Paul L. Caron

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Increasing Tenure Denials By 10% Would Increase Academic Impact Of Law School's Median Professor By 50%

Adam S. Chilton (Chicago), Jonathan S. Masur (Chicago) & Kyle Rozema (Chicago), Rethinking Law School Tenure Standards:

Academic departments decide on tenure standards with limited evidence about their accuracy and efficacy. We study the implications of stricter tenure standards in law schools, an environment in which 95 percent of all tenure track hires receive tenure. To do so, we construct a novel dataset of the articles and citation counts of 1,720 law professors who were granted tenure at top-100 law schools between 1970 and 2007. We first show that pre-tenure research records are highly predictive of future academic impact. We then simulate the costs and benefits of applying stricter tenure standards using predictions of law professors' future academic impact at the time of their tenure decision. Of faculty members not tenured under stricter standards, only 5 percent have greater future academic impacts than their counterfactual replacements. Moreover, increasing tenure denials by 10 percentage points would increase the academic impact of a school's median professor by over 50 percent.

Brian Leiter (Chicago), Deny Tenure More Often, Raise Scholarly Impact:

I think their basic point is correct: law schools, especially those maintaining a high scholarly profile, should be more demanding about tenure.

ABA Journal, Lax Tenure Standards May Have High Costs at Elite Law Schools:

Schools usually apply strict standards for tenure, granting it only to the most talented and productive professors. But that is generally not true at the country’s top 14 law schools, where at least 95 percent of professors hired on the tenure track receive it, according to a paper by three University of Chicago Law School academics published Wednesday. ...

“This results in unproductive faculty occupying some of the world’s most valuable academic real estate while leaving more productive scholars under-placed and preventing new scholars from breaking into the legal academy,” according to the paper.

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And denying tenure to people who do studies like this, instead of constructive scholarship, would save even more money

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Jan 31, 2019 4:13:36 AM

At my big city "top 5" I found the adjunct professors generally the best. Little surprise as they wanted to be there after absorbing stuff all day and/or all career to teach us.

There may well be a place for tenure but I didn't see it often actually used to ask important controversial questions and it risks "retire and teach" in the bad sense.

Posted by: Anand Desai | Jan 31, 2019 5:59:24 AM

At the majority of law schools (i.e., all outside the T-14), teaching ability and real-world knowledge should be the paramount criterion for evaluating faculty to determine who can best educate students so that they can pass the bar, obtain JD-required employment, and practice successfully as lawyers.

Posted by: John Saunders | Jan 31, 2019 9:17:00 AM