Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Ethical Guidelines for Law Professors

As far as I can tell, this is the most recent iteration of ethical standards for Law Professors. For the most part the standards are fairly general. My cynical side says this is what one expects from a committee and from a elitist-heavy profession. As I have noted before, elitist do not like rules because rules decrease the important of informal influence and institutional authority. Still, some of the standards are pretty interesting. Here are a few:

1. They should recognize their responsibility to serve others and not be limited to pursuit of self interest. (If you have ever observed a faculty deciding whether to start a new program or keep an old one or a faculty member angling for the ideal teaching schedule, you know this one is routinely ignored.)

2.Law professors’ responsibilities extend beyond the classroom to include out of class associations with students and other professional activities. (Is getting smashed with the students included in this?)

3. Classes should be met as scheduled or, when this is impracticable, classes should be rescheduled at a time reasonably convenient for students, or alternative means of instruction should be provided. (Is class impractical when one wants to attend a conference, teach in a foreign program or consult?)

4.Law professors have an obligation to treat students with civility and respect and to foster a stimulating and productive learning environment in which the pros and cons of debatable issues are fairly acknowledged. (Opps, this could rule out indoctrination.)

5.An evaluation made of any colleague for purposes of promotion or tenure should be based exclusively upon appropriate academic and service criteria fairly weighted in accordance with standards understood by the faculty and communicated to the subject of the evaluation. (Elites and administrators who abhor transparency don't like this one. It gets in the way of ranking people based on politics or who you're mad at.)

6.Law professors should comply with institutional rules or policies requiring confidentiality concerning oral or written communications. (I guess this only applies to some.)

7.The scholar’s commitment to truth requires intellectual honesty and open-mindedness. (At most this can only be seen as aspirational.)

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