Some ideas just seem to pop up in the law blogs every so often and the abolition of tenure is probably at the top of that list. Paul Caron suggested it to Erwin Chemerinsky in his advice series over at TaxProfs
, and Brian Leiter has really savaged him for it.
(Leiter's also not too fond, apparently, of most of the advice that the 40+ of us gave to Erwin over there
.) Now Brian Tamanaha weighs in on the question over at Balkinization
today, making the very compelling argument that tenure makes a lot more sense at some schools than at others. Tamanaha writes that while it may be true that the pluses of tenure outweigh the minuses at a school like UT where Leiter teaches, at Tamanaha's school it serves mainly to protect those who are not doing the job.
Brian Leiter, before you ask, I think tenure's a good idea and I'm not giving mine up. I think the problem that Caron and others identify with the status quo is really attributable to the lack of meaningful post-tenure review. A dean can get rid of people who can't or won't write or who are a liability in the classroom, but she has to document the deficiencies, make a record, and invest political capital in the task. I don't kid myself that it's easy, but I'm not aware of too many deans who have taken it on.
However, I don't think it's foolish or silly to re-examine the institution of tenure every now and then, either.