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July 29, 2011

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Ron Lane

Does anyone here realize that, outside of being Attorney General, this guy hasn't held a job for more than 4 years? Out of a 30+ year career, which started at a time when you could certainly hold a job for longer than that? That alone raised huge alarm bells for me. Along with that is the fact that he places such a HUGE emphasis on prestige and his clerkships over the other candidates, which was another turn off.

I get that age discrimination is very real and very pervasive, but this guy certainly had other red flags against him.

LawGirl

To You'llbe60too

He sued Michigan State (formerly Detroit College of Law, a night school), not the University of Michigan.

You'llbe60toosomeday

I dare say that a former two-term Attorney General and General Counsel of three major corporations, including H & R Block, has a bit more to say about corporate taxation than the faculty member who hired by Michigan, allegedly an associate at a law firm for three years. And Mr. Spaeth apparently was an adjunct for three years at a law school and a visiting professor for one. Yet, Mr. Spaeth couldn't even get an interview with Michigan. Age discrimination is pervasive and OBVIOUS in the legal profession. And, in this case, whether or not Michigan is ultimately found to have violated the law, it's actions are at best disgraceful.

David

When I read that he had made complaints with the EEOC against over 100 other law schools, that set off alarm bells.

Now, it is certainly possible that over 100 law schools discriminated against him due to age. It is also possible that - for instance, this is hypothetical - his behaviour in 100+ interviews was such that no-one wanted to hire him.

Blake

My best professors in law school have been those with many years of practice experience. Professors with only one or two years of practice experience have relatively little to offer 2L and 3L students. Serving as an expert witness doesn't count for jack.

marcus kaskinen

The suit is baseless. Everyone knows that law schools do not hire faculty who actually know how to practice law. If they did then law students would graduate with the skills necessary to actually practice law, and who would be left to do doc review and other mindless tasks for the first several years while learning practical legal skills on the job and on the clients' dimes?

Practical Academic

The suit is baseless because one of the critical elements of a law professor's life is advancing legal theory and analysis through academic scholarship of the quality to be published in leading law reviews.

It has also been demonstrated in numerous studies across many fields that faculty engaged in academic scholarship are superior teachers than those who do not.
This is not the same as being the most popular -- which are often those who are the easiest graders and the less-demanding teachers. But studies show that students, in general, learn more and have more developed critical skills being taught by someone engaged in advancing current knowledge and thinking critically (i.e., intellectually) about their field.

This is why Harvard and Yale are better teaching institutions than Podunk U's. The institutions demand - and get - faculty who are the cutting edge of their field through hteir contributions through research and scholarship.

Before and individual is even considered for an interview, they have to demonstrate both their interest and their ability to engage in scholarly endeavors, typically with such publications already on their resume.

Years of practice does not a good teacher make. Years of thinking and writing about the larger context of their practice does. The practitioners themselves have been the beneficiaries of this system -- that is why, when newly on the job market, prospective employers look for candidates form the best schools (as determined by quality of scholarship) they can get. The employers may not realize that that is what they are seeking -- they just know that candidates from the most reputable schools tend to prove to be the most able practitioners. Little thought is given to "why" the school is reputable.

The plaintiff here is clearly a beneficiary of the system, having his J.D. from Stanford. Too many practitioners see academia as an "easy place" to retire to -- they just have to show up to class and tell war stories. This is the worst way to serve students.
If Spaeth truly wants a career in the rigors of academia, he should demonstrate his interest in by first writing high quality law review articles and then engage in presenting them among learned scholars in the field. If he can't do that, he doesn't belong in an academic career.

However, there are plenty of opportunities for a practitioner who is serious to make the transition. Get a position as an adjunct. Schools hire practitioners as adjuncts to complement the core educational process; it allows students to be exposed to the prectical world of practice -- after they have built and honed their legal foundational skills in critical legal thinking.
Once there, the adjunct has plenty of opportunity to start writing, consulting with the full-time faculty in developing those skills and presenting them. Law schools are hungry for candidates of that quality, regardless of their age -- and if the cnadidate has the legal scholarship intent plus their practical background that is even more of a plus.

But it is rare that an adjunct professor does that. In fact it is uncommon that an adjunct professor is a good teacher, even as it relates to his or her own field. The few who are, are very valued and aske dot return to teaching. But many show up unprepared, or minimally prepared, and do a great disservice to law students.

Law school teaching is not a form of paid retirement. It is a serious, rigorous and challenging endeavor. Too many practitioners look to it for an easy out from the strains of their practice while earning a salary at the expense of the law studnets' education.

JrL

The suit is baseless. Everyone knows that law schools don't hire professors who have substantial practice experience, regardless of their age.

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