Every six months or so, law bloggers banter about the alleged "ideological" imbalance on American law faculties. The latest round seems to have been started by Ilya Somin, a law professor at the least ideologically diverse law schools in the U.S., George Mason University (a fact which has largely worked to its advantage, I think). Somin references one of the now standard sources for the allegation that law schools lack ideological diversity, an essay by Peter Schuck (Yale). But Schuck's arguments, and his evidence, are really quite weak, as I brought out in a debate with Schuck a couple of years ago. One might hope that those with an honest intellectual interest in this matter might try to respond to these objections, rather than citing Schuck and simply assuming there is a real issue here that requires redress.
That, a bit oversimplified, is the idea behind the Green Bag's new "Deadwood Report," which is described in some detail by Ross Davies (George Mason), editor of the magazine, here and reported on here, where I'm quoted (and so I won't repeat myself). Law schools would be well-advised to take note of the extent to which the editors are going to utilize web-based information about faculties in deciding whom to scrutinize. This would be a good time to clean up, and update, those faculty lists!
UPDATE: Over at InsidehigherEd (second link, above) an anonymous commenter writes:
It’s not surprising that faculty (and the 1% of elite students would want to be faculty some day) view the quality of faculty as the measure of a good law school.
But law school applicants don’t. They look at the USNWR rankings. So do law firms that are looking to hire law students. And the USNWR rankings are driven by the LSATs of the entering students.
In the great tradition of the anonymous ignorant in Cyberspace, this individual makes a number of claims that have no factual support I am aware of: (1) I know of no evidence that only 1% of applicants to law school have interest in the "quality of faculty"; it is one of the criteria that applicants to UT most often check off on their applications, and the high level of discussion board interest in high-profile faculty moves would also seem to suggest otherwise. In any case, no appraisal of an academic institution that anyone pays attention to--this is true even of U.S. News--neglects faculty quality (or some proxy for faculty quality) as a measure. Someone making the preposterous claim that only 1% of applicants to law school are interested in faculty quality might feel some burden to produce evidence. (2) What is the evidence that law firms look at USNWR rankings? I have a lot of accumulated anecdotes over the years, all of which seem to confirm that while USNWR rankings make for coffee room banter, the overwhelming majority of law firms work with their own "internal" rankings of schools based on past experience. Once in a blue moon, USNWR might affect the internal rankings at the margin, but that is rare. Is there any actual evidence on this point? (3) The USNWR rankings are not driven by the LSATs of entering students, which are not even the most important factor, and only weighted slightly more than GPAs. The really corrupt engine of the US News rankings are the data on "expenditures" that the magazine does not print. These urban legends about the US News rankings are right up there with the nonsense category "top 14," which has also taken hold in certain anonymous corners of Cyberspace.
I was enormously impressed by the offers made me by both Harvard and Brown, and I can't but be grateful to them both for all they did to make those offers appealing; but the terms of those offers were met and even exceeded by Chicago, and, in the end, it became very clear to me that Chicago is the place for me. I am a very interdisciplinary person. Here at Chicago I hold primary appointments in the Law School, Divinity School, and Department of Philosophy (and have affiliations with several other units). When I teach, I don't like to offer this course for this unit and that course for that unit, I really like to have students from different units in the same classroom. Chicago is virtually unique in the ease with which one can do this, since all units are on the same calendar and the same campus. I just announce a course title and a prerequisite, and things take care of themselves, the course gets five or more different course numbers without any bureaucracy, etc. Harvard is much larger, more bureaucratic, and more impersonal, and it is difficult to link law to philosophy and other humanities subjects, because the law school has a different calendar.
But equally important for me is the culture of the University of Chicago Law School, which has an intellectual intensity and fertility that is unique. People talk voraciously across lines of specialization, with a sense of everyone's equality. There are no stars; the entry-level assistant professor is treated with the same respect as the tenured professor. The ideas are what matter, not fame or glamor. This has been so for a long time, but I give particular credit to Saul Levmore, the current Dean, for his extremely fine leadership, both intellectually and in building a community in which this type of equal respect flourishes. I am sure that his very generous concern for each faculty member, from the youngest to the most senior, is a large part of what led me to stay. Levmore has been doing a lot lately to build the law-philosophy side of our law school, with the appointment of Brian Leiter and the creation of the law-philosophy postdoctoral fellowship program. So that has only increased my regard for the law school.
Here. Many of these appeared here, but not all. (By the way, my "policy" on posting lateral moves is pretty simple: I only do those that involve a more with tenure, and I only post it if it is confirmed by the candidate himself or herself, or by the hiring institution. If I don't post a lateral move with tenure, it's because no one told me!) Note that Filler's list includes lateral moves without tenure, as well as lateral moves of clinical faculty.
Lyman Johnson, a corporate law scholar and the Robert O. Bentley Professor of Law at Washington & Lee University, will join the faculty at the University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minnesota) as the Laurence and Jean LeJeune Distinguished Chair in Law. In coming academic years, Johnson will spend one semester at St. Thomas and one semester at W&L.