July 10, 2018
(Part I is here.)
The FAR form offers space for listing three references, though many candidates will have more than three--in that event, you need to make a decision about which three to highlight in the space provided ("the big three"). (Note that in the comment section you can add more: e.g., "Additional references include [give names, affiliations, e.g., 'Brian Leiter (Chicago)']... Full contact details available on CV.") Here are some considerations:
First, highlight faculty recommenders that know your work well and some of whom, at least, work in your main areas. In my view, it's more important that they know your work well than that they be famous, names everyone will recognize. Of course, there can be close cases: if a very junior faculty member knows your work well, but a much more prominent senior figure in your field knows your work well enough to recommend you, you might want to highlight the senior person. But these are judgment calls.
Second, if you're currently in (or have held) a VAP or Fellowship at a school other than the one where you got your JD, it's customary to have at least one faculty member from that school listed--if you have no references from the VAP/Fellowship school, hiring schools might wonder what transpired during your time there!
Third, if you have a PhD in a cognate field, list at least your dissertation chair in the comments, but not as one of the "big three" references, unless it is someone that law faculty will recognize. The "big three" should, ideally, be law faculty.
Fourth, do not list any judges your clerked for as one of the "big three," unless you lack three suitable faculty recommenders. There is space elsewhere on the FAR form to list your clerkships, and hiring schools will assume the judge will be available as a reference. "The big three" should provide new information about references ideally.
June 27, 2018
One of the key parts of the FAR form are the two columns (left and right) for subject areas the candidate is interested in. The left column is far and away the more important: these are the five primary areas of teaching and research interest, though not all five have to be areas of research interest. You must list five, and any of these five are fair game for teaching questions at interviews: what casebook do you like and why? which parts of the subject do you view as essential to teach (which do you ignore or give less time to)? and so on. It is customary, though not essential, to include one core 1L subject in the list (e.g., torts, contracts, criminal law, civil procedure, property); a candidate specializing in all areas of tax and corporate already covers so many essential classes, that are always in demand, that having a 1L class in the left column won't matter. The right column is courses that one would be willing to teach if asked; you don't need to be prepared to answer detailed teaching questions about these.
In the ideal case, the courses in the left column fit together as some kind of intelligible package: intelligible with regard to their connections to each and/or your scholarship and/or your experience. Someone whose left column includes tax, land use, federal courts, and criminal law will have a lot of explaining to do! Public law and private law clusters are common: e.g., administrative law, legislation, environmental law, constitutional law, federal courts (public); or contracts, business associations, secured transactions, corporate finance (private); or torts, insurance, products liability (private). Criminal law, for FAR purposes, has several categories, ranging from substantive to procedure as well as the "criminal justice system," which is suitable for those doing, e.g., empirical work on various aspects of the criminal justice system.
The order of courses in the left column doesn't matter much, so don't waste time over-strategizing: be who you are actually are, and not someone else. I recall a candidate several years ago who was advised by folks elsewhere not to list professional responsibility first, even though that was clearly the candidate's main area of research. That was foolish advice, which we corrected! And the candidate did quite well, as schools really do hire in PR. But don't list a 1L course first unless it's really your main area of research and teaching interest!
Signed comments from faculty with hiring experience welcome: full name and valid e-mail address (the latter will not appear); post the comment only once, it may take awhile to appear. (I can not answer questions from job seekers here.)
May 29, 2018
An interesting chart from Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern), though it was misleading to treat t14 and t20 as separate categories here--resource-rich schools like Texas, UCLA, Vanderbilt and USC, which were in the t20 category, did fairly regular hiring during this period, just like the t14 category. But it's clear, and not surprising, that lower ranked schools, which no doubt faced more financial pressures due to the decline in applications, accounted for most of the hiring drop. Many of those schools are now coming back into the market for new law teachers.
May 22, 2018
We are indebted, as always, to Professor Sarah Lawsky (Northwestern) for compiling it yet again. A few striking data points: total rookie hires increased from 62 last year to 75 this year; I was expecting more like 80, but perhaps the small pool of candidates led some schools not to hire at the end of the day. 56 schools did hire, up from 42 last year. Barring a war or economic catastrophe, I expect the upward trend in both total hires and the number of schools hiring to continue, given the stabilization, indeed, increase, in the applicant pool. (You can see details about the Chicago placements this year here.)
May 18, 2018
I recently wrote about the evolution of economics--and law & economics--from fields that focused on assumptions and priors to fields that emphasizes data, causal inference, and scientific objectivity. Many law professors and aspiring academics share my enthusiasm for Albert Einstein's vision of universities as “Temples of Science”, but are unsure of how to acquire or sharpen the technical skills that will make them effective empiricists.
Bernard Black at Northwestern runs extremely helpful and practical summer workshops that I highly recommend. The quality of Professor Black's workshops easily justifies the cost. (There are free law & economics workshops--and some that will even pay you a stipend to attend--but from what I have seen, these tend to present non-empirical methods and political view points).
Details about Professor Black's workshop are available below the break.
March 23, 2018
November 21, 2017
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.
November 20, 2017
November 07, 2017
MOVING TO FRONT FROM LAST YEAR (SINCE TIMELY AGAIN--AND MORE COMMENTS WELCOME--ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 2007)
A rookie job seeker writes:
A question about the law teaching market, which I suspect will be of interest to a number of candidates who read your Law School Reports blog: When can we expect to hear from hiring committees we spoke with at AALS? Do the better schools tend to wait longer to make their calls? And do schools tend to notify candidates that they *won't* be inviting them for a job talk, or do you only hear from them if they're interested?
If you think this is a worthwhile topic, perhaps you could open a post for comments so that hiring committee members could say what their procedure is.
My impression is that schools will contact the candidates they are most interested in within the first two weeks after the AALS hiring convention, and, more often than not, within the first week. Schools will often have some candidates "on hold" beyond this period of time: e.g., because they are reading more work by the candidate, or collecting references, or waiting to see how they fare with their top choices. So it is quite possible to get call-backs beyond the two-week window. Schools tend to be much slower in notifying candidates they are no longer in contention (you might not hear for a month or more).
Schools higher in the "food chain" in general do move at a somewhat more, shall we say, "leisurely" pace, and schools lower in the "food chain" are more likely to have tiers of candidates they remain interested in, on the theory that they are likely to lose their first-round choices.
Those, to repeat, are my impressions, based on a decent amount of anecdotal evidence. But I invite others to post their impressions and/or information about their school's practices. No anonymous postings. Post only once, comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.
October 09, 2017
There's less competition (fewer than 500 candidates) and more demand from schools (we don't have hard numbers yet, but there are at least 65 schools that are interviewing rookies, the highest number since 2013--these include Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, Yale, NYU, Virginia, Michigan, Berkeley, Penn, Duke, Cornell, Northwestern, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Illinois, North Carolina, Penn State-University Park, Penn State-Dickinson, Miami, American, St. Louis, Baltimore, Tulane, William & Mary, George Mason, Alabama, Richmond, Brooklyn, Cardozo, UC Davis, Northern Kentucky, Belmont, Lincoln Memorial-Duncan, Cal Western, Loyola/Chicago, Oklahoma, Arizona State, Northeastern, Connecticut, Suffolk, Washington & Lee, Ohio State, Colorado, Florida State, St. John's, St. Mary's, Temple, Wash U/St. Louis, Boston Univ, Boston College, Arizona, Denver, UC Irvine, Notre Dame, Drexel, South Carolina, Dayton, Wake Forest, Fordham, Tulsa, Houston, Idaho, Mississippi College, Quinnipiac).
ADDENDUM: Just to be clear, we aren't back to 2010 levels by any means, but the ratio of hiring schools to job seekers is as good as it's been in at least four or five years.
UPDATE: Also looking at rookies are Hofstra (which may appoint up to four people!), Georgetown, Maryland, and Oregon. So now we're up to 69 schools looking at rookie hires! Comments are open, for faculty from schools also hiring this year that I've not mentioned to note that--comments must be signed, full name and valid e-mail address. Thanks.