Friday, February 17, 2012
A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2011-2012
NB: Bounced to the front.
The 2011-2012 law school hiring market has begun. Time for the while-the-market-is-happening information-gathering posts.
In this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market (anonymously if you wish, assuming the questions are not especially offensive or otherwise improper), and prawfs or others can weigh in, also anonymously if they choose. Dan Markel will keep an eye on things and delete misinformation and anything else he finds out of bounds.
In the distinct but related post, candidates or prawfs can report on callbacks, offers, and acceptances. That thread should be used only for information relevant to hiring, not for questions or comments on the process. This is the thread for questions.
Update: The most recent comments are here.
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For those of you who feel that you're having a harder time breaking into the academy because your J.D. didn't come from an elite law school, you should read the following: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2007934
Posted by: Anon | Feb 19, 2012 1:31:46 PM
Questions for the current profs: How far in advance of your start date for your first year of teaching did you start actively preparing to teach your courses? Did you find that it was enough time? It would also be helpful for this purpose to know whether you were working at a firm or other non-academic job before you switched to teaching, or whether you were in a fellowship/VAP position that ended at the end of the school year. Thanks!
Posted by: Dream On | Feb 16, 2012 6:00:53 PM
The rejection letter I would have liked to receive: "Welcome to Dumpsville, population You."
Posted by: Doh | Jan 27, 2012 6:39:55 PM
an interesting line over at the Faculty Lounge...
Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Jan 27, 2012 1:03:20 PM
FWIW, I find that Google is the best way to find specific, older threads on this blog.
Posted by: anon | Jan 27, 2012 11:45:30 AM
If someone would post a link to that thread, I would appreciate it! Thanks.
Posted by: vapapplicant | Jan 27, 2012 11:20:16 AM
There's another thread about this, but Harvard (Climenko), NYU (Lawyering), and Chicago (Bigelow) have filled some if not all of their spots.
Posted by: anon | Jan 26, 2012 5:23:41 PM
Does anyone know what programs are already done?
Posted by: vapapplicant | Jan 26, 2012 3:36:24 PM
Based on a little direct knowledge and a lot of grapevine chatter, I think the ones that haven't yet done anything are starting to now. My impression is that hiring faculty recognize that a lot of vap applicants were on the market and let some of that process wind down before really digging into applications. Good luck.
Posted by: anon | Jan 26, 2012 12:07:18 PM
Does anyone know when VAP programs and teaching fellowships generally make decisions, particularly those programs where the application deadline has passed?
Posted by: vapapplicant | Jan 26, 2012 10:56:34 AM
happily, depends on the school, but lots of folks go and it is good.
Posted by: NewPrawf | Jan 24, 2012 5:33:38 PM
What is the story with the AALS new teachers conference? Do all new hires go? Do schools encourage their new hires to go? We're still a ways out, so I'm hesitant to ask my soon-to-be employer, but I'm curious. Thank you in advance for any insights.
Posted by: happily hired | Jan 24, 2012 12:05:55 PM
VAPin 4 and AnonCandidate: The primary issue is not with sample size (although this could be a problem too) but with the failure to use a random sample. Without random sampling from a population, the descriptive statistics from your sample, e.g., percent of schools that have completed the recruiting process, can paint a wildly unreliable picture of the entire population.
Posted by: Erik | Jan 23, 2012 6:28:02 PM
Hi Hopeful, happy to help you to the extent I can. You can email me on gmail at lawprof123.
Posted by: anon | Jan 23, 2012 4:39:50 PM
Hopeful . . . I am happy to do talk to you about this. I sucessfully navigated the market last year (although I am at a Tier 4 school if you care). My private email is [email protected]
Posted by: NewPrawf | Jan 23, 2012 1:53:58 PM
Would any professors be willing to give me some insight on my personal chances of ever landing a teaching job? I've spoken extensively with professors at the law school that I graduated from, but I'd like an outsiders perspective. If anyone is willing to help, please let me know and I'll e-mail you my stats and specific questions. Thanks!
Posted by: hopefulprofessor | Jan 23, 2012 12:40:17 PM
AnonCandidate - I'm not at all surprised by your statement that at least 4 of the top 10 schools are still in process. Everyone knows that schools ranked high (especially top 20) can and do drag things later into the spring. That's not at all indicative, though, of where the rest of the legal academy is in the process.
Also, I am not sure why a sample size of 20-30 law schools isn't statistically significant. There aren't but 200 law schools and only about half of them hire in any given year. So I would think 1/4 of the schools hiring is pretty statistically significant and bears extrapolation.
Posted by: VAPin 4 the Market | Jan 23, 2012 11:56:48 AM
I know of at least 4 top 10 schools that are definitely NOT done with their hiring. I think you're using small sample sizes to make a broader statement.
Maybe too late to be helpful, but I would push back hard on exploding offers. I was in a similar situation with a few schools, and after much handwringing, I decided to turn down my exploding offers. Much to my surprise, those schools backed down big time, and not only rescinded the exploding aspect of the offer, but also gave me an indefinite timeframe to decide.
I would not necessarily recommend turning down exploding offers, but I do think my experience illustrates the extent to which you can negotiate with these schools (seems very much like a prisoners dilemma, and schools giving exploding offers are the bad actors).
Posted by: AnonCandidate | Jan 23, 2012 9:45:18 AM
VAPin 4 the Market,
I can't tell you what the statistics are, and no one knows them because most committees keep matters confidential even from their own faculties and certainly from outside schools.
But I can tell you as a current appointments committee member that we aren't done. In fact, for reasons I won't go into here it's not even clear how much more work we have ahead of us. But I can tell you this much, we have tendered an offer and are considering whether to proceed with more.
Each school is unique with elaborate issues to take into account that are specific to the faculty, school, and administration. Sometimes universities make unexpected lines available and the committee must scramble, on the other end of the spectrum sometimes universities deny promised money because of budgetary concerns. There are many unknown contingencies like character and fitness references who provide unexpected information.
I suppose what I would say is that those who have not gotten offers or even a callback interview have a diminished chance of getting them at this point, but it certainly isn't impossible and, in fact some will be successful. So for those who are waiting, I'd recommend contacting committee chairs of schools you haven't heard from and try to figure out your status there.
Posted by: AnonProf | Jan 22, 2012 10:05:11 PM
I received and accepted an offer for a tenure track position. Is it official now? I heard it can take months before the offer letter actually comes, is it only for sure once you've signed the offer letter?
Posted by: Anon | Jan 22, 2012 5:13:03 PM
Hmmmm, as someone who just went through the process and had many interviews and callbacks - at schools ranging from top 25 to the 4th tier - I question if the process is still as ongoing as Jessica indicates. E.g., of the 8 places I received callbacks, nearly all of them are completely done with their processes. Similarly, everyone I know who was on the market this year has either accepted a job offer or found out this year is not going to work for them (I'm talking tenure-track wise - they could still get an informal, VAP offer).
I am sure Jessica is right that some schools will not be through for a few more months. That said, I find it hard to believe that most are not done with their processes (or nearly done). Difficult to quantify, fellow, but my sense is that things are certainly on the "wrapping up" side. Maybe 80% done?
Posted by: VAPin 4 the Market | Jan 22, 2012 4:24:14 PM
Thanks Jessica, that makes sense. Any sense of how long the process will go out, or when most schools will be done?
Posted by: fellow | Jan 22, 2012 10:32:57 AM
Different schools are at different points in their processes. Some schools are done: they have hired the entry-level candidates they plan to hire this year. Some schools are still having entry-level callbacks; some of those have not yet had the majority of their entry-level callbacks; a small number are just starting to figure out who they will be interviewing. The drivers of this include the calendars of the school (some schools start late because their quarter or trimester system works differently from the more typical semester system); how many lateral candidates the school is considering along with any entry level candidates; and how many steps a hiring committee goes through before deciding to call a candidate back (some hiring committees will not only read all of a candidate's work, but will also ask colleagues in the field who aren't on the committee to give at least a couple of pieces a critical read before deciding whether to invite the candidate to visit the school. This can take time.)
Posted by: Jessica Litman | Jan 22, 2012 10:12:10 AM
As a fellow who isn't yet going through this process, I'm curious as an outside observer to know where we are in the process. Have most schools made offers / finalized their hiring for the year? Or will that be going on for months yet?
Posted by: fellow | Jan 22, 2012 9:41:28 AM
Disgruntled -- no one can answer the "when do you throw in the towel" question for you. Everybody's circumstances are different and everybody's odds will calculate differently (to the extent such things can actually be calculated). I was in the FAR/meat market process 4 different years (not consecutive years) -- got modest to no attention the first two times, landed a VAP gig after the 3rd run, a tenure track gig after the 4th. I've been a prof 11 years now. Many people have to stay with it for a few to several years in order to break through. Some are stubborn enough to do that and it works out and for some it doesn't. Some aren't stubborn enough to stay with it after an initial disappointing experience or two. I'd like to tell you to stay positive and not give up, but that would be sentimental nonsense coming from anyone who doesn't know your circumstances or has a sense of your relative odds of success. But, I kind of agree with anon at 10:15:53. If you received callback interviews, you are a legitimate candidate. There would seem to be evidence supporting a decision to continue to try.
Posted by: David Case | Jan 20, 2012 2:10:20 PM
Disgruntled, I completely understand your irritation about not being told you are out of the running. Once a candidate is no longer in consideration, he/she should be told. Period. But to put your situation in perspective and turn to the emotions behind your question, fwiw it seems to me you are not a "no chance ever" candidate if you got a callback this year. You must have good credentials, at least one good piece of scholarship, and decent interviewing skills to have gotten that far - many, many people get no interviews, and many more get no callbacks. It's really a personal decision for you though what steps you're willing to take to keep trying. (e.g. contacting the schools that are just starting up; pursuing a 1-2 year visiting position; doing AALS again...).
Posted by: anon | Jan 20, 2012 10:15:53 AM
A comment and a question.
First, a comment to hiring committees: really, it doesn't take much to pick up the phone or even email candidates, especially those who you brought to campus for a callback, and let them know that your process is over. Have some appreciation for the fact that people's livelihoods hang in the balance, and it's just plain rude to fail to keep your second and/or third place candidates informed. This process is hard enough without being kept in the dark and treated disrespectfully. It's ridiculous for candidates to have to self-discover that they are no longer under consideration for a particular position.
And now for a question: how many times have prawfs gone on the market? Stated otherwise, when do you throw in the towel and realize this isn't going to happen for you?
Posted by: disgruntled | Jan 20, 2012 1:30:14 AM
Does anyone know if Widener has made offers (or extended callback invitations) for the health law position?
Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Jan 11, 2012 4:12:22 PM
Five interviews plus one VAP interview, 2 callbacks, 2 offers.
Posted by: Anon | Jan 6, 2012 9:33:24 PM
hopefulprofessor: texas tech is seeking visitors for 2012-13 (see https://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/01/texas-tech-university-school-of-law-seeks-visitors.html)
Posted by: sugar huddle | Jan 4, 2012 11:01:25 PM
does anyone know of any VAP or fellowship programs other than the ones listed on the TaxProf blog?
Posted by: hopefulprofessor | Jan 4, 2012 4:26:12 PM
Agreed. Given that many committees have 5+ members, if they divided up the rejects, surely it would only take a few minutes of their previous time to let people know.
Posted by: Another annoyed anon | Jan 3, 2012 5:23:50 PM
I agree with Annoyed Anon completely. At one school, I took vacation time from work do my callback, spent 2 full days traveling there and back due to the remote location, and interviewed for over 14 hours on my callback day, and then the chair of the committee didn't even have the respect to email me to tell me that they gave the offer to someone else. Instead, I found out through the school's website that the position had been filled. If the chair had the time to prepare a news announcement for the website about the new hire, she also had the time to prepare a 2-line email or brief letter informing me (and the other 3 or 4 candidates who did callbacks) that the position had been filled. What happened to basic respect and etiquette? Committees really should not treat their future colleagues so poorly, as such conduct reflects really badly on the faculty and burns bridges that could prove useful in the future once those jilted candidates become professors at other schools. In all my years of law practice and all my job searches, I have never been treated so disrespectfully by a prospective employer or an adversary. All the other schools I have interviewed with have been lovely, however, so I know it's only a minority of schools that behave this way. Still, it stinks.
Posted by: anon | Jan 3, 2012 3:59:22 PM
I just wanted to vent...
There has been much discussion on this blog about faculty members communicating with applicants (including a naughty list over at the Faculty Lounge). I can certainly accept some level of non-communication (i.e. because schools have very few clear no's and are waiting to hear back from their first round picks). However, it is extremely obnoxious when a school that you interviewed with or, worse, had a callback with, has made an offer that was accepted to someone else in your subject area. You should not have to find out that you have been implicitly rejected through a blog or via the grapevine. Committees need to treat interviewees not as desperate people looking for jobs, but as their future colleagues.
Posted by: Annoyed Anon | Jan 3, 2012 1:53:55 PM
8 interview offers (1 declined), 3 callbacks, 1 ding post-callback, still waiting on offers...
Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Jan 3, 2012 1:49:00 PM
Same as anon.
Posted by: patient | Dec 29, 2011 2:38:15 PM
Since it seems like the AALS super-stars are doing most of the number postings, I thought I would throw in my stats: 5 interviews, 1 callback, 1 offer. Good luck to anyone who is still waiting!
Posted by: anon | Dec 29, 2011 1:12:04 PM
24 interview offers (2 declined); 8 callback offers (1 declined); 2 offers (I withdrew from several places where I did callbacks and am still waiting to hear from a couple); 0 accepted yet. Thus far, I too appear to be tracking with the rule-of-thumb ratios (3:1 interview-callbacks & 3:1 callback-offers). Though, actually, I think those rules of thumb may be too generous. I think 4:1 interview-callbacks and 3:1 callback-offers is probably more accurate for most candidates I know on the market. YMMV.
Posted by: Herbert | Dec 28, 2011 5:47:16 PM
Having been through this process twice, once getting a few interviews and no callbacks, then getting a lot of interviews, few callbacks, and no offers on the second go-around, I think the latter is more demoralizing, even if it means I'm not totally delusional for trying this path.
Posted by: An0n | Dec 28, 2011 3:17:33 PM
20 interviews (2 outside of AALS); 9 callback offers (2 of which were declined after offer from top choice); four solid offers; two almost-offers (passed faculty vote but waiting for university approval before my application withdrawal); one rejection after callback.
Posted by: anon | Dec 27, 2011 7:07:23 PM
Thanks Jessica. Also: oof. It might be easy for them to be philosophical; it's not easy for me to be philosophical about the risk of losing a huge early boost to my career thanks to strategic behavior on the part of others. This market is brutal.
Posted by: Tank Boy | Dec 27, 2011 3:08:20 PM
Tank Boy, I'd seek guidance from the chair of the committee at the more desirable school. Tell him or her that you have an exploding offer at (name the school) that expires on (name the date). Most chairs will either congratulate you on your good fortune to have an offer from so fine a school, or will ask you whether you can negotiate an extension until (later date certain). Many (but not all) schools will be willing to extend an exploding offer for a week or two if you ask nicely, explain what school you are still waiting to hear from, and give a final date by which you'll have a firm answer. I think there's no point in nagging once you've explained your situation. Hiring chairs may not be able to give you expedited consideration in time to beat your exploding offer. Faculties have processes, and some of them are slower than others. The school I teach at, for example, requires a written report distributed to the voting faculty some days in advance followed by two faculty meetings in order to vote a tenure-track offer. As a practical matter, that means we can't often respond to exploding offers. If a hiring chair indicates to you that it isn't feasible to consider you soon enough to meet your deadline, I would take that as a firm "no." (A number of top tier schools may figure that if they miss out on you in this round, they can always take another look in a few years after you've published more stuff. So they may be philosophical about losing you to a school a little lower on the totem pole.) Similarly, schools that make exploding offers may have other candidates in the queue to whom they've promised an answer by a specific date, so they can't easily extend your deadline.
Posted by: Jessica Litman | Dec 26, 2011 10:00:03 PM
(Also, how much nagging is ok/useful with the places one is trying to speed up?)
Posted by: Tank Boy | Dec 26, 2011 7:52:06 PM
General question: what do you do about exploding offers from good-enough schools when more desirable schools are dragging their feet? Already done the call-'em-up and ask for expedited action thing, but it's not clear that expedited action is possible. Are exploding offer dates negotiable? Is it ok to explicitly say "I'd like to drag this out another week or two because I'm trying to convince a higher-ranked school to get moving?"
Posted by: Tank Boy | Dec 26, 2011 7:43:31 PM
Tired, I'm not sure why many faculty at your school have suggested you not get in touch with hiring committees unless you have an offer in hand, but the fact is that everything is by now shut down until January anyway. If there's a VAP you're interested in, by all means, put together an application. Or, spend the next two weeks working on your current paper. But unless a letter was snail mailed to you yesterday, you shouldn't expect to hear anything more from anyone until the end of the second week in January. At that point, I think you might consider getting in touch with your two outstanding schools for an update on your status, or picking a few of the schools with whom you interviewed and have neither been called back nor rejected to email the hiring committee expressing your continued interest. (Some candidates will schedule January callbacks and then cancel them when they receive a job offer. Some schools will therefore develop interest in inviting candidates whom they have held in reserve. If you haven't been in touch at all, though, those schools may not realize that you are still available.)
Posted by: Jessica Litman | Dec 23, 2011 10:12:16 AM
If you've heard NOTHING from schools, odds are you aren't going to be getting positive news. I'd start applying to VAPS/Fellowships.
Posted by: AnonLawProf | Dec 23, 2011 12:09:22 AM
Does anyone have any advice for people still waiting to hear from schools? Should we apply for some vaps/fellowships that have January deadline? Or do most people usually get picked up in January or February after the first round of offers goes out?
Posted by: Tired of this Process | Dec 22, 2011 9:22:34 PM
9 interviews; 3 callbacks (one declined); 2 offers; 1 acceptance (and not of the highest ranking offer); For those of you for whom it is not all about rank, you might consider what I did: Do I like these people? Do I want to serve on committees with these people? Does a spirit of generosity pervade this place? Is there a hermeneutic of good will apparent among these people? Do those reverse reference checks with care, friends. You will learn a great deal if you dig.
Thank you for what you have given me. And good luck.
Posted by: anon | Dec 22, 2011 7:15:22 PM
are there any threads about choosing between schools? high ranked vs. low ranked (i don't completely buy in to that), quality of life factors, institutional fit, etc. i feel like the start as high as you can advice is not necessarily the best for me.
Posted by: anon | Dec 22, 2011 1:59:24 PM
14 interviews; 5 callbacks (of which I declined 2 ); 3 offers (all the schools where I had callbacks); accepted 1; 4 dings post AALS; 6 schools I have never heard from post AALS (not that I care). This blog has been absolutely terrific. Thank you all for helping me through the process.
Posted by: No Longer InProcess | Dec 22, 2011 1:29:09 PM
Tired - interested in your post because I also had 15 interviews and 5 call backs. Our situation supports the 1 call back for every 3 AALS interviews rule of thumb. Time will tell whether the 1 offer for every 3 call backs theory also proves true. I've heard nothing and am also just sitting tight. I'm past the anxiety phase that peaked when friends advised of offers, along with related dilemmas (accept a less than ideal location or face this process again next year, etc.).
Posted by: anon | Dec 21, 2011 6:52:45 PM
Hang in there, Tired, and good luck!
Posted by: anon | Dec 21, 2011 6:07:38 PM
This blog is so helpful! Just wanted to weigh-in on some of it since I just discovered it today! I had 15 interviews at AALS, 5 callbacks, and have received 3 rejections (one letter, one email, one phone call) and no offers. Ironically enough, the two schools that I am waiting on happen to the be the first and last schools where I did my job talk and one of them is my top choice. I have been told by many faculty at my law school not to contact the committee unless its from a position of power (i.e. another offer in hand) so I guess I'm going to be sitting tight and praying that the silence from my last 2 schools turns into an offer (or two) in January.
Posted by: Tired of this Process | Dec 21, 2011 4:05:19 PM
I'm a member of a committee. We have two offers out and two additional people whom the faculty placed in a waiting pattern. I wouldn't call the people who are waiting "second-string", they are every bit as much superstars as the people who got the first offers. But based on a variety of factors they came in third and fourth. The chair of our committee has informed the third and fourth people in line. But things are even more complicated. We are attempting to get very top notch candidates with several offers elsewhere, so there is a remote possibility that we will come up dry with this entire group and will need to dip back into our AALS pool to see if any of the other candidates we liked from Faculty Recruitment Conference are still available. The people in the last group have no idea they're even being considered, and it simply makes no sense to contact them and get their hopes up over something that might lead nowhere. On the other hand, it also makes no sense to write them and tell them they are out of the game when there is an off chance we will still contact them.
Posted by: AnonProf | Dec 20, 2011 11:08:14 PM
Thanks, AnonLawProf - has your faculty notified the second-string folks that first-round offers have gone out?
Posted by: anon | Dec 20, 2011 9:35:53 PM
Here's what's happening at my school. We've made first round offers and hoping those folks get back to us ASAP. We have some folks, who despite being voted second-string, we are super excited about (in fact, for many of the faculty those folks were first pick) and hope to hear back in time to go to them with an offer should we have time. If second person says no, we go to third, etc.
It doesn't quite compare to what applicants are experiencing but this is a stressful time for us too -- if first choice says no too late in the game, we're left with an empty pool.
Posted by: AnonLawProf | Dec 20, 2011 8:50:10 PM
Thanks for commiserating, everyone! :)
Posted by: [email protected]:59 | Dec 20, 2011 8:18:17 PM
[email protected]:59 - another benign possibility is that the school was unable to schedule job talks with all candidates before the break and are waiting until they finish seeing everyone in January before making decisions. I know two people who are in this sort of holding pattern.
Posted by: anon | Dec 20, 2011 7:01:02 PM
I can speak to the "second-string" experience -- I know for sure that I'm in that position with one school. They've made an offer to another candidate but still view my candidacy highly and want to keep me in the pool. I'm considering silence from another school to mean the same thing at this point.
Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Dec 20, 2011 6:45:15 PM
Some faculty do indeed defer till after the holidays. It's perfectly normal to talk to the chair and ask what the timing is. Silence post job-talk is, as far as I can tell, no reason to cry. Several possibilities, just from what I've seen this year:
- rejection that they haven't bothered to tell you about. Honestly seems fairly unlikely from where I stand -- as far as I can tell from myself and friends/gossip, schools tend to be decent about letting you know if you're out on the post-job-talk stage. There aren't that many candidates who make it to callbacks at a given place, and they've spent an extended period of time with you & see you as an actual human worthy of respect.
- second-string, holding you in reserve in case people to whom they've made offers turn them down. No direct experience with this, or even indirect experience (i.e., none of my co-conspirators report being told they're in this situation; schools may just not say)... anyone want to speak to this?
- slightly related: being held pending the resolution of lateral offers that happened even prior to the AALS process -- which seems common.
- controversy, some people like you, but others are more skeptical, and those who like you are trying to persuade the skeptics. Seems more common than I expected going into this.
- the school is just self-consciously slow. I was told by one chair that they're very unlikely to make decisions prior to the holiday break, just because they never do.
Only the first of those, obviously, is DOOM, so no reason to stress before talking to the chair.
Posted by: Foxey McFoxilicious | Dec 20, 2011 5:44:43 PM