Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Law teaching candidates who register with the Association of American Law Schools fill out a one-page resume (known by its acronym, "FAR"), that includes the option of indicating restrictions on "Geographic Locations" that the candidate will consider. A colleague elsewhere calls to my attention this rather ill-considered listing by one candidate, who "listed that he would only accept employment in 'Blue States, Florida, and Virginia' and would not accept a position in 'Other red states.'" I would think this a rather ill-advised thing to have included in the FAR for a variety of reasons:
First, it simply makes no sense: the candidate singles out two "red" states that are acceptable, suggesting that his political concerns (about which more in a moment) can be trumped by other considerations that are not political. (After all, why not mention Missouri, far more likely to go "blue" than, say, Virginia?) But what are those considerations? It's mysterious. Moreover, if there are considerations that trump politics (as there must be given the inclusion of Florida and Virginia), then why rule out entire states which may include locales that meet the other considerations? To take an example close to home (well, an example that is home!), if you teach at the University of Texas School of Law, you teach and live in Austin, which went "blue" (56% to 42%) by a margin few blue states match. Examples like this could be multiplied (and also in reverse, since there are schools in very conservative locations in "blue" states).
Second, since the restrictions the candidate lists make no discernible sense, they serve only one purpose: to advertise in a fairly crude way that the candidate really hates Republicans. Since many law schools in blue states will have hiring chairs or members of hiring committees who are Republicans, or who, in any case, don't hate Republicans, or who may themselves hate Republicans but don't want to hire faculty who are so consumed with their hatred of Republicans that they feel the need to advertise it on their professional resume, the main effect of this listing will be to cost the candidate interviews and opportunities.
So some words of advice to teaching candidates: if you have real geographic restrictions for personal, family, or health reasons, mention them; otherwise conduct a national search, and leave it to later in the process (e.g., when you receive convention interviews, or have fly-back offers) to decide, "Living in that place is not for me." But don't use the FAR form to grind political axes. You can always create a blog for that purpose!