Monday, July 15, 2013

June 2013 LSAT takers down almost 5% from prior year... 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.

Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink