Saturday, May 3, 2008
Posted by Alan Childress
Jeff posted last week (here) on the frequent but surmountable "divide" between practice and theory in law school, or more precisely between practitioners and theoreticians within the larger law school world. The mission of legal education has to serve several larger constituencies, and they all matter. His post really serves, if you think about it, as sort of an open letter to law deans and dean search committees. It's worth a read by academics who don't want to dirty "their" institution with law practice and practioners, and by practitioners and the real-life communities of a law school who may think egghead intellectuals miss the point of a "real" law school qua professional training facility.
That theme is given an applied context in this new post by Michael Froomkin of the University of Miami--applied because these questions and concerns are not merely academic to those who, right now, need a new dean to take a really good law school and its faculty to the next level. His view is entitled, Why A Practitioner Dean Sounds Like A Better Idea Than It Usually Is. Although I don't agree with everything he says, it too should be required reading for dean candidates, search committees, and supportive alum. It certainly explains well to those in the larger community what they are just not getting about the insides of a law school--the herding cat thing--when they so easily assume that good managers in the real world will translate to ivory towers like ours. Law schools "are hard to administer — much harder, I’d think than a court (at the end of the day, there’s always a bailiff…), and very different from a law firm."