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 12, 2020
600 law students pledge to boycott Paul Weiss because of its representation of Exxon and its role in thwarting action on climate change
Their press statement is here: Download Press Release--Six hundred law students pledge not to work for law firm defending Exxon's role in the climate crisis.
I asked Mr. Hirschel-Burns, a Yale law student and one of the organizers, for a list of the signatories, which he kindly provided but did not give permission to share. A bit more than two-thirds of the 600 signatories come from the elite law schools from which Paul Weiss usually hires, including large contingents from Harvard (78), NYU (94), Stanford (80), Michigan (79), and Yale (76).
October 06, 2020
September 19, 2020
Toronto Law scuttles search after sitting judge (and major donor) criticizes the final candidate on political grounds
MOVING TO FRONT FROM SEPTEMBER 17--UPDATED
What an embarrassment. If these allegations are borne out, the Dean of the Law School there will have to resign.
UPDATE: The University of Toronto's Students' Law Society has written a public letter to the Dean. And various faculty, at Toronto and elsewhere, have apprently called for an ethics investigtion of the judge who allegedly interjected himself into the search: e.g, Download Ethics complaint CJC-20-09-17 (003).
AND STILL MORE:
Today’s press now reports [paywall] that ‘In a written statement to what he described as the ‘faculty of law community’… Edward Iacobucci [Dean of the Law School] did not deny that a Tax Court Judge contacted the administration to express concerns about the candidate, Valentina Azarova.’
...A law dean did not deny published reports that a sitting judge attempted to influence a University hiring decision. Presumably, then, he also did not deny that a judge had found out, or was told, who was on that short list? (Even the University of Toronto law school is not yet required to get pre-clearance from the judiciary.) And, presumably, if ‘contact’ was made, it was made with someone. So who was listening (reluctantly? anxiously? eagerly?) to the judge’s ‘concerns’? It was not the faculty members of the Advisory Board. They resigned in protest.
SEPTEMBER 19 UPDATE: The media is now reporting internal e-mails that contradict the Dean's public assertions about this case. What a mess.
August 20, 2020
June 24, 2020
Vast majority of George Washington law faculty sign open letter condemning GW alum and current AG William Barr
CNN reports. Signatories include most of the best-known legal scholars on the GW faculty, including Stephen Saltzburg, Richard Pierce, Jr., Daniel Solove, Naomi Cahn, and Michael Abramowicz, among others. You can read the full letter here: Download Gw-barr-statement. Barr has become a disgrace to the office, so kudos to them for making a public statement.
June 15, 2020
April 08, 2020
...that will involve remote proctoring. Bar examiners may need to take note of this approach, but kudos to LSAC for coming up with a solution in a timely way. My guess is this will be the new form of the LSAT for the coming year. This is important too because it will allow law schools to gauge demand, which, in turn, will affect their hirng plans. (Recall that after the 2008 Great Recession, law school enrollments went up for two more years, before the downturn began after the ABA mandated better reporting on job outcomes.) I'll have more to say about what law school hiring next year may look like soon.
March 25, 2020
Some law schools (including some that didn't have real grades to start with) have switched officially to pass/fail as classes move online; others have not. Law professor Jonathan Adler (Case Western) argues against switching to P/F, while Noah Zatz (UCLA) argues in favor. My own view is that it probably depends on the school and the course, and that there is no "one size fits all" answer. (An example: I can imagine a school switching a course to P/F for all students if the instructor falls ill for several weeks; or a school might allow students afflicted with illness or caregiving responsibilities to switch to P/F as needed.) I will note that the economic fallout from the pandemic will almost certainly affect law firm hiring significantly, meaning that actual grades will be more important for students than before (again, how important will depend on the school, but we know from the Great Recession of 2008 that all schools will be affected, even if to differing degrees). Mandatory P/F may hurt some students if they are competing against students from schools that continued to grade.
UPDATE: I'm told that many students at Harvard Law School objected when the Dean announced they were switching to P/F.