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Friday, July 07, 2006

Session on How to Get a Teaching Job - Live Blogging LSA

In a roundtable organized by the conditions of work committee, two junior law faculty and two junior social sciences (sociology/political sci/criminology) talked about their experiences on the job market.

Vanessa Barker (Univ of Florida; Criminology/Sociology) talked about going on the market ABD, the challenge of needing to complete a dissertation, to publish, all while having to engage faculties in a social setting. Barker however stressed that there might be a point in which a graduate student feels she has done enough research, has a strong research agenda, and is ready to become part of a faculty. Even though that person has not published much, they are able to convey that they are ready to make the transition from student to professor, and will not  remain “needy grad students” as colleagues.

Kay Levine (Emory; Law) stressed that for law schools, it is absolutely crucial to submit the FAR application on the first round (August). She also emphasized the importance of supporters that will communicate directly with faculty members while the candidate is on the job market, as a way to get a committees attention when the FAR channel is so inflated. Levine also stressed the significance of a research agenda in law schools—committees fear a “one trick pony”.

Rose Corrigan (CUNY; Poli/Sci) talked about the experience of being on several job markets—several different fields and the need to develop different sets of materials for each type of department. Corrigan suggested that at the fly out stage, what separates a strong candidate from a weaker one is not how smart they are (“we are all very smart”), but how social and interesting they are. Be prepared to show that you can talk about a range of research and non-research issues during dinner.

Orly Lobel suggested the importance for a candidate to recognize her own preferences in the job search. Using the dating metaphor, Lobel argued that just schools are searching for a new colleague, so are is the candidate looking for a new intellectual, social and geographical home. Rather than being a passive “piece of meat”, suggested by the name “meat market”, it is empowering to have an understanding of what one is looking for in joining a faculty – preferences about faculty dynamics, size of the junior faculty, available teaching packages, particular research strengths and programs at each law school and the existence of strong faculties and research institutes at the university at large. While entry-level candidates are deemed unsophisticated about rankings and are expected to simply follow U.S. news, it is increasingly advisable for candidates to find their own agency in the process by developing a more complex idea of rankings and by positively signaling their preferences to those faculties that they find particularly attractive. We all agreed that the job market should also be considered for its long term benefits of forming collegial connections around the country, and not only its immediate one-shot results. It is a wonderful career, and we are lucky to be part of the academic endeavor!

Posted by Orly Lobel on July 7, 2006 at 05:05 PM in Orly Lobel | Permalink

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Re the law market (FAR, FRC, Meat Market, etc) I would be interested in hearing some more opinions on the usefulness of having faculty references contacting search committee members before any FRC interviews have been set. Is this something that search committee's seriously consider, or is it just an annoyance to them? If it is desired, then is it most appropriate to send a full letter, short email, or make a phone call?

Posted by: anon_far | Jul 8, 2006 9:30:51 AM

the consensus on the panel was that faculty advisors should indeed contact other schools directly even before FAR in order to alert them about the promising candidate. there was no consensus on the medium - i think phone call is the most effective, others spoke about full fledged letters.

Posted by: Orly Lobel | Jul 8, 2006 2:09:52 PM

Thanks, that's helpful to know.

Posted by: anon | Jul 8, 2006 4:17:51 PM

Was anything said about how many publications to have before entering the market, or (perhaps as important) before applying to prof-preping VAPs and fellowships? I've heard that 3 post-graduation articles are good to have because there are 3 spaces on the FAR form. I haven't heard, however, what VAP/fellowship positions (such as the Bigelow fellowship at the U of Chicago) expect.

Posted by: Wanabe Lawprof | Jul 11, 2006 2:17:42 PM

I doubt that the VAP/bigelow/climenko programs require finished pubs at the time of application, but they probably help, and at the very least you want to have a developed research agenda that suggests you have some discrete areas of inquiry that you're exploring, with a strong thesis to boot. Those programs are designed to help people get off the ground in terms of their writing. But with each of these programs, your mileage may vary.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Jul 11, 2006 3:26:05 PM

Re. Bigelow, there's by no means a formal requirement that candidates have publications before being hired. As Dan suggests, the point of the program is to give fellows time to write. None of the four candidates we hired this past year have published post-law school pieces (nor did I when I got the job).

But it is true that applicants should have some sense of what they're interested in and what they'd like to write about, at least in a general sense. And publications, while not strictly required, would certainly always help.

Posted by: Dave | Jul 14, 2006 1:16:43 PM

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