Sunday, March 13, 2011

Greetings from a non-mediocre institution.

It's no secret that Nevada's budget is in horrible shape, and that problem is not likely to improve in the near future.  We are living in interesting times, with all that that phrase entails.

But I took umbrage when I read this piece in the National Law Journal (here) about what the budget cuts might do to our school.  (Thanks, though, to all of my buddies who passed along the article to me.)  I haven't seen the summary to which the article referred ("A summary accompanying Smatresk's letter notes that the plan would require significant tuition increases. 'These additional increases will undermine the law school's successful formula and render it a mediocre institution,' the summary reads.")  Whoever wrote that summary was, I'm guessing, trying to communicate that the burden for keeping us from drastic cuts will fall on our students, who will have to pay significantly more in tuition if the state can't figure out a way to help subsidize their education.  "Mediocre," though, doesn't describe us now and won't describe us later.

So far this year, we've hired:

Linda Berger, Mercer School of Law.  Seven edited volumes on legal writing, rhetoric, and the burgeoning field of metaphor & narrative. 11 articles.  Founding editor of J. ALWD.

Ruben Garcia, Cal Western.  Labor law expert, former Hastie Fellow, VAP at UC Davis.  16 articles, one book in progress (NYU Press).

Ian Bartrum, Drake University Law School.  Ribicoff Fellow in Law at Yale Law School, VAP at Vermont Law School.  12 publications on constitutional interpretation and theory.

Michael Kagan, entry-level hire.  Experienced refugee expert in the Middle East and North Africa with stints at Asylum Access, Africa Middle East Refugee Assistance (AMERA), Negotiations Support Unit, Frontiers Association, Musa'adeen Refugee Project, and Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Amnesty International.  13 articles and book chapters.  Teaching experience at American University in Cairo and Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law.

Year-long visitor:
Lisa Bingham, Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  Visitor at Berkeley, Hastings, Maxwell School of Syracuse, and Aberdeen School of Law.  Fulbright fellow in Sweden.  Industrial relations, ADR, and Labor Law expert with over 60 articles in peer-reviewed and law journals, over 25 book chapters, and 5 book reviews.  Expert in labor negotiations and mediation.

That's on top of the folks we've hired over the last few years, each of them gems.  Take a gander at our faculty home page (here).

Ultimately, Nevada has to decide if having an educated workforce is important and, if so, how it might help to encourage and maintain such a workforce.  Not even 12 years ago (we're not even old enough to have a bar mitzvah yet), Boyd was a baby law school, formed out of Nevada's desire to keep its budding law students from having to leave the state to get a law degree.  There has to be some happy medium between the low/no taxes stance we have now and the too-burdensome taxes that too many states have.  In a competitive world, where employers can outsource almost anything to very smart people in other countries, we have to have smart, innovative people on the ground here in Nevada.  That takes education, for starters. 

Mediocre law school?  Nope.  We have a good law school, with engaged faculty and staff members and dedicated students.  It's a warm community--one of the best I've ever enjoyed.  I have confidence that we'll be able to figure out a way to go forward without losing our momentum.  Whether the state is able to figure out a way to get its momentum back is another issue entirely.

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