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Tenure: Endangered or Evolutionary Species

21 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2005  

James Fishman

Pace University - School of Law


Advocates of tenure emphasize its contributions to professional excellence and the quest for truth. These benefits are more important than individual benefits or the costs to those who fail to gain tenure or to universities that lose their flexibility. Critics argue that tenure creates excessive social and individual costs, because unproductive tenured faculty hinders opportunities to hire new faculty or implement programmatic innovation.

This article reviews some of the challenges to the system of academic tenure: the efforts to reform, curtail or eliminate it. It will discuss exogenous factors undermining the institution, and then suggest some areas where tenure should evolve, particularly focusing upon academic tenure in legal education. The author argues that the hierarchical structure of traditionally tenured faculty and other faculty, clinicians and legal writing professors, employed on short or long-term contracts, has undermined academic freedom and tenure.

Keywords: Law and Education, Law and Society

Suggested Citation

Fishman, James, Tenure: Endangered or Evolutionary Species. Akron Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

James Fishman (Contact Author)

Pace University - School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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