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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Lateral Hiring

I was saddened to learn recently that my wonderful colleague Jason Czarnezki will be moving to Vermont. My disappointment is a bit tempered, though, by the prospect that we may be adding two or three lateral hires of our own this year. Maybe it's just me, but I have a sense that the pace of lateral hiring in law schools has picked up considerably over the past four or five years. particularly of tenured or tenure-track professors with two to seven years of teaching experience. Here at Marquette, for instance, none of our eight hires from 2000 to 2004 fit this profile, but three of our five hires since then have, with more likely to come this year. This seems to fly in the face of the advice I received when I went on the teaching market eight years ago: "Better make a good choice about the first teaching job you take, because chances are that's where you will spend the rest of your academic career." (Then again, maybe that comment was just a reflection of the advisor's lack of confidence in my ability to be an effective teacher and scholar!)

If there has been a broader upswing in lateral hiring, I wonder if it has been more supply or demand driven. On the demand side, the importance of the U.S. News survey has made law schools more sensitive to their reputation within the national legal academy, and lateral hiring seems more likely to provide an immediate reputational bump than entry-level hiring. On the supply side, as a member of our Appointments Committee in the recent past, I was surprised by the number of direct contacts we had from faculty members at other law schools looking to move on. (I once even had an expression of interest from someone I was calling for a reference check for an entry-level candidate!) Perhaps the greater connectedness of the academy in the Internet age has spawned a generation of junior faculty members who feel less attached to their home institutions than previous generations and who are more motivated to make moves that will enhance opportunities or status within the national academic community. Likewise, for junior faculty members who are not entirely satisfied with their current situations (for geographical reasons or otherwise), the Internet provides opportunities to build a reputation relatively quickly, and also facilitates the sort of networking that may pave the way for lateral moves.

Posted by Michael O'Hear on December 27, 2007 at 02:51 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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» The Supply and Demand for Lateral Hiring from Law Business
Michael OHear of Marquette law school, guest blogging at Prawfs, thinks theres been an upswing in lateral hiring and speculates: If there has been a broader upswing in lateral hiring, I wonder if it has been more supply or demand driven.... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2007 4:52:35 PM

» A trend in lateralhiring? from Voir Dire
On Prawfsblawg, Michael OHear wonders about what is driving the perceived trend in more lateral hiring in law schools. I say perceived trend because I havent seen any hard evidence of it. Im pretty sure that he... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 28, 2007 9:44:46 AM

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There should be no lateral hiring in academia. If you’re not good enough to make it here, you are not good enough to make it anywhere. Those leaving after having built themselves up on the backs of a school they now find sub-standard should have their professional reputations tarred and feathered. Scumbags..all laterals are scumbags. Several Prawfs included.

Posted by: reality | Dec 28, 2007 9:54:17 AM

[cross posted on voir dire blog] I think that most would agree that this trend is found in political science as well, to one degree or another. I’m not sure if all of the lateral movement in pol sci is upward - there appears to be a lot of “sideways” movement as non-top tier departments vie over productive tenured (and almost tenured) faculty. Given that I know that most people don’t like going on the market and generally don’t like the transaction costs of moving, I am left to wonder if the internal compensation mechanisms and incentive structures of academic institutions don’t play some role in the lateral movement trend. Could it be that the market compensation level for academics is becoming more transparent and national in scope? It seems that (at least) three forces are clearly at work: (a) schools are willing to pay a premium for lateral candidates; (b) home institutions are sometimes willing to make counter offers; (c) faculty are actually willing to move if they do not.

What are the implications of these trends? Is it becoming a winner take all market? Will institutions have to adjust to keep up in this marketplace?

Posted by: Jeff Yates | Dec 28, 2007 9:54:25 AM

[cross posted on voir dire blog] I think that most would agree that this trend is found in political science as well, to one degree or another. I’m not sure if all of the lateral movement in pol sci is upward - there appears to be a lot of “sideways” movement as non-top tier departments vie over productive tenured (and almost tenured) faculty. Given that I know that most people don’t like going on the market and generally don’t like the transaction costs of moving, I am left to wonder if the internal compensation mechanisms and incentive structures of academic institutions don’t play some role in the lateral movement trend. Could it be that the market compensation level for academics is becoming more transparent and national in scope? It seems that (at least) three forces are clearly at work: (a) schools are willing to pay a premium for lateral candidates; (b) home institutions are sometimes willing to make counter offers; (c) faculty are actually willing to move if they do not.

What are the implications of these trends? Is it becoming a winner take all market? Will institutions have to adjust to keep up in this marketplace?

Posted by: Jeff Yates | Dec 28, 2007 9:59:32 AM

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