Saturday, April 28, 2007

Last post before finals

The most recent rumor that has been spreading high-school style around here is that one of the junior faculty members who some 1Ls had this year will be leaving soon (the circumstances are unclear, but it probably has something to do with his/her lack of publishing). From those who've had him/her, I hear that many 1Ls thought he/she was a pretty good professor.

While of course teaching is important, so too is publishing for any big name law school. Nor is it really the place for students to second-guess administrative decisions, as long as the decisions are rational and not based on animus (RBT!).

The way I see the story as it was told to me is that I'm sure the professor knew what he/she was getting into when he/she took a job here, and knew the requirements for tenure. That he/she did not follow the requirements can not be blamed on the school. The analogy is when someone goes to a big firm and knows the billable requirements. But when he gets there, he decides that he will only bill 1/2 the required hours. When he gets in trouble for the lack of billing, one of the defenses is that he had great rapport with the clients.

Rankings, whether rightly or wrongly, are big for law schools, and faculty prestige is one major component in determining one's rank, and generally the more one's professors publish, the higher the rank. Rather than questioning the unfairness of the situation, the 1Ls should ask "would I still go to school here if the rankings were suddenly to drop?"

Instead of directing ire at the Dean, they should make a campaign to USNWR to incorporate faculty teaching as a component in calculating rank. That's the only real way you'll get schools to value teaching as much as they do publishing.


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