September 17, 2020
Statement in defense of "Critical Race Theory" by the five Deans of University of California law schools
This is in response to recent bluster by the monster-child who is President of the United States. What the Deans say is fair, but it's predicated, I suspect, on a mistaken assumption that the President's reference to "critical race theory" was a reference to the academic literature known to law professors, which I've seen no evidence is actually being taught to employees of the federal government. Government employees may have been subjected to blather inspired by Ibram Kendi (for an amusing anti-Kendi polemic from the Black left, see this) and to now-discredited implicit bias "training," but none of this has anything to do with the legal academic literature by Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, Patricia Williams, Mari Matsuda, Charles Lawrence et al. It's a shame "critical race theory" has become the new buzz word for "stuff we don't like" in the right-wind echo chamber.
ADDENDUM: Perhaps federal employees have been subjected to "diversity training," which has a poor track record of accomplishing anything. In any case, that too is unrelated to critical race theory in the legal academy as best I can tell.
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.
September 03, 2020
...bringing the total number of schools advertising up to 40 (this includes some of the law schools which I alluded to previously that weren't in the first bulletin). A number of highly ranked law schools are looking selectively this year, although they have not advertised in either bulletin.
August 31, 2020
August 20, 2020
August 14, 2020
I count 32 AALS-member schools that are advertising, in several cases for multiple positions (roughly half the number last year, if my memory is correct). As noted earlier, more than 100 schools have constituted appointments committees, but some are only looking at laterals I've learned, while others are probably constituted in case it's possible to hire. I should note I've already heard from one law school (not a top 20 school) that is planning on hiring that has not advertised in the bulletin.
UPDATE: I've now looked at the first AALS job bulletin from last August, and there were 76 accredited schools advertising, some (again) for multiple positions. So the drop this year is by more than 50%. Some schools may yet return to the market, of course, depending on developments in the months ahead.
August 11, 2020
Penn State-Dickinson and Pepperdine law deans donate 125k each to help students at their schools with "emergency needs"
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.