AALS Handbook: Statement of Good Practices

The Association of American Law Schools recognizes that the mobility of faculty members among law schools and other professional positions is both inevitable and desirable. Yet the departure of a full-time faculty colleague always requires changes at a law school. Unless the school is given sufficient time to find another faculty member to offer the instruction given by the departing teacher, the reasonable expectations of students will be frustrated and the school’s educational program otherwise disrupted. To serve the best interests of the program of legal education from which the teacher is departing and that to which she or he may be going, the Association suggests that law schools and law faculty members consider the following principles. These principles are entirely voluntary. The Association recognizes that these principles will not apply in all situations and that individual schools and faculty members will make their own decisions in each individual situation. Individual schools remain free to adopt their own policies to ensure that their educational program is not disrupted.

Importance of Early Recruitment. Negotiations regarding the appointment for the following academic year of a full-time faculty member at another law school should be started and completed as early as practicable in the academic year.

Offer of Appointment. Each individual law school is free to make offers of appointment at any time. However, in keeping with their educational mission, in developing individual practices about when to make offers, law schools can appropriately consider how the timing of their offers might impact the educational program of law students at other schools. Individual laws schools should also recognize that the faculty member will need time to fully consider the offer and provide timely notice of resignation or request for leave of absence from his or her current position. In the Association’s experience, many law schools aim to have their educational programs for the next academic year set by the end of the spring of the prior academic year, and thus appointment offers for the following academic year that are made by the early spring are less likely to disrupt the educational program and more likely to provide faculty members with sufficient time to consider the offer and to provide adequate notice to their existing employers.

Resignation or Request for Leave of Absence. Individual law schools are encouraged to develop their own policies consistent with applicable law to limit the impact of faculty resignations and requests for leave of absence on their educational program. These policies could include, for example, requirements that faculty members provide a certain amount of advance notice before accepting another position or deadlines by which faculty members must inform the school of their intentions for the next academic year. In addition, a full-time faculty member should endeavor to reduce the disruption to the educational program of his or her current law school when resigning to accept a teaching appointment at another law school during the next academic year. Accordingly, faculty members should accept offers as soon as practical. In AALS’s experience, resignations and requests for leave of absence that occur before mid-spring are in general less likely to disrupt the educational program of the existing law school.

Recruitment of the Dean or Director of the Library. An offer to serve as dean starting the following academic year should be made to a full-time law teacher or dean as early as practicable in the academic year. Because the impact on a school’s program is significantly different in having to defer appointment of the dean for a year from that of having to defer appointment of a full-time teacher, the appointment of a dean may appropriately follow a later schedule than that for the appointment of a full-time faculty member. This standard also applies to the director of the law school library.

Adopted by the Executive Committee, August 12, 1979

Amended, November 16, 1984

Amended, May 15, 1986

Amended, July 12, 2017

Amended, February 25, 2019