Paul L. Caron
Dean


Friday, March 22, 2019

Law Schools See High Dean Turnover As Pressures Increase

Daily Journal, Law Schools See High Dean Turnover as Pressures Increase:

In the past five years, 15 of California's nationally accredited law schools have had dean turnover, which experts say is a testament to  how difficult and demanding the job is.

And in recent years, the job has gotten harder, with enrollment, tuition revenue and bar passage rates all dropping. The average tenure of deans is now about 3.5 years, compared to decades'long tenures of deans past, according to Werner Boel of consulting firm Witt/Kieffer. [I have served as Dean only 1.8 years, and I am already more senior than 61 other law school deans.] Contracts tend to be four or five years, and there's a high rate of burnout, due largely to the grueling demands of the job, said Mike Spivey, founder of Spivey Consulting. ...

All but one of California's current ABA law school deans are academics. Part of this is because the American Bar Association required law schools deans to also be tenured faculty, "except in extraordinary circumstances." Barry Currier, managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education, said the ABA receives several inquiries from schools each year about the long-standing provision though he believes no school has been found to be out of compliance. ...

[S]tudents are but one constituency deans interact with. The position is tricky because deans occupy a managerial role, interacting with alumni, donors, trustees, staff, faculty and the media. For academics, the deanship may be the first time they've had to deal with such a divergent range of stakeholders, Spivey said. "Most donors have experiences and personalities vastly different than academics," he noted. ...

Hiring deans is tougher than hiring company presidents, due to the specialized nature of the work and the range of responsibilities, Spivey said. In companies, leaders often rise through the management ranks and gain expertise running different departments while law school deans generally don't have previous experience in admissions, career services or development, for example. Administrative roles such as serving on a committee or as an associate dean can provide some insight, but there's no exact equivalent. ...

"Dumb people aren't hired to be deans of law schools," Spivey said. "They're brilliant by the fact that they're there, but brilliant is far from what makes a good dean of a law school." "Scholarship won't predict what kind of dean they're going to be," he added.

Experts said the role of dean has evolved gradually over the past two decades from a "peer among equals" model to a more public, outward-facing leader. The recession increased the pressure on deans, and tenures have consequently shortened. ...

Regardless of background, the most successful deans have "exceptionally high EQ" and can thus connect with their different constituencies, Spivey said. ...

Given the serious financial and market-related challenges law schools are facing, ... schools have been improving at finding successful deans, largely due to natural selection. If deans can't solve their school's problems, they're likely to be gone. 

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/03/law-schools-see-high-dean-turnover-as-pressures-increase.html

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Comments

I assume I am the dean deemed to be a non academic. If so, then the definition of academic is pretty narrow, as I have a PhD and two masters degrees in history, taught at Stanford for eight years and have a respectable list of publications, including a major book. Pretty remarkable at a time when law schools are so keen to hire faculty with PhD degrees.

Posted by: Stephen C. Ferruolo | Mar 22, 2019 1:24:27 PM