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ABA Votes to Keep Tenure Requirements in Accreditation Rules
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Law schools will still be required to protect tenure for full-time faculty members if they wish to be accredited, according to The National Law Journal. A vote was held this past weekend by the American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

An earlier decision was made by a majority of the members of the section to get rid of the tenure requirement and instead add a “security of position” system. This would have given law schools added flexibility and better job protections for various types of faculty members. The current rules provide doctrinal faculty members better job protection than legal writing instructors and clinicians.


“It’s an imperfect standard, but the attempts to change it would have been far worse. It would have been a race to the bottom,” said Kate Kruse, president of the Clinical Legal Education Association and the director of clinics at Hamline University School of Law.

The vote occurred during a two-day meeting held in San Diego by the council as it wraps up its six-year review of the ABA’s accreditation rules. A boost in practical-skills credit minimum was voted for by the council along with keeping the bar-passage requirement the same. The council also voted in approval of students receiving pay and credit for externships.

The chairman of the council, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Solomon Oliver Jr., said, “The comments we received were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping some form of tenure system. Those comments came from throughout the law school teaching profession, and from people who are very well known with the profession. On the other side, we did not receive a large number of submissions in support of either of the proposals we put forth.”

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David Yellen, the Loyola University Chicago School of Law dean, said that the ABA should not require tenure even though he supports it.

“It’s not surprising, given that the overwhelming majority of law professors around the country are opposed to the change,” Yellen said in regards to the decision of the council. “It was always the likely outcome that the council would accede to those demands. I recognize that they aren’t writing on a clean slate, and taking away those expectations of tenure is extremely difficult.”

One group that wants tenure to remain a requirement of the ABA is that of the Association of American Law Schools.

“I’m very pleased that the council listened to those of us who urged them not to adopt either of those proposals, which I thought were seriously flawed,” association executive director Judith Areen said. “Tenure is not a perk for law faculty. It’s a protection for people who think it’s important to innovate in law schools. You need to feel comfortable in order to be able to try new things.”

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