University Post
University of Copenhagen
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Law managers not qualified for their tasks

The managers at the Faculty of Law know nothing about personnel management or about financial management. This is why things go wrong, writes former law professor Michael Bjørn Hansen

Uniavisen’s article ‘All rise! This court finds Law guilty of a study programme mess’ needs a comment.

I have been part-time teacher in criminal law since 1978 and in tax law since 1982. In addition, I have several times been part-time teacher representative on governing bodies. For 38 years I have followed the development of the law study programme as an employee.

In this period the Faculty of Law has moved from traditional academic autonomy to the so-called business-oriented management style.

I am not going to enter into a debate about what type of management is best. I will only focus on how this change in management style has been implemented at the Faculty of Law.

A business leader has power. But he has also been trained in managing this power in an appropriate manner. A business leader is characterized by results orientation, flexibility, pragmatism and a holistic attitude. If the function of manager is not appropriate and does not take the right things into account, it will quickly be reflected in the results, and this will show up on the bottom line. Business leaders are trained to use their power in an acceptable manner.

“Many of the problems are due to the launch of a new kind of leadership: business- oriented leadership. But the management positions are not occupied by people who have the skills that business leaders have”

The professors who have been recruited so far as deans of the Faculty of Law following the new principles can be described as follows: In their research, they are typically highly specialized within a very narrow range. Orientation towards the whole organisation is not their strong point. They are introverted nerds who are detail-oriented, highly principled, and obstinate. The principles are more important than the results. They know nothing about personnel management or financial management.

New management is needed

When you make a person a dean and give him the powers of a business leader without this person having the skills of a business manager, then things tend to go wrong.

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Law: No mess here

Because of their lack of skills they easily end up in situations that they cannot tackle in a professional and appropriate manner. In their distress they end up using raw force.

The article ‘All rise! This court finds Law guilty of a study programme mess’ described how bad things are at the Faculty of Law.

Much of the problem is due to the launch of a new kind of leadership: business oriented leadership. But management positions are not filled with people who have the skills that business leaders have. There is no connection between the job description and the skills required.

I have had the current dean as programme manager in tax law for several years, so I have a fair knowledge of who he is. He is an OK researcher, but he is not qualified for a business-oriented style of management.

If the Faculty is to be straightened out, a new management needs to be put into place that has the skills that are necessary.

Uniavisen submitted the above post to the Dean of the Faculty of Law Jacob Graff Nielsen for comment. He did not want to respond.