Monday, February 22, 2016

Triumph of the JD/PhDs

Provocative piece from Bloomberg News, prompted by a recent paper by Lynn LoPucki (UCLA).  We've certainly seen this already in some sub-fields: e.g., first-generation law & economics scholars were almost all JDs, while the current generation are almost all JD/PhDs. The rise in expectations for scholarly writing from junior faculty candidates over the last twenty years has strongly favored those with PhDs, who, of course, have a lot of writing in hand.  And some of this is simply attributable to the revolution in legal scholarship wrought by Richard Posner in the 1970s, which finally finished off the Langedellian paradigm of legal scholarship.

Although I'm quoted saying that the rise of JD/PhDs will continue, that's a descriptive not normative statement.  I think different schools have different missions.  And the relevance of the JD/PhD varies by field.   We have ten current junior faculty, only four of whom are JD/PhDs.  Our Dean is a JD/PhD, our two most recent tenures were one JD/PhD and one JD (who had even been a partner in a major law firm).   We placed three Chicago candidates at "top" law schools this year, two were JD/PhDs, one a "mere" JD.  I think my prediction is an accurate one--and at other top schools it's already come true--but it will be another twenty-five years before it is realized at the top law schools generally.

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