After a long hiatus from this blog, during which I was basically swamped at work, I return to the idea of how to redefine or perhaps restructure law school to make better use of its faculty, give more to the student, and get away from the traditional models of revenue and federal aid reliance. I seek to “edupunk” law school.
I don’t have all of the “tenets” of the edupunk and edupreneur movement in front of me, but some really stick. One key aspect is that, since salaries make up a huge portion of a school’s costs, it is critical to make the most of every dollar. Especially with faculty that one must lure away from other schools, the amount of time each professor spends actually imparting wisdom unto students is the major metric. Especially for law schools, where salary (rather than tenure and job security) is often the number one reason that a lawyer would leave a lucrative position at a firm in order to teach, maximizing the contact between student and professor is important.
One means of achieving this is to bring in more adjunct faculty to do the “dirty work” for the professor. Creating exams, grading, even evaluating written assignments could conceivably all be done by lecturers or other faculty that are not on the track to tenure. Of course, this requires that the adjuncts work very closely with the professor so that the grading and exam methodology be in sync with the course materials and the professor’s style of teaching. Now the tenured faculty can spend their time in front of and with students and, hopefully, engaging others about how to change the way law is taught in an environment of continual creativity and improvement.
However, the Edupunk model falls shortl because even the adjunct faculty are often a significant financial load on a law school, much more so than that of the lecturer that runs between jobs in different fields at four separate colleges in an attempt to bring in one decent salary. Also, many adjunct are practicing lawyers and even sitting judges. These are not secondary members of the faculty that do supporting educational work for the school. These adjunct often teach courses that are popular electives with student, and they need to be in front of students just as much as the tenure-track faculty.
The question therefore, is whether there is a role for non-tenure-track faculty at a law school that are valuable both in teaching their own courses as well as being part of supporting the overall work of a tenured faculty that is presumably one of “the” reasons for attending that school.
So…this trend doesn’t work for law schools. This method of saving costs wouldn’t work for a law school.
Hopefully more success in the next attempt.