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ABA Proposal to Reduce Full-Time Faculty Requirement:  Law Students (Present and Future) Should Make Their Voices Heard

The ABA’s proposal to jettison the requirement that full-time faculty teach the majority of upper-level courses is a terrible idea. The ABA is proposing to replicate what undergraduate institutions have been doing with adjunct faculty, with no protections for students. Undergraduate costs haven’t declined, they’ve skyrocketed—schools have simply pocketed the extra money. Educational quality hasn’t improved and—an important factor—faculty have no commitment to either the institution the institution at which they work and the students whom they are charged to educate. You hire part-time, you will get part-commitment. It hasn’t worked in undergraduate education, except to increase school income, and it’s less likely to work in law schools. I discussed the merits of the proposal more fully a couple of weeks ago.

If you’re in law school now, or are thinking about going, or if you care about the quality of your lawyer, you should take up the ABA on its invitation to comment on the proposed change. It passed committee in March and the ABA will vote on the proposal in July. We all want better law schools and lawyers. The ABA should have to explain clearly how this proposal does that.

Here’s an excerpt from the ABA’s memo with instructions on how to comment:

“We solicit and encourage written comments on the proposed changes listed above by e-mail. Written comments should be submitted no later than Monday, July 10, 2017.

A hearing on the proposed changes is scheduled for Thursday, July 13, 2017, at 1 p.m. The hearing will be held at American Bar Association (321 N. Clark St.).

Please address written comments on the proposals and requests to speak at or attend the hearing to JR Clark, jr.clark@americanbar.org, by Monday, July 10, 2017.”

If you care about the quality of legal education, make a comment. The earlier, the better. There’s no need to vituperate à la Twitter. Firm and polite comments are likely to mean more; the sheer volume of them will also matter. The ABA has to understand that it can’t just be in the business of feathering the business of law schools. It has to know, because it seems to have forgotten, that high quality education matters to law students. And to the quality of legal advice that clients of those law students will receive.


by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on May 26, 2017.

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