Tuesday, October 30, 2007
An experienced lawyer, recently back from the AALS "meat market" hiring convention, writes with some useful insights, that future job-seekers may find helpful:
I think my biggest surprise came in the discovery of how important the "Preferred Courses" selections on the FAR form are. I would say that virtually ALL of my interviews came about because I listed Business Associations as one of my top preferred courses. I would advise people to think carefully about what they want to teach and then to prepare heavily for questions in that area. I was asked what would be my approach to BA, why I wanted to teach it, how I would actually teach the class, and if I thought that BA should be broken into two courses. One interviewer even asked what casebook I would use!
Your advice about the importance of publication was spot-on. I might be tempted though to say that standing out from a very competitive crowd now requires TWO articles instead of just one. Prospects should also try to publish in a higher-ranked journal -- I had a couple of people note that publication of my second article in the [law review of a reputable but not top state law school] was good. I think that the exact same article in a lesser journal would not have attracted nearly as much attention. In fact, the majority of interviewers referred to it not by its title but as the "[state] article."
I can't give much advice as to the actual interview process. All of my interviews were different; none followed the 'classic' pattern. [Regional law school in the Midwest] spent 15 minutes telling me how nice it was to live in [their state]. On the opposite extreme, [an ambitious regional law school in the West] dispensed with any pretense of small talk and launched into 35 minutes of grueling questions, in which I was asked to defend, analogize, and extend both of my previous articles. On the whole, I thought all my interviews were more intense than I expected. People really need to be prepared to discuss their work in detail.
All good advice!