Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How 'Bout Them Deans?! Dadburn their fool hides!

The American Law Deans Association petitions the Secretary of Education to force the ABA to back off tenure for EVERYBODY, I mean Every-body. They include deans, FACULTY, clinicians, legal writing instructors, and (alas!), law library directors:...

American Law Deans Association

Public Comment On The Application Of The American Bar
Association ("ABA")For Reaffirmation Of Recognition By
The Secretary Of Education ("Secretary") As A Nationally
Recognized Accrediting Agency In The Field Of Legal Education.

The American Law Deans Association ("ALDA") represents
the chief academic officers of 110 of the nation's
ABA-accredited law schools.


Generally, ALDA objects to the ABA using its power as
an accrediting body recognized by the Secretary to
seek to enforce upon its accredited institutions terms
and conditions of employment that are extrinsic to
educational quality. Specifically, we wish to call to
the Committee's attention to Standards 205(c), the
entirety of Standard 405 and 603(d), which,
respectively, essentially define the terms of
employment of the law school dean, faculty (including
those who supervise clinical programs), legal writing
instructors and the director of the institution's law
library. The referenced ABA Standards either state,
or have been interpreted in the course of accreditation
actions to mean, that compliance requires either the
granting of tenure or incorporating a tenure-like
equivalent in personnelpolicies. At a minimum, it is
a short step from requiring long-term contracts to
mandating tenure.


Except in extraordinary circumstances, a law library
director shall hold a law faculty appointment with
security of faculty position. (Emphasis supplied.)

There is simply no reason for requiring that a senior
administrative officer have such status. While some
law schools have chosen to engage their library
directors in tenured positions, there is no
reasonable connection between the quality of the law
library and the terms and conditions of employment of
the director.

As in the case of reviews of clinical programs, the
substantive reviews of institutions that have been
cited for failure to comply with the requirement of
Standard 603(d) are replete with glowing praise of the
quality of their law libraries and the services those
law libraries provide.[5]
The tenure status of the law librarian seems uniformly
unrelated to the qualitative review of the law library
and the services provided by its professional staff. We
further note that it is the entirely reasonable position
of many law schools (and the universities within which
most such schools are embedded) that it is inappropriate
"to provide tenure or similar employment security to
people who have significant management responsibility."[6]

There is, however, a very direct connection between
the ABA Standard and the policy of the professional
association of law librarians, the American Association
of Law Libraries, which provides, under the heading
"Policy Statement on Job Security, Remuneration, and
Employment Practices," the following:

Security of employment enables a law librarian to work
responsibly without fear of interference or of arbitrary
or unjust dismissal. Security of employment encourages a
law librarian to make professional decisions without fear
of reprisal. Security of employment provides a sufficient
degree of economic security to make the profession of law
librarianship attractive to persons of ability.

Security of employment means that, following the
satisfactory completion of a probationary period,
the employment of a law librarian under any form of
permanent appointment status carries with it a
commitment to continuous employment.
(Emphasis supplied.)[7]

Professional organizations can be expected to
advocate job security for its members. And it
is certainly within the discretion of a law school
to decide whether to adopt such a policy. But it
should not be within the realm of an accrediting
organization, certainly not one bearing the
imprimatur of the Secretary of Education, to
translate advocacy for specific economic terms into
prescribed conduct. This is an abuse of the power
that the accrediting agency has secured by means of
its governmental recognition.

We believe that in exercising its authority
as an accrediting body recognized by the
Secretary, the ABA has an obligation to focus
its attention on those elements of institutional
performance that relate to the quality of
education provided its students. When it
dictates terms and conditions of employment, the
accrediting body inappropriately inserts itself
into the internal affairs of the institutions it
accredits and does so in a way that forces
homogeneity, and conversely stifles innovation and
diversity, among law schools. We are fully aware
that this Committee is not the Antitrust Division
of the United States Department of Justice. We
understand that the law, regulations and policies
that guide this Committee inits deliberations are
very different from the antitrust laws of the United
States. We are also aware that the regulations
governing the recognition of accrediting bodies
expressly state that "an agency that has established
and applies the standards [specifically prescribed in
the regulation] may establish any additional
accreditation standards it deems appropriate."
[8] Still, we
believe that experience suggests that scrutiny of
standards and policies that are extraneous to the
purpose of ensuring the quality of legal education
is appropriate.

We therefore believe that it is incumbent upon
the Committee to require the ABA, as a condition of
its continued recognition, to demonstrate how its
prescriptive language respecting the terms and
conditions of employment of law school professionals,
span style="font-weight:bold;">be they deans, faculty
or library directors (emphasis added), "effectively
address[es] the quality of the institution or its program."
and the referenced standards "are relevant to the
educational or training needs of students." Both of
these showings are required by the regulations
this Committee is obligated to enforce. It would be
an injustice to legal education, and to the process of
voluntary accreditation, for the Committee to fail to
diligently examine the ABA respecting these critical
elements of its accreditation practices and policies.

The American Law Deans Association also respectfully
requests the opportunity to appear before the Committee
at its June meeting to further explain its concerns
respecting the accreditation practices of the ABA and
to respond to the Committee's inquiries.

Submitted on behalf of the Board of Directors of the American Law Deans
Association by:

Saul Levmore, Dean of the University of Chicago Law School, President,
American Law Deans Association; David Van Zandt, Dean of the
Northwestern University Law School, Vice-President, American Law Deans
Association; Katharine Bartlett, Dean of the Duke Law School; James
Huffman, Dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School, Treasurer, American Law
Deans Association

If you have not seen the entire thing which is zooming through the listserves, you may e-mail me at and I will do my best to send you a copy toot sweet as the embattled French say.

I say, as Ben Franklin said before me, If we do not hang together, assuredly we will all hang separately.

Also, that very nice statement from Martin Niemoller, a submarine commancer in WWI and German protestant preacher during WWII, who spent time in the concentration camps for angering Hitler with his outspoken sermons:

“First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

See a nice link here.

What I mean to say is that the statement attacks tenure for every group within legal education. If we are to retain tenure for ANY group, I think we must argue for ALL groups. There was a statement earlier that this was an attack on affirmative action in the academy. If anybody could enlarge this statement, I would like to hear more.

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