Wednesday, December 7, 2016

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?

MOVING TO FRONT(ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 24, 2009--I HAVE UPDATED CERTAIN NUMBERS)

With luck (and luck will help since the academic job market remains tight), some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months.  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell my Texas and Chicago advisees 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.

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December 7, 2016 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (14)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A case study in SSRN downloads, or "Fuck" redux

 My former Texas colleague Mark Lemley (now at Stanford) kindly gave me permission to share this little story he posted on Facebook:

I have an article with the (admittedly extremely boring) title "Rethinking Assignor Estoppel" coming out in the Houston Law Review. It has been on SSRN for nine months. I have posted about it twice on Facebook and Twitter, and it has shown up in all the SSRN journals. In that nine months it has garnered 982 views and 172 SSRN downloads.

 

Late Friday afternoon, prompted by some friends teasing me for the boring headline, I posted the exact same article, with the exact same abstract, but with a new, click-baity title: Inventor Sued for Infringing His Own Patent. You Won't Believe What Happened Next. I did this in part as a joke, and in part as an unscientific test to see how susceptible law professors were to clickbait.

 

The answer is, quite susceptible indeed. In less than two hours on a Friday night the number of views for this "new" article surpassed the old one. In 26 hours, by late Saturday, more people had downloaded the new article than the old one, even though before downloading you are exposed to the same old boring abstract. And by the end of the weekend, the article had been viewed nearly six times as often as the original and downloaded three times as often as the original.

 

The article will soon appear in the Houston Law Review under its old, boring title. But it sure looks like titles matter.

This will remind long-time readers of the late Christopher Fairman's article "Fuck," an even bigger download sensation (see here, here, and here).  Of course, a download surge due to a "clickbait" title doesn't necessarily mean additional actual readers.

December 6, 2016 in Faculty News, Law in Cyberspace, Legal Humor, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, December 5, 2016

Does state law mandating that the winner-take-all in the electoral college violate the Equal Protection Clause?

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Law schools ranked by employment outcomes based on 2015 ABA data

Here, which also notes (and links to) other ways of crunching the data.

December 1, 2016 in Legal Profession, Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink

U.S. LLM Programs Probably Benefit International Students (Part 2): Students who return home (Michael Simkovic)

In part 1 of this 2 part post, I noted that U.S. LLM programs may provide substantial financial benefits to students who remain in the United States, even if they do not necessarily pass a U.S. bar exam.  But what about the LLM graduates who return to their countries of origin?

While good data is hard to come by, it is easy to imagine how studying U.S. law might benefit lawyers working outside of the United States and hard to imagine how international programs could continue to attract applicants if returning lawyers did not speak favorably of their studies abroad. Indeed, some countries explicitly encourage students to study abroad and return home. U.S. higher educational institutions often have far better resources than those available in international students’ countries of origin.

Many efforts to “harmonize” and “modernize” corporate, commercial, and regulatory law have historically been efforts to adopt a more U.S.-like approach. For example, the Uniform Commercial Code is greatly admired and appreciated by international bankers and lawyers who have grappled with other countries’ fragmented and inconsistent approaches to secured credit. The U.S. Bankruptcy code is thought to be more conducive to entrepreneurship and consumer finance than the approach in many foreign jurisdictions. Many securities are issued under U.S. law. Many international transactions explicitly choose New York law. U.S. anti-trust law can extend to companies based outside of the United States. U.S. tax law helps drive many international transactions.

Derek Muller recently noted evidence suggesting lower first-time bar passage rates for international students taking the bar exam compared to graduates of ABA approved 3-year JD programs. Although his headline is provocative, Muller is careful to avoid overstating the significance of this finding. Lower bar passage rates are expected, considering that for many LLMs, English is a second language, while for most ABA-approved-JD graduates, English is a first language. On the bar exam, LLMs compete without accommodation on a timed exam with a large essay component with students who either speak English as a first language or have had many more years to immerse themselves in the English language. It can take years for immigrants to become roughly substitutable for U.S.-born workers.

But as noted in my previous post, from a consumer protection perspective, the relevant comparison is not U.S.-born-citizens versus immigrants or foreigners. It’s immigrants or foreigners with more U.S. education versus immigrants or foreigners with less U.S. education.

1-year degrees appear to provide benefits. It seems likely that a 3-year degree would provide international students even more benefits than a 1-year degree. But a 3-year degree would also cost more and take more time to complete, and might be unappealing to those planning to return home.

The U.S. has a history of using English-literacy tests to exclude immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe while permitting immigration from Northern Europe. Today, historians generally view these policies as discriminatory. It would be unfortunate if the ABA were to take a parallel approach today to deny access to U.S. legal education to lawyers from non-common-law countries on ill-considered consumer protection grounds. Many of those international students intend to return home rather than practice law in the United States. Some of those international students may face even lower odds of passing the bar exam in their countries of origin than in the United States, language barriers notwithstanding.

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December 1, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Girlfriend of accused hitman in Markel case indicted for first-degree murder

It seems clear the prosecutors expect either her or Garcia, the accused hitman, to cooperate, so that they can indict some of the Adelsons as well.  Meanwhile, I wonder what patients of the Adelsons' dental practice think?  I think I would have switched dentists some time back in this sordid affair.

November 30, 2016 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A tangle of lawsuits at Brooklyn Law School

U.S. LLM Programs Probably Benefit International Students (Part 1): Students Who Stay in the U.S. (Michael Simkovic)

At a conference I recently attended, some law professors and administrators seemed willing to assume the worst about LLM and international JD programs.[1] They seemed to think that LLM programs provide revenue to law schools but do little to help students. This stoked my curiosity about international law programs. It seems likely, as conference attendees suggested, that LLM admissions are less exclusive than JD admissions at comparable institutions. But lower selectivity does not imply that LLM programs fail to help their students.

Immigrants are generally at a disadvantage relative to those born in the United States because of language, culture, and legal issues. But comparing immigrants to U.S.-born individuals tells us nothing about the benefits of U.S. education for immigrants. Instead, we can either compare immigrants to those from their countries who stay home, or compare immigrants to each other by education level.

Decades of peer reviewed labor economics research indicates that additional education boosts earnings. Moreover, Immigration to the United States can often dramatically boost earnings for immigrants over the long term. Are foreign LLM programs or international JDs exceptions to widely observed trends regarding benefits of education and immigration?

While data is limited, the unsurprising answer appears to be: Probably not.

Using U.S. Census data (ACS), I found (in a very preliminarily, quick analysis intended primarily to satisfy my own curiosity) that an LLM might boost long term annual earnings by as much as $25,000 on average compared to a bachelor’s degree (depending on unobserved selection effects, the causal boost could be lower since these are cross-tabbed means by race sex and education level). The earnings boost from a JD for immigrants might be around two or two and a half times as high as the boost from an LLM.

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November 29, 2016 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Friday, November 25, 2016

Law schools ranked by average indebtedness of graduates

The listing also includes the percentage of graduates with debt--the differences here between schools are sometimes striking.

November 25, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

July 2016 California bar exam "carnage"

That's the Blog Emperor's characterization of the latest results, though California still has many graduates of non-ABA-accredited law schools taking the California bar and passing at very low rates (1 out of 4 or less).

November 22, 2016 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink