« October 2017 | Main

November 22, 2017

Langdell, formalism, and realism at Harvard

Here's a video of the session from a couple of weeks ago as part of the HLS bicentennial.  Opening remarks about Langdell are by John Goldberg (Harvard), who is followed by Catherine Wells (Boston College), me, Anthony Sebok (Cardozo), and Henry Smith (Harvard).  For those interested, my remarks on "Langdell, Wissenschaft, Realism" begin at 19:20.  I found Smith's remarks about the role of a firmer law/equity distinction in Langdell's views especially interesting.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 22, 2017 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

November 21, 2017

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?

MOVING TO FRONT (ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 24, 2009--I HAVE UPDATED CERTAIN NUMBERS)--SEE ALSO THE COMMENTS, WHICH HAVE HELPFUL ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS

With luck, some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months; a handful of offers have already been extended this season (2017-18).  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell the Chicago job candidates we work with that they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary.

5.  You should ask for the school's materials on benefits:  retirement, life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, and so on.  The biggest, and certainly the most easily discernible differences, are often in the retirement and life insurance categories (sometimes longterm disability insurance too, though unlike life insurance, you're hopefully less likely to utilize this!).  What is the university's contribution to retirement?  At the low end are schools contributing only 5-6% of your base salary to retirement; the more competitive schools will be in the 8% range, and some will be even higher.  The big issue on life insurance concerns the amount you are guaranteed irrespective of your health history.  750K increasingly seem to be the norm, but much higher numbers in higher cost-of-living areas is common.  And, of course, if your health is perfect, this doesn't matter, but I've worked with plenty of candidates where this was a serious issue.  (Life insurance companies have no incentives to insure faculty beyond the base amount they have to provide, so even health matters that strike you as trivial may disqualify you from more coverage.)  A final benefits issue concerns education/tuition benefits for children.  State schools don't offer these; the wealthier private schools do, and if you have kids or expect to have kids, this is worth looking into.  At the high end is Chicago, which pays up to 75% of Chicago tuition anywhere for each child.  Most of the wealthier private schools will pay 30-50% of the home school tuition for faculty children, wherever they go.  Some will offer a larger benefit if your kids go to that school.  But there are differences, and they don't track your ordinary expectations about prestige (e.g., last time I looked, the Wash U/St. Louis benefit was much better than the benefit at Penn or Cornell).  In any case, get the information.  But remember, university-wide benefits are rarely a subject for negotiation--the law school can't give you a higher benefit.  Of course, if you have a competitive offer, they may be able to compensate for a significant benefits differential.

6.  Finally, once you have an offer, this is a good time to raise issues about the employment prospects for a spouse or partner.  Sometimes you may just want help:  can the Dean help the significant other make relevant professional contacts in the area?  Sometimes you may be hoping for more:  e.g., a position in the law school, or in another university department, for the significant other.  It is certainly fair to explain the situation and ask.  Schools vary in their ability to response effectively to these situations, but many have formal universities policies pertaining at least to spouses who are academics.  Raise the issue, and see if the school can help.  But realize that the school made you the offer, and they may be able to hire you, and that's that.

The last point relates to a more general issue.  If you don't have other offers, you are not in a position to bargain.  Period.  You may certainly ask about things, raise concerns, etc.  But unless you're going to walk away from a tenure-track offer (not a wise thing to do in this market), don't make demands.  And even then, a collegial discussion about issues of concern is far better than demands.  Even if you have other offers, this advice applies:  proceed with caution and respect for the institution.  You can report that School Y is offering you a salary 20K higher, and ask whether the Dean of School X, to whom your talking, has any flexibility on this front.  But remember:  you may end up at School X (because of location, or colleagues in your field, or a better teaching load etc.) and living with that Dean and the other faculty for many years to come.  Don't poison the well by displaying a sense of entitlement and self-importance before you even get through the door.  Remember:  no matter how good you are, you're quite dispensable--in almost every instance, you need the job more than the school needs you.  Approach any 'bargaining' or discussion of the package in that spirit.  A good school has every reason to want you to succeed and to try to help fashion a package of professional duties and support in that spirit.  A good school doesn't need a prima donna.

I invite signed comments from faculty or deans on these issues.  A comment without a full name and e-mail address won't appear.  Post your comment only once; comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.

Good luck to all job seekers!

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 21, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (14)

University of Illinois, Chicago exploring possibility of acquiring John Marshall Law School

Story here.  UIC has a medical school, but no law school, while John Marshall is a free-standing law school.  If the acquisition occurred, it would be the only public law school in Chicago, and, assuming there was some tuition discount for state residents, it would put particular pressure on private law schools in the city like DePaul and Chicago-Kent.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 21, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 20, 2017

Schools offering VAPs and Fellowships...

...can post about it here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 20, 2017 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

November 17, 2017

Erin Rousseau, MIT: House Republicans Just Voted to Bankrupt Graduate Students (Michael Simkovic)

Following up on my previous post, Republican Tax Hikes Target Education

[U]nder the House’s tax bill, our waivers will be taxed. This means that M.I.T. graduate students would be responsible for paying taxes on an $80,000 annual salary, when we actually earn $33,000 a year. That’s an increase of our tax burden by at least $10,000 annually.

It would make meeting living expenses nearly impossible, barring all but the wealthiest students from pursuing a Ph.D. The students who will be hit hardest — many of whom will almost certainly have to leave academia entirely — are those from communities that are already underrepresented in higher education. . . .

The law would also decimate American competitiveness. . . . 

Graduate students are part of the hidden work force that drives some of the most important scientific and sociological advancements in the country. The American public benefits from it. Every dollar of basic research funded by the National Institutes of Health, for example, leads to a $1.70 output from biotechnology industries. The N.I.H. reports that the average American life span has increased by 30 years, in part, because of a better understanding of human health. I’d say that’s a pretty good return on investment for United States taxpayers."

Posted by Michael Simkovic on November 17, 2017 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Law in Cyberspace, Of Academic Interest, Science, Weblogs | Permalink

November 16, 2017

Valparaiso Law School to begin winding down operations (at least in Indiana) due to financial pressures

That seems to be the import of this somewhat cryptic announcement.  Those with more information may post that in the comments; submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 16, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ten law schools will now accept the GRE

Blog Emperor Caron has a round-up.  I hope and expect more will.  This is a particularly good development for JD/PhD students, who in the past had to taken two different standardized tests.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 16, 2017 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

November 14, 2017

Not much new until the end of the week

I was in Boulder for a couple of days last week (hence the quiet here), and will be at Columbia tomorrow, so don't expect much new before Thursday.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 14, 2017 in Navel-Gazing | Permalink

November 13, 2017

The Top 40 U.S. law faculties in terms of scholarly excellence, 2017 edition

The poll covering the rest of the top 40 got more than 300 votes (compared to a bit more than 160 for "the top 20"), no doubt because more schools were involved.   The obvious drawback of a poll like this--namely, that people can vote for their own school and try to vote strategically--is counteracted by the Condorcet method (which defeats most strategic voting) and by sufficient participation; in the end, the folks who rank their own school #1 have little effect on their own school, what matters is their relative ordering of everyone else.

I've combined the results of the two polls to produce a "top 40" law faculties in terms of scholarly distinction.  Especially outside the top 20, presenting lists of faculty names seems to have muted the U.S. News effect present from earlier polls even more, as reflected in, e.g., the disappearance of Wisconsin and Arizona State from the top 40 (they are all top 40 in U.S. News), and the significant improvements for San Diego, Brooklyn, and Cardozo.  (I actually think ASU should be in the top 40 for faculty quality, but the poll had it a bit outside.)

In any case, this seems to be a far more plausible "top 40" in terms of scholarly quality of the faculty than we've gotten from prior surveys, let alone from U.S. News.  (Personally, I think Illinois and Hastings are underranked here, but that's another story.)

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 77–67
3. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 118–32, loses to Harvard University by 127–21
4. New York University  loses to Yale University by 122–28, loses to University of Chicago by 79–60
5. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 121–29, loses to New York University by 73–65
6. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 126–21, loses to Stanford University by 85–56
7. University of California, Berkeley loses to Yale University by 137–15, loses to Columbia University by 113–29
8. University of Pennsylvania loses to Yale University by 140–9, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 74–62
9. University of Virginia loses to Yale University by 138–9, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 75–55
10. University of Michigan loses to Yale University by 140–9, loses to University of Virginia by 69–52
11. Duke University loses to Yale University by 144–6, loses to University of Michigan by 78–49
12. Northwestern University loses to Yale University by 142–8, loses to Duke University by 67–62
13. Georgetown University loses to Yale University by 140–10, loses to Northwestern University by 70–63
14. Cornell University loses to Yale University by 144–5, loses to Georgetown University by 71–63
15. University of California, Los Angeles loses to Yale University by 141–9, loses to Cornell University by 66–61
16. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 144–4, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 74–49
17. Vanderbilt University loses to Yale University by 139–6, loses to University of Texas by 77–41
18. University of Southern California loses to Yale University by 141–6, loses to Vanderbilt University by 67–54
19. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 138–11, loses to University of Southern California by 81–43
20. University of California, Irvine loses to Yale University by 143–6, loses to George Washington University by 70–57
21. University of Minnesota loses to Yale University by 141–7, loses to University of California, Irvine by 62–56
22. Boston University
23. Emory University  loses to Boston University by 142–119
24. Washington University, St. Louis loses to Boston University by 141–125, loses to Emory University by 141–124
25. Fordham University loses to Boston University by 158–91, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 149–108
26. University of Notre Dame Boston University by 159–97, loses to Fordham University by 137–116
27. University of California, Davis loses to Boston University by 170–83, loses to University of Notre Dame by 127–117
28. Boston College loses to Boston University by 174–66, loses to University of California, Davis by 131–118
29. College of Wiliam & Mary loses to Boston University by 180–69, loses to Boston College by 129–115
30. Brooklyn Law School  loses to Boston University by 172–74, loses to College of Wiliam & Mary by 129–114
30. University of San Diego  loses to Boston University by 175–78, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 123–121
32. Cardozo Law School loses to Boston University by 189–55, loses to University of San Diego by 128–118
33. University of Illinois loses to Boston University by 184–60, loses to Brooklyn Law School by 128–107
34. Ohio State University  loses to Boston University by 184–58, loses to University of Illinois by 121–112
35. University of North Carolina loses to Boston University by 183–68, loses to Ohio State University by 121–115
36. Indiana University, Bloomington loses to Boston University by 203–44, loses to University of North Carolina by 123–111
37. University of California, Hastings loses to Boston University by 185–67, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 121–110
37. University of Iowa loses to Boston University) by 192–56, loses to University of California, Hastings by 117–115
39. Florida State University loses to Boston University by 197–47, loses to University of Iowa by 118–112
40. George Mason University loses to Boston University by 188–53, loses to Florida State University by 124–97
Runner-up:  University of Alabama loses to George Mason University by 115–103

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 13, 2017 in Rankings | Permalink

November 11, 2017

From Texas Wesleyan to Texas A&M...

..to the top 100.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 11, 2017 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink