August 12, 2014
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.
July 14, 2014
Professors Rostron & Levit asked me to share the following:
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.
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
July 12, 2014
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.
July 01, 2014
May 06, 2014
Sarah Lawsky (UC Irvine) has recorded 73 junior hires this year, though as she notes in the comments, there appear to be just 64 tenure-track academic hires (as distinct from tenure-track clinical and/or legal writing positions--those markets generally operate rather differently, which is why it's useful to disagreggate them). The AALS, in its infinite unwisdom, made it impossible to search job candidates this year by JD school, meaning that, unlike last year, we have no idea how many graduates from each school were actually on the market. 5 of our 7 graduates secured tenure-track positions, and one is still in the running for a 6th. All would have placed just two or three years ago, but this year saw multiple positions for which schools interviewed disappear (sometimes after callbacks) due to budgetary concerns. My guess is we will see only 60 or 70 academic tenure-stream lines filled next year as well. Once the applicant pool stabilizes (my guess is it will next year), schools will go back into the hiring market for new law teachers more aggressively, since many schools are currently leaving lines unfilled for which they have needs. Even so, I suspect a "recovery" in the teaching market will mean 100-120 new lines being filled, and that is probably 3-5 years off.
April 10, 2014
Anyone following Al Brophy's reports on the LSAC data will notice that, while applications are still down from last year, they are down a bit less with each subsequent report. That's consistent with anecdotal reports from colleagues who teach undergraduates who report being asked to write letters of recommendation later and later in the season than just a few years ago. One surmises that at least part of what is happening is that (1) students waivering about going to law school are realizing that they don't have other tangible professional plans, (2) students are realizing their chances of getting good admissions offers--either in terms of the caliber of the school and/or the cost--are much better this year than just a few years ago. Along with this indicator, I suspect the decline in applications is about to bottom out. It will still take a couple more years, though, for most law schools to begin hiring new faculty again given the dramatic decline in applications and enrollments of the last few years.
April 09, 2014
This was the most difficult year in the law teaching market in decades (my guess is maybe sixty or seventy new faculty were hired nationwide this year--down from over a hundred last year, and over 150 just a few years ago). Fortunately, most of the Chicago graduates and Fellows were extremely successful in securing tenure-track positions in this challenging market. They are:
Vincent Buccola '08, who will join the faculty at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He graduated with High Honors and Order of the Coif from the Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. He clerked for Judge Easterbrook on the 7th Circuit, and was a litigator at Bartlit Beck in Chicago for three years before becoming a Bigelow Fellow at the Law School. His scholarship has appeared in Kansas Law Review and George Mason Law Review. His areas of research and teaching interest include bankruptcy, contracts, business associations, corporate finance, and civil procedure.
Adam Chilton, who will join the faculty at the University of Chicago, where he is presently a Bigelow Fellow. He earned both his J.D. and his Ph.D. in Political Science from Harvard University. His scholarship has appeared or will appear in University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Yale Journal of International Law, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, and elsewhere. Hhis teaching and research interests are primarily in international law and empirical legal studies.
Roger Ford '05, who will join the faculty at the University of New Hampshire. He graduated with Honors and Order of the Coif from the Law School, where he was a member of the Law Review. He practiced patent and trademark litigation and privacy law at Covington & Burlington for five years, and also clerked for Judge Easterbrook on the 7th Circuit. He has also been a Microsoft Research Fellow at NYU, and an adjunct professor at George Mason, where he taught Federal Courts. Most recently, he was a Bigelow Fellow at the Law School. His articles appear in Cornell Law Review, George Mason Law Review, and elsewhere. His research and teaching interests include intellectual property (esp. patents and trademarks), property, information privacy, criminal and civil procedure, and antitrust.
Randall K. Johnson '12, who will join the faculty at Mississippi College School of Law. At the Law School, he held the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Earl Warren Legal Training Scholarship for two years. He then served as a Law Fellow with the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. His articles appear in Northern Illinois Law Review and Wake Forest Law Review Online. His research and teaching interests include property, evidence, real estate transactions, land use, and civil rights.
Greg Reilly, who will join the faculty at California Western School of Law in San Diego. He is presently a Bigelow Fellow at the Law School. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2006 and clerked for Judge Dyk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He was a patent and products liability litigator with Morrison & Foerster in San Diego for five years before coming to Chicago. His articles appear in Michigan Telecommunications & Technology Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review Dialogue, and elsewhere. He has research and teaching interests in intellectual property (esp. patents), civil procedure and complex litigation, federal courts, and contracts.
Nathan Richardson '09, who will join the faculty at the University of South Carolina. He graduated with Honors from the Law School, where he was Articles Editor of the Chicago Journal of International Law. He is presently a Research Scholar at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC, where he has extensive experinece doing legal and interdisciplinary research, often in collaboration with economists. His dozen publications appear in Environmental Law, Stanford Journal of Environmental Law, Columbia Journal of Environmental Law, and elsewhere. He has research and teaching interests in environmental law, property, administrative and energy law, and law and economics.
Veronica Root '08, who will join the faculty at the University of Notre Dame, where shes is presently a VAP. At the Law School, she was Managing Editor of the Chicago Journal of International Law, and also received the Mulroy Prize for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy. She clerked for Judge Stewart on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then litigated with Gibson Dunn in Washington, D.C. for three years, before taking up a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Notre Dame Law School, where she has taught professional responsibility. Her articles appear in University of Pennsylvania Journal of Business Law and University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform. Herresearch and teaching interests include professional responsibility, employment law, business associations, contracts, and commercial law.
If you're curious, you can read about some of our recent placements in law teaching here, here and here, and see a more comprehensive listing here. You can also see a list of past Bigelows and where they now teach here.
March 07, 2014
A complete report. Interesting. Only 125 positions filled last year, though I expect that will be double the number filled this year. This means we can also revise the placement rate, based on the number of candidates from each school on the market last year.
1. Univeristy of Virginia (57%, 4 total)
1. Yale University (57%, 21 total)
3. University of Chicago (50%, 6 total)
4. Duke University (46%, 6 total)
5. New York University (42%, 13 total)
6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (39%, 5 total)
7. Harvard University (32%, 18 total)
8. University of California, Berkeley (25%, 5 total)
8. University of California, Los Angeles (25%, 2 total)
10. Cornell University (21%, 3 total)
10. Northwestern University (21%, 3 total)
12. University of Texas, Austin (18%, 2 total)
13. Columbia University (17%, 3 total)
13. Georgetown University (17%, 3 total)
13. Stanford University (17%, 2 total)