Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Penn State Law Prof: Faculty Should Put Aside Their Scholarship And Devote 100% Of Their Time To Teaching This Fall

Karen Sloan (, Should Faculty Ditch Scholarship Next Semester?:

SharbaughHere’s something I’ve never heard before in my decade or so of covering legal education: A law professor arguing that teaching loads should be higher. So when I caught wind that a professor from Pennsylvania State University Law School was making the case that law faculty ought to put aside their scholarship next semester in order to concentrate fully on teaching, I had to hear more. I hopped on the phone with Tom Sharbaugh, the director of the school’s Entrepreneur Assistance Clinic, last week to get the pitch.

But first, some caveats: Sharbaugh isn’t your typical tenured law professor. He’s a “professor of practice” who spent 35 years in the law firm world. For 15 of those years, he was the managing partner of operations at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius. ...

[L]aw schools are facing unprecedented challenges in the fall semester with most if not all classes happening online. Instead of teaching just one or two courses during the fall while working on their scholarship, he said law professors should put their scholarly endeavors aside temporarily and take on more teaching responsibilities so that law students have more classes to choose from and can learn in smaller sections.

Teaching to smaller classes could make some of the obstacles posed by remote learning easier to overcome, he noted.

Coronavirus, Legal Ed News, Legal Education | Permalink


Comrades. This man is dangerous. He must be stopped!

Posted by: Dale Spradling | Aug 4, 2020 4:18:14 AM

Wow, almost real work which might make students better lawyers. And maybe better citizens (instead of felonious bombers). Seems like a good idea. And long overdue. Especially since most legal writing by professors is often nothing more than diversity, progressive nonsense. And nothing about actual law.

Posted by: Diogenes | Aug 4, 2020 7:31:50 AM

As if there was really a choice. I gave up on the article I had started in January -- well, I finally gave up about a week ago. Wasn't going to happen.

Posted by: Roberta Mann | Aug 4, 2020 8:41:06 AM

That's why we shouldn't give practitioners the title of professor, even if it's modified: then they think they're academics. This demonstrates most are not.

Posted by: Anonymous | Aug 4, 2020 8:53:45 AM

This would have worked great if, say, the US had suspended all Reseach on nuclear physics in 1941. We’d all be speaking German.

Posted by: Mike Livingston | Aug 5, 2020 3:08:10 AM

This is the rogue faculty member who made the initial comments to the reporter above. It is worth adding the background, which was omitted from the summary. Through my involvement with a major health system, I have been very impressed by the medical specialists of all types who joined their colleagues in the emergency room in order to handle the COVID crush--in a crisis, they were all physicians, not specialists on the sidelines. My point was not that there could be more courses, but rather smaller online classes if more professors were available.

Posted by: Tom Sharbaugh | Aug 5, 2020 3:56:54 AM

Some people will say ANYTHING to get out of writing.

Posted by: Diane Klein | Aug 5, 2020 8:08:25 AM

I get that professors need to write articles that add nothing of value, as practice, for the one or two articles that they'll write in their entire career that do add something of value.

That being said, most of what they write is useless and often masturbatory.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 5, 2020 1:33:31 PM