A couple of faculty, including one Dean, wrote in to remark that the number of visitors at the top schools is double what it was 10-20 years ago. The question is what explains this development? My hypothesis is that the efforts by Harvard and Columbia to expand their faculties has created enormous pressure all the way down the "food chain" (compounded by the fact that Harvard occasionally raids Columbia, as well as many other top schools). This has resulted in more lateral movement, and also more need for visiting stints to size up potential new faculty hires.
In addition, of course, there has been a general tendency towards reducing teaching loads and increasing research leaves, which no doubt creates curricular pressures. Interdisciplinary hiring, which is particular pronounced at the very best law schools, also often creates curricular gaps that need to be filled with visitors who (imagine this!) can actually teach core substantive law courses.
Do readers agree that there are more visiting professors now than 10 or 20 years ago? If so, what explains this development? Comments are open; as usual non-anonymous comments are far more likely to be approved. Post only once; comments may take awhile to appear.