October 26, 2014

8.1% drop in LSAT takers in September from last year

LSAC data here.   Since the trend appears to be for applicants to apply later in the cycle, the final decline for this year is likely to be less than 8% (in the last few years, the September/October drop was always greater than the final total decline).   But a continued decline of any kind means that law schools uncertain about whether to hire new faculty will likely err on the side of not hiring.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 26, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

October 20, 2014

How long after the hiring convention before teaching candidates hear from schools?

See last fall's discussion, which is still relevant.  Budgetary uncertainties last year did lead to more callbacks being extended beyond the two-week window it seemed to me, and that may be true again this year. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 20, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

October 15, 2014

Good luck to those heading to DC to interview for law teaching positions!

Here's a couple of words of advice I typically share with Chicago candidates, but others might appreciate:

First, although this can be stressful, it should also be fun:  lots of law faculty will want to talk about you and your ideas over the next couple of days!   You will form intellectual and professional relationships even from interviews that don't lead to callbacks.  Enjoy the scholarly dialogue and learn from it.

Second, remember that every hiring committee is a black box:  you don't know its internal priorities and squabbles, its biases and agendas.  So don't waste time speculating about how you did (candidates, in my experience, are uneven judges of their performance, in both directions), and remember you are bound to bomb an interview, but life will go on.  Forget about it.

Third, bear in mind that hiring committees come to the hiring convention with different charges from their home schools.  Some will be authorized to offer some callbacks even before the weekend is out; others will have to report back to the rest of the committee at home before doing anything.  Don't draw inferences from silence, or from the fact that someone you know got a callback before the weekend was over--even when hiring committees are allowed to make some quick callback offers, it's almost always the case that the full hiring committee back home will make decisions about other callbacks at a later date.

Best of luck to all the job seekers out there!

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 15, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

October 08, 2014

Why do hiring schools look for "signals" from other hiring schools?

Barry Friedman (NYU) writes with an excellent set of questions and observations:

Here’s a thought worth maybe tooting on your blog.  It never ceases to catch my attention how much school hiring is driven by signals from other schools.  School X will interview candidate Y and love him/her, or will love him/her on paper, but will never move forward for an interview absent a strong signal from some number of schools they consider competitive.  Yet, in this tight market, those signals get fewer – especially at the call back and offer stage.  It has the effect I think of killing candidates that otherwise would get interviews or offers.   Yet, paradoxically, if schools had confidence in their internal assessments (and it is not like this is one person deciding; it is an entire faculty or faculty committee) this sort of market provides a real opportunity to steal that person you loved without a fight. 

So why do schools do this?  I think in most cases it is because they lack confidence in their own judgments.  But what do readers think?  I would prefer signed comments, but you must, in any case, include a valid e-mail address, which will not appear.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 8, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (9)

September 22, 2014

The scheduling of interviews at the AALS "meat market"

Schools vary in their procedures for scheduling interviews with candidates at the "meat market," but a typical pattern is this:  after an initial cull of candidates in the first AALS distribution, schools begin doing "due diligence," which typically means talking to references and reading work by the candidates.  Appointments committees usually only meet once a week.  At each meeting, the Committee will take a decision on some of the candidates they've been reviewing, and then contact them to schedule interviews.  The same thing will happen the following week and so on, until all the spots are filled.  For schools that do a lot of 'due diligence,' the process of scheduling 15 or 20 candidates to see could easily take four weeks.   It's important for candidates to realize that this is how many schools proceed, so the fact that an anonymous person on some blog reports they have an interview at school X does not mean you, a hopeful candidate, will not get an interview with school X.  School X may have only just begun, and may be scheduling interviews for weeks to come.

Posted by Brian Leiter on September 22, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink

August 26, 2014

ASU's annual "Aspiring Law Profs" conference...

...is coming up!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 26, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Professional Advice | Permalink

August 20, 2014

When the FAR goes live shortly...

...it will once again include the feature that permits one to search by law school attended (a feature that mysteriously disappeared last year).  Judy Areen, the new Executive Director of AALS, tells me they have a first-ever Chief Information Officer that fixed this.  Thanks to Judy and the AALS!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 20, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

August 12, 2014

A couple of thoughts on FAR forms

It's that time of year when I spend a lot of time looking at draft FAR forms and learning about the sometimes strange advice others in the profession are giving to candidates.  Let me set out a few of my own thoughts, and invite readers to comment:

1.  My rule of thumb is that in a given year about 10% of schools are looking to hire "best athletes" and about 90% are doing curricular-driven hires.  Those are rough estimates--many of the 90% want "best athletes" too, of course, assuming they can plausibly meet the curricular need.  That means the curricular listings on the FAR form are crucial.   Under the new FAR regime, there are two lists of five:  the left-hand list is the most important, signalling both the candidate's primary teaching and research interests.  It is crucial, in my view, to fill all five slots on the left.  It is also crucial, in my view, for candidates not to pretend to be someone they are not.  True story, from a couple of years ago, though I've changed a few identifying details:  we had a candidate, call him Mr. C, who was clearly a specialist in XYZ, a course that all law schools offer, but which they don't often advertise in.  Mr. C was advised by faculty not at Chicago to list XYZ fifth in the left-hand column, or perhaps move it to the right-hand column, and instead list two or three 1L courses at the top of the lefthand column.  I said this was horrible advice, Mr. C followed my advice and listed XYZ at the very top of the left-hand column, followed by areas in which Mr. C was genuinely interested, including one or two bread-and-butter courses.  Mr. C had no trouble getting a job.  My advice:  be who you are, and not someone else.  Strategic decisions about what courses to list stand out like a sore thumb.  The courses in the lefthand column, your writing, your recommenders, your practice experience should, ideally, form a coherent and mutually reinforcing package.

2.  With regard to the right-hand list of courses, I think it is less crucial to have five, and it is reasonable to treat these as "courses you'd be willing to teach if asked," but which you are unlikely to be questioned about at interviews in any detail.

3.  I generally disfavor adding "comments."  My basic attitude is:  you don't list yourself as a reference, don't recommend yourself in the comment sections.  Sometimes factual information can be added to comments:  e.g., specifying what your litigation practice focused on; or listing additional references beyond the "big three."  Comments of the form, "My practice experience complements my research, and will allow me to bring a unique perspective to the classroom" are an embarrassment and should never appear anywhere on a FAR form.

4.  Speaking of the "big three" references:  my general advice is to list them alphabetically, unless it is really important to signal that some really knows you much better.   Do not list the judges you clerked for, schools will assume they are available as references.   If you are in a VAP or Fellowship, at least one academic reference from the VAP/Fellowship school is highly desireable.  

5.  In general, do not list works-in-progress under "publications" since they are not; the exception is for someone who has no other publications, or few publications, or publications a bit unrelated to the candidate's current area.  And in that case, make sure to clearly identify it as a work-in-progress.

6.  Needless to say, don't list any "work-in-progress" you aren't prepared to share.  If it's on the FAR, it's fair game for a school to ask for it.

What do readers think?  Signed comments only, full name and valid e-mail address.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 12, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (4)

July 14, 2014

Rostron & Levit update their materials on submitting to law reviews

Professors Rostron & Levit asked me to share the following:

Dear Colleagues,

We  just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Fall 2014 submission season covering the 203 main journals of each law school.

A couple of the highlight from this round of revisions are:

First, the chart now includes as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what dates they say they'll resume accepting submissions.  Most of this is not specific dates, because the journals tend to post only imprecise statements about how the journal is not currently accepting submissions but will start doing so at some point in August, at some time in the Spring 2015, or that the “submissions will close no later than September 15, and may close earlier, depending on acceptances,” etc.   

Second, a couple of schools have had name changes (for instance, Phoenix Law Review is now Arizona Summit Law Review, and Texas Wesleyan Law Review is now Texas A&M Law Review), and the charts reflect these changes. 

Third, there is a gradual increase in the number that are using Scholastica instead of ExpressO or accepting emails, but it is still a minority of the total: eight school list Scholastica as the exclusive method of submission, eighteen strongly prefer it, and seven more list it as one of the alternative acceptable avenues of submission.

The first chart contains information about each journal’s preferences about methods for submitting articles (e.g., e-mail, ExpressO, Scholastica, or regular mail), as well as special formatting requirements and how to request an expedited review.  The second chart contains rankings information from U.S. News and World Report as well as data from Washington & Lee’s law review website.

Information for Submitting Articles to Law Reviews and Journals:  http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1019029

We’d welcome you to forward the link to anyone whom you think might find it useful.  

We appreciate any feedback you might have.

Happy writing!

All the best,

Allen and Nancy

Professor Allen Rostron

William R. Jacques Constitutional Law Scholar and Professor of Law

Professor Nancy Levit

Curators' and Edward D. Ellison Professor of Law

Posted by Brian Leiter on July 14, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

July 12, 2014

June 2014 LSAT takers down 9.1% from prior year

Blog Emperor Caron has the details.  One pattern that seems to be emerging is that applicants are applying later in the season (recall that we actually saw a slight increase in February 2014 LSAT takers compared to the prior year).  But a 9% decline in June takers almost surely guarantees that the law school teaching market this coming fall will be as bad as last year, since schools can't re-enter the market for new faculty without the ability to project enrollments into the future.

Posted by Brian Leiter on July 12, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink