Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Borman:  Tenure-Track, 405(c) And Legal Writing Faculty — Promotion Standards, Security Of Position, And Gender

Deborah Borman (Northwestern), The Inifinte Loop (Returning to AALS):

[L]aw faculty members who are employed on an ABA 405(c) contract have increasingly been subject to requirements for promotion that rival those of a tenured faculty member. In other words, the obligations for teaching, service, and scholarship are relatively equivalent for tenure track and 405(c) track faculty. As a result, ABA accreditation standard 405(c) rewards these faculty members with “tenure-like” security of position.

Notwithstanding the above, many non-tenure track/contract faculty members have found their positions to be unstable. Some faculty members have been released from positions that are defined as “tenure-like,” after receiving a contract that is "presumptively-renewable." Others have had contractual provisions changed or teaching obligations increased significantly with no additional compensation. As a result, faculty members who have served for many years and earned security of position by satisfying tenure-like standards are denied the proposed reassurance of their contractual provisions. Even more disturbingly, the majority of law faculty members who hold these positions are female.

Screenshot 2016-01-15 10.19.02

The graphic above and following description are borrowed from Podia and Pens: Dismantling the Two-Track System for Legal Research & Writing Faculty, and illustrate the current disparity in status (i.e., rank or security of position) between male and female law faculty. As faculty status decreases, from tenure to 405(c) and then to legal research and writing faculty, most of whom are on short-term contracts, the percentage of women increases from 36% to 71%. ...

For non-tenure and contract faculty there is no actual Arc of the career, but rather, a straight line -- or as one panelist or attendee said, "a flat-line." The AALS should work to make professional development of contract faculty important to increase morale, create a greater sense of community and collegiality, and to further safeguard faculty governance and academic freedom.

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I find it really hard to sympathize with a group of people (adjunct/clinical faculty) who seek to join a higher ranking group of people for the purpose of gaining benefits derived from exploiting a much larger, and far worse off lower ranking group of people (students).

To all the adjunct faculty out there, if you are not satisfied with your compensation and job security, why don't you just go into private practice and cash in on that million dollar premium? Oh right, because there really isn't a vibrant legal market, especially not for academics that have not practice in decades if ever.

Posted by: JM | Jan 19, 2016 10:51:04 AM