Symposium: Leadership In Legal Education
As the title indicates, the focus
of this symposium issue of the University of Toledo Law Review is leadership
in legal education,
leadership of law schools. The
goal of this issue, and if it is received as well as we hope it will be,
succeeding annual symposium issues, is to provide an opportunity for law
school deans to share their ideas, plans, initiatives, successes, and failures
for the edification of other current deans and those who will follow.
Obviously, deans do not have a
corner on the market on leadership. Certainly
there is role here for faculty, junior as well senior, with respect to many
issues. Faculty members can
assist each other in teaching and scholarship and show the way by example in
matters of curriculum and public service; institutional and planning
initiatives often begin, at least, with the faculty.
Realistically, however, leadership
is primarily the province of the Dean, and this is so for many reasons.
Individual faculty members rarely have the ear of university
administrators or major donors, and often they are necessary for meaningful
change. Similarly, individual
faculty members or even groups can seldom manage to produce complete consensus
on an issue, and what might have been an initiative can become simply a
faction fight. Further, the devil
is in the details, and execution of any serious project nearly always involves
administrative details beyond the resources and patience of individual faculty
or even groups.
Thus, the task of leadership falls
to the Dean. To listen to many
deans, the job is a lonely one; after all, the dean is in equal parts a middle
manager for the university, a negotiator and advocate for the law school and
the faculty, and a supervisor. This
combination of roles means inevitably that the Dean, who as a faculty member
could rely heavily on the advice of colleagues, must now have few confidants
and make many decisions alone. The
tension and isolation inherent in the job are, no doubt, responsible in part
for the short tenure of many deans.
There are many resources to which
deans can turn for help and advice. Mentors,
colleagues, and other deans are obvious places to turn.
There is an ABA manual for deans, and there is no lack of meetings and
speakers sponsored by the ABA, the AALS, and the ALI.
There is, however, no routinely available published forum for deans to
exchange ideas on the administration and leadership of law schools.
There is the Journal of Legal Education, but its mission is
considerably broader than law school leadership, and its articles are longer
and more heavily researched than many deans have the luxury of time to
Because deans often have little
time for serious research, the emphasis in this forum is on short articles.
No one need acquit her scholarship or, more realistically, exhaust his
research assistants. Footnoting is minimal or absent at the discretion of the
author. Prose polishing, except
for those who just cannot help it, may be wasted effort.
Rather, our goal is to collect pieces of practical wisdom that may be
immediately useful to other deans or dean candidates. Nor need every contribution recount a success; as the
scientists have long realized, unforeseen consequences and less than optimal
results have as much to teach as glowing success stories.