January 14, 2008
Where U.S. Law Faculty Went to Law School
In response to my earlier posting, an Assistant Dean at Michigan sent me some interesting numbers culled from the AALS Directory of Law Teachers. The data was presented in aggregate form, which works to the advantage of larger schools like Michigan, and covered all those listed in the directory, meaning those who earned their law degees forty years ago, as well as those who earned their degrees ten years ago. Still, it is easy enough to make a kind of per capita adjustment (to take account of very different school sizes), similar to what I've done for the Supreme Court clerkship listings: namely, to divide the total number of law teachers by the average recent class size rounded to the nearest 25.
For the 7,820 tenured and tenure-track law professors listed in the AALS Directory, here are the ten law schools who graduated the most law teachers (adjusted, per above, for class size):
1. Yale University (3.68)
2. Harvard University (1.94)
3. University of Chicago (1.51)
4. Stanford University (1.33)
5. Columbia University (0.84)
5. University of Michigan (0.84)
7. University of California, Berkeley (0.77)
8. University of Pennsylvania (0.67)
9. New York University (0.62)
10. Duke University (0.51)
10. Northwestern Univeristy (0.51)
Obviously schools like Michigan and Penn, which had a more dominant position in legal academia a generation or two ago, fare better by a measure like this, and schools, like NYU, which have improved markedly in the last generation don't do quite as well. Those changes show up in more recent studies of placement in law teaching.
Michigan also sent me data on the 1,623 faculty at "the top 25" law schools (I don't know what the measure was for "top 25," though I suspect it was U.S. News). Here are the five law schools that graduated the most law teachers at these "top" schools:
1. Yale University (1.68)
2. Harvard University (0.68)
3. University of Chicago (0.52)
4. Stanford University (0.39)
5. Columbia University (0.29)
Michigan comes in at 6th here, with a score of 0.21, followed by Berkeley at 0.20. The compression of scores thereafter make the further distinctions of dubious significance.
The Democratic Contest...as Seen from Britain
This is more illuminating and direct than anything I've seen in the U.S. media of late. It gives a good sense of some of the ugliness to come. The quotes from voters in South Carolina are priceless--the first for what it says about voter ignorance and prejudice, the second for cutting to the chase about Senator Clinton.
January 11, 2008
Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch: University of Michigan Law School
I haven't run one of these in awhile, but having recently gotten a solicitation for money from my law school alma mater, Michigan, I decided to peruse the Law School homepage, only to find this:
The University of Michigan Law School is the international center for interdisciplinary legal scholarship and teaching.
It's not entirely clear what this means, since most of the world's law schools don't value "interdisciplinary legal scholarship and teaching" as highly as elite U.S. law schools do. But even with respect to the U.S., the claim seems slightly preposterous. What does Michigan mean to imply about Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, NYU, Columbia, and Berkeley, several of which could justifiably make the same claim? Law and economics, for example, is still the most influential and prestigious area of interdisciplinary legal scholarship, yet Michigan has a very limited presence there (having one excellent senior faculty member, Omri Ben-Shahar, plus promising junior faculty, does not a law and economics powerhouse make!). Michigan is very strong, indeed, in legal history, law and philosophy, and law and social science (economics excluded), among other areas, but it is not dominant in any of those fields.
Also surprising was this claim:
Whether measured by contribution to the number of law faculty hired in a given year or by the number of graduates who pursue academia, Michigan ranks in the top 5 of law schools.
I can't comment on the second claim: it may well be that Michigan is in the top five for the number of graduates who try to pursue academia. And while it used to be true that Michigan was clearly in the top five for both the gross and per capita number of graduates hired into law teaching, the most recent data (including some that I will publish later this year) suggests that this is probably not true any longer (Michigan will still be in the top ten, of course).
Having now called out some website puffery, let me conclude on a more positive note: under Dean Evan Caminker, Michigan has done excellent hiring the last few years, and has completely rejuvenated a faculty that took a beating in the 1990s. The recent studies of scholarly impact certainly bear that out (esp. when compared to earlier studies). So Michigan is in great shape, even without the puffery!
January 9, 2008
"Originalism is Bunk"
So argues my colleague Mitch Berman in this new paper. I don't usually flag papers, but this one is important, and every originalist will have to reply (though some of them will have to surrender, at least if they know what's good for them!).
January 8, 2008
The Contest for the Democratic Nomination
I am curious to hear what law professors make of the Democratic nomination process (it does, after all, involve three lawyers!). The remarkable change in fortunes for Hillary Clinton over the last couple of weeks seems to betray almost a sense of relief among voters, as though now they have another viable and competitive candidate who is not her. Senator Obama, despite saying almost nothing of substance in most of his speeches, may be the most effective orator on the national stage since Ronald Reagan performed his own psycotherapy on the public more than a quarter-century ago. The prospect of the first female or first African-American President is exciting to many--and notwithstanding the fact that we have already had a female African-American (Rice) and a male African-American (Powell) orchestrating much of the current international catastrophe in which the U.S. finds itself.
So what do law professors think? Signed comments are far more likely to appear, regardless of point of view. I am genuinely curious what my professional colleagues make of the current electoral situation. Post only once; comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.
UPDATE: Comments are now open, sorry about that!
January 7, 2008
Tsai from Oregon to American
Robert Tsai (constitutional law), Associate Professor of Law at the University of Oregon, has accepted a tenured offer from the law school at American University in Washington, D.C.
January 6, 2008
New: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law
I am very pleased to announce that Leslie Green and I will be editing a new annual, the Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law, which will publish commissioned and solicited work by leading established and emerging scholars in the philosophy of law. The first volume will appear in 2009, and all volumes will appear in both cloth and paperback. OSPL will be part of the distinguished Oxford Studies series, including existing volumes in Ancient Philosophy, Early Modern Philosophy, Metaphysics, Epistemology, and Metaethics.
The OSPL will include a broad range of problems and approaches, such as work in general jurisprudence, in the philosophical foundations of areas of substantive law, and in cognate areas of philosophy. Both systematic essays and historical studies will be welcome.
All papers, including commissioned works, will be subject to review by the editors and by external referees. Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Law will showcase the best new work in this growing field.
(Given this new project, I should note that I will be stepping down after seven years as an editor of Legal Theory.)
January 3, 2008
What explains the increase in lateral hiring? Not U.S. News!
Michael O'Hear (Marquette) asks what explains the apparent increase in lateral hiring in the last decade or so. One possibility he considers is this:
[T]he importance of the U.S. News survey has made law schools more sensitive to their reputation within the national legal academy, and lateral hiring seems more likely to provide an immediate reputational bump than entry-level hiring.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that responses to the U.S. News reputation survey track actual changes in faculty quality; indeed, there are several cases where the reputational score of a school declined when faculty quality quite clearly increased (NYU in the mid-to-late 1990s was a striking example of this phenomenon). As Jeffrey Stake (Indiana/Bloomington) has persuasively documented, the academic reputation scores in U.S. News primarily track the overall U.S. News rank, i.e., the nonsense number that is primarily determined by unreliable and/or manipulable factors unrelated to academic quality. The best way to improve your reputation scores, in other words, is not to improve your faculty, but to improve (or simply make up) the relevant "objective" numbers that go into the U.S. News formula.
Of course, it may be the increase in lateral hiring reflects the perception that improving the faculty improves one's U.S. News rank, but I suspect my pointing out that this isn't so is not going to slow down the pace of lateral hiring. On the other hand, improving your faculty does improve a school's ranking in another well-known ranking service , but I am reasonably confident that doesn't explain the increased pace of lateral hiring either.
So questions fo readers: (1) Do you think there has been an increasing in lateral hiring at all level of the market in the last decade? (2) If the answer to the first question is affirmative, then what explains it?
Post only once; comments may take awhile to appear. Non-anonymous comments strongly preferred, as always.
More on KC Johnson's Critique of Duke Faculty Members
There are a couple of updates to the original posting that may be of interest to those who have been following this matter.
January 2, 2008
Seattle's Eric Chiappinelli Named Dean at Creighton
The Creighton news release is here.