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 24, 2021

UIC John Marshall Law School to strike "John Marshall" from its name

Although the reason given is the historical John Marshall's racist views, I strongly suspect this will also have a positive effect on the school's peer evaluation scores in the USNEWS.COM rankings because of the  well-known halo effect of school names on scores (better to be a law school at the "University of Illinois" than a "John Marshall" law school).  (Recall the case of Loyola Law School, Los Angeles a few years back, where the loss of the brand known among law professors caused the reputation scores to plunge.)

UPDATE:  Derek Muller (Iowa) calls to my attention that the law school already got a huge boost in reputation score from the initial name change; we'll see if this new one has a further effect.

May 24, 2021 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

May 17, 2021

Entry-level hiring report: today is the last day to submit information...

April 21, 2021

Corporate Practice Commentator's 10 Best Articles of 2020

This and prior lists are available at the website of Professor Robert Thompson (Georgetown).  Here are the winners for 2020 (with academic affiliations, where authors have them):

Bartlett, Robert (Berkeley); Partnoy, Frank (Berkeley). The Misuse of Tobin's q.  73 Vand. L. Rev. 353-424 (2020).

Barzuza, Michal (Virginia); Curtis, Quinn (Virginia); Webber David H. (Boston University). Shareholder Value(s): Index Fund ESG Activism and the New Millennial Corporate Governance.  93 S. Cal. L. Rev. 1243-1322 (2020).

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April 21, 2021 in Faculty News, Rankings | Permalink

April 19, 2021

Ex-Business School Dean who misreported data to US News rankings indicted for wire fraud

Wow.  Since USNews.com doesn't audit any of the self-reported data, perhaps this story will incentivize good behavior.

April 19, 2021 in Rankings | Permalink

March 30, 2021

Derek Muller (Iowa) on the US News rankings disaster this year

Professor Muller's analysis and his recommendations are worth taking seriously.   I'm far from being against rankings, as readers know; but the US News rankings use mostly garbage data, aggregate it through a meaningless and indefensible formula, and create massive incentives for dishonesty and strategic behavior, that distort educational goals and values.  As Professor Muller suggests, we need massive non-cooperation to put Bob Morse & co. out of business.

ADDENDUM:  Some examples of perverse strategic behavior to game the rankings, from law professor Jeffrey Harrison (Florida).

March 30, 2021 in Rankings | Permalink

March 29, 2021

US News seems intent on driving home the fact that the ranking formula is arbitrary and meaningless

Yesterday, they issued the third correction to the embargoed rankings (which will be released tomorrow) in the last week!   Here's the explanation:

For the overall ranking, U.S. News removed the metric for ratio of credit-bearing hours of instruction provided by law librarians to full-time equivalent law students [.25%, reducing the library weighting to 1.75%] and increased the weighting for the bar passage rate indicator [by .25%, for a new total of 2.25%]. As a result, we recalculated the rankings.

Why these one-quarter of one percent adjustments?  Who knows?  Certainly not the US News.com editors.  But here's the real kicker:  this tiny change altered the rank of 35 law schools, including 9 in the top 30!  Imagine what might have happened had they decided the bar passage indicator should be 3.5%!

Is it possible to overstate the sheer stupidity of all this?


March 29, 2021 in Rankings | Permalink

Your annual reminder that movements in the US News.com rankings are almost all meaningless

With the new nonsense numbers about to appear, it's worth reminding everyone (and especially journalists) that:  95% of movement in the US News.com "overall" rank is attributable to (1) schools puffing, fudging or lying about the self-reported data more than their peers (or the reverse, for those schools that drop); or (2) simply being more aggressive at  manipulating the metrics they can control than their peers (or the reverse, for schools that drop in the overall ranking). 

Remember that US News.com audits none of the self-reported data on job placement, expenditures, student credentials, faculty-student ratios etc..   Schools can also inflate their rank by shrinking the size of their 1L class (thus improving median credentails), and taking more transfers or LLM students, among other "tricks of the trade."

Any journalist that reports a change in US News rank as "news" without further investigation of the underlying "data" is perpetuating a fraud on the public.

ADDENDUM:  As law professor Derek Muller (Iowa) reminds me, some movement this year will be due to the new criterion US News.com added:  5% of the total score will factor in a mix of average debt (for those students with debt) and the percentage of students with debt.  To make room for this, they arbitrarily reduced the weights of some of the other factors by small amounts (e.g., expenditures, student credentials) in their arbitrarily weighted stew of factors.  This change will, of course, lead to new forms of "gaming" the rankings, which I'll write about soon.

March 29, 2021 in Rankings | Permalink

February 25, 2021

Blast from the past: on the uselessness of ranking law reviews by Google Scholar metrics

Back in 2016.

February 25, 2021 in Rankings | Permalink

February 02, 2021

Rostron & Levit update their invaluable guide to submitting to law reviews

They write:


We  just updated our charts about law journal submissions, expedites, and rankings from different sources for the Spring 2021 submission season covering the 199 main journals of each law school.   

We have created hyperlinks for each law review to take you directly to the law review’s submissions page. Again the chart includes as much information as possible about what law reviews are not accepting submissions right now and what months they say they’ll resume accepting submissions.

Washington and Lee has changed its methodology on law review statistics.  Now Washington and Lee only ranks the top 400 law review (many of which are specialty journals, online supplements, etc.), so not all flagship journals are now ranked by them.  But we put in the data for those that are ranked.  [BL comment:  the W&L data is junk, ignore it]

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February 2, 2021 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink