Staniford Law has garnered a lot of attention recently for Dean Larry Kramer's efforts to make it the nation's top law school. It all started with an article in the San Jose Mercury News in which Kramer stated his goal of creating a program "unmatchable anywhere else." What is Kramer's precise challenge? Having a great faculty? Creating a superb law school on a stunning, fair-weather campus? The reporter naturally sought comment from our own Professor Leiter who focused on the matters of scholarly impact and high-end student placement. But you can tell from both the story (which of course ends with a list of the US News top ten) and the follow-on press that the real question people want answered is: can Stanford become #1 in US News? As much as Brian and others - including, I suspect, Kramer - want to marginalize the US News metric, we can't seem to shove it aside. It's one sticky norm!
That's the point of this story about proposed changes to the ABA accreditation requirements, which had previously been taken to require a tenure system for academic faculty and some kind of job security for clinical and other faculty. Northwestern Law Dean David Van Zandt, who has led the charge, denies that this is an attack on tenure, though given that members of his own faculty describe him as conceiving of the Dean of a law school as the C.E.O. of a corportation, one has to wonder. Given some of the stupidity about tenure being peddled out there, one must also view these changes as a "sign of the times," and not a good sign at that.
UPDATE: A reader points out, quite correctly, that Dean Van Zandt was the head of the American Law Deans' Association at the time the issue of ABA accreditation arose, and so, by necessity, had to take the lead on the issue. But the involvement of the ALDA is indicative of widespread concern about the ABA's accreditation powers.
James Gordley, a leading scholar of comparative law and legal history and professor at Tulane Law School, has been elected a Corresponding Fellow of the British Academy. In addition, the legal historian Neil Duxbury (LSE), who is a frequent Visiting Professor at the University of Virginia Law School, was elected a Fellow.
Relatively few U.S. law professors are Corresponding Fellows of the British Academy, which is reserved for scholars not teaching in the U.K.; they include Ronald Coase (emeritus), R.H. Helmholz, Martha Nussbaum, and Senior Lecturer (and, of course, Judge) Richard Posner at the University of Chicago Law School; Judge Guido Calabresi, emeritus at Yale Law School; Sanford Kadish, emeritus at Berkeley; and Thomas Nagel, who holds a joint appointment in the Law School and Philosophy Department at New York University.
Current and prospective law students, and maybe even some faculty, might find this interview of some interest--it is with "Top Law Schools," a generally civilized pre-law discussion board created by Ken DeLeon, a Boalt grad, who actually expends some effort at moderation, which no doubt explains the site's considerable success.