Thursday, October 29, 2020
...on display here, especially in many of the comments (and there's also pushback in the comments). The law teaching job market is very far from a "lottery" (as one commenter put it); if it were a lottery, it wouldn't be possible to predict fairly well how candidates will fare. It is true that the law teaching job market is even more pedigree-sensitive than most academic job markets, and that is not a good thing. But in other respects it rewards conventional markers: e.g., decent publications, strong oral presentation skills. Max Weber observed, correctly, that "luck" plays an outsized role in academic careers, which is undoubtedly true; but that doesn't mean the results are wholly random, as they would be in a lottery. It does mean that even if one does all the right things, the outcome is far from assured.
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
These are non-clinical appointments that will take effect in 2021 (except where noted); I will move the list to the front at various intervals as new additions come in. (Recent additions are in bold.) Last year's list is here. Feel free to e-mail me with news of additions to this list.
*Ifeoma Ajunwa (law & technology, race & law, labor & employment law, health law) from Cornell University (Industrial & Labor Relations School) to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (effective January 2021).
*Robin Kundis Craig (environmental law, water law) from the University of Utah to the University of Southern California.
*Michael Z. Green (labor & employment law) from Texas A&M University to Chicago-Kent College of Law/Illinois Institute of Technology.
*G. Mitu Gulati (contracts, sovereign debt, law & economics, empirical legal studies, race/gender & law) from Duke University to the University of Virginia.
*Osamudia James (administrative law, race & law, education law) from the University of Miami to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
*Kristin Johnson (financial regulation, securities regulation) from Tulane University to Emory University (effective January 2021).
*Kimberly Krawiec (corporate) from Duke University to the University of Virginia.
*David S. Law (comparative constitutional law, law & social science) from the University of California, Irvine to the University of Virginia.
*Eduardo Penalver (property) from Cornell University (where he is currently Dean) to Seattle University (to become President of the University).
*D. Theodore Rave (civil procedure, constitutional law, election law) from the University of Houston to the University of Texas, Austin.
*Darren Rosenblum (corporate, international business transactions) from Pace University to McGill University.
*Sarah Schindler (land use, property, local government law) from the University of Maine to the University of Denver (effective January 2021).
*Jessica Silbey (intellectual property, law & society) from Northeastern University to Boston University (effective January 2021).
*Robert Tsai (constitutional law, legal history) from American University to Boston University (effective January 2021).
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Richard Stewart, a leading scholar of administrative and environmental law at Harvard, moved to NYU in the early 1990s. He lived in a 4,000 square foot town house in Greenwich Village, a few blocks from NYU's law school. This was rented to him by the University at an undisclosed price, but no doubt well below market rates which even a law professor could not ordinarily afford in that area. As part of the deal, he had the option to sell the property, with some of the gain going to NYU, and some to Professor Stewart. He exercised that option a few years ago, netting over eight million dollars. Eight million divided by the 25 years he taught at NYU up to that time works out to an additional $320,000 per year of service, on top of his salary. (The article notes that another NYU law faculty member, recruited from Chicago in the early 1990s, lives in a similar townhouse, but without the option to profit from a sale.)
Monday, October 26, 2020
I recently discussed research debunking claims that law school and business school are only worthwhile for those privileged enough to gain admission to elite programs. Press coverage has been curiously oblivious to social science research using high quality data and well-established methods.
Why might the press overlook high quality information sources while instead elevating the views of less reputable sources of information like think tanks and advocacy shops? Experts proffered by such sources often have questionable credentials, use dubious methods, and rely on opaque sources of funding.
Anti-education narratives have become increasingly prominent in press coverage since the Gates Foundation and its partners began sponsoring news coverage and affiliated charities at a vast number of publications including the New York Times (see also here), NBC, BBC and its affiliated charity, NPR, PBS (see also here), The Guardian (see also here), Gannet (which owns USA Today), the Hechinger Report, The Atlantic, the Texas Tribune, the Financial Times, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, among many others.
The Gates Foundation and its partners have also funded education policy analysts at many think tanks and advocacy groups, as well as groups like the Education Writers Association that connect the press with education experts and award prizes to journalists and editors. Gates has reportedly spent more than $250 million on press sponsorship—which is more than enough to outright buy several newspapers.
Gates has not only funded advocacy and news coverage of that advocacy, but also new approaches to measuring the ripple effects of news coverage to ensure that his organization gets a good return on investments in influence. The echo chamber created by Gates-funded press, quoting Gates-funded policy advocates, packaging and promoting minor variations on Gates’ personal views—all the while concerned that layoffs will be even worse if another round of funding does not materialize—can make it difficult for dissenting voices to be heard.
Friday, October 23, 2020
The results of the last poll are here, and basically regurgitate US News (or the "halo effect" of school name) with a couple of exceptions. But there was also more mischief this time. As one reader reported (by examining the detailed breakdown of votes):
I’m reaching out because I was looking at the raw balloting data on the website and I noticed something curious. There are 66 voters in your survey who rank UC Davis as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools. Interestingly, only 5 voters rank UCLA as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools and only 2 voters rank UC Irvine as one of the top 10 law schools and UC Hastings as one of the bottom 8 law schools. Whoever these pro-Davis, anti-Hastings voters are, they appear to be a large percentage of the respondents and to have a material impact on Hastings’ rank. It is possible my read of the data is incorrect, but this is what jumps out at me once I load your spreadsheet into Stata.
Conversely, no voters rank Hastings in the top 10 and Davis in the bottom 8.
There were other, shall we say, peculiar patterns in the voting. If someone wants to undertake a serious and informed survey about law faculty quality, get in touch, and I'll offer guidance about how to do it. I don't have the time myself, but am happy to be an advisor and to publicize the results.
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
It's time for our annual Condorcet poll of the best scholarly faculties in U.S. law schools. Please note the instructions: "Rank order the law schools below in terms of the scholarly strength of the faculty (consider only scholarly strength in your best judgment, not current U.S. News rank!)." If you don't have informed opinions about the scholarly strength of different law faculties, then you should not participate.
I listed 58 schools that might have some claim to being in the top 40 for scholarly accomplishment. Have fun! Note that the more schools you rank, the more impact your vote will have on the results.
(Any faculty found mobilizing votes on social media will have their school eliminated from the results!)
MOVING TO FRONT since a small number of schools have extended offers already (ORIGINALLY POSTED NOVEMBER 24, 2009--I HAVE UPDATED CERTAIN NUMBERS)--SEE ALSO THE COMMENTS, WHICH HAVE HELPFUL ADDITIONAL SUGGESTIONS
With luck, some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months; a handful of offers have already been extended this season (2019-20). What then? Here's roughly what I tell the Chicago job candidates we work with that 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.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Blast from the past: an open letter to Bob Morse at US News about steps to take to prevent the "gaming" of the rnakings
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Without a "meat market" around which schools and candidates coordinate their behavior, the timing is quite various this year. Some schools are still scheduling initial interviews, while other schools hosted call-backs as early as September. Some schools have even started extending offers. This is going to make things more challenging all around; I hope hiring schools will give candidates at least one month to consider an offer. By the same token, candidates should be timely in letting schools know if they are no longer interested in being considered because they have other offers in hand.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020
...along with 20 others. It's a big award, $625,000 over five years!
(As I noted a number of years ago, these awards were, back in the 1980s, known informally as the genius" awards, until it became obvious that that wasn't the selection criterion. What is the selection criterion? No one is really sure, since both the nomination and selection process are secret.)
Monday, October 12, 2020
600 law students pledge to boycott Paul Weiss because of its representation of Exxon and its role in thwarting action on climate change
Their press statement is here: Download Press Release--Six hundred law students pledge not to work for law firm defending Exxon's role in the climate crisis.
I asked Mr. Hirschel-Burns, a Yale law student and one of the organizers, for a list of the signatories, which he kindly provided but did not give permission to share. A bit more than two-thirds of the 600 signatories come from the elite law schools from which Paul Weiss usually hires, including large contingents from Harvard (78), NYU (94), Stanford (80), Michigan (79), and Yale (76).
Friday, October 9, 2020
You can guess the answer, but I recently came across this systematic study by law professor Eric Segall (Georgia State) and a political scientist. Faculty at the top ten law schools graduated from the following law schools (I'm going off a graph in the paper that is a little hard to read): Yale (more than 190); Harvard (a bit less than 190); Chicago (more than 40); Columbia (more than 30); Virginia (not quite 30); Stanford (about 25); Berkeley and NYU (a bit more than 20); Michigan (not quite 20); Penn (fewer than 10). Bear in mind that Harvard graduates more than 2 1/2 times as many students each year as Yale, Chicago, or Stanford. If we normalize for the size of the typical Harvard class, then the figures would be something like this (with rounding to nearest ten): Yale (480); Harvard (190); Chicago (110); Columbia (60); Stanford (60); Berkeley and Virginia (50); Michigan and NYU (30); Penn (20).
Thursday, October 8, 2020
"The Roles of Judges in Democracies: A Realistic View" is now out in Journal of Institutional Studies, and will also be reprinted in P. Chiassoni & B. Spaic (eds.), Judges and Adjudication in Constitutional Democracies: A View from Legal Realism (Springer, 2021). From the abstract (taken from the penultimate SSRN version):
What are the “obligations” of judges in democracies? An adequate answer requires us to be realistic both about democracies and about law. Realism about democracy demands that we recognize that electoral outcomes are largely, though not entirely, unrelated to concrete policy choices by elected representatives or to the policy preferences of voters, who typically follow their party based on “tribal” loyalties. The latter fact renders irrelevant the classic counter-majoritarian (or counter-democratic) worries about judicial review. Realism about law requires that we recognize that judges, especially on appellate courts, will inevitably have to render moral and political judgments in order to produce authoritative resolutions of disputes, one of the central functions of a legal system in any society. That means it is impossible to discuss the “obligations” of judges without regard to their actual moral and political views, as well as the moral and political ends we believe ought to be achieved.
"Critical Remarks on Shapiro's Legality and the 'Grounding Turn' in Recent Jurisprudence," is now up on SSRN; here's the abstract:
The essay discusses some difficulties in Scott Shapiro’s LEGALITY (2011). Many are well-known among specialists, but I set them out systematically here for the benefit of non-specialists. These include the mischaracterization of core jurisprudential questions in terms of “grounding” relations, which unfortunately erases the major natural law positions in the field (e.g., those of Finnis and Murphy), and results in a version of “positivism” that major legal positivists (e.g., Hart) do not accept (cf. pp. 2, 10-13); but also the false claims that: (1) “knowledge of law is normative” such that to say X has “a legal right is to draw a normative conclusion” (cf. p. 15); (2) officials have a legal obligation to follow the rule of recognition (cf. p. 17); and (3) Hart commits a “category mistake” in his discussion of social rules (cf. p. 19). The essay also criticizes Shapiro’s discussion of jurisprudential methodology (pp. 3-8) and his (Dworkinian) attempt to show that the answer to jurisprudential questions matters to how courts should decide cases (pp. 13-14).
The SSRN version will remain on-line and is citable, but much of the material will probably migrate into my From a Realist Point of View (Oxford University Press, forthcoming in 2022 or 2023).
Finally, "The Naturalized Epistemology Approach to Evidence," (co-authored with Gabe Broughton, who is the lead author) is also on SSRN, and will appear in C. Dahlman, A. Stein, & G. Tuzet (eds.), Philosophical Foundations of Evidence Law (Oxford University Press, 2021). Here is the abstract:
Tuesday, October 6, 2020
Monday, October 5, 2020
Friday, October 2, 2020
Thursday, October 1, 2020