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.

Posted by Brian Leiter on July 16, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

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.

Posted by Brian Leiter on July 15, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

June 25, 2013

Washington & Lee's Revamped 3L Curriculum Appears to Make No Difference to Employment Outcomes

Stephen Diamond (Santa Clara) comments on a recent analysis by Deborah Merritt (Ohio State).

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 25, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

June 13, 2013

The MOOCs are coming...

...and it doesn't bode well for law schools.  Bar review courses have long been done via what were essentially "MOOCs," it would not be surprising were many law schools to start to incorporate them into core classes.  Of course, the so-called "Socratic" method of instruction is not feasible with a MOOC.

Posted by Brian Leiter on June 13, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

May 08, 2013

Law faculty salaries 2012-13

Blog Emperor Caron breaks out the latest SALT data.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 8, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

Decline in lateral hiring of faculty

The evidence.  Not surprising.

Posted by Brian Leiter on May 8, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

April 29, 2013

Brooklyn Law's Dean Allard Replies to Concerns about Academic Freedom

On Friday, Dean Nicholas Allard at Brooklyn Law School, sent me a constructive reply to the concerns raised on Thursday about the proposed definition of "adequate cause" (and, in particular, "demonstrated incompetence") for termination of tenured faculty.  Dean Allard also kindly gave me permission to share his response with the academic community.  I post it below in its entirety:

I appreciate your acknowledgment of Brooklyn Law School as a school of long-standing and good reputation.  I also share, and applaud, your commitment to academic freedom, and I welcome a vigorous discussion about how best to achieve it.  It is a critical issue and a core value at Brooklyn Law School.

The recent change to our faculty regulations that you wrote about added the concept of “demonstrated incompetence,” which, as I understand it, is a long-recognized and widely accepted regulatory term supported by the AAUP and others.  Our regulations did not previously include any reference to “demonstrated incompetence.”

The definition of the term “demonstrated incompetence” that was also included in the new regulations was not meant to expand its scope, but quite the opposite: the intent was to offer additional language to clarify a term that seemed potentially vague without further explication.  The
particular language of the definition obviously has raised concerns and will be addressed.  To that end, I welcome further input from the faculty — and from other sources, like the AAUP, as referenced by the post on your blog — and that is exactly why the matter has been referred to our Faculty Hearing Committee for its review and guidance.

Last week I asked the Hearing Committee, which is the panel of BLS professors that applies internal regulations to tenured faculty, to review the definition for “adequate cause.”  Under our regulations, this committee assures that peers are responsible for performance review — an important safeguard of both due process and academic freedom.  I await their suggestions, concerns, and improvements, which I will take to our Board of Trustees to address. 

I have full confidence that faculty peers will apply the standard fairly and in alignment with Brooklyn Law School’s tradition of outstanding scholarship. 

I view this as welcome news, and will be interested to see the final standards that emerge from the process.  I think this will also be an instructive process for other academic institutions.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 29, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

April 25, 2013

Academic freedom (and due process) under threat at Brooklyn Law School?

Details here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 25, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

April 18, 2013

So which areas of law deserve more attention in the legal academy?

The results of our earlier poll, with over 200 votes cast:

1. Consumer Law  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Energy Law/Natural Resources Law/Water Law  loses to Consumer Law by 109–73
3. Employment Law  loses to Consumer Law by 115–73, loses to Energy Law/Natural Resources Law/Water Law by 91–85
4. Alternative Dispute Resolution  loses to Consumer Law by 106–80, loses to Employment Law by 89–83
5. Immigration Law  loses to Consumer Law by 118–67, loses to Alternative Dispute Resolution by 87–86
6. Family Law  loses to Consumer Law by 123–61, loses to Immigration Law by 99–72
7. Insurance Law  loses to Consumer Law by 130–53, loses to Family Law by 100–77
8. Comparative Law  loses to Consumer Law by 117–68, loses to Insurance Law by 91–87
9. Elder Law  loses to Consumer Law by 135–47, loses to Comparative Law by 88–80
10. Wills, Trusts & Estates  loses to Consumer Law by 126–58, loses to Elder Law by 88–79

Thoughts from readers?  Signed comments only:  full name and valid e-mail address. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 18, 2013 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 17, 2013

How hard are the different state bar exams?

This is informative.  Illinois's will be a bit harder to pass, but not a lot harder.

Posted by Brian Leiter on April 17, 2013 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink