I just got an email from someone at Bloomberg Law today alerting me to a video chat with Brooklyn Law's dean, Nicholas Allard. What was most interesting to me is that Allard is identified as the school's dean - and a partner at Patton Boggs. On the Brooklyn Law site, he's described as the dean and a professor. And at the Patton Boggs website, he is still identified as a partner. Somehow, I thought that he was planning to leave Patton Boggs.
Here's my question. Is this permitted at an ABA accredited law school?
Standard 206(a) provides:
A law school shall have a full time dean
What does full-time mean? That's not explained for deans, but for faculty, Standard 402(b) provides:
A full-time faculty member is one who primary professional employment is with the law school and who devotes substantially all working time during the academic year to the responsiblities described in Standard 404(a), and whose outside professional activities, if any...do not unduly interfere with one's responsibility as a faculty member.
Interpretation 402-4 states:
Regularly engaging in law practice or having an ongoing relationship with a law firm...creates a presumption that a faculty member is not a full-time faculty member...
A few faculty members do maintain some affiliation with law firms. The rule of thumb seems to be that such faculty may work no more than a day a week at the firm. But I wonder whether this is, or ought to be, true of deans. The usual consideration might be whether he delivers the services students and faculty have a right to expect from the dean of an ABA law school. But I also wonder whether having a dean who is also a partner at a law firm creates either actual, or apparent, conflicts of interest for the law school.
I can see plenty of upside for the law school. It connects a wired lawyer with a large cohort of students. And by having a dean with a finger on the pulse of practice, the school might better align the academic program with the needs of the profession. Maybe this arrangement is entirely acceptable under the ABA rules. And perhaps, if it's not acceptable, it ought to be.
But I could also imagine that there are challenges here. My sense is that leading a big law school like Brooklyn is more than a full time job. Where does he find time to be a partner? And if Allard's values and priorities are wildly out of synch with the faculty - a fact about which I have no information at all - managing the law school might become quite difficult.
Whatever else it is, this is an interesting experiment.
Update: the PR blast was from Bloomberg. I have corrected the post.
Further update: The email I received was not an official press release from Bloomberg but rather a heads up from a content producer sharing a link to content - an interview - he had produced for the site.