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Can a Practitioner Run a Law School?

Last week, University of Miami Law Professor Michael Froomkin blogged that having a law practitioner serve as a law school dean sounds like a better idea than it is.  Among other things, Froomkin wrote that practitioners lack the academic credentials to command the respect of serious law scholars and don't have the administrative or management skills unique to running an academic institution.

Well, apparently, the Paul M. Herbert Law Center of Louisiana State University didn't get the message that practitioners may not be well suited to run a law school.  Ninth months ago, the school hired former Gibson Dunn partner,  Jack Weiss, who's profiled here, as its law school chancellor.  According to the profile, Weiss' early days were rough:

He ruffled some feathers among faculty members who thought Weiss lacked sufficient academic credentials to lead the law school, coming as he did from a law practice environment rather than a law education environment. He also ran afoul of some faculty members by going against a recommendation to grant tenure to a [now former] law center professor, Alberto Zuppi.

Weiss has worked to gain the respect of academics, and he's implementing programs to increase diversity and provide more scholarships for students.

Can practicing lawyers head law schools -- and should law schools seek them out?  Send your comments below.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 6, 2008 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)


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