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Monday, August 18, 2008

The F.A.R. is here

There are, the good folks at AALS tell me, 592 registrants in the first distribution of the 2008-09 Faculty Appointments Register.  I'm curious:  what do people with more experience than I have in the appointments-trenches think of the F.A.R. form?  I'd also welcome thoughts from those who have filled it out recently . . . what are its weaknesses (if any)?  What relevant information (if any) do they fail to solicit or present?

Posted by Rick Garnett on August 18, 2008 at 07:30 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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One weakness is that the space limits are very tight. I guess that's necessary, but at the same time, when it's impossible to put both the full name and the full citation of your article in the space given, it's not that reasonable. Similarly, it would be good to be able to give the citation _and_ a web address, rather than either/or. Sometimes the categories for information were too narrow, making it hard to know what to call some item or bit of experience. The amount of information you can list in some categories is very limited. (I've taught a lot more classes than would fit in the space given, for example.) Some of this is made up for by the fact that you can attach a CV, but that's only true if people bother to look at the CV and I don't know if they do or not. I understand the reasoning behind having a short form, but it's pretty limited in what it can convey, I think, and was annoying for that reason.

Posted by: Matt | Aug 18, 2008 8:49:39 PM

My biggest complaint about the structure of the FAR form is the way that publications, which everyone seems to agree are one of the most -- if not the most -- important qualifications a candidate can have, are stuck way down at the bottom of the form, wedged inconspicuously between employment and bar admissions (why there?). They ought to be given a more prominent position. I guess the folks reviewing the forms know where to look, but it seems to me that their eyes naturally gravitate to the top of the form, with all of that space devoted to educational pedigree and teaching experience/interest.

Posted by: On the market | Aug 19, 2008 7:12:57 AM

With the online format you can only list teaching preferences if the class you want to teach is a category. Most classes are in the database, but there are some bizarre omissions. For instance, "employment discrimination" and "employee benefits" are options, even "workmen's comp.," but not good ol' "employment law" which many schools, of course, teach. There is a comments section under the teaching preferences, but I don't know if statements made in that section come up on a search.

I'd be curious to hear from people in hiring committees how the search features help/hurt reviewing the FARs.

Posted by: Also on the market | Aug 19, 2008 9:54:49 AM

After two years on the market and now in my fourth year on my school's hiring committee what frustrates me about the FAR Form is the lack of guidance to candidates. I understand the hesitation of AALS to give advice on filling out the form and some of the failings are clearly the fault of the candidate (not including the citation on an article, dropping dates in teaching experience, not using the text boxes to clarify conflicting dates, etc.), but the current system assumes all candidates are receiving the same (good) advice when filling out their forms.

For example, I was given the advice (which I now believe to be poor advice) to list my more esoteric topics higher in preference and put bread and butter courses in the second and third tier. But I have since sat through many meetings where colleagues at my institution and others say, "X seems to only really want to teach National Security Law [or Comparative Con Law or IP Litigation] and we need a Property person." Also, the lack of guidance on what constitutes "teaching experience" results in some candidates listing their time as a TA in their 2L year and others neglecting to mention adjunct work while employed elsewhere.

AALS could at least provide some "Committees expect ... of your entries in this section" guidance (And make sure we committee members are also informed of this.) Plus, the "Committees expect..." language might encourage discussion of what Committees actually do expect of the FAR form.

The form is most helpful if is allows an initial apples to apples comparison of candidates; it could do that much better I believe.

Posted by: E.C.Christiansen | Aug 19, 2008 11:26:19 AM

I was kind of surprised that the form gives no way to discuss a work in progress short of the miscellaneous field...I'd think that would be one of the most important pieces of information. Likewise, there's no good place to discuss research interests outside of that field. And yeah, much of the placement of fields under the various tabs was essentially random.

Posted by: Yet Another On the Market | Aug 19, 2008 10:17:29 PM

If one has not submitted his FAR in the first batch, has he pretty much missed the boat?

Posted by: Still Yet Another On the Market | Aug 20, 2008 12:20:51 AM

I too was disappointed that the FAR form does not provide space for describing current works in progress. Although a candidate could note their current work in progress in the miscellaneous comment field, but the tight space limit makes it very difficult to provide an adequate description of such work.

AALS permits a candidate to list only those publications that have been published or accepted for publication. This means a candidate that has submitted an article to law reviews in July/August cannot list the article on the FAR form. I think there is big difference between a completed manuscript and work in progress, and that law schools would want to know about works recently submitted to law reviews.

Some of the classes listed under teaching preference overlap or could fall under a broader category, as noted by a prior poster. For example, the FAR form distinguishes between “health law” and “law and medicine” even though the two categories substantially overlap. Because some schools will search under “health law” and others under “law and medicine,” a candidate interested in health law must list both. Consequently, for candidates with three primary teaching interests, one of which is “health law,” they must list the third teaching interest under secondary interests.

Posted by: Anon on the market | Aug 20, 2008 5:02:22 PM

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