Thursday, July 14, 2011
This is an interesting post about the extraordinary pedigree-sensitivity of legal academic hiring, in which a handful of schools (Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan) account for a huge percentage of all the law teachers hired. As the author notes, this is not as common in other disciplines: his example is political science, but the same would be true of philosophy, where some top programs (Princeton, NYU, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, among others) account for a large share of the top placements, but graduates of lower-ranked departments that excel in particular specialties also place quite well.
So why is law school hiring so pedigree-sensitive? It surely has to do partly with the fact that law school hiring is done on the basis of less information than most other academic hiring: i.e., most candidates don't have dissertations and don't have letters from faculty advisors who have worked closely with the candidate for years. Under those circumstances, proxies (even dubious ones) for scholarly ability tend to loom large. What do readers think? Signed comments will be quite strongly preferred: full name and valid e-mail address.