Decanal Leadership in Law Schools and the Abraham L. Freedman Fellowship Program
Volume 92, No. 4, Summer 2020
By Byron G. Stier [PDF]

Temple University School of Law offered the Abraham L. Freedman Fellowship Program for four decades beginning in the 1970s, assisting to establish post-J.D. teaching fellowships as a well-recognized path into legal academia. Over the two-year fellowship, Freedman Fellows taught multiple legal writing courses and one doctrinal course, collaborated with faculty teaching doctrinal courses, attended faculty meetings, and received guidance in preparing a scholarly article and interviewing for teaching positions, ultimately obtaining an LL.M. degree. Freedman Fellows generally obtained faculty positions at law schools nationwide, and a significant number of Freedman Fellows later assumed decanal leadership roles. This Essay explores the contributions of the Freedman Fellow Program’s foundational training to the leadership required of deans and associate deans at law schools, adding to the important but limited scholarship on routes to legal academic leadership. The Essay first generally describes the functions of decanal leadership at law schools. The Essay then describes the particular responsibilities of deans and associate deans for academic affairs, research, and strategic initiatives at law schools. The Essay next sets forth the origin, purpose, and structure of the Freedman Fellow Program. The Essay thereafter details the significant representation of former Freedman Fellows as deans and associate deans at law schools and explores possible connections between participation in the Freedman Fellow Program and decanal leadership. The Essay concludes by noting lessons from the Freedman Fellow Program for other law schools that seek to launch candidates into academic careers that might include educational leadership.

Byron G. Stier is Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives and Professor of Law, Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, California.