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Tamanaha on Tenure:

At Balkinization, Brian Tamanaha offers some "straight talk on tenure" in law schools.

Lurker:
Looking from the outside, it seems: Tenured law professors only have a real incentive to publish if they have something important to say (obviously, that means 'important' to them, and may not matter one whit to anybody else). Any proposed reform would encourage professors to write articles and try to publish even if they have nothing noteworthy to add to the discussion. Isn't it hard enough to wade through legal scholarship without even more articles out there?

Phrased another way, who would benefit if professors were forced to work harder?
5.8.2007 11:54pm
Jeek:
who would benefit if professors were forced to work harder?

Law students? And are they not the reason law professors exist?
5.9.2007 9:30am
gg (mail):
tamanaha is one of the best profs at his law school
5.9.2007 10:08am
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Phrased another way, who would benefit if professors were forced to work harder?

This is a good point. I don't think we need tenured law profs. trying to publish more articles. However, at my law school (Temple) teaching loads for profs. was 6 credits each fall and spring semester. At the community college where I am full time, our teaching load is 15 credits (and we typically overload ourselves to 18 to 21 credits each semester). I know there is a difference between the two. But if we want profs to work harder, but don't want more papers flooding in, they could teach more, like at minimum 9 credits each fall and spring semester. Were that done, fewer full time profs. would need be hired at any given law school and that would save lots of $$$.
5.9.2007 10:14am
Lurker:
I'm probably too late: This thread is far enough down that it's dead. However, let me respond:

Jeek: Law students? And are they not the reason law professors exist?

I'm going to have to go ahead and say no. Law students exist as a revenue stream for law schools. Most professors are more interested in research than teaching, and you can rest assured that most tenure decisions rely more on research than teaching. On the law school totem pole, students are one step below the library staff and one step above the janitorial staff.

Jon Rowe-- Most schools want to offer courses in lots of different areas, and it's even something mentioned on the USNWR rankings (I don't think it counts for anything, however). If you take a prof who only really knows, say, secured credit and bankruptcy, what else is it reasonable to expect him to teach? Maybe something like commercial paper, but probably not Criminal Procedure. There aren't many generalists out there, ya know? I don't think having a converted UCC prof would help the students who really want to know crim pro.

As for saving huge amounts of cash... well, perhaps I'm too cynical, but I somehow doubt that any of that cash would find its way to some sort of tuition reduction plan, so again the students would get nothing. I'm sure it would by the Dean of the school a nice boat, though.
5.9.2007 12:10pm
Lurker:
*buy, not by. Sorry.
5.9.2007 12:12pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Lurker,

I think you underestimate the intelligence level and ability of law professors.
5.9.2007 12:27pm