August 28, 2009
"Aspiring Law Professors" Conference at Arizona State
I don't usually do conference announcements, as longtime readers know, but I'm speaking at this one and it's of course directly relevant to one of our main topics/audiences. Interested readers should contact Professor Sylvester at ASU for details about the conference. I'll be giving a faculty workshop the Friday afternoon prior on a scholarly topic for those who are around.
August 27, 2009
A Difficult Job Market for the Class of 2011
A New York Times story on the legal market here, and, in particular, the difficulties facing current 2Ls. What I hear from talking to career services professionals is that, among the elite law schools, things will be hardest for the biggest law schools (like Harvard and NYU, both mentioned in the article), for a simple reason: even if firms are cutting their hiring (Skadden, the example in the article, is cutting its hiring of new attorneys by half), they still like to have a representation of graduates of elite law schools in the new class of summer associates and ultimately associates, since that is usually good for future recruitment efforts. But since they're slashing overall hiring, that means having just 1 or 2 from each elite law school rather than 3 or 4 or 5. If the Skaddens of the world are looking for 1 or 2 from Chicago or Yale, with classes of about 200, but also 1 or 2 from NYU and Virginia, with classes of 400 and up, it's clear where the burden will fall heaviest--at least insofar as hiring by elite law firms goes. But, as the article notes, 2Ls will also need to cast the net wider than in the past--which will create pressure, in turn, on the graduates of other very good law schools that may, in the past, have had a corner on legal employers in their regions. Indeed, though the New York Times with its characteristic Ivy League obsession, focuses on students at top law schools, the greatest difficulties, I fear, will be faced by the majority of law students at law schools outside the top 15-20.
Hiring Chairs are Still Announcing Themselves...
...here. Many also mention particular areas of interest, which is especially useful for job seekers. Area-specific needs drive hiring at 90% or more of all law schools each year, so knowing area priorities is very useful information.
August 26, 2009
Michigan Lawyer Sues University of Iowa for "Age Discrimination"
Story here. One suspects there is age discrimination in academic hiring, but just on the paper record there are too many other possible explanations for why Mr. Dobkin was not hired apart from his age (55): law schools, and especially one of Iowa's stature, have a scholarly and research mission, and one might be skeptical that someone in practice for so long is prepared to make the transition to a scholarly career; or perhaps they reviewed the writing of a somewhat scholarly nature that Mr. Dobkin has done and judged it mediocre or worse; or perhaps they were concerned because his academic pedigree is significantly weaker than that of candidates with whom top law schools have ordinarily had success. The university has so many other explanations for why Mr. Dobkin was not interviewed that it's almost inconceivable this lawsuit will yield any remedy for Mr. Dobkin. One he assumes he must know this--or have been so advised by his attorney--and so is pursuing the matter to draw attention to the more general issue about possible age discrimination in academic hiring.
August 25, 2009
Anonymous Smear Blogger Has Her Identity Revealed by Google After Defamation Suit
The trashy New York Post has a suitably inflammatory story about it. This is a case study in the problem with anonymous speech on the Internet. Predictably, the juvenile libertarians at the Electrronic Frontier Foundation aren't happy about this outcome. My guess is that this this case is a symptom of a broader cultural shift, which reflects the increasing ugliness of Cyberspace and anger about Google's role in facilitating the spread of worthless speech. (Here's another symptom of the problems with anonymity in Cyberspace.) EFF will, I fear, be on the wrong side of these issues too.
August 24, 2009
UC Irvine Law Starts Classes Today
And they got a nice 'welcome' in a front-page story in the Los Angeles Times this past Friday. The 1L curriculum is quite interesting. Lawyer/mentors for each 1L could prove to be a brilliant innovation. Teaching fact investigation also seems an inspired idea. I do wonder about legal ethics in the first year--good PR for the school, but will it make sense to those brand new to the law? Some of the course titles puzzled me, since they imply that there are forms of "legal analysis" peculiar to different substantive areas of law, whereas that actually isn't true in most cases (statutory interpretation is a possible exception). In any case, that's more a matter of titles than substance, judging from the descriptions. Whether this curriculum catches on will no doubt depend on how UCI graduates fare down the line. I'm sure many law schools will be watching with interest.
UPDATE: A reader points out that St. Thomas (Minneapolis) already has a lawyer mentor program for law students.
ANOTHER: Turns out UCI had the wrong description for the 'legal profession' course on the website (it's now fixed)--the course 1Ls will take won't be legal ethics, as much as introducing the profession and the professional roles that lawyers fulfill and the settings in which they practice, which will surely be more meaningful to those new to law study.
ONE MORE: Elon University School of Law has also had a mentorship program for some time.
August 23, 2009
Per Capita Expenditures is the Tail that Wags the US News Ranking Dog
I've remarked on this many times before, and Tom Bell (Chapman) confirms it with his characteristically more sophisticated analysis. (Do see this chart too.) Of course, U.S. News does not publish the information on per capita expenditures, since it would make it far too obvious what they are actually ranking.
August 21, 2009
John Yoo and Academic Freedom, Once Again
This time in The New York Times, with comments from several law professors (including this one). My comments are a shorter version of points I've made before at somewhat greater length.
UPDATE: The comments of Monroe Freedman (Hofstra) are worth reading.
August 18, 2009
Academic Law Needs More Fora for Serious Book Reviews!
That, in a nutshell, is the theme of this recent article by my former colleague Sandy Levinson. Discuss! (Submit comments only once, they may take awhile to appear. Signed comments are more likely to be approved.)
August 17, 2009
Will Lateral Moves Decline in 2010 and 2011?
Looking at the useful lists compiled by Dan Filler, one can see that in each of 2007, 2008, and 2009, there were around 125-130 lateral moves (give or take) each of those years. 2009 was still comparable to earlier years, no doubt because these kinds of hires, especially those with tenure, are often 1-2 years in the making. The initial effects of the economic collapse will be felt, I imagine, in hiring decisions made this year and next. Already there are reports of some major law schools that made few or no lateral offers to visitors due to budgetary concerns. (Yale, interestingly, increased its 1L class this year by more than 10% to offset lost endowment revenue.) My guess is the Filler list for 2010 will be noticeably thinner than prior years, but we'll see.