December 07, 2016
MOVING TO FRONT(ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 24, 2009--I HAVE UPDATED CERTAIN NUMBERS)
With luck (and luck will help since the academic job market remains tight), some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months. What then? Here's roughly what I tell my Texas and Chicago advisees 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.
November 07, 2016
October 26, 2016
Conventional wisdom that I've endorsed before is that job seekers get most of their callback interviews within the two weeks after the FRC. "Most" here means that after those two weeks, a candidate who got four or five callbacks in the first two weeks might pick up one more, and might even pick it up rather late in the process. This is based on anecdotal evidence involving Chicago candidates over the last eight years, so I'd be curious to hear from others who have noticed other patterns. Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear. Thanks.
October 20, 2016
According to Professor Lawsky, there were 86 law schools at the FRC this past weekend in Washington, DC, compared to 89 in 2015. This doesn't account for the number of slots schools are looking to fill, but my guess is that, like last year, we will see at least 80 new tenure-track academic faculty hired, perhaps a bit higher.
The 94 in 2013 is misleading, since that was a year in which many schools went to the FRC but did no hiring, due to budgetary stresses. The real contrast, of course, is with the last reasonably good year on the market, 2012-13, when 142 schools participated in the FRC.
September 13, 2016
MOVING TO FRONT (ORIGINALLY POSTED 2011)--STILL RELEVANT (I did not update the link to the thread)
PrawfsBlawg hosts many informative threads related to the job market, to which we often link, but this one still seems to me counter-productive, and I continue to urge our candidates to ignore it. The problem is not the misinformation (though there is always some, whether malicious or inadvertent), but that the "information" posted is always woefully incomplete, and so tends to increase the anxiety or blood pressure of other candidates for no good reason. Imagine, you are a job seeker working in IP, and you see that some anonymous soul posts on this thread that the University of My Dreams (UMD), which is hiring in IP, has called to schedule an interview, and yet you have heard nothing! Panic sets in. Of course, anonymous soul usually doesn't voulnteer that s/he has a significant other on the UMD faculty, or that s/he is a diversity candidate in a year when UMD is desperate to increase the diversity of its faculty, or that s/he went to school with a key member of the hiring committee, and so on. Most schools schedule interviews over a period of several weeks, and the vast majority of interviews won't be scheduled until later in September. Bear that in mind should the temptation to look at this incomplete information prove irressistible, and also bear in mind that behind each anonymous posting there is often more of a story than simply, "I got an interview with UMD."
September 05, 2016
As noted previously, this was the smallest FAR--382 applicants--in decades. Two other striking data points: more than 100 of those 382 applicants have a PhD; and only three are former Supreme Court clerks (two of those three are our candidates!). How might those data points be connected? Here's an hypothesis: the now astronomical big firm signing bonuses for SCOTUS clerks--$300,000 in some cases--are keeping them in practice in greater numbers; by contrast, JD/PhDs are training for academia, and so are making up a bigger and bigger share of the candidates.
September 01, 2016
This is based on the first FAR, and includes SJDs and LLMs, as well as JDs:
Harvard University (35)
Georgetown University (31)
Yale University (26)
New York University (25)
University of Michigan (18)
Columbia University (16)
Northwestern University (14)
Stanford University (12)
University of California, Berkeley (12)
University of Pennsylvania (9)
George Washington University (8)
Cornell University (6)
University of Texas, Austin (5)
University of Virginia (5)
Duke University (4)
University of Wisconsin, Madison (4)
Emory University (3)
University of California, Los Angeles (3)
University of Chicago (3)
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (3)
As I noted, this is an unusually small contingent for Chicago this year (we usually have 6-10 candidates), but we do work closely with the vast majority of our alums to time their entry to the teaching market when they can put their best feet forward. Based on past success rates, I fear some schools may have too many graduates on the market.
August 18, 2016
...which is down at least fifty or more 28 from last year (I can't find the number, if someone has it, please shoot me an e-mail). That's good news for the job seekers, as I think early indications are that, like last year, we will see at least 80 new tenure-track academic hires as we did last year (up from roughly 65 each of 2014-15 and 2013-14).
UPDATE: Thanks to Roger Ford (New Hampshire) for flagging this useful chart courtesy of Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern), which shows the drop off from 2015-16 is not as great as I remembered (I was probably confusing it with 2014-15).
ANOTHER: 58% of the candidates took their law degree from one of the sixteen law schools that produce the most law teachers (i.e., Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, NYU, Berkeley, Virginia, Penn, Northwestern, Cornell, Georgetown, Duke, Texas, UCLA); almost 20% earned a degree from the first four (Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford).
August 11, 2016
I am struck by how many schools are interested in some aspect of criminal law/procedure and also in evidence. Health law is also in demand this year. I'm encouraged to see a number of schools back in the market for tenure-track faculty who had been out for awhile. More next week.
August 05, 2016
The latest data from LSAC here. For 2015-16, LSATs taken were up a bit more than 4% from the prior year, while applications were up about 1%. So what does this latest data on June test-takers mean? Probably that this year will be like last in terms of volume of applications. Stability in the applicant pool is, of course, enough for schools to plan their budgets into the future and do faculty hiring.