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The Status of Clinical Faculty in the Legal Academy:
Report of the Task Force on the Status of Clinicians and the Legal Academy

63 Pages Posted: 22 Jun 2010 Last revised: 4 Oct 2012

Bryan L. Adamson

Seattle University School of Law

Calvin G. C. Pang

University of Hawaii - William S. Richardson School of Law

Bradford Colbert

William Mitchell College of Law

Kathy Hessler

Lewis & Clark Law School

Katherine R. Kruse

Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Robert R. Kuehn

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law

Mary Helen McNeal

Syracuse University College of Law

David A. Santacroce

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: March 1, 2010

Abstract

In the midst of ongoing debates within the legal academy and the American Bar Association on the need for "practice-ready" law school graduates through enhanced attention to law clinics and externships and on the status of faculty teaching in those courses, this report identifies and evaluates the most appropriate modes for clinical faculty appointments. Drawing on data collected through a survey of clinical program directors and faculty, the report analyzes the five most identifiable clinical faculty models: unitary tenure track; clinical tenure track; long-term contract; short-term contract; and clinical fellowships. It determines that, despite great strides in the growth of clinical legal education in the last 30 years, equality between clinical and non-clinical faculty remains elusive. Clinical faculty still lag behind non-clinical faculty in security of position and governance rights at most law schools.

The report then identifies four core principles that should guide decisions about clinical faculty appointments: 1) clinical education is a foundational and essential component of legal education; 2) the legal academy and profession benefit from full inclusion of clinical faculty on all matters affecting the mission, function, and direction of law schools; 3) there is no justification for creating hierarchies between clinical and non-clinical faculty; and 4) the standards for hiring, retention, and promotion of clinical faculty must recognize and value the responsibilities and methodologies of clinical teaching.

The report concludes that these core principles are best realized when full-time clinical faculty are appointed to a unitary tenure track. This conclusion does not ignore the imperfections of a tenure system. However, to the extent that tenure remains the strongest measure of the legal academy's investment in its faculty and is the surest guarantee of academic freedom, inclusion in faculty governance and job security, the report recommends that law schools predominantly place their clinical faculty on dedicated tenure lines. In addition, it recommends that schools implement standards for hiring, promotion, and retention that reflect the teaching responsibilities and methodologies, as well as practice and service obligations, unique to their clinical faculty. To facilitate the development of such standards, the report suggests good practices for the appointment of clinical faculty on a unitary tenure track.

Keywords: Law Schools, Legal Academy, Clinical Faculty, Law Clinics, Externships, Legal Education, Clinical Legal Education

Suggested Citation

Adamson, Bryan L. and Pang, Calvin G. C. and Colbert, Bradford and Hessler, Kathy and Kruse, Katherine R. and Kuehn, Robert R. and McNeal, Mary Helen and Santacroce, David A., The Status of Clinical Faculty in the Legal Academy: Report of the Task Force on the Status of Clinicians and the Legal Academy (March 1, 2010). Washington University in St. Louis Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-06-07. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1628117 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1628117

Bryan L. Adamson (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

901 12th Avenue, Sullivan Hall
P.O. Box 222000
Seattle, WA n/a 98122-1090
United States

Calvin G. C. Pang

University of Hawaii - William S. Richardson School of Law ( email )

2515 Dole Street
Honolulu, HI 96822-2350
United States

Bradford Colbert

William Mitchell College of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States
651.290.6413 (Phone)
651.290.6407 (Fax)

Kathy Hessler

Lewis & Clark Law School ( email )

10015 S.W. Terwilliger Blvd.
Portland, OR 97219
United States

Kate Kruse

Mitchell Hamline School of Law ( email )

875 Summit Ave
St. Paul, MN 55105-3076
United States

Robert R. Kuehn

Washington University in St. Louis - School of Law ( email )

Campus Box 1120
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States
314-935-5706 (Phone)
314-935-5356 (Fax)

Mary Helen McNeal

Syracuse University College of Law ( email )

David Santacroce

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
734 763 4319 (Phone)
734 764 4702 (Fax)

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