October 31, 2013
Another 10%+ decline in LSAT takers compared to last year
Blog Emperor Caron has links to the latest news. (He also includes links to a chart about which majors do best on the LSAT--because they lump Philosophy with Theology, I'm sure that depresses the result for Philosophy majors, since those two majors are VERY different.) [UPDATE: Professor Filler's post and mine crossed paths in cyber-time!]
A couple of thoughts on this:
1. People who don't get a JD still have to do something professionally. What are they doing instead? Getting an MBA? Just entering the workforce in some other capacity? Entering PhD programs? We don't really know yet, and given the Simkovic & McIntyre research, it is likely that at least some of those not going to law school are making serious mistakes economically (if not professionally or personally).
2. The likelihood that the 10%+ decline in LSAT takers will translate in to 10% fewer applicants is, of course, very high. One things that means for those thinking about law teaching is that next year on the law teaching market will be as tight as this year, and this year is very tight indeed. An uptick in applicants this year would have increased the likelihood of law schools waivering on whether to hire to jump into the market, but this newest development probably means that schools uncertain about tuition revenue and their budgets will err on the side of not hiring.
3. While some schools are undergoing major contractions (e.g., the recent New England story), the reality is that lots of teaching positions for which schools have genuine needs are going unfilled currently due to budgetary uncertainties (schools are relying on adjuncts, short-term visitors, existing faculty teaching overloads or teaching outside their areas, etc.). When the situation stabilizes in the next year or two (barring another economic collapse, of course), I expect we will see a dramatic uptick in academic hiring as schools try to meet the unfilled needs.
UPDATE: I can not vouch that this comment is an accurate summary of Dean (soon-to-be President) Syverud's remarks, but the analysis sounds credible, and more-or-less consistent with what I've heard (though I can not vouch for the 175 number, below):
LSAC provided a graph showing that we have had similar cycles since the mid-1960s. This one is a bit more dramatic because we came off all-time highs in hiring and applicants in 2007.
The Dean of Wash U Law School, Kent Syverud, gave a very compelling speech. He says 175 of 202 law schools are operating at a substantial deficit, and the pain is being felt across the board, not just at so-called "marginal" law schools. Applicant numbers, by LSAT score, support that comment.
He also says law schools will cut costs in the following ways (any errors in this summary or mine):
- Private universities may shut down associated law schools, as they did dental schools in an earlier era;
- Schools have let hiring of new faculty grind to a halt [BL COMMENT: there were about 70 law schools at this year's hiring convention, less than half the number from two years ago; not all which attended will necessarily hire];
- Schools will not replace, with a tenure-track faculty member, any faculty member who successfully moves laterally or retires;
- Schools will cut tenured faculty via buy-outs, etc., and use instead much more affordable adjuncts; Skills teachers could be especially hard-hit even at a time when the ABA and the profession are emphasizing skill development;
- Schools will cut staff;
- Schools will consolidate law libraries into main campus libraries;
- Schools will merge (like Texas Wesleyan); or
- Schools will sell out (like Charleston.
October 21, 2013
How Long After "Meat Market" Before Candidates Hear from Schools?
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 ofthen 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 03, 2013
The Labor Market for Law Professors
This is an empirical study of one year of it (2007-08) by Tracey George (Vanderbilt) and Albert Yoon (Toronto). It confirms mostly what I would have expected. This may be particularly noteworthy:
Among the metrics of comparison they look at are publications, fellowships, PhDs, school graduated from, clerkships and so on. They do err, I think, in taking U.S. News a bit too seriously in viewing one metric as "graduation from Yale, Harvard, Stanford," even though the evidence suggests that while Yale is in a class by itself for teaching placement, the other two are not. I've urged Professor Yoon to include some data on Chicago, Columbia, and Michigan, at least. (Of course, this was only one year, and it is possible that the data for this one year do support the grouping. In any case, hopefully the final version of the paper will include more evidence in support of the grouping.)
Despite the ink spilled on race and gender in legal academic hiring, we find, with limited exceptions, these factors have little effect. After controlling for credentials, gender and race do not improve a candidate's chance of getting a screening interview. The only stage where we find that race and gender have statistically significant effects are at the intermediate call-back interview stage where women and non-whites are statistically significant more likely to be invited for a job talk interview. But, women and non-whites are no more likely than similarly situated men and whites to get a job offer or, if they get an offer, for the offer to come from a more elite school.
October 01, 2013
Stuff faculty appointments commitees say......courtesy of Christine Hurt (Illinois). This is pretty funny and apt.
August 06, 2013
Hiring committees, 2013-14At Prawfs.
July 16, 2013
More schools shrinking their faculties (and their student bodies)
There is an informative piece (behind a paywall, however) in the WSJ about the elimination of faculty positions, mostly through retirements and buy-outs of existing faculty; besides Seton Hall and Vermont, other schools mentioned are:
Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn....has shrunk its full-time faculty about 18% since 2010, and the school is exploring ways to further scale back its head count. Ten faculty members have retired since the school began offering early-retirement incentives in 2011, and four more have accepted agreements and plan to retire in the coming academic year....
This year's entering class at Hamline is expected to be about 100 students, Mr. Lewis [the Dean] said—a 55% drop from 2010....
Earlier this year, 21 professors accepted buyout packages at Widener University School of Law, which operates campuses in Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa. And last fall, the University of Dayton School of Law offered early-retirement packages to 14 professors, seven of whom took them....
At University of the Pacific's McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif....[s]everal professors have taken buyouts as the school rescales its JD program from 1,000 students to about 600, a size that Dean Jay Mootz said is better suited to the school's regional market....
The article also reports that George Mason, which had a 2012 entering class that was half the size of its 2010 class, is having faculty teach larger classes and not filling staff positions except when necessary.
NYU's Misleading Presentation of its Academic Job Placement
Tsk, tsk--technically accurate, but also misleading, since it omits the fact that NYU also had the third highest number of candidates on the market (and by a wide margin). In fact, NYU's percentage placement of its academic job seekers is quite respectable (and better than Harvard's, as it happens!), but the fact is most NYU teaching candidates did not get academic jobs.
July 15, 2013
June 2013 LSAT takers down almost 5% from prior year...
...my co-blogger Dan Filler reports. A couple of observations about this, especially for the benefit of those readers thinking about the academic job market:
1. The decline, though modest, indicates that we have probably not yet hit bottom on the significant decline in law school applications over the last three years. That decline, of course, followed upon two significant developments: the New York Times series on the recession in the legal employment market, and the pointed inquires by Senators Boxer and Coburn to the ABA about employment reporting, which led the ABA to revise the rules, thus forcing schools to disclose much more detailed (and often unflattering) employment outcomes for graduates.
2. We have already seen evidence of schools letting faculty go or simply not hiring new faculty, senior or junior. Until applicant volumes stabilize, and schools can make realistic budgetary plans going forward, this will not change and will probably get worse: faculty is the primary expense, and until schools can confidently predict a budget, they can not afford to add to that expense. The competitiveness of the market this coming year will be exacerbated by the fact that, for example, all the junior faculty at Seton Hall will presumably be on the job market this year, and so too will junior faculty at schools with less publicized financial problems.
3. Based on last year's applicant decline, I ventured that this year's rookie market would be even worse than last year's. A continuing decline in LSAT-takers (and thus presumably applicants) will just add to the uncertainty schools face, making them even more reluctant to hire.
4. There will be law schools hiring new faculty this year, and not only the richest law schools. The economic pain is not evenly distributed across law schools, and I know of many law schools, both state and private schools, that will be hiring this year, in part because they expect (no doubt correctly) to be able to make strong hires that would have been out of reach a few years ago.
5. Given all of the preceding, however, those thinking about pursuing careers in law teaching would be well-advised to postpone entering the teaching market if they can. 2013-14 is shaping up to be the worst year on the law teaching market ever in terms of the total number of positions that are likely to be available.