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July 26, 2010

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Matt Lister

most law schools show little willingness to implement less extreme measures designed to shame, intimidate, or otherwise induce faculty to perform consistently with valued institutional goals, so why should we expect them to take the more drastic measure of firing someone they’ve worked with for many years

I wonder about this. If you take these "less drastic" measures, you still have to see the person, notice their hurt looks, wonder if they are scheming to get back at you, etc. But if you fire them, especially if you could drop the bomb at the end of a semester, you don't have to see them again and can just be done with it. Maybe that doesn't make a difference. I hope it wouldn't make a huge difference. But I can imagine how it might.

Kim Krawiec

No, I think that you're absolutely right on this, Matt, and that's one reason that I just don't know what academic life would look like in a non-tenure system -- it's really impossible to compare it to our current system in any meaningful way. But here's one reason that I'm suspicious that law schools just don't have the heart for firing in a non-tenure system: it is well-known that law schools tenure folks at rates unheard of in other departments. This is the chance to make the decisions about who will contribute, in what ways, and for how long, without having to see the hurt looks and the like from people still hanging about, and we don't like letting go of people at this stage either. There are obvious upsides to this -- community building and the like, but pretty obvious down sides as well.

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