Consider what Cornford called The Principle of the Dangerous Precedent:For law faculties that seek, above all else, to protect the sanctity of the rules and norms by which their current members secured admission, so long ago, to the sacred and secret brotherhood, The Principle of the Dangerous Precedent has an important corollary: The Rule Against Hiring. This rule has two variations, both of which lead to the same conclusion — Hire No One:
- Hire no one who makes any of us look bad: You should never hire an admittedly worthy colleague for fear that she or he might might outperform you, or your equally mediocre colleagues. Every new colleague has the potential to disgrace the old guard. The only eventual course of actions are these: either to deny tenure and thereby to invite negative gossip, or else to allow the upstart to embarrass us incumbents. It follows that this faculty should never hire anyone.
- Why belong to a club that would have you as a member? To avoid hiring an admittedly worthy colleague, you need only ask whether other schools have extended her or him an offer. If other schools have, and they are deemed superior to your own, you may now persuade your colleagues that the extension of an offer effectively invites scorn, for surely the candidate will prefer to go elsewhere. If existing offers come from putatively inferior schools, that is a sign of the candidate's unworthiness, and you are now free to vote "no." And by no means be the first school to extend an offer of employment. If no else offers a job, you'll look desperate or stupid or both. To avoid any of these awful fates, this faculty should never extend an offer of tenured or tenure-track employment.