Here at MoneyLaw, I thought I'd write a quick sequel to my version of Platoon. These thoughts are adapted from a recent post of mine on Law School Innovation, which ponders how platooning -- defined roughly as the willingness of senior professors to share plum teaching assignments with their junior colleagues -- might affect a law school's marginal propensity to innovate or, for that matter, the very core of a law school's culture.
I believe that platooning matters for two distinct but related reasons:
- Platooning rotates different faculty members into high-visibility portions of the law school curriculum. Fresh blood, one would hope, means fresh ideas. At a minimum, platooning defeats the ability of an entrenched veteran to rely on the same class notes year in and year out, without even the pretense of updating.
- The willingness of a senior faculty member to yield a teaching assignment in favor of a junior colleague who needs to develop her or his research agenda and teaching repertoire speaks volumes of the senior faculty member's collegial propensities. If uncollegial behavior becomes ossified as the faculty norm, the law school in question is highly unlikely to innovate.
Let me make this point explicitly: Entry-level and untenured lateral faculty candidates, you are hereby put on notice. In assessing whether to accept a tenure-track offer, ask the other untenured faculty members whether they've encountered difficulty in getting access to certain subjects.
Platooning is a very real indicator of collegiality. It has the additional virtue of being virtually impossible to fake. It's one thing to represent how collegial your law school is. Actually being collegial, especially if collegiality demands yielding preferred teaching assignments, takes much more work. As between a faculty of platoon players and odiously selfish independent contractors, I'll wear the dog tags every single time, with pride.