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November 18, 2013

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KP

I do not know if economic distress can explain what is happening at Case Western. It can help explain why there are a lot of Dean vacancies at the moment, as less money to go around at institutions which do not handle change well can lead to "no win" situations.

anon

I wonder if Jeff understands how insulting it is to compare what a group of highly paid law professors went through when their dean resigned or behaved badly to the systematic oppression of millions of people for hundreds of years under apartheid. I'm not a fan of phrases like "white privilege" but what other words can I use for someone who thinks the two situations are in any way comparable.

Of course this is not the first time Jeff has made such a inappropriate comment. He earlier compared the resignation of the president of his university to the arab spring. That comparison also ignored the fact that the Dean of his law school, who was pushed out by the president, lambasted the faculty of Jeff's institution for failing to support her.

Rather than actually try to solve the problems law school face, Jeff wants to debate the composition of a commission that would explore what went wrong. I understand how that would be more fun for Jeff and give him an opportunity to cite the academic articles he thinks are important, but it won't solve the problems.

Let me make this simple. The problem is that schools like Jeff's employer have raised tuition so high students have to borrow hundreds of thousands of dollars to get a law degree. The schools did this even though the vast majority of their graduates have, for years, not been able to get jobs that would make it possible to pay the money back. I don't think I've heard Jeff say anything about how immoral and unethical this conduct is, but of course the high tuition enables the school to pay him a much higher salary with a lower teaching load than it could if tuition in any way reflected what the vast majority of Jeff's students will be able to pay back on their loans.

Most solutions to the law school crisis involve making law school drastically less expensive by, for example, allowing students to get a law degrees as part of their undergrad studies (something that is the common practice in the U.K. and many other countries at no apparent cost to the quality of legal representation), reducing the number of law professors by refraining from replacing those who retire and using adjuncts and higher teaching loads to teach their courses (something law schools are already doing) and cutting faculty pay. Of course Jeff and those like him don't want to discuss any of this because these solutions would reduce their pay and prestige and increase their workload. So instead they write about having a truth and reconciliation commission.

Jeff Redding

anon: Thanks for your spirited reply! You're packing a lot in that reply, and I can't do justice to all of your comments, but with respect to your concerns about the length/cost of law school, let me refer you to my series of posts on the '2 v. 3 debate' from last month on The Faculty Lounge. You'll see that I contemplate there the U.K. way of doing legal education, with which I have experience, having worked in both India and Pakistan before. As to your other comments, let me just say that I consider the conditions in which faculty, staff, and students in law schools do their work to be an important issue; legal education is not simply a question of $, but also fairness and social justice. I would hate to see either students or faculty/staff face a choice where they could attend/work at a school for more $, but have to experience sexual harassment as a consequence of that $ calculation. We need baselines, regardless of cost. But I can't really respond to all of your concerns fairly within the space limits of this blog. Please accept my apologies.

terry malloy

"legal education is not simply a question of $, but also fairness and social justice."

Easy to say when they aren't your dollars, eh harvard?

I read your entry under the false pretense that you might discuss reconciliation between overpaid faculty and debt riddled alumi. Here I find it is a bunch of faculty kvetching about internecine faculty conflict.

Wake me up when you get to the real crisis.

Jeff Redding

TM: Thanks for your observations, but you need to take a more in-depth look at both the Case Western allegations and the SLU situation; you'll see that it's hard to characterize either as simply intra-faculty disputes. At the very least, the welfare of students and staff are also directly implicated in both situations.

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