Because a handful of my research projects over the years has benefited from various government and foundation grants (and hopefully more in the future), I am especially sensitive to institutional (law school) support for such research projects and, in particular, my duties as a PI on external grants. Although external research grants remain somewhat anomalous within law schools, they are nothing less than "oxygen" throughout most research universities (just ask, e.g., your medical school and engineering dept. colleagues). Moreover, research opportunities germane to legal scholars, while comparatively small, seem to be on the rise (e.g., NSF, NIJ, etc.). Finally, anecdotal evidence suggests a slight trend in the law school world tilting toward sponsored research or, more accurately, greater awareness and appreciation of it.
To the extent that my hunches are correct, I welcome comments from others about their experiences running external grants through law schools. For example, do folks encounter some flexibility regarding their institutions' indirect charging policies? Course buy-out practices? Should law schools create their own internal administrative infrastructure to assist in administering research grants or, rather, draw on existing university infrastructures (but almost assuredly wait in line for service behind some massive NIH grants)? Are external grants below a certain threshold ($50,000, $100,000) simply not worth the hassle?
(Finally, I'll just state for the record--and in the off chance that my Dean lurks on this blog--that my experience at CLS remains wonderful across all dimensions.)