January 08, 2021
November 05, 2020
In my conversation with Professor Kerr awhile back, I said there were two, but we ended up discussing only one: namely, the way in which a PhD or VAP/Fellowship has now become almost essential for being hired. The other big change that I've observed over the last ten years has been the dramatic increase in hiring driven by "diversity" considerations (I dislike the "diversity" label for reasons discussed here). Some context: I have been working with candidates on the law teaching job market since the late 1990s, first at the University of Texas, then at the University of Chicago since 2008. I've worked by now with 150+ candidates for nearly 25 years of hiring seasons.
It has been the case for quite some time that "diverse" candidates got more interviews than comparable non-diverse candidates, but often one worried that schools were just trying to fulfill their equal opportunity obligations by making sure their slate of interviews was "diverse." But what has changed during the last decade is that "diverse" candidates are getting hired far more often than before, and hired at stronger schools. The job market for "diverse" candidates for law teaching positions has never been more favorable than it is now.
November 03, 2020
...which will bode well for law school faculty hiring next year, and may even lead some schools to invest this year in new faculty. Given the tight job market for college grads, it may also be that more college seniors have decided to apply to law school already. If economic conditions brighten, some of them may turn out to forego a law school spot. We'll see what the pool looks like after January (and assuming the monster-child in the White House is replaced).
October 29, 2020
...on display here, especially in many of the comments (and there's also pushback in the comments). The law teaching job market is very far from a "lottery" (as one commenter put it); if it were a lottery, it wouldn't be possible to predict fairly well how candidates will fare. It is true that the law teaching job market is even more pedigree-sensitive than most academic job markets, and that is not a good thing. But in other respects it rewards conventional markers: e.g., decent publications, strong oral presentation skills. Max Weber observed, correctly, that "luck" plays an outsized role in academic careers, which is undoubtedly true; but that doesn't mean the results are wholly random, as they would be in a lottery. It does mean that even if one does all the right things, the outcome is far from assured.
October 15, 2020
Without a "meat market" around which schools and candidates coordinate their behavior, the timing is quite various this year. Some schools are still scheduling initial interviews, while other schools hosted call-backs as early as September. Some schools have even started extending offers. This is going to make things more challenging all around; I hope hiring schools will give candidates at least one month to consider an offer. By the same token, candidates should be timely in letting schools know if they are no longer interested in being considered because they have other offers in hand.
October 09, 2020
You can guess the answer, but I recently came across this systematic study by law professor Eric Segall (Georgia State) and a political scientist. Faculty at the top ten law schools graduated from the following law schools (I'm going off a graph in the paper that is a little hard to read): Yale (more than 190); Harvard (a bit less than 190); Chicago (more than 40); Columbia (more than 30); Virginia (not quite 30); Stanford (about 25); Berkeley and NYU (a bit more than 20); Michigan (not quite 20); Penn (fewer than 10). Bear in mind that Harvard graduates more than 2 1/2 times as many students each year as Yale, Chicago, or Stanford. If we normalize for the size of the typical Harvard class, then the figures would be something like this (with rounding to nearest ten): Yale (480); Harvard (190); Chicago (110); Columbia (60); Stanford (60); Berkeley and Virginia (50); Michigan and NYU (30); Penn (20).
October 06, 2020
October 01, 2020
September 15, 2020
...as measured by the number of faculty from the 2006-07 academic year that were subsequently hired by a top 18 law school (i.e., Berkeley, Chicago, Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Northwestern, NYU, Penn, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Yale). This is a propos the discussion I had with Orin Kerr noted the other day. I excluded here top 25ish law schools, which are regularly schools that the top 18 try to raid. I happened to have a 2006-07 AALS Directory handy, which is why I chose that year to study. I list below the schools that had at least two faculty who moved on; please e-mail me with additions or corrections:
1. Florida State University (5) (Craig to USC, Galle to Georgetown, Klick to Penn, Rossi to Vanderbilt, Ruhl to Vanderbilt)
2. Brooklyn Law School (4) (Cheng to Vanderbilt, Hunter to Georgetown, Schwartz to Berkeley, Serkin to Vanderbilt)
2. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University (4) (Beebe to NYU, Crane to Michigan, Lemos to Duke, Stack to Vanderbilt)
2. University of San Diego (4) (Law to Virginia, Partnoy to Berkeley, Prakash to Virginia, Rodriguez to Northwestern)
5. Fordham University (3) (Fisch to Penn, Katyal to Berkeley, Treanor to Georgetown)
6. New York Law School (2) (Gordon-Reed to Harvard, Rostain to Georgetown)
6. University of Alabama (2) (Geis to Virginia, Pardo to Georgetown)
6. University of Arizona (2) (Adelman to Texas, Marcus to UCLA)
6. University of Colorado, Boulder (2) (Bowen to Virginia [now Dean at GW], Ohm to Georgetown)
6. University of Connecticut, Hartford (2) (Baker to Penn, Mason to Virginia)
September 09, 2020
As part of the very enjoyable discussion on "The Legal Academy," Orin Kerr (Berkeley) asked me about how a school can hire strong scholarly faculty. I made a variety of observations related to this topic. A school must constitute a good hiring committee, meaning one with faculty who are engaged in scholarship and have good judgment about scholarship. Schools like Florida State and San Diego (two examples I gave) have, historically, done very strong rookie hiring (better than their peers), in part because Deans have invested serious faculty with good judgment with a decisive role in hiring at those schools. While "objective" metrics (like citations or place of publication) can be useful proxies, there is, as I said, "no substitute for reading" (as long as those reading satisfy the prior desiderata!).
Finally, there's the question of how to use recommendations from faculty elsewhere (no committee can read everything, so recommendations are often used to figure out which candidates deserve further scrutiny). Everyone who has done hiring has their own list of reliable and unreliable references, and everyone of course gives different weight to references based on their opinion of the recommender (if they have one). I gave the example of a recommendation from a professor at San Diego (an expert I respected in the candidate's area) that ultimately led to Texas hiring someone when I was chairing appointments there. I also gave the example of the Yale recommender who "never met a candidate he didn't love": such recommendations are useless, of course. I remarked that my own approach was not to credit or give weight to references from faculty I wouldn't hire, i.e., those I don't respect on the intellectual merits.