March 23, 2011
Masters Forum: Legal Education -- Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Posted by Jayne Barnard

In reading these posts, I've been thinking about the tough place in which the ABA Accreditors find themselves:  over the past several years, this group has been whipsawed among the "No Child Left Behind" crowd (who want to quantify everything and broadcast the results); the "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom" crowd (who would accredit virtually any law school whether it is needed, offers a quality education, or is simply somebody's vanity project); the "If It Was Good Enough for Me, It's Good Enough for Them" crowd (who are skeptical of distance education, curricular innovation, and all kinds of experiential learning opportunities that were not a part of their own educational experience); and the "Where's Mine?" crowd (who are looking to maintain their current privileges). Playing accreditation politics in this environment is not easy.

One of the current proposed amendments to the Accreditation Standards would relax the requirement that a law school dean be tenurable.  This amendment might bring forth a new generation of deans with powerful fundraising and cheerleading skills but no academic legitimacy. Presumably, academic leadership would be redirected to the associate or vice-dean position.  The dean would spend less time on academic policy and more time on other matters. Would that be so bad?  Just askin'.



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