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"Report and Recommendations on the Status of Clinical Faculty in the Legal Academy" identifies and evaluates the most appropriate modes for clinical faculty appointments in the legal academy, concluding that legal education is best served when full-time clinical faculty are appointed predominantly on a unitary tenure-track model. Drawing on data collected through a survey of clinical program directors and faculty, the Report analyzes the five most identifiable clinical faculty models: unitary tenure track; clinical tenure track; long-term contract; short-term contract; and clinical fellowships. It determines that, despite great strides in the growth of clinical legal education in the last 30 years, equality between clinical and non-clinical faculty remains elusive. Clinical faculty still lag behind non-clinical faculty in security of position and governance rights at most law schools.

The recommendations in the Report are based on four core principles: 1) clinical education is a foundational and essential component of legal education; 2) the legal academy and profession benefit from full inclusion of clinical faculty on all matters affecting the mission, function, and direction of law schools; 3) there is no justification for creating hierarchies between clinical and non-clinical faculty; and 4) the standards for hiring, retention, and promotion of clinical faculty must recognize and value the responsibilities and methodologies of clinical teaching.

The Report concludes that these core principles are best realized when full-time clinical faculty are appointed to a unitary tenure track. This conclusion does not ignore the imperfections of a tenure system. However, to the extent that tenure remains the strongest measure of the legal academy’s investment in its faculty and the surest guarantee of academic freedom, inclusion in faculty governance and job security, the Report recommends that law schools predominantly place their clinical faculty on dedicated tenure lines. In addition, the Report recommends that law schools implement standards for hiring, promotion, and retention that reflect the teaching responsibilities and methodologies, as well as practice and service obligations, unique to their clinical faculty. To facilitate the development of such standards, the Report suggests good practices for hiring, promotion, and retention of clinical faculty on a unitary tenure track.

Publication Citation

Wash. U. St. Louis Faculty Research Paper No. 10-06-07 (June 21, 2010).