Friday, September 30, 2016

Faculty Bloodletting

Blood[by Rick Bales] I've heard from faculty members at two law schools just this week who report (not for attribution) that their law schools either are laying off a substantial number of faculty (the faculty member's word was "bloodletting") or that buy-out offers have been made to all faculty. These are respectable schools, and the downsizings I am referring to have not yet been reported in the blogosphere as best I know. That probably means there are many more occurring than we know about.

I've also had occasion to browse recently the faculty bio pages of several law schools. Given the paucity of hiring over the last several years, it comes as no surprise that many schools are top-heavy, but the extent of this at some schools is astounding. It appears that at some schools, there is almost no one on the tenure-track faculty within a full generation of the average age of the students we are trying to attract.

Given the dramatic downturn in admissions, faculty downsizing is not unexpected and at many schools inevitable. But equally unsurprisingly, the pain has not been evenly distributed. Staff were cut first, then non-tenure-track faculty, then tenure-track but not-yet-tenured faculty....

We seem to be in the process of losing a full generation of faculty. This does not bode well for the future of law teaching, legal scholarship, or law school leadership. I think we would be wise to begin planning for this generation gap now.


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Speaking as someone who's on the verge of being part of that lost generation (which is to say, almost tenured and worried about being laid off) I agree. Unfortunately this is the price schools pay for gutting their pension systems: our sixty- and seventy-somethings are afraid of outliving their savings and so won't retire.

Posted by: ML | Oct 1, 2016 6:14:57 PM

I spent the last five of my pre-tenure years terrified of being laid off, and it had a major effect on my health and well being. From what I could tell, no one post-tenure had any clue about what it has been like in the past few years, without job security. At best, they offered stale "It was hard for me pre-tenure too" comments that made me furious. I just hope that we as a profession can muster a little more empathy than we have done so far - it's not the junior's fault that legal education is a mess, but they pay a high price for it.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 3, 2016 11:22:06 AM

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