This essay explores the timeless issue of whether law professors should be entitled to unrestricted tenure. Tenure for all academics, including legal ones, has been controversial since its inception. Supporters of tenure assert that it is the only effective guarantee of academic freedom. Without it, professors could—and would—be discharged for espousing unpopular opinions and theories. On the other hand, lifetime tenure for academics can breed mediocrity, complacency, and even resentment. My essay argues that tenure for law professors should be retained in a modified form. I examine three fictional case studies that illustrate the pitfalls of tenure. I then propose that although law professors should be eligible for tenure after the normal probationary period, law schools should institute a system of rigorous post-tenure review and explore other solutions as well. My proposals, I hope, retain most of the benefits of tenure while chipping away at its shortcomings, which often operate to the detriment of law students.
Margit Livingston, Tenure Revisited, 61 B.C. L. Rev. E.Supp. I.-12 (2020), https://lawdigitalcommons.bc.edu/bclr/vol61/iss9/2