HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Society Of American Law Teachers Opposes ABA Proposal To Allow Adjuncts To Teach More Law School Courses.
The American Bar Association is considering deep-sixing a rule requiring full-time faculty to teach at least half of every law school’s upper-level courses—a proposal likely to ruffle the feathers of professors who fear it would allow schools to essentially outsource the second and third year to adjuncts.
Eliminating the requirement would provide law schools more room to experiment with how they deliver classroom instruction and would also allow them to cut costs, according to the ABA committee that proposed the change. “This is another way in which the standards are moving toward looking at outcomes rather than inputs,” said Barry Currier, who oversees the ABA’s section of legal education. “What if a school graduates 100 percent of its students and 100 percent of them pass the bar? Should the accreditation standards say, ‘Sorry, still no good because you don’t have a majority of your upper years taught by full-time faculty?’”
But at least one organization of law professors has already said it will oppose reducing the amount of course offerings that must be taught by full-time faculty in order to preserve the quality of students’ educational experiences. “Students need to have access to faculty members outside of classroom time to be able to go over things that confuse them, to be counseled on how their education fits with their career aspiration and things like that,” said Denise Roy, the director of externships at Mitchell Hamline School of Law and co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers, the largest group of law faculty in the country. “Adjunct faculty typically are not available on campus outside their teaching hours.” …
Some professors see potential in the idea of rolling back full-time faculty requirements, however. Law schools wouldn’t have to change their teaching models should the ABA do away with the upper-level full-time teaching requirement, wrote University of Alabama School of Law professor Paul Horwitz in a post on PrawfsBlawg, but they would have new flexibility to do so. “If some law schools adopt a more practice-driven approach and rely more on practitioners to achieve it, while others are or can afford to emulate the model of a few elite schools, so much the better for institutional diversity and student choice,” Horwitz wrote.
Prof. LePetomane is calling a meeting.