ABA STANDARDS REVIEW CONTINUES TO SPARK ROBUST DISCUSSION AND STRONG COMMENTS

As mentioned in an earlier post, the next ABA Standards Review Committee meeting will be held in Chicago on July 24th and 25th at the Conrad Chicago in the Magnolia Ballroom, Salon A and B.  ( If you are interested in attending, contact Charlotte “Becky” Stretch at StretchC@staff.abanet.org.) Two areas have generated much comment:  the proposed outcome standards and the anticipated dilution of faculty status and security.  This post discusses the most recent comments on both these issues. 

The current draft of the proposed Student Learning Outcomes (found on front page of www.teachinglawstudents.com) has generated many comments over the course of the past year.  Professors Richard Neumann and Roy Stuckey have recently posted a comment which is well worth the read.   Neumann and Stuckey’s thorough letter provides a helpful description of how medical schools came to embrace the precise and helpful standards they use today as well as a comprehensive analysis of the “cost” and “assumptions” about money which may have caused the patchworked and messy draft now before the Standards Review Committee. 

With respect to proposed standard 303 (a) (3), Neumann and Stuckey assert that   “Every skills teacher we know who has seen this language has been startled by it” and reminds the Committee that the “only”  way students can acquire competence in “professional skills sufficient for effective, responsible and ethical participation in the legal profession” is through multiple supervised learning experiences.  Their letter also addresses the ambiguous reference to a “qualified assessor.” Finally, with respect to the current proposals for standard 304 ( individual law schools’  Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes), Neumann and Stuckey “believe that the current 304 language undermines the learning outcomes standards as a whole so thoroughly that adopting the entire package of standards might not be worth the effort.”

 Also on the agenda for the July meeting is the role and status of faculty – see ABA site http://www.abanet.org/legaled/committees/comstandards.html and scroll down to July 24-25 meeting.  The draft before the committee makes changes which move away from “full time faculty.”  The draft stops short of  examining section 405.  Thus although, it was anticipated that changes would be proposed to 405, nothing appears to have come out of the subcommittee. 

 Meanwhile, prestigious and longstanding members of the legal academy have come out on record to oppose attacks on academic freedom through dilution of Standard 405.  Most notably, University of Pennsylvania Law Professor  Robert Gorman wrote a powerful comment letter which has been endorsed by twelve (12) past presidents of the AALS as well as:

Matthew W. Finkin
Albert J. Harno & Edward W. Cleary Chair,
University of Illinois College of Law
Former General Counsel and Chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom 
   and Tenure, American Association of University Professors

Julius G. Getman
Earl E. Sheffield Regents Chair,
University of Texas School of Law
Former President and General Counsel, American Association of        
   University Professors

Sanford H. Kadish
Alexander F. & May T. Morrison Professor Emeritus,
University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
Former President of the American Association of University Professors,
   Former President of the Association of American Law Schools

Hans A. Linde
Senior Judge, Oregon Supreme Court
Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, Willamette University College of        
   Law

Robert M. O'Neil
University Professor Emeritus and Director of the Thomas Jefferson 
   Center for the Protection of Free Expression,
University of Virginia
Former President of the University of Wisconsin, Former President of                   
   the University of Virginia
General Counsel, American Association of University Professors

David M. Rabban
Jamail Regents Chair in Law & University Distinguished Teaching   
    Professor,
University of Texas School of Law
Chair of the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, American 
   Association of University Professors
Former General Counsel, American Association of University Professors

William W. Van Alstyne
Lee Professor of Law, 
College of William & Mary, Marshall-Wythe School of Law 
William & Thomas Perkins Professor of Law Emeritus, Duke University
Former President, American Association of University Professors

What happens next is anyone’s guess. We’ll keep you posted as July 24th nears….

 
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One Response

  1. I also should mention that yesterday SALT posted a letter in defense of academic freedom which appears on the front page of its website http://www.saltlaw.org.

    The SALT letter stresses “the critical importance of tenure to maintaining high-quality legal education and protecting the academic freedom of all law teachers, including clinical faculty.”

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