Wednesday, October 28, 2009
A Thread for Aspiring Prawfs and Current Prawfs.
I've received a few requests by aspiring prawfs asking for a thread that's not related to the AALS meat market and the timing of callbacks, etc. This can be a thread in which candidates could ask questions about the conference, interviews, clothing protocol, questions to ask/not to ask, etc. and professors or previous attendees of the market could respond with feedback. In general, it'll just be a place where candidates could go to get their random questions answered.
Feel free to raise somewhat random questions or share information, anonymously or otherwise. Just bear in mind that, pursuant to our general policy, we ask you to be decent persons in your comments; stuff that crosses a line of what I consider inappropriate might get deleted. Enjoy.
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I agree with the "face pressed against the window" analogy. If anyone recalls the great film, "Trading Places," there's a very similar scene during which newly-poor Winthorpe peers through the window of a posh dinner party while standing outside on a cold winter's night. Valentine is living it up, and people are literally eating, drinking, and being merry. Does Valentine even notice Winthorpe, even though he was once in his shoes but for a twist of fate? Of course not. So, for all of these seasoned profs who have gone through this process, how is it possible not to remember? Why not behave differently? A little communication goes a long way. Pick up the phone, send an e-mail, send a letter by postal mail -- remember, these are your future colleagues, and there are only about 30 names, at this point. We're not talking about 1,000 candidates, so there's much less of an excuse for the silence. Although no one wants to be rejected, being in limbo is a real strain.
Posted by: Gidget | Nov 17, 2009 6:21:47 PM
Right on, gidget! It is not so hard to send a kindly email, even one with very little information.
Posted by: anon | Nov 17, 2009 7:19:33 PM
I recently completed a callback at a school I am very interested in. What is the etiquette on sending the faculty host and/or hiring chair a thank-you email? I don't want to appear over-eager (I'm having a hard time understanding when/if I should segue from "sell" to "buy" mode), but I do want to make it clear that I would accept an offer from this school if I was given one.
Posted by: anon | Nov 22, 2009 2:48:04 PM
I'm thinking about getting a PhD in history. How much will this help? Also, I plan to go on the market when I'm "All But Dissertation" is this fine?
Posted by: phd | Dec 1, 2009 2:16:40 PM
If we haven't heard a word from a school since the conference, but thought the interview went well, is it poor etiquette to send them an E-mail you expressing continuing interest?
Posted by: AnonHuman | Dec 2, 2009 6:00:40 PM
I am considering taking the next 6 months or more off of work in order to devote time to writing articles with the hopes of gaining employment at the next AALS conference. Anyone have any experience with this strategy? thanks
Posted by: lookingahead | Dec 2, 2009 6:15:58 PM
I always thought the major selling point of the Ph.D., especially one in a humanities (e.g., non empirical) discipline, was that it demonstrated your ability to produce significant written scholarship. I don't really see how ABD does that. I also have two friends on the market, one ABD in a social science and one ABD in history, and there has seemed to be no positive value at all to their being ABD. (Both, btw, were ABD at very impressive schools, but both have completely abandoned their pursuit of a Ph.D. and have no dissertation pending).
If I were the hiring king, a spiffy dissertation would definitely impress me. A pending dissertation that is not quite done but shows some major chops would probably impress me. Spending years in a graduate program with no publishable dissertation imminent would concern me, and would create more questions than it answers. But, then again, I'm not a hiring king, or even a hiring peion.
I defer to those who actually know what they are talking about.
Posted by: anon knowitall candidate | Dec 2, 2009 6:19:53 PM
I'd have a significant portion of the dissertation done, in addition to other pieces of scholarship
Posted by: phd | Dec 2, 2009 7:20:09 PM
If you're thinking of the history PhD primarily as a means to end (i.e., a legal academic job), it's a pretty tortured route to take. When I finished my PhD in the late 1990s (before going to law school) "time to degree" for PhDs in the humanities was something like 9 years and rising. In addition, humanities academia and legal academia are very, very different animals, culturally speaking. Then there are the cost of living/quality of life issues: humanities grad students generally go to school full-time (if the program is a good one) and make just about enough to live on (or a little less) through fellowships and/or teaching assistantships. If you don't want the history degree for its own sake, I'd think very hard about that choice. Writing a dissertation is a long and lonely road. It's way easier to write and place a couple of strong law review articles.
Posted by: Another JD/PhD Prof | Dec 2, 2009 8:22:39 PM
Have you seen the number of people who got teaching jobs without a MA, PhD or a fellowship? It was in the single digits.
Posted by: anon | Dec 2, 2009 9:16:35 PM
My comments were pertaining to last year's data. What I meant to say is that it seems incredibly difficult to get a job as someone who doesn't have a fellowship or an advanced degree. Borderline impossible. And those "naked JD" candidates that did get jobs, some of them were previous SCOTUS clerks. You say getting a PhD is a tortured path, well for those that want to be law professors, it's also becoming an increasingly necessary one.
Posted by: anon @ 9:16 | Dec 2, 2009 9:26:06 PM
I think there are effective ways *not* to be a "naked JD" that don't involve getting a PhD. Getting a PhD, which sounds so plausible in theory, involves a level of commitment (ego, time, energy) that people who aren't already doing it or haven't already done it don't really seem to fully understand. It's not like going for another round of law school. The LLM or fellowship/VAP route strikes me as a much more reasonable, attainable goal. Lots of people who start out in PhD programs end up stalled at the ABD phase, and I agree with the poster above who said that ABD is not an impressive credential. It won't get you hired in the academic humanities, and I doubt it would get you hired in legal academia.
Posted by: Another JD/PhD Prof | Dec 2, 2009 11:38:18 PM
PhD candidates are so lazy. How hard is it to write a 180 page dissertation? I doubt it's as hard as you make it out to be.
Posted by: anon @ 9:16 | Dec 2, 2009 11:45:47 PM
Having taken the Ph.D. route into the legal teaching market, I would say that being ABD means nothing to the market. The prospective Ph.D. itself may not mean that much to the market, either, unless you are able to demonstrate how it relates to your potential career as a legal scholar and your legal research and scholarship agenda. Law faculties are looking to hire candidates with specific scholarly promise and potential which is demonstrated best by actual publication of worthwhile legal scholarship. If the Ph.D. work you are doing is connected to your future career as a legal scholar, then I think it will be a benefit in the market. If it is not, then it is, in my opinion, unlikely to be of much help.
Posted by: david case | Dec 3, 2009 9:40:28 AM
I think you're misunderstanding me. I would have a significant number of publications (3+) and have a lot of my dissertation done, but I wouldn't have the PhD already.
Also, I think you are categorically wrong if you believe that the PhD itself doesn't give you instant cache. Of course, a random PhD in history won't mean anything. But if you keep publications constant, but you give candidate A a PhD and while candidate B does not have one, candidate A will be considered the better candidate. Even if candidate B has the equivalent to a dissertation finished he will be considered a lesser candidate. Many of the top schools, including Penn, Berkeley, Northwestern hire almost exclusively candidates with PhDs. And it's not because that PhD doesn't mean anything.
Posted by: PhD | Dec 3, 2009 11:44:55 AM
I'd appreciate some thoughts about what is really negotiable once the offers are on the table. Obviously, everybody needs to make sure to get moving expenses, and get the summer research stipend and research budget to start the summer before. (I know one person who was later refused moving expenses simply because she did not demand them at the negotiation stage.)
Beyond that, what is really in play? Some candidates:
* other compensation (e.g., housing allowance, summer stipend)
* teaching package
* teaching load
* campus housing guarantee/subsidy
* size of research budget / commitment to special funding
* pretenure research leave
* spouse job
* childcare stipend and/or help with childcare placement
My sense is that the Deans will try to argue "company policy" on most of these, pretending that they are unable to customize packages for each candidate. Of course, if you have a very specific offer from another school that you are credibly weighing, that puts you in a much better position to negotiate. Whether that actually must be disclosed or simply credibly gestured towards is another question.
Posted by: anonaronaroonironibonitheponybiboninonimoni | Dec 3, 2009 11:19:44 PM
I don't think a Ph.D. will give you any instant cachet if you think the word is cache.
I will skip, for now, my canned rant about how a mediocrity with a Ph.D. is still a mediocrity.
Posted by: anon smartypants | Dec 10, 2009 7:00:08 PM
This isn't a smart comment. Looking at the market statistics, it's clear that the market gives per se value to the PhD. You are indeed correct in noting that a mediocre PhD/JD candidate won't be thought highly of. But, what have you really said? Nothing.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 1:31:06 PM
Well, to really figure out the value of a Ph.D., you would have to go more granular, as all Ph.D.s are most certainly not equal, and I'm not sure the data set is big enough for granular observations to be reliable.
Saul Levmore's Ph.D. in game theory economics from Yale? Clearly an asset, and clearly something that powered his scholarship.
Someone else's Ph.D. in American Literature or History from a not so well known state school coupled with a T3 J.D.? Completely different item.
Someone cited Northwestern as an example of a Ph.D. rich faculty. Point well taken, but look at the Ph.D.s - top Ph.D. programs at top schools, and with a bias toward the social sciences.
What does that predict for someone getting a Ph.D. in Psychological Counseling or American Studies from a no name school? Absolutely nothing, unless there's a bubble temporarily favoring Ph.D.s irrationally, which if it exists may pop before people starting in to those programs get their diploma.
And I still think if you don't know the difference between cache and cachet, you will have and should have problems.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 4:28:55 PM
Dude, your post is stupid. You're in the weeds for no damn reason.
And if you're really going to harp on the use of cache and not cachet, I think your first sentence shouldn't be so dreadfully long that it should have been made into at least two sentences. What a douchebag for no reason you are.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 5:31:40 PM
Anon at 4:28:55PM your post is really obvious. Of course the market is going to discount PhDs in unaligned fields. And of course the market is going to discount PhDs from lower ranked schools; and JDs from lower ranked schools. You've added nothing to the debate with these obvious points. If you think you have, "you will have and should have problems."
Here's what the debate is over. Candidate A and candidate B have the same exact CV. The only difference is that A has a PhD from Columbia in History and B does not. Candidate A will be thought of as the better candidate because the market values the PhD.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 5:43:06 PM
I have an unrelated question - what is the weight given to a first article in a top law journal but the content is not as spectacular? Or is the mere placement in a top law journal enough for hiring purposes? (Granted that the job talk paper (different from the previous publication) is ok)
Posted by: Chaim | Dec 11, 2009 7:29:00 PM
So which is it: "the market gives per se value to the PhD" or the market gives value to a history Ph.D. from an Ivy League university? The first is what you said until you got called out, and now suddenly we are talking about a Ph.D. in Columbia in history.
I think a Ph.D. in history from Columbia would add value in the law professor marketplace. As I expressed above, a Ph.D. "per se" from Southwest Bupkus State would not.
Here's the take away point. Here, some of us Ph.D.s, and some of us are not, but all of us are lawyers. If you were a good lawyer, which I'm suspecting maybe you are not because you need the bump of the Ph.D. to even get into the game, you would already understand that expressing yourself with precision the first time can be quite important.
Good luck. When you finally get a job, with your obvious personal charm, I bet your students and colleagues are going to just love you.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 9:32:32 PM
anon Dec 11, 2009 9:32:32 PM, you're simply not very smart, but you are very dismissive. In all of your silly posts, you highlight obvious points. Everyone knows how prestige driven academia is. But, you're right; I didn't include that "the PhD that is given per se value" would be from a top-flight University. But it's sad that you're not smart enough to comprehend that this was an obvious assumption into the debate. But you clearly didn't and for that you should apologize for wasting my time.
Moreover, not all law professors are lawyers. So this statement: "Here, some of us Ph.D.s, and some of us are not, but all of us are lawyers" is wrong. Do better. I'm sure your scholarship follows this pathetic line of thinking where you write articles highlighting obvious points in attempt to make yourself seem smart as you have done here on an anonymous messageboard. I'm guessing your scholarship sucks. If you are an actual law professor, I'm sure you could spend your time. And only because tenure is almost assured will you ever receive it. If you are not, I hope your inferior intellect shows in your interviews.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 9:55:20 PM
It's true that the points I made were obvious. It's also true that they contradicted the rather loopy arguments you were advancing.
I have to say it's a very good thing that you aren't trying to make a living actually practicing law. I think if you wrote a contract increasing the price "per se" based on a credential then wanted to argue later that it should have been obvious to anyone with a brain that you didn't mean "per se" but "of extra high quality" you might run into a few problems. It's interesting to me that you feel qualified to teach aspiring lawyers. Maybe you should consider seeking a job in a history department with that Ph.D. (should be a piece of cake, I would think, given your obvious brilliance).
If it makes you feel better (or smarter) to think that I am stupid, you just go on thinking that.
I do apologize for wasting the time of anyone who wasted precious, irreplaceable moments reading this fruitless exchange.
Have a wonderful life. I'm done.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 10:27:19 PM
You're still wasting everyone's time with your ramblings of a mediocre mind.
Anyhow, if there are others out there that have experiences with going on the market with a PhD, your stories are welcome.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 10:38:10 PM
Does anyone besides me think that anon 10:38 might be the same guy who was telling us not to write thank you notes, and that the hiring season is over? Maybe this exchange ought to be deleted as well.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 11:13:15 PM
Nope. Now can we get back to substantive discussion.
Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2009 11:35:40 PM
I do sincerely apologize for my part in this exchange. The signs were there from the beginning - the hysterical statement that without a Ph.D. you won't get hired (even though Larry Solum's compilation of 2009 hiring shows only 35 out of 150 plus new hires had Ph.D.s, less than than had J.D.s alone with no fellowship or VAP), the aggressive "you're stupid" tone, the lack of any interest in dialogue.
The guy's a troll, and I'm pretty sure it's the same troll we saw before. He got what he wanted, which is a chance to tell someone else that they were stupid and that he's really smart. I apologize for enabling him.
Posted by: anon | Dec 12, 2009 2:48:27 PM
Well, at least he got instant cache from the exchange.
Posted by: anon | Dec 12, 2009 3:24:28 PM
I'm sorry that my argument that it's becoming increasingly difficult to get a job on the teaching market without a fellowship or a PhD was really offensive to you. But that's no excuse for talking to yourself in this thread.
According to this link: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2009/03/early_returns_o_1.html about 16% of those getting jobs have neither a fellowship nor an advanced degree. I'm sure it's even more difficult to not have either and get a job at a top tier law school.
I don't actually agree with these recent developments. It seems as though schools are just adopting a new set of proxies. Before it was grades/clerkships now it's PhDs/Fellowships. Why not read the actual work? Schools don't read students work until after the interviews.
Other interesting links:
Posted by: anon | Dec 12, 2009 4:00:02 PM
One of the big things you are missing about the attraction of someone with a PhD is that it generally means publications. In fact someone who is nearly done with her dissertation may be very attractive because she can give her job talk on her PhD work and will likely have a book or several articles in the pipeline from dissertation work alone.
I am one of those PhD/JD and schools found it an asset because of my published work, soon to be published work, and the teaching experience I had as a graduate student.
Also , I have seen several successful ABD candidate. The difference in some of the discussion above is the ABD candidate that will be done in a semester versus the ABD candidate who has really abandoned their hopes of finishing the dissertation.
Posted by: anon young prof | Dec 12, 2009 11:06:53 PM
Despite the less than civil tone here, what the hell, I'll throw in my $0.02.
A discussion of Ph.D.s likely ought to be tailored to a certain area of law. What are we talking about? Not all Ph.D.s are equal.
A J.D./Ph.D. in history? Not so impressive - an historian can still publish on the law without the J.D., and a J.D. can still publish in law and history without the Ph.D., and not many teaching packages come complete with 3-4 law and history courses.
A J.D./Ph.D. in economics? More impressed, particularly if the candidate wants to teach in a related area (bankruptcy, commercial, contracts, development, etc.).
A J.D./Ph.D. in the sciences? Maybe impressed with the Ph.D. but more *likely* impressed with the quality of the post-doc experience (MIT?) and the quality of science-related publications. If an IP candidate has the requisite post-doc experience, plus sufficient and robust publications in his/her area (Nature? Science?) plus some scholarly potential in law, I'd argue that the school granting both the Ph.D. and the J.D. are *wholly* secondary to the post-doc and the publications. I'd say substantially the same thing for a J.D./D.B.A. who has been published in outstanding business journals.
Lastly, I'm somewhat disappointed at the tone that the dialogue on this thread has taken, given that some of these snarky attitudes may be (although I hope not) current or future colleagues of mine in the academy. We can do better!
Posted by: anewanon | Dec 13, 2009 5:55:57 PM
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