« October 2005 | Main | December 2005 »

November 30, 2005

First Annual Conferenceon Empirical Legal Studies

I don't generally do conference announcements, but this one is both "close to home" and likely to be of interest to many:

First Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies

University of Texas Law School

27-28 October 2006

Announcement & Call for Papers (Submission Deadline:  June 30, 2006)

The inaugural Empirical Legal Studies Conference will be held at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas, on Friday 27- Saturday 28 October 2006 (ending by 2:00 on Saturday to allow most participants to return home Saturday afternoon).  The conference will feature presentations of original empirical and experimental legal scholarship by leading scholars from a diverse range of fields.

The Conference on Empirical Legal Studies is jointly organized by Cornell Law School, NYU School of Law and the University of Texas Law School. The 2006, 2007 and 2008 Conferences will be held at University of Texas Law School, New York University School of Law and Cornell Law School, respectively. The conference organizers are: Jennifer Arlen (NYU), Bernard Black (Texas), Theodore Eisenberg (Cornell), Michael Heise (Cornell) and Geoffrey Miller (NYU).

Conference Objectives:

The conference's goals are:  (i) to encourage and develop empirical and experimental scholarship on legal issues by providing scholars with an opportunity to present and discuss their work with an interdisciplinary group of scholars; and (ii) to stimulate ongoing conversations among scholars in law, economics, political science, finance, psychology, sociology, and other disciplines about research in this area.  The conference’s audience will include paper presenters, commentators, and other attendees, and will include many of the nation’s leading empirical legal scholars.  The goal is productive discourse on both particular papers and appropriate methodologies.

Committed Participants:
The following scholars have agreed to participate in the 2006 conference.

We welcome submissions in all areas of empirical and experimental legal scholarship, including but not limited to the following general topic areas:

[please direct suggestions for additional topic areas to Bernie Black]


Submissions for the Conference should be sent as email attachments no later than June 30, 2006 to this e-mail address, with copy to Bernard Black.

Please specify the topic(s) for which you are submitting the paper (limit two).  All submissions will be refereed.  The number of accepted papers will depend on the number and quality of submissions.  There is no publication commitment associated with the Conference, nor is previously published work eligible for consideration.  There is no cost to register for the conference.

Out-of-town paper presenters and commentators will receive payment of $800 to cover their expenses (if expenses are less than this, the remainder can be treated as an honorarium) (limited to one presenter per paper).  Given respectable low-cost hotel options and a "state rate" for airfare, we expect that this amount will be sufficient to cover presenters’ travel and lodging and other costs.  Presenters must attend the entire conference to receive the honorarium.

General inquiries concerning the 2006 Conference should be sent to Professor Black.

Registration requests and logistical inquiries should be directed to Ms. Peggy Brundage, (512) 232-1373, or via e-mail.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 30, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

November 29, 2005

Advice on "Fly-Back" Interviews at Law Schools

A colleague elsewhere writes with some useful (and timely) advice for those seeking law teaching jobs:

One subject on which there is relatively little advice out there (compared to the meat market and most relevant qualifications) is the flyback interview.  I've seen a good number of candidates come through my school now, and it seems that some advice might be helpful, especially to those who are interviewing at lower-tier schools (and those who don't have great institutional support from the law schools from which they graduated).

First, the competition is fierce for all law teaching jobs, regardless of the tier of the school.  The math is straightforward: there are hundreds of candidates, most of whom meet basic qualifications, and perhaps dozens of spots.  This is not like the law firm market.  Even
if you've never heard of the school, you are fortunate to get the initial interview, much less the flyback interview.  Thus, do not act like you're doing us a favor by deigning to talk to us, or that we'd be lucky to get you -- even if you think it's true.  Don't believe it?  Go find the lowest-ranked school you got an initial interview at and check out the qualifications of the people on the faculty, especially the people hired in the last few years.  You will likely find that you aren't slumming by talking to us, and we'll notice if you think otherwise.

Second, the job talk should not be you reading a paper to us.  At most schools, you're likely to be interrupted with questions or comments, some challenging your basic assertions, within a few minutes of starting.  "That's not the part of the paper I'm at" is not a good response to such questions.  This is a chance to show your facility with your subject matter and your ability to work questions into your presentations.  Hey, that sounds a lot like what you do in a classroom!

Third, while there may be exceptions, don't assume that the lower ranked schools are uninterested in your scholarship.  Again, check out the publications by recent hires; you're likely to see productive folks doing interesting and high-level work, and many lower-tier schools are seeking to improve their ranking by improving their faculty's publication records.  Just like when you're at the top schools, have a coherent answer to the question "What is next on your scholarship agenda?"

Finally, don't blow off the student interview if you have one.  They can't get you hired, but they may be able to put enough doubt about your ability to work with students to put you below another candidate.  You should know something about the student body (say, how big it is and what the active student groups are) and have nontrivial questions to ask them.

Comments are open if others have further advice and suggestions for fly-back interviews.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 29, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

November 28, 2005

Finding Academic Jobs as a Couple

A student at a law school that produces a lot of law teachers writes:

I have been doing searches on your blog to address the question of how should an aspiring academic couple proceed through the academic market.  I recognize that these answers very much depend on the school, but if you could provide a take on this or at least open it up in the blogosphere that would be wonderful.

My thoughts were that my spouse and I should try to enter the market at separate times so that one can leverage their position as an academic to assist the other in the market.  But it seems that on one of your blog posts you seem to describe the process by which some law schools "play ball" and make arrangements for the spouse at the hiring stage. Also it seems that it is more difficult to lateral than to enter the market. Do you think it is more advantageous to both attempt to enter the market at the same time and work it from that angle or is my initial impression that we should try to enter the market at different stages

While it is probably true that the vast majority of academic couples (at least those who aren't quite senior) secure jobs at the same institution in a sequential process (first one partner/spouse is hired, then later, the other), I'm actually not sure whether that reflects the best strategy or just the fact that in many academic couples, the decision to go into academia is made at different times.  I am inclined to think that a couple that both want academic posts should probably look for academic posts at the same time, perhaps making clear that two positions are sought.  Making the "joint" nature of the search known early can have the advantage that schools that might otherwise not believe themselves to be competitive in recruiting one or the other partner/spouse may see an opportunity in virtue of being able to hire both.

I'm opening this up for comments from others, as this is surely an issue on which many institutions and faculty have had experience.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 28, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

November 22, 2005

The classroom of the future

Stephen Bainbridge (Law, UCLA) has the amusing details.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 22, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

November 21, 2005

Transfer to "Top Five" Law School to Get Into Teaching?

A law student writes:

I am currently a 1L at [a top ten law school by just about all measures], and I think that I'm interested in pursuing a career in teaching.  The blogs I've read on seeking a job in academics suggest that it's preferable to go to a top 5 school. If I'm capable of performing well enough, do you think it would be a smart move to try and transfer to a higher ranked school like Harvard or Stanford?

Everything else being equal, of course, if you want to get into law teaching it is best to go to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, or Chicago in roughly that order (and not some mythical "top 5").  But everything else is rarely equal, and there are reasons to choose other schools with top faculties if their strengths better mirror a student's interests. 

But the precise question here is different. What if you're already at one of the 15 or so schools that produce a decent number of law teachers?  Is it worth it to transfer to one of the top four?

In general, it probably is not worth it to transfer, for the following simple reason:  to get into law teaching, you have to have reputable faculty in your corner, which means you have to get to know them well enough during your time in law school that they can offer meaningful and enthusiastic support for your academic ambitions.  As it is, law school is relatively short as far as this objective is concerned; if you transfer, you have even less time to make the relevant impressions and connections (only two years) and, moreoever, if you've transferred to a school that produces a lot of law teachers, you'll have lots of competition for the attention of the relevant faculty.  So my general advice would be:  stay where you are, and begin cultivating the professional and intellectual relationships that are so important for getting into law teaching.

That's my general advice, but there are exceptions.  One possible exception pertains to Yale, which has such a disproportionate lock on the law teaching market, that it may be worth exploring the transfer option for Yale, notwithstanding all the preceding problems.  Again, though, it will depend on factors like whether Yale will meet your particular intellectual and academic needs (in many areas, other top schools are as strong as or better than Yale), and also on what kinds of relationships you establish with faculty during your first year of law school.  A student who is in a position to transfer to Yale from, say, Michigan or Texas or Penn has also likely made a powerful impression on his or her teachers, the kind of impression that may be more important in terms of academic opportunities down the line than the "Yale name."

Another exception would be relevant for students with very particular intellectual interests which their home school can't meet as well as one of the top four.  A first-year student at Texas or Georgetown or Michigan with a strong interest in law and economics and academic ambitions probably should think about transferring to one of the top four, each of which are much stronger in that area.  Conversely, a first-year law student mostly interested in law and philosophy would have no reason to transfer from Texas or Michigan, since in most respects these schools offer as much or more for philosophically-minded students than the top four.   We could, of course, multiple examples of this kind.

I invite additional comments on this general question; non-anonymous postings will be very strongly preferred.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 21, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

November 19, 2005

Another Blogging First: Harvard Law School Has an Admissions Blog


Posted by Brian Leiter on November 19, 2005 in Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

November 18, 2005

A New Hiring Tactic: Reader Reaction Sought

After last weeke's "faculty recruitment conference" for new law teachers (otherwise known as the "meat market"), there has been much talk about a new recruitment tactic by Northwestern, described to me by colleagues at Illinois and Texas as follows:  Northwestern offers to fly back a "hot" candidate prior to the "meat market" on the condition that if Northwestern makes the candidate an offer, the candidate commits to accept that offer against any others, except for two or three super elite schools on a pre-agreed list (e.g., Yale or Stanford). 

The disadvantages for the candidate are obvious:  he or she is forced to commit to accepting an offer without the chance to evaluate how it compares to other options.  The disadvantages for Northwestern are also obvious:  it may end up with junior faculty who feel strong-armed into having accepted an offer, when they might have done "better" along various dimensions.  The advantage, though, for Northwestern is also clear:  the top law schools are like lemmings, all chasing the same handful of "top" candidates off the cliff together.  That means that an offer from Illinois or Minnesota often turns into offers from Northwestern and Texas and Michigan, which then turns into offers from Columbia and Chicago and Harvard.   To some extent, this new hiring strategy is meant to reduce the amount of wasted recruitment time, on the theory that the only candidates who are going to accept this sort of conditional fly-back are those who are pretty seriously interested in Northwestern.

I'd be curious to hear from faculty or job seekers their views about this practice.  Non-anonymous postings will be very strongly preferred, though if the content of the posting makes clear reasons for anonymity, anonymous postings may be allowed.  Comments may take awhile to appear; only post your comment once please!

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 18, 2005 in Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

November 15, 2005

Political Philosopher Cohen from MIT to Stanford

The distinguished political philosopher Joshua Cohen, a longtime member of the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology, has accepted a senior offer from Stanford University, where he wiil be half-time in Political Science, and one-quarter each in Law and Philosophy, as well as direct a new Center for Global Justice.  He will start next fall.   (He will, however, continue to co-edit the stimulating Boston Review, which will also remain Boston-based.)

Stanford Law School has been one of the few top law schools to have not had a philosopher on the faculty, so this is a major appointment for them, and a welcome affirmation of the importance of philosophy in American legal education.  Stanford also plans to start a number of new joint JD/PhD programs, including in philosophy.  I'm not sure Professor Cohen will be enough to anchor such a program (especially given how his time will be spread), though clearly students interested in issues at the intersection of law and political philosophy will do well to look at Stanford in the years ahead for the joint degree.

(There is a bit more on what this means for Philosophy at Stanford at my other blog for those interested.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 15, 2005 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

One Lawyer's Experience with Judge Alito

Some readers may find this account of interest.

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 15, 2005 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink | TrackBack

November 14, 2005

The tail wags the dog

This may be the clearest case I've ever seen of a law school setting its academic and institutional policy with an eye to the U.S. News rankings.

(Thanks to Craig Linton for the pointer.)

UPDATE:  It appears Albany Law School may have the same idea.

ANOTHER UPDATE:  Another faculty member at South Carolina writes to suggest that the author of the original article, linked above, is speaking for himself only, and that the academic plans and goals of most other faculty at USC are very different.  (This faculty member did acknowledge that the central Administration at the U of South Carolina is interested in U.S. News results.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on November 14, 2005 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack