April 23, 2015
...here and see the chart, which suggests we've hit bottom in terms of the applicant pool (barring dramatic economic jolts, that is, which could move things either way). Of course this is a bottom last seen in the 1970s when there were 50 fewer law schools. But given how many law schools have refrained from hiring faculty due to uncertainty about the future, my guesstimate is that we'll see a slight uptick in law school hiring next year, since many schools have unfilled needs.
April 09, 2015
It was another tight year on the law teaching market, probably even more difficult than last year. Happily most of our candidates once again were successful at securing tenure-track positions. They are:
Laura Napoli Coordes '10 who will join the faculty at Arizona State University, where she is presently a VAP. She graduated with Honors from the Law School, where she was a member of the Law Review and served as a Legal Fellow at the Student Press Law Center upon graduation, before working at Weil, Gotshal & Manges as a bankruptcy associate in New York. Her teaching and research interests include bankruptcy, commercial law, contracts, and corporate finance.
Goldburn P. Maynard, Jr. '05, who will join the faculty at the University of Louisville. He was a member of the Law Review at Chicago,and also earned an LL.M. in tax at Northwestern. He was a tax associate at Skadden Arps in Chicago, and then an estate tax attorney with the I.R.S. for four years. He was a VAP at Washington University, St. Louis and at Florida State University. His research and teaching interests include federal tax, estates and trusts, and estate and gift tax.
Joshua Sellers '08 who will join the faculty at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. At Chicago, he was Articles Editor of the Law Review and also earned a Ph.D. in Political Science with a dissertation on "The 'Crown Jewel' at a Crossroads: Appraising the Contemporary Political Function of the Voting Rights Act." He clerked for Judge Barkett on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and was an associate at Jenner & Block in Washington, D.C. for three years, where he primarily litigated insurance claims. Most recently, he was a post-doc in the Maxwell School of Public Policy at Syracuse University. His research and teaching interests include election law, civil rights, constitutional law, legislation, insurance law, and torts.
Sloan G. Speck '07 who will join the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He graduated with Honors from the Law School, where he also served as Articles Editor of the Law Review. He also earned an M.A. in History from Chicago (where he focused on the history of tax and business) and an LL.M. in tax (2010) from New York University, where he has been Acting Assistant Professor of Tax Law since 2013. He will receive his PhD in History from Chicago in 2016. He was a tax associate at Skadden Arps in Chicago for five years. His teaching and research interests include tax law and policy (including corporate and international tax), as well as legal and business history.
Matthew J. Tokson '08 who will join the faculty at the Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University. He graduated with High Honors and Order of the Coif from the Law School, where he served as both Executive Articles Editor and Book Review Editor of the Law Review. He clerked for Judge Randolph on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, served first as a Kauffman Fellow then as a Bigelow Fellow at the Law School from 2009-2011, before clerking on the U.S. Supreme Court for both Justice Ginsburg and Justice Souter in 2011-12. He was also a litigation associate at WilmerHale in Washington, D.C. His teaching and research interests include criminal procedure, privacy, intellectual property, judicial behavior, criminal law and torts.
(I will have a separate post about our Bigelows and other Fellows once their situations are all settled; as always, they all have tenure-track offers.)
March 25, 2015
Many legal educators believe that shrinking class sizes will help the students they do admit find higher paid work more easily and boost the value of legal education. They reason that if the supply of law graduates shrinks, then the market price law graduates can command should increase.
According to another hypothesis, now popular in the press, a decline in the number of law school applicants reflects the wisdom of the crowds. Students now realize that a law degree simply isn’t worth it, and smaller class sizes reflect a consensus prediction of worse outcomes for law graduates in the future.
Frank McIntyre and I investigated whether changes in law cohort size predict earnings premiums. Historically, they have not. Not for recent graduates, and not for law graduates overall. Nor have changes in cohort size predicted much of anything about the entry-level measures used by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP)—starting salary, initial employment, initial law firm employment.
How can both of these theories be wrong? One possibility is that they are both right, but the two effects offset each other. This seems unlikely however. If neither macroeconomic data nor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment projections can predict law employment conditions at graduation, then how likely is it that recent college graduates with less information and less expertise could make a better prediction?
A more likely possibility is that there are other factors at play that prevent any strong predictions about the relationship between cohort size and outcomes / value added. For example, law schools may become less selective as cohort size shrinks and more selective as it increases. In addition, the resources available to law schools, and therefore the quality of education and training they are able to provide, may also change with cohort size. Since physical facilities expenses are not particularly variable in the ordinary course, most budgetary adjustments at law schools presumably take place with respect to personnel.
Anecdotally, many law schools appear to be managing the recent decline in enrollments by shrinking their faculties and administrations and using remaining personnel to teach classes and perform functions outside of their areas of expertise. Reduced specialization and a lack of economies of scale could affect the quality of service provided to students, offsetting any benefits to students from less competition at graduation.
Previous research in labor economics has found that resources per student are an important predictor of value added by college education, and that the use of adjuncts can lead to worse outcomes for students. (See here for a review)
Much of this is speculative—we do not yet understand why changes in cohort size do not predict law graduate outcomes, only that they do not predict outcomes. Given the historical data, it is probably not advisable to read too much into what the decline in law school enrollment means for students who will graduate over the next few years.
Instead, we should focus on the long-term historical data and the value of a law degree across economic cycles and enrollment levels.
January 26, 2015
October 26, 2014
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.
October 20, 2014
October 15, 2014
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!
October 08, 2014
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.
September 22, 2014
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.