How Many Lawyers Does it Take to Kill Tenure?


As you now know, I am the Al Gore of the tenure crisisit’s not a political issue, it’s a moral one; the existence of our very civilization is at stake; we must save ourselves while we still can, etc. So imagine my horror when I amble over to Above the Law and discover this:

Is the American Bar Association going to deal with the unmitigated proliferation of law schools? No. Will the ABA deal with overflow of lawyers entering the profession at a time when few well paying legal jobs seem to be available? No. Will the organization seriously address the rising cost of legal education? Not really. Instead, the ABA committee on law school accreditation wants to take a look a tenure. The National Law Journal reports:

Should the American Bar Association require law schools to maintain a tenure system? The committee reviewing the ABA’s accreditation standards doesn’t think so. It has floated a proposal that would eliminate the term “tenure” from the ABA standards covering job security and academic freedom. The committee also wants to kill a requirement that law schools provide clinical faculty members with job protections similar to those enjoyed by full-time professors.

Look. The job security of clinical faculty members is not a pillar of cultural order. But what could be more sickening than this latest exercise of lawyer-think at its worst: treat something real as a mere term of art, purge it from official documentation, and do war in that way on the reality itself. Where have we seen that tactic play itself out before? No, it can’t make jihadist terrorism go away. But with something as weakened and vulnerable as tenure, this monstrous attack just might work.

There are 2 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Inactive

    You can argue, that without tenure, you lose a personal historical perspective in two ways. Along with losing older professors, who “can’t keep up with the times,” you influence the rest of the faculty to modernize their approaches, so it can’t be said of them, “they’re not keeping up with the times.”

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member

    James — I thought you had been roundly beaten about the head and face on this issue, but obviously you are back for more.

    The ABA decision does not forbid the practice of tenure, it merely eliminates it as a condition of accreditation.

    If law jobs are in short supply, it could drive strong candidates into the teaching of law. Surely this can only be a good thing for law schools.

    I continue to see no problem involving the employment of teachers or researchers — particularly at a professional school — that cannot be solved through a market mechanism. If capitalism were allowed to function inside academia, perhaps there would be a greater knowledge of and appreciation for its finer points there.

    I would be delighted to accept the premise that lawyers — barring Mssrs. Freedman, Epstein and Yoo — are a scourge on society. But not on the basis of this particular judgment.

    • #2
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.