Sunday, July 30, 2006

whose fault?

This is the season when I finally get around to reading the article reprints that legal scholars kindly send me throughout the academic year.  Today I read Marina Angel's piece published at 38 U. Akron L. Rev. 788 (2005), and entitled:

The Modern University and Its Law School:  Hierarchical, Bureaucratic Structures Replace Coarchical, Collegial Ones; Women Disappear from Tenure Track and Reemerge as Caregivers:  Tenure Disappears or Becomes Unrecognizable.

From the perspective of a tenured, female law professor, Prof. Angel reviews the recent and continuing shift in modern American universities from faculty-centered governance models towards more business-like corporate structures.  She makes an interesting point when she suggests that the demands of legal writing professors for law schools to take off caps -- i.e., to stop limiting the number of years they can teach at a school -- fed neatly into the other forces eroding tenure at U.S. universities.  After all, as she posits, if a university can get a full-time professor to work long-term without tenure, why offer tenure?

Professsor Angel does seem to suggest that legal writing professors, most of whom are women, unwittingly made it harder for women to obtain tenure at U.S. law schools.  This perspective, likely unintentionally, sounds a bit like blaming the victim for the wrong-doing.  Perhaps the better response would be, now that this cadre of female legal writing professors have multi-year, renewable contracts at many U.S. law schools, to figure out what it will take to continue the process of upgrading these positions until they are tenure lines jobs.


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