January 11, 2012
Leaders, it's time to lead
While in Washington last week for the AALS convention, I was able to hear two law school leaders say these two things: (1) The U.S. News ratings are a false proxy for quality, they stifle innovation and degrade our service to students, are leading us to financial disaster, and are making us corrupt; and (2) At my institution, I am doing everything I can to maintain or increase the US News rank of our school.
In other words, these leaders were both saying that the pursuit of rankings is corrupting and bad, and that they are complicit in it.
To identify something as wrong, in such a profound way, and continue to serve that wrong ideal is poor leadership, it lacks integrity, and it serves as a terrible example to our students and communities. All that we do as educators is a form of teaching, and what this is teaching is the accommodation of clearly bad principles.
If you want to a lead a law school, damn it, then lead. If that means rejecting the tyranny of the rankings, then do so. Stop being complicit. Lead the rebellion. Quit in protest. Stand for something. Lead, already.
-- Mark Osler
January 9, 2012
Diversity Officers--for Corporations, Law Firms, and Law Reviews
The Wall Street Journal reports that law firms and many Fortune 500 companies have an executive who is responsible for promoting diversity within the firm: "About 60% of Fortune 500 companies currently have a CDO or executive role designated for diversity, according to a recent study by Heidrick & Struggles, an executive search firm." One law firm which has recently created such a position did so because it found that "Without any rigid structures in place, the firm's majority—white male attorneys—were unconsciously choosing to partner with other white male colleagues on assignments," according to the firm's chairman.
Could law review editors be subject to similar unconscious biases--reflected in the selection of new editors, the selection of articles, and the selection of symposium contributors?
The California Law Review (one of my favorite law reviews) has been proactive on this front--appointing a Diversity Editor to consider these issues. Perhaps law reviews could assess their past practices--along the three axes of editor selection, article selection, and symposium contributor selection--and see whether the results require a review of their practices, and perhaps the installation of a diversity officer.