August 02, 2016
The other day I remarked on what should have been obvious, namely, that Google Scholar rankings of law reviews by impact are nonsense, providing prospective authors with no meaningful information about the relative impact of publishing an article in comparable law reviews. (Did you know that it's better to publish in the Fordham Law Review for impact than in the Duke Law Journal?) The reason is simple: the Google Scholar rankings do not adjust for the volume of output--law reviews that turn out more issues and articles each year will rank higher than otherwise comparable law reviews (with actual comparable impact) simply because of the volume of output.
When Google Scholar rankings of philosophy journals first came out, a journal called Synthese came out #1. Synthese is a good journal, but it was obviously nonsense that the average impact of an article there was greater than any of the actual top journals in philosophy. The key fact about Synthese is that it publishes five to ten times as many articles per year than the top philosophy journals. When another philosopher adjusted the Google Scholar results for volume of publication, Synthese dropped from #1 to #24.
Alas, various law professors have dug in their heels trying to explain that this nonsense Google Scholar ranking of law reviews is not, in fact, affected by volume of output. I was initially astonished, but now see that many naïve enthusiasts apparently do not not understand the metrics and do not realize how sloppy Google Scholar is in terms of what it picks up.
Let's start with the formula Google Scholar uses in its journal rankings:
The h-index of a publication is the largest number h such that at least h articles in that publication were cited at least h times each. For example, a publication with five articles cited by, respectively, 17, 9, 6, 3, and 2, has the h-index of 3.
The h-core of a publication is a set of top cited h articles from the publication. These are the articles that the h-index is based on. For example, the publication above has the h-core with three articles, those cited by 17, 9, and 6.
The h-median of a publication is the median of the citation counts in its h-core. For example, the h-median of the publication above is 9. The h-median is a measure of the distribution of citations to the articles in the h-core.
Finally, the h5-index, h5-core, and h5-median of a publication are, respectively, the h-index, h-core, and h-median of only those of its articles that were published in the last five complete calendar years.
Obviously, any journal that publishes more articles per year has more chances of publishing highly-cited articles, which then affects both the h-core result and the h-median result. But that's only part of the problem, though that problem is real and obvious enough. The much more serious problem is that Google Scholar picks up a lot of "noise," i.e., citations that aren't really citations. So, for example, Google Scholar records as a citation any reference to the contents of the law review in an index of legal periodicals. Any journal that publishes more issues will appear more often in such indices obviously. Google Scholar picks up self-references in a journal to the articles it has published in a given year. Google Scholar even picks up SSRN "working paper series" postings in which all other articles by someone on a faculty are also listed at the end as from that school. (Google Scholar gradually purges some of these fake cites, but it takes a long time.) Volume of publication inflates a journal's "impact" ranking because Google Scholar is not as discerning as some law professors think.
July 19, 2016
June 30, 2016
May 11, 2016
Sarah Lawsky's entry-level hiring report for 2015-16--plus the percentage of successful job seekers from each school
Professor Lawsky (currently UC Irvine, moving this fall to Northwestern) has produced her annual, informative report on rookie hiring this year. As she notes, it reflects only those who accepted tenure-track jobs, not tenure-track offers. (This matters for Chicago this year, since two alumni turned down tenure-track offers for personal reasons; as I noted earlier, 75% of our JD and LLM candidates on the market received tenure-track offers.)
Here are the statistics based on the percentage of JD, LLM and SJD (or Law PhD) seekers from each school who accepted a tenure-track position this year (I excluded clinical and LRW jobs, since that market operates differently from the market for "doctrinal" faculty--there were 80 of the latter, as I had estimated--a 20% uptick from recent years, but still about half of the pre-recession numbers); only schools that placed at least two candidates and which had at least nine job seekers* are listed:
1. University of Chicago (58%: 7 of 12)
2. Yale University (50%: 21 of 42)
3. Stanford University (42%: 8 of 19)
4. Columbia University (29%: 6 of 21)
5. Harvard University (27%: 12 of 45)
6. New York University (24%: 7 of 29)
7. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (22%: 2 of 9)
8. University of California, Berkeley (19%: 3 of 16)
9. University of Virginia (17%: 2 of 12)
UCLA had just five job seekers, but two (40%) got tenure-track jobs.
*I used 9 rather than 10 is the cut-off, since Michigan was just under ten, but still had enough candidates to make the figure somewhat meaningful.
April 27, 2016
In recent years, Penn has emerged as a force to be reckoned with in the academic market for legal historians. Two recent Penn JD/PhDs in History, Karen Tani and Greg Ablavsky, have secured tenure-track jobs in the law schools at, respectively, Berkeley and Stanford. Another Penn PhD in History (with a Harvard JD), Anne Fleming, is now on tenure-track at Georgetown Law. This year, one of Penn's Sharswood Fellows, a legal historian trained elsewhere, secured a tenure-track job at Vanderbilt Law.
I asked Sarah Barringer Gordon, the distinguished senior legal historian at the University of Pennsylvania, how Penn has been so successful? She wrote:
Our program is designed to be small and highly selective, and we invest substantial time in each student, and ensure that we support our students financially as well as intellectually. We take only those candidates that we are confident we can train in the substantive fields of their interest and in a demanding program that is grounded equally in history and law. We also work hard to help our students enter the field as fully minted scholars, who have presented their work in multiple venues, taught, and published. We have an in-house workshop where both faculty and students who work in legal history present their work at early stages, an annual speaker series that brings in outside scholars, and we are active in the American Society for Legal History, as well as a consortium of schools that hosts an annual conference for early career legal historians. One of us also co-edits Studies in Legal History, the oldest and largest book series dedicated to legal history. Of course, Penn has benefited from the overall success of the field of legal history, and we consider ourselves part of a broader community of scholars that is remarkably collegial. Our legal historians on the faculty include Wendell Pritchett, Serena Mayeri, Sophia Lee, Bill Ewald, and yours truly. We are proud to be among the strong programs in legal history, but are also committed to remaining small, as legal historians are built one at a time.
UPDATE: Another impressive Penn-connected success story is the legal historian Christopher Beauchamp, a Cambridge-trained historian now on tenure-track at Brooklyn Law School (he does not have a law degree). He was also a Sharswood Fellow at Penn's Law School, as well as a Fellow in Legal History at NYU's Law School, before securing his tenure-track post at Brooklyn.
April 26, 2016
My colleague Richard Epstein asked me to share information about these attractive post-docs at his Institute at NYU Law School. They are open to PhDs in History, Philosophy or Political Science with substantial law interests (a JD is not required).
April 09, 2016
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MARCH 17--IF YOU'VE BEEN HIRED, PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR INFORMATION AT THE PRAWFS BLOG LINK, BELOW
As Prof. Lawsky collects the data on entry-level hiring, bear in mind that the total number of graduates on the teaching market varies considerably by school; once all the hiring results are in, I'll post the percentage success rates. But here are the total number of graduates by school that were on the market this year: 45 from Harvard; 42 from Yale; 29 from Georgetown; 29 from NYU; 21 from Columbia; 19 from Stanford; 16 from Berkeley; 12 from Chicago; 12 from Virginia; 10 from Northwestern; 9 from Michigan; 6 from Duke; 5 from Penn; 5 from Cornell; 5 from UCLA; 3 from Southern California; 3 from Texas. I know that 75% of the Chicago grads on the teaching market secured a tenure-track job; I'll post the final listing in a couple of weeks.
4/9/16 UPDATE: So as I surmised awhile back, we seem to be closing in on about eighty tenure-track hires this year, compared to about 65 the last two years. Based on the data so far, here's how the placement looks for the preceding schools that had at least two placements (the data is not yet complete, however; it counts only JD placements, though some of the gross numbers, above, include some LLM or SJDs, though those appear to be distributed across the schools with the biggest numbers--I'll fix that in the final count when Prof. Lawsky is done collecting the data):
Chicago: 6 of 12 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (50%)
UCLA: 2 of 5 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (40%)
Yale 17 of 42 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (40%)
Stanford: 7 of 19 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (37%)
Michigan: 3 of 9 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (33%)
Columbia: 6 of 21 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (29%)
Harvard: 11 of 45 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (24%)
NYU: 7 of 29 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (24%)
Virginia: 3 of 12 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (25%)
Berkeley: 2of 16 candidates secured tenure-track jobs (13%)
March 16, 2016
February 22, 2016
Provocative piece from Bloomberg News, prompted by a recent paper by Lynn LoPucki (UCLA). We've certainly seen this already in some sub-fields: e.g., first-generation law & economics scholars were almost all JDs, while the current generation are almost all JD/PhDs. The rise in expectations for scholarly writing from junior faculty candidates over the last twenty years has strongly favored those with PhDs, who, of course, have a lot of writing in hand. And some of this is simply attributable to the revolution in legal scholarship wrought by Richard Posner in the 1970s, which finally finished off the Langedellian paradigm of legal scholarship.
Although I'm quoted saying that the rise of JD/PhDs will continue, that's a descriptive not normative statement. I think different schools have different missions. And the relevance of the JD/PhD varies by field. We have ten current junior faculty, only four of whom are JD/PhDs. Our Dean is a JD/PhD, our two most recent tenures were one JD/PhD and one JD (who had even been a partner in a major law firm). We placed three Chicago candidates at "top" law schools this year, two were JD/PhDs, one a "mere" JD. I think my prediction is an accurate one--and at other top schools it's already come true--but it will be another twenty-five years before it is realized at the top law schools generally.
January 14, 2016
My colleague Jonathan Masur asked that I call the attention of interested readers to a new Fellowship opportunity here at Chicago; he writes:
The Wachtell Fellowship in Behavioral Law & Economics is designed for aspiring legal academics with research or teaching interests in behavioral law & economics. Fellows will have have substantial time and resources (including research funding) to pursue their own research. In addition, Fellows will have the opportunity to teach seminars of their choosing related to behavioral law & economics, present papers at faculty workshops, and participate in conferences. The Fellowship will run for one year, with an option to renew for a second year. We are currently accepting applications for fellowships covering the 2016-17 academic year, and we anticipate having one or more openings in subsequent years as well. Any candidates who are interested in the Fellowship or would like more information are very welcome to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply, go here. I'll just note that all our Fellows are thoroughly integrated into the intellectual life of the institution.