Sunday, December 6, 2020

Abolish the Academic Caste System by By AALS President Darby Dickerson

President's Message: Abolish the Academic Caste System by Dean Darby Dickerson.


"Any caste system is insidious. But most, if not all, law schools have them. In many schools, the caste system means that many individuals are not recognized appropriately or compensated fairly for their contributions. At some schools, non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty carry a disproportionate share of the teaching and service loads so that others can focus on research."

"But the division of labor is not the true problem. Many individuals in NTT roles are passionate about teaching and serving, even if they also produce or desire to produce scholarship. And in any workplace, people in different positions perform different tasks, even if the tasks are equally important. Instead, the real problems are the inequities in pay, security, and respect—and the harm the caste system inflicts on our academic programs."

"We need to eliminate the caste system—a system meant to divide—from legal education. We need to recognize the similarities in and value of the work we all perform and appreciate, not denigrate, the differences. Raising some up does not diminish the work of others. Instead, it improves the whole of legal education. Because I’ve worked at three schools that have made significant progress in improving status for legal writing professionals, clinicians, academic support specialists, librarians, and staff, I know that abolishing the caste system is both a realistic call for action and one that will benefit our students and the legal profession."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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