director.” It may be that YOUR numbers are simply measuring the number of tenured or tenure-track faculty that hold Assistant or Associate Dean titles.

Posted by: Bryan Camp | Nov 18, 2015 7:39:58 AM

I don't normally comment on these types of strings because I don't like to empower bullies, but to those who spout uninformed opinions about the credentials of legal writing faculty, I recommend the following: Also, for what it's worth, I urge you to consider professionalism and the impact on your reputation when making sweeping statements about a swath of your colleagues.

Posted by: Hollee Temple | Nov 18, 2015 7:13:26 AM

At my school, both our LARW and clinical faculty are tenured/tenure track. They have publication, teaching and service requirements like the rest of us, and to say they are less doctrinally able would be ridiculous. Our LARW professors also teach at least one doctrinal course. Then again, maybe we get such good quality because only a few schools offer tenure track/full participation so we get to choose the cream of the crop whenever we hire. Make it a more attractive position and the able talent will come...

Posted by: Lori | Nov 18, 2015 4:54:06 AM

Ralh, I agree with what you have written, but I think even you would have to admit that the average LRW does not have the exclusive credentials of doctrinal professors. Personally, I don't think doctrinal professors need all the exclusive credentials that are typically a requirement. The are plenty of smart people who weren't top of their class at Yale. But, I predict that if you make LRW equal citizens, including pay, they will become just as competitive and choosey and the numbers match the doctrinal numbers, at least as measured against new hires.

Posted by: JayA | Nov 17, 2015 6:12:37 PM

To JM: No one gets tenure at any law school unless they perform up to the standards set by the faculty and dean. So, even assuming you are correct in your assessment of the LRW teachers at your school, Prof. Christopher would disagree with you as to those at her school, and at others. If you are going to generalize from your limited experience, I can too.....I happen to know the work and abilities of over a thousand LRW teachers at the 223 accredited law schools in the country, and I have found they are among the best educators there are in the field. They spend more time and effort learning the best ways of teaching and the best methods for their students to learn. They have organized two major organizations, the Legal Writing Institute and the Association of Legal Writing Directors, and also make up a large percentage of the constituents of the AALS's section on Teaching Methods. They have two journals, devoted to the art, science and philosophy of teaching legal reasoning, legal analysis, legal research, and oral and written communication in the most current and beneficial to students methods. Take a look at the scholarship they have produced, or attend an annual meeting, or one of the many 3 day conferences or even the 1 day conferences that are held annually, and see the topics they cover, on such things as story telling, persuasion, working in groups, etc. They train the students from their schools who go on to write winning briefs in moot court competitions, and excel in oral argument, and prepare the kinds of documents that all lawyers have to master. Almost all of them are capable of producing excellent law review articles on doctrinal subjects as well as on the even more important to students practical skills training. I just hate it when people like JM draw broad conclusions from very limited experience, which may even be biased experience.

Posted by: Ralh Brill | Nov 17, 2015 5:16:51 PM

Some of the statistics presented in that article are riddled with egregious mistakes. For example the ABA statistics indicate that in 2013 there were just under 3,200 assistant deans/directors, not more than 13,000 (!) The numbers for associate and vice deans are also way off, as per the ABA there were just over 700, not nearly 1,700. Haven't checked any of the other numbers.

Posted by: Paul Campos | Nov 17, 2015 1:38:09 PM

Yes, assuming professors who also have dean roles aren't being double counted, the ratio of administrators to teachers is almost 1:1. That's completely insane.

Posted by: Lonnie | Nov 17, 2015 1:23:29 PM

You see, there's your problem right there. 15,000 administrators/directors/etc. To use the parlance of our times, that is known as "the fat." No wonder law school costs an indebted king's ransom.

9,000 teachers seems a little high but not outlandish for 205 law schools. Another 1,300 full time skills profs.

Why do law schools need so many administrators? That is unbelievable. It's a full order of magnitude more than necessary.

Posted by: Jojo | Nov 17, 2015 12:55:19 PM

At least at my school, the Legal Research and Writing professors were no where near the caliber of the tenured faculty. They are probably competent enough to teach the class, but they are way in over their heads with any sort of difficult doctrinal questions. If schools are to make LR&R profs tenured, they should hire new ones from the hordes of unemployed hopeful law profs that have sterling credentials.

Posted by: JM | Nov 17, 2015 10:45:31 AM