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August 30, 2005

How to Make a Lateral Move

A reader writes:

There is much talk about the AALS and the entry level market, but what about lateral hires? What is the process that younger scholars must go through in order to move to a more prestigious or geographically desirable school? Is a semester as a visiting professor required? I would love to see a post on this.

We have addressed the visiting issue previously, noting that many schools now waive the visiting requirement that was the norm a decade ago, at least for the candidates they really want.  But perhaps the more important issue is how does one become the candidate that other schools really want

The obvious, and useless, answer is:  do brilliant scholarly work!

But suppose one is doing good work, how does one "get known"?  Here's my sense of how this works; I've opened comments, and would welcome other opinions, anecdotes, experiences, etc.:

(1)  Occasionally, faculty will make a lateral move through the AALS faculty registry process.  The drawback of this, of course, is that it advertises to all your current colleagues that you are interested in leaving.  I don't recommend it, but it occasionally happens.

(2)  More common is to write targetted letters to the chair of the appointments committee (or the Dean) at law schools the candidate is particularly interested in.  Keep the letters short and sweet:  indicate interest in being considered for appointment, and briefly summarize recent accomplishments, teaching areas, and indicate what is enclosed with the letter (reprints, chapters of a book, teaching evaluations, etc.).  Be aware, of course, that the more desirable the school, the more of these letters they get, and the less likely they are to get any real attention.  My impression, purely anecdotal however, is that the yield from this approach is very low.  When I Chaired Appointments, and then Lateral Appointments, in two different years, I received two dozen of these letters, and not a single one led anywhere.  On the other hand, some schools do advertise through the AALS that they are interested in considering lateral candidates in particular areas; I would imagine targetted inquiries in response to such ads have a higher yield, but I simply don't know. 

(3)  The best way, it seems to me, to get hired laterally is to have a champion "on the inside" at the school you are interested in.  So the best, first line of approach is to let your professional friends and intellectual colleagues elsewhere know that you are interested, and ask them to help, if they can.  The more indirect approach--which accounts for the voluminous mailings of reprints we all receive--is to get your work into circulation.  I am actually happy to get reprints in legal philosophy, and every now and then something shows up that I hadn't seen or didn't know about.  Mailing reprints to those who work in your areas, especially those at schools you're interested in, is probably a good idea.  Again, the yield from this is low, but there are, sometimes, results traceable to these mailings.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 30, 2005 in Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 29, 2005

A New Way to Increase Your SSRN Downloads: Antagonize Local Racists and Rednecks!

Some will recall the controversy that ensued when legal historian Alfred Brophy (Law, Alabama) drew attention to the University of Alabama's involvement with slavery and the University eventually issued an apology.  Local racists and rednecks were not at all pleased by this development, and took their ire out on Professor Brophy.  But there is a silver lining in every cloud, it turns out, since on one of the racist chat boards they discovered Professor Brophy's work on SSRN!  Not only did Professor Brophy get downloads, he even got "helpful" feedback on his work.  Here is the posting that started it all:

RE:  No Reparations Without Repatriation- Ever Wonder Why You Are Such A Miserable Failure? I robert register to abrophy

After reading that DePaul article, I figured out what your problem is.  I am sure you have heard of reincarnation. Well, I believe a past life is at the root of your problem. See, back in one of your many miserable past lives, you were a mean old white woman who was called "Ole Miss" by her servants. Every time your husband went down to Mobile to sell his cotton, you took out all your frustration on his servants and when he returned from market he found all his field hands whipped bloody by overseers who were ordered to do their devilment by YOU.
This explains why you have chosen to abort the truth and to take the path leading to failure.Your defeat at everything you touch and your attempts to produce miscarriages of justice are simply the wheel of karma allowing you to pay reparations for the sins of your past life as an evil, sadistic hag.

This produced a follow-up posting as follows:

Re: No Reparations Without Repatriation- Ever Wonder Why You Are Such A Miserable Failure?

This boy is one of a long line of race pimps who trade on largely imagined and exaggerated racial infractions for money, power, sex, and, yes, even academic prestige. Examples of this genre are Jesse Jackson, Louis Farrakan, Morris Dees, Alvin Holmes, etc. It is a huge industry in the country, apparently unstoppable, because any critics are labeled racist, which today is a label worse than murderer. Brophy attends these academic conferences where he presents papers about his "research" at his benighted southern university, where the neo-Confederates are so drooling, cross-eyed bigoted that they don't even realize that they should apologize and surrender the entire institution to the blacks who built it and rightfully own it. All of his "colleagues" from Madison, Boulder, Berkeley, while nibbling brie and sipping Merlot sadly shake their heads and ask why he stays there. And of course, the answer is, that he has it made, because the nutless administration of the University of Alabama is afraid to expose the little pinched-off turd as an opportunistic fraud and run him off to the next institution he'll victimize.

All this prompted an e-mail to Professor Brophy from this fine fellow:

Subject :  Re: No Reparations W/O Repatriation

Mr. Brophy:
I'm just a 'sideliner' in that I'm watching what's going on. It causes me distress that you're espousing a concept that is not only impractical, but in actuality a 150-plus year-old 'bait and switch' rallying call. You do not come across to ears and minds that ponder solutions, but as an educated (do not read as "smart"), academic paranoid who believes if the fecal cauldron will not be kept in motion unless by your blatherings; thus you'll feel like you're insignificant. (Read that any way you wish, but do NOT make it out as a 'race' thing.)  Your biggest fear is in the end you'll be discovered as someone who needs to be heard -- on any subject as long as it attracts attention to you -- to justify your personal security blanket and one who really isn't convinced of the veracity of what you say.Best wishes for successful therapy,R. L. Wait

Mr. Wait had obviously cut to the heart of the matter:  Professor Brophy's goal all along was to increase his SSRN downloads!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 29, 2005 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

August 28, 2005

Yet Another Meaningless Study of Professor Donations to Political Parties... conservative John McGinnis at Northwestern (which, speaking of political bias, is a school now fairly notorious for only hiring or making offers to public law scholars on the right) and described here.  Since fully two-thirds of law faculty at the 21 schools surveyed do not contribute to political candidates, the study, as presented in The Times, tells us quite close to nothing. 

After all, we all knew before this article that the legal academy, like the entire academy, was more liberal than the population at large.  So the interesting question concerned proportions.  But if only one-third of faculty even donate to political candidates, then the fact that 70-90% of them donate to Democrats tells us nothing concrete unless (1) we assume that likelihood of donating to political candidates was evenly distributed across political sympathies (which seems unlikely to be true for a whole host of obvious reasons), and (2) we assume that, even among the 1/3rd who do donate, choice of whether to support a "Democrat" or "Republican" tracks political ideology of faculty, which also seems unlikely to be true (after all, there are still liberal Republicans, and many very conservative Democrats; there are libertarian faculty who won't support theocratic, anti-intellectual Republicans; there are social democrats and socialists who will support Democrats as the lesser of two evils; and so on).

Let's look at one example I know a bit about:  the University of Texas School of Law.  According to the McGinnis study, only 25-30% of the Texas faculty donated to political candidates, and 88% of those who did, gave to Democrats.  It would produce uproarious laughter in the faculty lounge, though, if someone suggested that 88% of the Texas faculty were Democrats.  I had occasion before to consider this question; here is what I wrote then:

Universities are, in fact, the most politically and intellectually diverse institutions in American society.  In which corporate boardroom or elite law firm does one find not only Republicans and Democrats, but also Burkean conservatives, libertarians, social democrats, and socialists?  Yet this is typical of every major university in the country.  As an example, I looked at my own law faculty, with 65 members; I have no idea what the political views of 12 members of the faculty are, which leaves 53 whose politics are known to me.  (I could run the same exercise with my philosophy faculty, but I have no idea what the political views of most of my colleagues are there.)  Of those 53, 10 are on the right (conservatives or libertarians--slightly more are libertarians), 13 are in the American "middle" (6 are moderate Republicans, 7 moderate Democrats), and 30 are on the left (liberal, social democrat, socialist--most of these are American liberals, needless to say).  Self-selection would seem the most obvious explanation for this distribution--just as it would be for the distribution of political views at the large New York law firm I worked at, which was skewed in the opposite direction, but much more radically (there were some liberals, but no one to the left of liberal, for example--well, except me, of course, but I kept that to myself).

Moreover, situate my faculty in the context of the legal academy at large, and it is even clearer how much more politically diverse the academy is than the society at large.  Confining ourselves to just the top 25-or-so faculties, there are a handful of schools definitely skewed further to the right than the Texas faculty (e.g., Chicago, Northwestern, Virginia, George Mason, San Diego), another handful definitely skewed further to the left than the Texas faculty (e.g., UCLA, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Berkeley), with the rest being hard to place without more information--though for almost every faculty in the top 25 (including places like UCLA and Berkeley), I can identify three or more well-known scholars on the right; no doubt there are more simply not known to me.

There is no doubt that the academy is to the left of the society at large; there is also no doubt that views to the right of the society at large are better represented in the academy than anywhere else.  The fact remains:  for genuine diversity of political viewpoint, no other major institution in American society holds a candle to the universities:  not corporations, not law firms, not Congress, and so on.

Perhaps Professor McGinnis's actual article addresses these problems with the data.  But The Times story is just confusing, though it will, no doubt, be warmly greeted by those committed to affirmative action for conservatives who can't make it on the merits of their work.

UPDATE:  Steve Bainbridge (Law, UCLA) comments on this article (see the first trackback), which reminds of an earlier dialogue he and I had on the subject of political bias in law school hiring.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 28, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

August 26, 2005

Sextonism Watch: University of Minnesota Law School

Has all ludicrous hyperbole already been purged from the legal academy?  Recent nominations have been fine instances of somewhat misleading puffery, but no nominations the past two weeks match our first winner(s).  So perhaps we'll have to relax the criteria a bit:  ludicrous hyperbole will continue to qualify, but misleading self-presentations will also warrant comment.  And on that basis, the Sextonism Watch prize this week goes to to the University of Minnesota Law School for this:

Our faculty ranks in the top dozen nationally as some of the most productive and influential scholars in legal education.

It is true that at one point Minnesota did rank in the top dozen in both productivity and influence (i.e., scholarly impact as measured by citations)--for example, in my 2000 article in the Journal of Legal Studies on "Measuring the Academic Distinction of Law Faculties," which was based on data from the late 1990s.  But that was before the three most-cited faculty (by wide margins), who were also three of the five-or-six most productive faculty left:  Daniel Farber and Philip Frickey went to Berkeley, and Suzanna Sherry went to Vanderbilt.  In the most recent study of scholarly impact or influence, for example, Minnesota ranked 25th--this without Farber, Frickey, and Sherry.  (In a study completed last month, that will be published in the fall, Minnesota ranks a bit higher, but still not in the top twenty.)  I know of no productivity studies since, but I'd be surprised if the results were much different (Minnesota is more likely to remain in the top twenty in productivity, since highly prolific faculty like Jim Chen, Michael Paulsen, and Michael Tonry, among others, remain).  To be in the top 20-25 for productivity and influence is impressive, indeed; to claim, in the present tense, that the faculty is in the top dozen is just false.

It's perfectly proper, I think, for a school to cite studies that support the school's claims about itself.  But may I suggest as a guideline that schools provide the dates of those studies--as, for example, Cornell does in mentioning scholarly impact studies showing its faculty to rank very highly.  It is true Cornell does not mention that recent losses of Martha Fineman to Emory and Jonathan Macey to Yale would change those results significantly--in a study we'll be releasing soon, Cornell is no longer in the top ten for scholarly impact.  But that omission is less egregious, I think, than talking in the present tense about something that is clearly no longer true about a school's faculty.

Remember:  new nominations for Sextonish Watch are welcome.  Sources may remain anonymous, if they choose.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 26, 2005 in Ludicrous Hyperbole Watch | Permalink | TrackBack

August 25, 2005

More Fun with SSRN Downloads

Since we've already remarked on the limitations of SSRN downloads as an academic measure, we can now turn to the fun stuff:  rankings based on SSRN downloads!  The default ranking when you log on to the SSRN rankings are for total downloads in the last 12 months.  That measure does not take into account, of course, how many papers the author posted in the last 12 months.  More interesting, one might think, are downloads per paper, and not just for the last 12 months, but for the last couple of years in which SSRN has been posting papers.  This tells you, one might think, how much attention an author's work commands in the scholarly community.

But this measure has the problem that "one-hit wonders"--folks who post one or two papers that get downloaded a lot--drive out scholars whose work consistently gets downloaded, which surely says more about both impact and importance.

Here, then, are the ten faculty with the most downloads per paper who have posted at least 30 papers on SSRN:

1.  Bernard Black (Texas) (43 papers, 1030 downloads per paper)

2.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (44 papers, 675 downloads per paper)

3.  Eric Posner (Chicago) (31 papers, 516 downloads per paper)

4.  Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) (47 papers, 498 downloads per paper)

5.  Cass Sunstein (Chicago) (68 papers, 388 downloads per paper)

6.  Lucian Bebchuck (Harvard) (112 papers, 371 downloads per paper)

7.  J. Gregory Sidak (American Enterprise Institute) (60 papers, 370 downloads per paper)

8.  Francesco Parisi (George Mason University) (54 papers, 290 downloads per paper)

9.  Larry Ribstein (Illinois) (31 papers, 266 downloads per paper)

10. Ian Ayres (Yale) (30 papers, 214 downloads per paper)

Here are the ten faculty with the most downloads per paper who have posted at least 20 papers on SSRN:

1.  Bernard Black (Texas) (43 papers, 1030 downloads per paper)

2.  Mark Lemley (Stanford) (44 papers, 675 downloads per paper)

3.  Richard Posner (Chicago) (23 papers, 601 downloads per paper)

4.  Lynn Stout (UCLA) (22 papers, 527 downloads per paper)

5.  Eric Posner (Chicago) (31 papers, 516 downloads per paper)

6.  Stephen Bainbridge (UCLA) (47 papers, 498 downloads per paper)

7.  Dan Burk (Minnesota) (22 papers, 498 downloads per paper)

8.  Jesse Fried (Berkeley) (24 papers, 421 downloads per paper)

9.  Brian Cheffins (Cambridge) (22 papers, 405 downloads per paper)

10. Cass Sunstein (Chicago) (68 papers, 388 downloads per paper)

Here are the ten faculty with the most downloads per paper who have posted at least 10 papers on SSRN:

1.  William Landes (Chicago) (15 papers, 3769 downloads per paper)

2.  John Coffee, Jr. (Columbia) (17 papers, 1268 downloads per paper)

3.  Orin Kerr (George Washington) (13 papers, 1109 downloads per paper)

4.  Bernard Black (Texas) (43 papers, 1030 downloads per paper)

5.  Roberta Romano (Yale) (10 papers, 913 downloads per paper)

6.  John Donohue III (Yale) (19 papers, 890 downloads per paper)

7.  Ronald Gilson (Stanford/Columbia) (19 papers, 862 downloads per paper)

8.  Reinier Kraakman (Harvard) (18 papers, 855 downloads per paper)

9.  Mark Roe (Harvard) (12 papers, 835 downloads per paper)

10. Lawrence Solum (Illinois) (14 papers, 789 downloads per paper)

Finally, here are the ten faculty with the most downloads per paper who have posted at least 5 papers on SSRN:

1.  William Landes (Chicago) (15 papers, 3769 downloads per paper)

2.  John Coffee, Jr. (Columbia) (17 papers, 1268 downloads per paper)

3.  Orin Kerr (George Washington) (13 papers, 1109 downloads per paper)

4.  Bernard Black (Texas) (43 papers, 1030 downloads per paper)

5.  Roberta Romano (Yale) (10 papers, 913 downloads per paper)

6.  John Donohue III (Yale) (19 papers, 890 downloads per paper)

7.  Brian Leiter (Texas) (8 papers, 874 downloads per paper)

8.  Ronald Gilson (Stanford/Columbia) (19 papers, 862 downloads per paper)

9.  Reinier Kraakman (Harvard) (18 papers, 855 downloads per paper)

10. Theodor Baums (J.W. Goethe Univ/Germany) (6 papers, 853 downloads per paper)

(Whew!  I made it at last...)

Finally, here are the top 20 law schools that have posted at least 100 papers, ranked according to   downloads per paper:

1.  University of Chicago (296 papers, 497 downloads per paper)

2.  University of Texas, Austin (147 papers, 467 downloads per paper)

3.  Stanford University (260 papers, 401 downloads per paper)

4.  Columbia University (233 papers, 401 downloads per paper)

5.  University of Southern California (175 papers, 357 downloads per paper)

6.  George Washington University (151 papers, 322 downloads per paper)

7.  Georgetown University (207 papers, 308 downloads per paper)

8.  Harvard University (460 papers, 258 downloads per paper)

9.  University of California, Los Angeles (267 papers, 255 downloads per paper)

10. Yale University (188 papers, 244 downloads per paper)

11. Boston University (131 papers, 225 downloads per paper)

12. Vanderbilt University (218 papers, 169 downloads per paper)

13. University of California, Berkeley (200 papers, 218 downloads per paper)

14. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (181 papers, 212 downloads per paper)

15. George Mason University (208 papers, 201 downloads per paper)

16. Duke University (116 papers, 186 downloads per paper)

16. New York University (207 papers, 186 downloads per paper)

18. University of San Diego (137 papers, 183 downloads per paper)

19. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (154 papers, 181 downloads per paper)

20. University of Virginia (180 papers, 178 downloads per paper)

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 25, 2005 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

August 24, 2005

What Not to Put on your "Faculty Appointment Registry" Form

Law teaching candidates who register with the Association of American Law Schools fill out a one-page resume (known by its acronym, "FAR"), that includes the option of indicating restrictions on "Geographic Locations" that the candidate will consider.  A colleague elsewhere calls to my attention this rather ill-considered listing by one candidate, who "listed that he would only accept employment in 'Blue States, Florida, and Virginia' and would not accept a position in 'Other red states.'"  I would think this a rather ill-advised thing to have included in the FAR for a variety of reasons:

First, it simply makes no sense:  the candidate singles out two "red" states that are acceptable, suggesting that his political concerns (about which more in a moment) can be trumped by other considerations that are not political.  (After all, why not mention Missouri, far more likely to go "blue" than, say, Virginia?)  But what are those considerations?  It's mysterious.  Moreover, if there are considerations that trump politics (as there must be given the inclusion of Florida and Virginia), then why rule out entire states which may include locales that meet the other considerations?  To take an example close to home (well, an example that is home!), if you teach at the University of Texas School of Law, you teach and live in Austin, which went "blue" (56% to 42%) by a margin few blue states match.  Examples like this could be multiplied (and also in reverse, since there are schools in very conservative locations in "blue" states).

Second, since the restrictions the candidate lists make no discernible sense, they serve only one purpose:  to advertise in a fairly crude way that the candidate really hates Republicans.  Since many law schools in blue states will have hiring chairs or members of hiring committees who are Republicans, or who, in any case, don't hate Republicans, or who may themselves hate Republicans but don't want to hire faculty who are so consumed with their hatred of Republicans that they feel the need to advertise it on their professional resume, the main effect of this listing will be to cost the candidate interviews and opportunities.

So some words of advice to teaching candidates:  if you have real geographic restrictions for personal, family, or health reasons, mention them; otherwise conduct a national search, and leave it to later in the process (e.g., when you receive convention interviews, or have fly-back offers) to decide, "Living in that place is not for me."  But don't use the FAR form to grind political axes.  You can always create a blog for that purpose!

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 24, 2005 in Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

August 23, 2005

Henderson & Morriss's "Bitter" Medicine for Law Schools in the Age of Rankings

Andrew Morriss (Law, Case Western) summarizes the recommendations here.  I would like to comment only on the first recommendation: 

Non-elite schools should emphasize scholarships over scholarship.

A law degree is an extraordinarily expensive investment (tuition, living expenses, foregone income). Understandably, students are price sensitive. If law schools outside the top tier want "better" (higher LSAT) students, cutting their price either by lowering tuition or by increasing scholarship awards is a pretty good strategy. Elite law schools face a pretty inelastic demand curve; non-elite law schools don't. They can fill seats at high tuition, but they will lose the competition for the "better" students.

Now, the LSAT is far from being the best measure of whether someone is going to be a good lawyer, let alone a good law student. (It is pretty good at predicting first year grades, not as good at predicting upper class grades, and, of course, says nothing about the other dimensions of a person that might make him or her a good lawyer or student.)

Cutting tuition or increasing scholarships will hit the faculty hard, if done in any serious degree. Faculty slots will have to be left open, teaching loads increased, support for research and travel curtailed. Maybe legal scholarship is better off from having 190+ schools with professors writing articles; but maybe it isn't.

Putting aside whether trying to raise LSAT scores is a sensible or worthwhile academic goal (though I invite others to address this aspect of the post in the comments), I do want to suggest why it might be thought a loss if scholarship were discouraged at schools outside the top ranks. 

It seems to me there are two main issues here:

First, most legal scholarship that is useful to practitioners is increasingly produced by faculty at lower ranked schools.  A generation ago, for example, treatise-writing was a prestige activity in the legal academy, and so the authors of the great treatises were all teaching at top schools.  Now treatise-writing is less favorably viewed by the elite academy, though treatises are probably no less useful to those in practice and on the bench.  As a result, the new generation of academics doing the work of Farnsworth and Wright & Miller and Prosser & Keeton are rarely at the most highly ranked schools.  But treatises are only one example; practitioner-oriented scholarship of all kinds comes out more frequently from the less highly ranked law schools.  If those schools cut back on scholarship, that will be a loss to practitioners.

Second, the legal academy is very bad at initial placements of new legal scholars.  Contrast this with academic philosophy, and no doubt any other academic field where the PhD is a requirement for the first job.  In academic philosophy, recommenders know the candidates deeply, and the hiring schools can avail themselves of a large body of work by the candidate to evaluate.  As a consequence, the norm in philosophy, like most of the academy, is for the first placement (or the first placement within 2-3 years of degree) to be the best (i.e., the most highly ranked unit, broadly speaking).  It is almost unheard of to see the "rags-to-riches" saga that unfolds all the time in the legal academy:  George Priest starts at Puget Sound and ends up at Yale; Patricia Williams starts at Golden Gate and ends up at Columbia; Jack Balkin starts at Missouri/Kansas City and ends up at Yale; Fred Schauer starts at West Virginia and ends up at Harvard; the list goes on and on.  (A partial listing is here.)   Why does this happen so often in academic law?  The answer is clear:  schools base their initial hiring decisions on insufficient information, and so make mistakes all the time.  (They also base their hiring decisions on a lot of information of dubious predictive value, which is why most top law faculties are full of undistinguished scholars who got good grades as students and made friends with the right faculty in law school...another day, I'll list some names, but today I'm feeling charitable [this can't last!].)

So the first worry is this:  if lower ranked schools de-emphasize scholarship, a lot of very talented individuals are not going to have the opportunity to produce work that, experience has shown, the academy values.

But there's another side to this point too, for it's not like the most highly ranked schools are perfect (or even especially reliable) guides to the quality work and intellectual talent.  The top law schools are prone to fads, favoritism of all stripes, in-breeding and the like.  As a predictable result, faculty at lower ranked schools are often doing higher quality work.  (Remember what Anthony Grafton [History, Princeton] recently reminded us:  the intellectual revolutions often come from outside the traditional seats of academic power and prestige.)

I'll make this concrete with a field I know something about:  law and philosophy.  There is no question in my mind (and I know others share this view) that Bill Edmundson at Georgia State University and Robin Kar at Loyola Law School/Los Angeles--just to take two cases from the legal academy I know something about (no doubt there are others)--are doing work on a par with (in general, better than) a significant number of tenured and tenure-stream faculty at top-ranked law schools.  Perhaps law and philosophy is sui generis, and the same is not true in legal history or law and economics.  But I'd be skeptical if that was really the case.  My guess is that any expert can think of numerous instances in which the "irrationality" of the market has made itself apparent.  (I am assuming, arguendo, that in a "rational" market, candidates will select the highest rated school, more or less, at which they can secure an offer.  Obviously, this assumption is defeasible.)

Of course, none of this speaks to a final, possible objection:  namely, what is all this scholarly productivity really worth anyway?  The bottom line, in all disciplines, is that 99.9% of what is produced has no lasting value.  The problem, of course, is that it's very hard to determine in advance what will have the lasting value and what won't.  Thus, the real question is:  do we want the academy to produce the work of lasting value?  And if the answer to that question is "yes," and given our epistemic limitations, then I see no alternative than to hope that the academy as a whole encourages scholarship.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 23, 2005 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink | Comments (23) | TrackBack

August 22, 2005

Getting into Law Teaching: A Student Seeks Advice

A student writes:

I am a recent graduate of [a top law school that produces a good number of law professors] and will be clerking next term for [a Circuit Court of Appeals judge]. I have recently learned that a position has opened up in a very good state school in the areas that I am interested in teaching.

I have no doubt that I want to go on the market in the near future, but I was wondering your thoughts on the timing of entering the market. I currently have 2 publications (my note and a forthcoming Essay in a reputable specialty journal from a good school) and have 2 near completion.

I was wondering whether I would be in a good position to enter the market now, or whether a lack of legal experience would be detrimental to my candidacy at the AALS.

Also, from the view of faculty hiring committees, is clerking for two Circuit judges a positive, negative or no effect.

Final question (I promise), there seems to be an increasing trend towards some form of fellowship before entering law teaching and I am curious as to your perception of these programs. Specifically, I am thinking of Columbia's Associates in Law program, Chicago's Bigelow Program, the Visiting Assstant Professor Program at Northwestern (have I left out any of the major ones?). Is one of these better than the others.

I appreciate the thoughts and advice. Please feel free to disclose these questions on your blog.

My thoughts, briefly:  (1) practice experience almost always helps; (2) one could contact directly the school of interest, without going through the AALS and without going on the teaching market generally; (3) a key question is what your faculty mentors and recommenders think--if they encourage you to go now, do it; if they hesitate, then wait; (4) on multiple Circuit judge clerkships, my guess would be "no effect," but it does depend on the judges--some Circuit judges have a lot of influence on teaching job placement; (5) Visiting Assistant Professor programs are proliferating, and their terms of employment differ from place to place; in addition to Chicago, Northwestern, and Columbia (though I was under the impression that Columbia's was a degree program, where students only taught legal research & writing--Chicago's Bigelow program may be similar), there are now programs like this at Texas, Florida State, maybe NYU (can someone confirm?).   Are there others?

Comments are open.  I invite readers to agree/disagree with my comments, and to provide supplemental information and perspectives.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 22, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

August 21, 2005

New ISI Report on Law Faculty Impact

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) is the gold standard for scholarly impact studies in the natural sciences.  Occasionally, they produce studies of "social science" disciplines (psychology, sociology, law).  Their 2004 report (which I only just discovered) on law faculties ranked by impact (more precisely, citations per paper published 1999-2003) is here.  The top six (all that was reported) are (with citations per paper in parentheses):

1.  Yale University (5.72)

2.  University of Texas, Austin (5.42)

3.  Harvard University (5.01)

4.  New York University (4.61)

4.  University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (4.61)

6.  Columbia University (4.54)

While I certainly would have expected the Texas law faculty to be in the top ten (see, for example, here), I must confess #2 surprises me (this is also prior to Stanford's Bernie Black joining our faculty).  Also surprising is the absence of the University of Chicago--though one explanation is that they publish so much that citations per paper may not be as high.  For example, in a study of most prolific law faculties (without regard to faculty size) for the period 1996-2000, the top five were:

1.  University of Chicago

2.  Harvard University

3.  Georgetown University

4.  University of Pennsylvania

5.  University of California, Berkeley

Note that the Harvard and Georgetown faculties are more than twice the size of Chicago's, and Chicago's is the smallest faculty in the top five.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 21, 2005 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

August 19, 2005

Hiring Chairs Who Want to Identify Themselves...

...for the benefit of job seekers may do so here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on August 19, 2005 in Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack