Thursday, August 21, 2008
Edward Rubin (Dean & John Wade-Kent Syverud Professor of Law, Vanderbilt University Law School) has recently posted his extremely thought-provoking article on SSRN entitled Should Law Schools Support Faculty Research?
Here is the abstract of his article:
Law schools are predominantly financed by student tuition payments, yet a significant proportion of their expenditures do not directly benefit students, but rather support faculty research. Moreover, faculty research increasingly tends to be remote from law schools' pedagogic role. Thus that great bete noir of economists the cross-subsidy seems to be operating in force - students are paying for something that does not benefit them, and they are being compelled to do so by means of an intra-institutional transfer that they cannot control. This would appear to correspond to most people's notion of unfairness.
This article has two purposes. The first is to identify the nature of the cross-subsidy with more precision, and the second is to explore the question of its possible justification or correction. It turns out that the cross-subsidy is a good deal more complex than it initially appears, and, as a result, a good deal less unfair. There is nonetheless a residual unfairness toward students that should be remedied. The remedy, however, does not involve reducing research costs or altering research to relate more closely to the curriculum, but rather lies in altering the curriculum to correspond more closely to existing faculty research.
Special thanks to Sharon Blackburn (Faculty Services Librarian, Texas Tech University School of Law) for bringing this article to my attention.