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October 31, 2007

Leiter from Texas to Chicago

So it’s been a complex six months or so, but my family and I have finally decided that we are moving to Chicago next summer, where I will take up a Chair at the University of Chicago Law School and Direct Chicago’s new Center for Law, Philosophy, & Human Values, which will support “the reflective, critical and philosophical study of human values, with a particular emphasis on the conceptual, historical, and empirical foundations of the normative systems—moral, political, and legal—in which human beings live.” In addition, my treasured part-time colleague here at UT, Leslie Green (who is now Professor of the Philosophy of Law at Oxford) will switch his visiting professor stint from Texas to Chicago, starting in 08-09.

This has been such a difficult decision because of my great colleagues in the Law School at Texas, and the tremendous support from our wonderful Dean, Larry Sager, and our former Dean and now UT President, Bill Powers. The University of Texas School of Law has been an extraordinarily stimulating place to teach and write about law and philosophy for the past dozen years. The University of Chicago Law School is, of course, renowned as the leading center for law and economics in the country, and now, with the generous support of Saul Levmore, the Chicago Law Dean, and my new colleagues there—especially Martha Nussbaum--I am hopeful we will be able to make Chicago as strong a presence in law and philosophy and, in particular, make Chicago the top choice for philosophically-minded law students, especially those thinking of teaching careers.

Martha Nussbaum and I will continue to offer the Law and Philosophy Workshop at Chicago (which students take for credit); sometimes we will do it jointly, sometimes only one of us will do it with the new Law and Philosophy Fellow that the Law School will host each year.  I’ll be offering a basic jurisprudence course every year (similar to what I do here), as well as a new course covering from a philosophical point of view topics in moral, political, and social theory of interest to lawyers and legal scholars. Martha and I will both continue to offer a variety of seminars on topics in moral, political, and legal philosophy, as will Les Green when he visits each year, and the new Center will sponsor additional speakers and conferences. I suppose the main thing that will distinguish Chicago from the other leading law-and-philosophy centers in the country is that Chicago will have both a stronger historical orientation than is typical among those working in law and philosophy (whether it is attention to Aristotle or Mill or Marx or Nietzsche) and a more interdisciplinary conception of philosophical work. Interested students should feel free to contact me.

The attractions of Chicago are, of course, substantial: the city itself is one of our favorite ones in the US; Hyde Park is transformed from twenty years ago, when I last spent substantial time there (but it still has great new and used book stores!); the University’s Lab School for our children was a significant attraction, as was the college tuition benefit; and the Law School is, with Yale’s (where I visited almost a decade ago), one of the most intellectually engaged communities of faculty and students in American legal education. The law schools at Yale and Chicago are probably most like graduate school in a PhD discipline among American law schools, so a particularly welcome environment for a scholar with my interests—especially since Chicago has also long been, depending upon the measure, one of the top three or four producers of new law teachers in the country. Dean Levmore also deserves credit for turning Chicago’s quarter system to the advantage of the Law School, and establishing one of the most attractive teaching loads of any law school of which I’m aware. The University as a whole is notable for the ease with which faculty and students cross disciplinary boundaries in their teaching and research, and there are several scholars I already know in other units at Chicago whom I very much admire, like Michael Forster (one of the preeminent scholars of German philosophy of the 18th- and 19th-centuries in the English-speaking world) and Jonathan Lear, who wrote a splendid volume on Freud in the Routledge Philosophers series I edit.  I look forward to working with them and others in the years ahead.

I am also hopeful that my appointment—given my, shall we say, “out of the American mainstream” political views—will put to rest, finally, the myth of Chicago as a “conservative” law school. (One might have thought Martha Nussbaum and Geoffrey Stone would have already put that myth to rest!) As I said to many of my friends after visiting last fall, one of the most attractive features of life at Chicago is that people are happy to argue all day long. Willingness (and ability!) to mix it up in vigorous intellectual combat is the hallmark of the school, not political ideology. This is as true for the faculty as the student body.

Texas, as many readers may know, has been the victim of its own hiring success in the last year, as we have become a target for other law schools to raid. It’s worth emphasizing, though, how very strong UT’s position remains, and how remarkable the school’s recruitment success has been in the last five years, having hired Sager from NYU, Jane Stapleton from the ANU, William Sage from Columbia, John Deigh from Northwestern, Derek Jinks from Arizona State, and Bernard Black from Stanford, among others This fall, Dan Rodriguez, the hugely successful Dean at San Diego and, before that, a member of the Boalt faculty for a decade, also joined us (turning down, in the process, offers from Duke, Vanderbilt, and Southern California). (And that’s not to mention all the rookie hiring success, or the retentions of faculty.)  I suppose I am entitled to assert even more strongly, now that I am moving, that Texas is the most preposterously underranked law school in US News—only seven of the law schools ahead of it in US News have better faculties, and a couple of the others ranked ahead of it are, as any insider would know, inferior.

I will deeply miss my many treasured colleagues and friends in Austin, as well as the laid-back Austin lifestyle.  But we are excited and optimistic about what the future holds in Chicago. Thanks to all who have inquired and offered good wishes over the last several months.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 31, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

Why Law and Economics Failed in Germany

This is an interesting, and prima facie plausible explanation.  What do those better-informed than me think?

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 31, 2007 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

"Law Porn": Demeaning to Pornography!

As usual, Tom Smith (San Diego) has the funniest observations.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 31, 2007 in Legal Humor | Permalink | TrackBack

October 30, 2007

Advice on Choosing Law Schools from the Wall Street Journal

Some sensible suggestions here--especially about alternatives to US News!

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 30, 2007 in Rankings, Student Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

A Rookie Candidate's Experience at the "Meat Market"

An experienced lawyer, recently back from the AALS "meat market" hiring convention, writes with some useful insights, that future job-seekers may find helpful:

I think my biggest surprise came in the discovery of how important the "Preferred  Courses" selections on the FAR form are. I would say that virtually ALL of my interviews came about because I listed Business Associations as one of my top preferred courses. I would advise people to think carefully about what they want to teach and then to prepare heavily for questions in that area. I was asked what would be my approach to BA, why I wanted to teach it, how I would actually teach the class, and if I thought that BA should be broken into two courses. One interviewer even asked what casebook I would use!

Your advice about the importance of publication was spot-on. I might be tempted though to say that standing out from a very competitive crowd now requires TWO articles instead of just one. Prospects should also try to publish in a higher-ranked journal -- I had a couple of people note that publication of my second article in the [law review of a reputable but not top state law school] was good. I think that the exact same article in a lesser journal would not have attracted nearly as much attention. In fact, the majority of interviewers referred to it not by its title but as the "[state] article."

I can't give much advice as to the actual interview process. All of my interviews were different; none followed the 'classic' pattern. [Regional law school in the Midwest] spent 15 minutes telling me how nice it was to live in [their state]. On the opposite extreme, [an ambitious regional law school in the West] dispensed with any pretense of small talk and launched into 35 minutes of grueling questions, in which I was asked to defend, analogize, and extend both of my previous articles. On the whole, I thought all my interviews were more intense than I expected. People really need to be prepared to discuss their work in detail.

All good advice!

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 30, 2007 in Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

October 29, 2007

Advice on Job Talks

Daniel Solove (George Washington) makes a number of sensible points.  One thing he doesn't mention, which is crucial, is to find out in advance of the job talk what the format will be!  It's true that the normal format is 20-30 minutes of presentation, followed by 30-40 minutes of discussion.  But confirm that with each school!  Also, find out whether you should circulate a paper in advance, whether it is reasonable to expect the audience to have read a pre-circulated paper, whether the school is equipped with whatever AV needs you have for your presentation, and so on. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 29, 2007 in Professional Advice | Permalink | TrackBack

Gaming US News By Taking Lots of Transfer Students in the Second Year

Bill Henderson (Indiana) analyzes the issue.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 29, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack

October 27, 2007

Justifying Originalism

Thoughts on Randy Barnett's views and the general problem of justifying originalist approaches to Constitutional interpretation here.

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 27, 2007 in Jurisprudence | Permalink | TrackBack

October 26, 2007

Two Tenured Hires for Washington & Lee: Spencer from Richmond, Miller from Idaho

The Law School at Washington & Lee University has made two lateral hires with tenure:  Benjamin Spencer (civil procedure, federal courts) from the University of Richmond, and Russell Miller (international and comparative law) from the University of Idaho. 

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 26, 2007 in Faculty News | Permalink | TrackBack

October 25, 2007

Hofstra's Scholarly Impact

Hofstra Law School kindly sent me the results of its self-study using the methodology of the scholarly impact study I released in September.   Hofstra had impressive results (though it would not have made the top 35), results that also confirmed the wisdom of limiting the ordinal ranking to the top 35 schools.  Hofstra reported a mean per capita scholarly impact normalized score of 17 (tying with Brooklyn, Chicago-Kent, Florida State, North Carolina, and Wake Forest).  The ten most-cited faculty at Hofstra are Robert Bush, Nora Demleitner, Janet Dolgin, Monroe Freedman, Leon Friedman, Joanna Grossman, Richard Neumann, Alan Resnick, Andrew Schepard, and Roy D. Simon, Jr.  (Hofstra also reported an overall [mean and median] final normalized score of 14.5, tying with North Carolina.)

Posted by Brian Leiter on October 25, 2007 in Rankings | Permalink | TrackBack