October 16, 2006
To: Deans of Member and Fee-Paid Schools
From: Carl C. Monk
Subject: Opportunity for Comment on Proposed Statement of Good Practices
In the fall of 2004, after receiving expressions of concern from several deans and faculty members at member schools about certain types of faculty recruitment practices, the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools appointed a Special Committee on Faculty Recruitment Services to examine these concerns. Members of the special committee include Professor Alison Anderson, Professor David S. Clark, Dean Allen K. Easley (chair), Dean John Garvey, Professor Tom Morgan, and Dean Ed Rubin. The special committee was charged with the task of examining current practices to determine whether there were any practices being utilized by law schools that might raise concerns for the AALS or any of its member schools, and if so, whether it might be advisable to find some vehicle for bringing that concern to the attention of member schools, such as a statement of good practices.
The special committee met twice, once in the spring of 2005 and again in the summer of 2006. In the fall of 2005, between the two meetings, the special committee prepared survey instruments, one of which was sent to law school deans and chairs of faculty appointments committees, and the other of which was sent to recent successful participants in the Faculty Recruitment Conference sponsored by the AALS each fall. After reviewing all the information before it and discussing all of the issues raised and the various possible courses of action (including the possibility of taking no action), the special committee recommended to the Executive Committee the adoption of a statement of good practices for the recruitment and hiring of entry-level faculty members. A copy of the proposed statement of good practices is attached, along with the special committee's transmittal memorandum describing its reasons for recommending adoption of the proposed statement.
As the opening paragraph of the proposed statement of good practices makes clear, law schools bring to each faculty recruitment season a variety of needs and concerns that have significant implications for the methods each school employs in the recruitment process and the timing of their recruitment efforts. The special committee had this need for flexibility in the forefront of its deliberations as it considered what action, if any, to take. The proposed statement of good practices is directed at two very narrowly defined practices which the special committee believes, if they become more widespread, have the potential to cause significant harm to legal education.
Both the special committee and the AALS Executive Committee recognize that no matter how carefully and narrowly the proposed statement of good practices is drafted, it might have unforeseen and unintended consequences. Therefore, it was the recommendation of the special committee and it is the desire of the Executive Committee that before final action is taken on this proposal by the Executive Committee, an opportunity be provided to deans and faculty members at member schools to comment on the proposed statement.
The Executive Committee has specifically requested me to advise you that it has not made even a tentative decision in favor of adopting this statement and that there are valid points to be made for or against adopting a statement. It should be noted that “Statements of Good Practice” are not membership requirements and that the Association in no way monitors or reviews a school's compliance with such “statements”
Comments should be sent to Elizabeth Hayes Patterson, AALS Deputy Director, via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org , or regular mail. The period for comment will close on April 1, 2007. The proposed statement of good practices will appear on the agenda of the May 2007 Executive Committee meeting.