Brian Leiter reports on a threat to tenure standards at Brooklyn Law School. A review of the board of trustees at the school indicates there are no academics on the board. This can lead, as those at the University of Virginia can attest, to an overly narrow and market oriented view of academic culture. Add to this the strong dose of deregulatory politics at the heart of the agenda for law school critics like the Cato Institute and their friends Brian Tamanaha and Paul Campos and one can see the problem: exploitation of macroeconomic crisis for crass political purpose.
Tenure remains a vital component of modern academic culture. While there may be a basis to extend elsewhere the California model of allowing non-ABA law school graduates to take the bar that is not a reason to weaken tenure standards at ABA accredited schools. In fact, the California experience proves the value of these standards: aspiring law school applicants can decide for themselves whether to apply to ABA schools where tenure is a core value or opt for the vocational school approach offered at non-ABA schools. In other words, the ABA standard of supporting tenure serves as a source of information about choices available to students. It is not an insuperable barrier to choice as the Cato folks blithely assume.