September 13, 2021

On mention of the N-word in a pedagogical context

Sensible analysis, as usual, from law professor Randall Kennedy (Harvard); an excerpt:

I am skeptical of some of the claims of hurt. I suspect that some of them are the product of learned strategic ripostes. It is now well known that in certain settings, particularly those that strive to be socially enlightened (like colleges and universities), you can effectively challenge speech to which you object by claiming not only that it is socially abhorrent (racist, sexist, transphobic, etc., etc., etc.) but that it makes you feel insulted, offended, or endangered.

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September 13, 2021 in Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

June 03, 2021

Is the age bias in law school hiring a thing of the past?

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.


June 3, 2021 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink

May 27, 2021

"Why are so few law professors interested in antitrust?"

Lawprof, antitrust expert and Chicago alum Daniel Crane (Michigan) comments.


May 27, 2021 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

April 07, 2021

Attack on academic freedom at U of San Diego School of Law continues

The irresponsible complaint about Professor Tom Smith's blog post criticizing the Chinese government has now been forwarded to the University "for review."  This is a disgrace and a direct attack on the academic freedom of every professor at USD, who are now on notice that if students file a frivolous complaint it will lead to an investigation and "review" (and possible sanction?).  What a shame that Dean Schapiro should have torpedoed his own Deanship so soon after taking office with this spineless behavior.  The faculty should demand his resignation.


April 7, 2021 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

April 05, 2021

9th Circuit's Equal Pay Act decision could have ramifications for retention offers to faculty

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.


April 5, 2021 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink | Comments (2)

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 15, 2021 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

January 15, 2021

Violation of academic freedom at UIC John Marshall Law School

IMPORTANT UPDATE BELOW:   PROFESSOR KILBORN WAS NOT SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF THE EXAM QUESTION

Last month, we noted UIC John Marshall Dean Darby Dickerson's suggestion "that law schools should be 'transformed' into 'anti-racist institutions' [as distinct from being non-racist ones that comply with equal opportunity laws]," observing that it "would portend a massive violation of the academic freedom of all faculty (for example)."   Alas, this proved more prophetic than we realized.

Professor Jason Kilborn gave a civil procedure exam last month involving an employment discrimination hypothetical, in which one worker used racist and sexist epithets.   As the petition denouncing Professor Kilborn reports:

The question at-issue contained a racial pejorative summarized as follows: “‘n____’and ‘b____’ (profane expressions for African Americans and women).” The fact pattern involved an employment discrimination case where the call of the question was whether or not the information found was work product.

Just to be clear:   the exam neither used nor mentioned the actual offending words, just the first letters of those words followed by the underline, as quoted above.  Professor Kilborn has actually used variations on this hypothetical, with the n- and b-words (as above), for a decade without any incident!

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January 15, 2021 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

December 07, 2020

It's a good thing the President of the AALS doesn't really matter to legal education...

...or there would be reasons to be quite worried about some parts of the recent missives from current AALS President Darby Dickerson (who is also Dean at UIC John Marshall Law School).  In the past, I have commended to the attention of readers some of Dean Dickerson's advice, so these recent statements come as a surprise to me.

To be clear:  there is much that Dean Dickerson says that is sensible and decent, and it's shocking to learn, e.g., that some doctrinal faculty do not treat their clinical or legal writing colleagues with appropriate respect and courtesy.   So, too, greater job security is a good in any line of work, academic or otherwise; no doubt so many academic or "doctrinal" faculty enjoy it only because the ABA mandates it.

But to refer to the existence of different jobs and positions, with different qualifications and expectations, as a "caste" system is just a rhetorical trick, harnessing the pejorative connotation of "caste" to raise doubts about a system of differing qualifications, expectations and authority.  Is it a "caste" system that in a hospital the doctors have different professional status, differential educationl and professional attainments, and different responsibilities and authority than nurse's aides?  Is it a "caste" system that PhDs in chemistry with tenure have different responsibilities and authority than the post-docs or research technicians in their labs?  Unlike real caste systems, a chnage in status is possible with a change in education, experience, and accomplishments.  The only real question is whether the differing qualifications, responsibilities and authority are justified, not whether they are a "caste."  But there is not even the pretense of a substantive analysis and critique of the division of labor and responsibility in Dean Dickerson's letter.  (Surely it is not mysterious, for example, why clinical and doctrinal faculty should have more responsibility and control over the school and its curriculum than, e.g., adjuncts or staff who are not lawyers?)

(I'll just note, as an aside, that the idea at the conclusion of Dean Dickerson's letter that law schools should be "transformed" into "anti-racist institutions" [as distinct from being non-racist ones that comply with equal opportunity laws] would portend a massive violation of the academic freedom of all faculty (for example)-- just as transforming law schools into "anti-communist" or "anti-capitalist" institutions would.   Law schools exist to train lawyers and produce knowledge about the law, not to promote extraneous social goals, even meritorious ones.)


December 7, 2020 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

October 15, 2020

The timing of this year's job market

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 15, 2020 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink

September 09, 2020

How to hire a strong scholarly faculty (and a sidenote about status anxiety)

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.

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September 9, 2020 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice, Rankings | Permalink