Law school deans seem incredibly powerful. They seem like they have the power to reshape their law schools in their own ways. They seem like they’re in charge.
In reality, law deans spend much more time begging than ordering. They’re asking their university presidents to keep more of the revenue their schools generate. They’re trying to cajole tenured faculty who can’t be fired. They’re sniveling on bended knee to rich and powerful alumni. And if their law school drops in the U.S. News law school rankings, they’re likely to be discarded and replaced by somebody with a “new vision” for the law school.
I’m not crying for law school deans. They make an obscene amount of money, yet they’re not directly accountable to the students who fund their salary.
But they have a tough job. And when they don’t have the support of the faculty, they can wake up to find a big knife sticking in their back — a knife labeled “faculty lounge.”
This one law dean found that out the hard way, though he continues to deny that his law faculty essentially led a successful coup d’état….