Friday, April 07, 2006

ALDA on Legal Writing Instructors and Library Directors

The ALDA deans also attack the Legal Writing Instructors. Frankly, I think they have chosen whatever targets they think they might get away with. Whomever they think the other faculty will not rise to defend. These are largely feminized fields: Clinical, Legal Writing and Law Librarianship. Not that there are no male colleagues, but there are probably more women faculty in each of these three fields, and possibly more minorities in these, at least in Clinical. Do we see a pattern?

So we go on analyzing the comments of the ALDA deans:

Likewise, Standard 405(d) requires "A law school shall afford legal writing teachers such security of position and other rights and privileges of faculty membership as may be necessary to (1) attract and retain a faculty that is well qualified to provide legal writing instruction and (2) safeguard academic freedom." As with all other faculty, we do not believe that ABA should require any specific terms and conditions of employment.

The same issues emerge in the context of the Standard applicable to the directors of law school libraries. Standard 603(d)[4] provides:
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.

But by comparing these paragraphs with the previous paragraphs attacking the ABA standards on tenure status for clinicians and the statements made about deans and substantive faculty, that the real drive here is to separate out clinical, legal writing and library faculty from the rest. They are treated quite separately, despite the glossy beginning assuring us that the deans will begin by treating of their own position. They have no intention of endangering their own job security. They only intend to undercut the job security of the feminized, minority fields of clinical, legal writing and law library directors as tenured or long-term faculty.

And why do they object to the ABA's accreditation pressure to provided faculty in these positions with job security or tenure? With straight faces, the ALDA deans tell the Secretary of Education, while hinting darkly that the ABA may be breaking antitrust rules again...

... 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.

What is it about the elements of the law school performance that tenure for clinicians, legal writing instructors or a law library director interferes with? What does that job security do to force homogeneity and stifle innovation and diversity? Why it forces the ALDA deans to allow women and minorities to stay on their faculty, doggone it! Geez, louise! Isn't that awful? Do you think the minority or women students at their schools would like to have an occasional feminine face or person of color to speak with? I DO!

I sure hope the Secretary of Education agrees!

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