American Law Deans Association (ALDA) Attacks Tenure and Long Term Contracts; ABA Standards § § 205(c), 405, and 603(d)

Post to Twitter

This statement [Download file] to the U.S. Department of Education was sent by the Board of Directors of ALDA, purporting to speak on behalf of the organization. So far I’ve determined:

1. The statement was probably sent in early March;

2. The Board took no vote of their membership;

3. The ABA was not copied and did not know until I called this morning;

4. The AALS was not copied and did not know until last night;

5. It is not clear who is on the ALDA Board or who the members are.

We need to organize quickly to counter this effort with counterstatements and with organizing to get our most eloquent spokespersons to the June Department of Education hearing.

The deans who signed need to be called to task by their faculties. All of the deans who did not sign need to be energized to voice opposition.

Please move ASAP as individuals and organizations.

–Marina Angel

NB: Here is an excerpt from the statement that should encourage the reader to download and process the entire file (see link above) to see what is being asserted by the ALDA:

…”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 Personnel policies. At a minimum, it is a short step from requiring long-term contracts to mandating tenure.

“It is certainly true that many, indeed most, law schools, as a matter of choice have systems of tenure for their instructional faculty and other classes of their professional personnel. Many have also chosen to establish “tenure-like” models that provide for assured employment for a term of years. However, these are domestic decisions made through the established processes of the institution, not models imposed upon them as a condition of acceptance among the brethren of ABA-accredited law schools.

“It is certainly true that many, indeed most, law schools, as a matter of choice have systems of tenure for their instructional faculty and other classes of their professional personnel. Many have also chosen to establish “tenure-like” models that provide for assured employment for a term of years. However, these are domestic decisions made through the established processes of the institution, not models imposed upon them as a condition of acceptance among the brethren of ABA-accredited law schools.

“If mandating a tenure or tenure-like system is not necessary to protect academic freedom, what is its purpose? It is a condition of employment, a choice that should be a matter of institutional autonomy. If, as we believe is the case, an accrediting agency should not be setting terms and conditions of employment, none of the employment requirements embedded in the ABA Standards stand up to close scrutiny. This includes Standard 405, which presupposes that a law school faculty will be employed under the terms of a system of tenure or a “tenure-like” alternative. We most strongly believe that such requirements have no place in the standards of a voluntary accrediting organization. Indeed, this Committee is well acquainted with the historic abandonment of tenure requirements by each of the regional accrediting bodies, which accompanied the transition of those agencies from a focus on rigid input measures to an examination of academic processes and institutional outputs. The retention by the ABA of such an anachronistic requirement flies in the face of the entire evolution of the American accreditation process, an evolution that has been guided in significant measure by this Committee.” …

Share
This entry was posted in Academia, Law Schools, Law Teaching. Bookmark the permalink.