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October 04, 2012

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Ralph D. Clifford

Wow. When we had the need for an Interim Dean last year, the Chancellor met with the full law faculty to solicit recommendations. After that, she met or conversed with each member of the faculty separately to make sure that the consensus she had received at the meeting was not group-think. Subsequently, the chosen candidate was appointed Interim and did a great job until our recent hire of a permanent Dean.

It looks to me that the leadership at SLU ought to review Rule 24(d) of the ABA Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

Recent SLU Law Grad

These aren't the only provisions of the ABA Standards that Dean Keefe's appointment and the situation at SLU raises about whether SLU is in compliance with the ABA Standards.

Standard 206(c) states that "[e]xcept in extraordinary circumstances, a dean shall also hold appointment as a member of the faculty with tenure." It's no clear, at least publically, whether Mr. Keefe holds a faculty appointment with tenure, given that he did not hold an academic position before he was appointed interim dean. There are probably valid arguments on both sides about whether Dean Clark's sudden resignation/termination was an "extraordinary circumstance" that required the school to select an interim dean who did not have tenure. Certainly the university made no attempt to find an interim dean who held tenure.

Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, Standard 206(b) requires a law school to provide the dean with sufficient authority "needed to discharge the responsibilities of the position and those contemplated by the Standards." Dean Clark's allegations in her resignation letters raise significant questions about whether in fact she possessed such authority to ensure compliance with the ABA Standards.

After Dean Clark's resignation, Fr. Biondi discussed how using law school funds for University purposes was necessary because the law school was part of a larger institution. While this no doubt has some truth, the ABA Standards require a University to give a law school a certain amount of autonomy in how it is governed.

For example, Standard 210(b) states that "if a university’s general policies do not adequately facilitate the recruitment and retention of competent law faculty, appropriate separate policies should be established for the law school." Certainly SLU's misguided proposal to essentially eliminate tenure with post-tenure reviews would probably significantly impede the law school's ability to recruit and maintain competent faculty.

Standard 210(c) states that "resources generated by a law school that is part of a university should be made available to the law school to maintain and enhance its program of legal education." Standard 210(d) requires a University to give the law school an opportunity to present budgetary recommendations to the "university administration before the budget is submitted to the governing board for adoption." Dean Clark's allegations about Fr. Biondi unilaterally transferring law school to the university president's discretionary accounts funds without knowledge of the Law School Dean suggests that perhaps the school violated Standard 210(c) and (d), and suggests that Dean Clark did not have the power to ensure compliance with these standards.

Furthermore, the now abandoned tenure proposal also could have violated Standard 405(d): "[a] law school shall afford legal writing teachers such security of position and other rights and privileges of faculty membership as may be necessary to (1) attract and retain a faculty that is well qualified to provide legal writing instruction as required by Standard 302(a)(3), and (2)safeguard academic freedom."

birkin bag

Good job. Very great topic. Thanks.

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