July 08, 2021
June 03, 2021
In my other academic field, philosophy, it is quite common (indeed probably the norm) for faculty to make lateral moves later in their careers, rather than earlier: faculty in their 50s and 60s frequently take tenured positions at peer or stronger departments. When I started in law teaching in the early 1990s, this was very clearly not the case: most lateral moves occurred 5-15 years into a teaching career, with lateral moves by faculty in their 50s, let alone 60s, almost unheard of, except for administrative appointments. Yet just in the last couple of years, we've seen multiple lateral moves to peer or stronger schools by faculty age 55 and older. For example:
Lateral faculty moving in their late 50s: Curtis Bradley from Duke to Chicago; Robin Kundis Craig from Utah to Southern California; Mitu Gulati from Duke to Virginia; Ran Hirschl from Toronto to Texas; Nancy Kim from Cal Western to Chicago-Kent; Kimberly Krawiec from Duke to Virginia.
Lateral faculty moving in their 60s or older: Naomi Cahn from George Washington to Virginia; Herbert Hovenkamp from Iowa to Penn; Lawrence Solum from Georgetown to Virginia; Gerald Torres from Cornell to Yale.
I may have missed some from the last two years that are also in these brackets, but this is fairly representative.
What explains this change in hiring practices? I have a couple of hypotheses:
1. As academic law as an interdisciplinary and scholarly field has matured, there is more appreciation for cumulative scholarly achievement over the long haul, with the result that more faculty with sustained achievement over decades are finding themselves in demand.
2. The scholarly impact rankings that I started and Greg Sisk and colleagues at St. Thomas have continued--and which US News.com will now produce (and eventually incorporate into their rankings, I predict)--have probably enhanced the value of adding senior faculty with substantial scholarly profiles to a law faculty. It may just be a coincidence that, for example, Virginia, which underperformed in the various impact studies, has hired a large number of high cited scholars in their 50s and 60s in recent years.
May 27, 2021
May 17, 2021
*There were 64 rookie hires, down from 88 last year.
*There were only 45 schools hiring, down from 66 last year.
*All rookie hires had some combination of a clerkship, a fellowship, and/or an advanced degree. If I'm reading the data rightly, only one candidate got hired with only a clerkship. 88% of those hired had done a fellowship, and 45% of those hired had a PhD.
May 06, 2021
Here. The AALS also cancelled last fall's in-person hiring convention for the obvious reasons.
What this means for academic jobs seekers is that they have to be ready to do screening interviews (via Zoom) within a week or two of the FAR forms being released next August 18 (forms will be due before that of course). It will also mean that the hiring "season" will have a less predictable timetable, with many callbacks in September and October and offers before Thanksgiving likely. That happened last year too, but a countervailing force was that many law schools entered the market quite late in 2020-21, as it became clearer that the pandemic might end and that enrollments (and thus income) were shaping up favorably: as a result, many hiring schools did not enter the market until early 2021.
2021-22 promises to be an excellent year for law school enrollments, and early indicators suggest that the 2022-23 year will be at least as strong. Since enrollments drive hiring at 80-85% of the law schools in the country, this bodes very well for academic job seekers. I expect many more law schools to be in the market for new teachers this coming year, compared to this past year. (This past year, 1 in 5 tenure-track jobs weren take by Chicago alums and/or Fellows. Needless to say, we hope that will continue, and we appreciate the strong interest in law schools in our graduates and Fellows.) I doubt we'll get back to the pre-2010 levels of hiring (when 150+ new faculty were hired each year), but I would not be surprised if next year saw 100 or so new faculty hired.
ADDENDUM: A colleague elsewhere points out to me a possible countervailing consideration: namely, uncertainty about whether foreign LLMs will be able to come to the US next year for their degrees. LLM enrollment is a significant source of tuition revenue at many schools. My guess is that a majority of foreign LLM students will be able to enter the country for purposes of study.
April 05, 2021
MOVING TO FRONT FROM MARCH 18--APOLOGIES FOR THE DELAY IN APPROVING COMMENTS; MORE WELCOME
Blog Emperor Caron excerpts the relevant parts of the decision. To put it simply: if Professor Male turns down an offer from Harvard for an extra 40k in salary, Professor Female (in the same department, doing the same general kind of work, who previously had been paid the same as Professor Male) may have an equal pay claim even if she never got a Harvard offer. Thoughts from experts on these issues? Do I misunderstand the potential import of the decision? Submit your comment only once, it may take awhile to appear.
March 15, 2021
The big increase in applicants to law schools this year (and the big increase in high-end LSAT scores)
Informative piece at the ABA Journal. This bodes very well for the law teaching market in 2021-22, as does the impending end of the pandemic. I wouldn't be surprised if next academic year more than 100 new tenure-track faculty were hired, a figure we haven't seen in a decade.
March 02, 2021
February 04, 2021
MOVING TO FRONT FOR THE LAST TIME THIS SEASON (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.