Paul L. Caron

Saturday, May 20, 2023

It's Time For Law Schools To Rethink The Role Of Adjunct Faculty

Law360 Op-Ed:  Time For Law Schools To Rethink Unsung Role Of Adjuncts, by T. Markus Funk (Partner, Perkins Coie; Adjunct Professor, Colorado), Andrew S. Boutros (Dechert; Lecturer, Chicago) & Eugene Volokh (Gary T. Schwartz Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA):

Texas Law ReviewLike clockwork, every August and December thousands of practicing lawyers ready themselves for the fall or spring classes they will be teaching at any one of the country's 199 American Bar Association-approved law schools.

Whether in their first or 30th year of teaching, and regardless of whether they do so at a national, regional, or local law school, these dedicated professionals volunteer to return to the classroom to share their insights, expertise and real-world experiences with the next generation of lawyer leaders.

The adjuncts' presence on campus is largely accepted as a given. Notwithstanding that, surprisingly little thought, scholarly or otherwise, has been given to: (1) what motivates them to take on these positions with little to no remuneration, (2) the exceptional positive economic impact this team of short-term instructors has on their institutions, (3) what makes for a positive adjunct experience, and (4) how institutions can more fully integrate adjuncts into the law school community with the attendant benefits to both from doing so.

In short, we live in a world where virtually every aspect of the contemporary law school experience is meticulously recorded and analyzed. Yet little to nothing has been written about adjuncts and the important — indeed, as the numbers might suggest, even business-sustaining — role that this sometimes almost invisible group plays at today's law schools.

Our institutions of legal learning have this summer to prepare for the fall 2023 semester. We, therefore, believe there is no better time to take a clear-eyed look at the adjuncts' role in today's law schools.

Following our more macro analysis, we propose 16 concrete actions law school administrators should consider taking to improve the adjuncts' teaching experience, overall happiness and feeling of belonging.

These suggested modest improvements will go far in helping to ensure that the law schools get the most out of their dedicated cadre of part-time instructors. ...

This article is adapted from a longer piece forthcoming in the Texas Law Review.

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