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September 14, 2013

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E

Can you talk a bit more about what you think this would look like, i.e., how a law school might bolster the undergraduate liberal arts programs in practice? I am not sure I know what you mean, when you say doctrinal faculty might suffer in this setting. And, also, why you think the larger university might ask this, as a quid pro quo, for supporting the law school? What does the undergraduate program *get* ?

Jeff Redding

E, thanks for your question. What I was immediately thinking of was the possibility of harnessing law faculty to teach undergraduates. Perhaps this couldn't be done directly, by assigning law faculty courses in the undergraduate curriculum, but it could be done through cross-listing and heavily promoting certain courses taught by law faculty. It's also relatively easy to imagine a university colonizing the facilities of a law school (e.g. using its lecture halls, its event spaces, transforming its empty offices into university-oriented offices), and there is often the incentive to do so, I would think, given that law schools tend to have the nicer buildings on university campuses.

With respect to harnessing law faculty to teach undergraduates, it would be the law faculty who can teach in an interdisciplinary way who would be most valued by the university in that situation (most likely). That would put doctrinal faculty in somewhat of a position of vulnerability. Again, this is all hypothetical, but the larger point is that there are local political economies driving law school reform which the '2 v. 3' debate largely ignores.

Anon

This has already occurred in some universities. Up until relatively recently, I know a school that had a quota of undergrad/grad courses that law faculty had to teach. It's actually not hard to come up with how law faculty could staff those courses, especially at elite law schools where a large percentage of law faculty have advanced degrees outside of law. Even without PhDs in the other department, I know law professors who have taught courses in the History, Philosophy, Sociology, Public Policy, Education, and Economics departments, plus a myriad of ethnic studies and identity group programs, as well as university cross-departmental programs for things like international, human rights, and the environment. The genesis is not so much financial as other things like undergrad teacher-student ratio (and the desire to have more freshman seminars and the like) and the focus of many University Presidents on interdisciplinarity and breaking down the boundaries among departments. Of course, professors from other departments, such as Business/Finance, Psychology, Criminology etc, often teach a course in law schools as well.

There is no question that this is the area in which a lot of the "Law &" professors have an advantage. Law Schools end of subsidizing the rest of the university by either loaning out their professors for a course at no cost or at a cost far below tenure-track replacement value. Part of the rationale for using law faculty is that it is harder and less sensible to hire an adjunct in some of the other departments, but in Law, an adjunct may be more valuable than a regular law professor's third or fourth course. So, it is somewhat of a win-win for the university. Resources are deployed more efficiently and teaching elsewhere for a course or a semester can enrich the professor's research and encourage the cross-fertilization of ideas.

Jeff Redding

Anon, thanks for the information and detailed explanation—quite useful to know all of this.

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