Within the faculty student relationship, though, there is a huge imbalance. Students are relegated to a distant second place. The bias in favor of faculty desires undercuts this complementary relationship and also reduces the return to the public investment. For example:
1. The courses offered are what faculty want to teach, not necessarily what is needed to best prepare students.
2. Teaching times are dictated by faculty. Generally they want to teach from 10-3 on Tues. – Fri. Thus, classes conflict while there are stretches of time when classrooms are empty.
3. Scheduling is dictated by faculty. For example, a 4 credit course may be offered in two two hour sessions. Especially for first year students taking standard courses (as opposed to a skills course) this is pedagogically indefensible and only exists because of a desire to minimize student contact days.
4. Faculty cancel classes for any number of optional activities, often for weeks, and then make up classes (if they are made up) at the end of the semester when students are otherwise swamped.
5. Faculty are often craven about teaching evaluations. Part of effective teaching may be to challenge students yet the prevailing trend is to make them feel good even if this is inconsistent with classroom rigor.
6. Faculty support of grading curves is often motivated by a desire to avoid hard decisions or to avoid “hurting the feelings” of students. The result is that students do not a have a realistic assessment of their progress. For example, at my School, students with a GPA that is even a fraction below a B are very likely to fail the Bar exam.
These policies are consistent with a sense of entitlement most frequently possessed by those in control of legal education. In a context of low accountability and ineffective management (primarily because management serves at the pleasure of those managed) everything hinges on the character and sense of duty of faculty. Here is the good news: It could be even worse and will be unless hiring policies change.