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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

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 17, 2012 at 06:41 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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Has anyone reported yet how many forms were in the first FAR distribution?

Posted by: Wondering | Aug 16, 2011 11:33:56 AM

Someone told me there were 592 forms in the first distribution. (That someone, whose name may or may not be Dan Markel, also suggested that I include that information in the original post, which I, obviously, forgot to do.)

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Aug 16, 2011 12:14:50 PM

592, which is 70 fewer than last year's first distribution.

Posted by: Answering | Aug 16, 2011 12:15:09 PM

Fewer should make for better odds, right?

Anyway, two questions for hiring committee members:

(1) How much do you value the cover letters and application submissions outside of the AALS FAR forms? I've heard opinions ranging from "we don't really look at them" to "yes, definitely we look at them and it's a great way to be seen."

(2) What is the most important thing (or perhaps the top 3 things) a candidate can convey to you in a cover letter?


Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Aug 16, 2011 12:50:30 PM

Prawf Hopeful,
This differs for different schools. One very useful thing a letter sent outside of the FAR process can do is signal that you are strongly interested in the school. For schools outside of the top tier, or located in less desirable geographic locations, an indication that a candidate is affirmatively interested can mean the difference between inviting the candidate to interview and not. If you have ties to a geographic area that aren't apparent on the face of your FAR form, or a particular non-obvious reason for an interest in a particular school, writing directly to the school can help a lot.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 16, 2011 2:12:54 PM

Would anyone out there on the hiring committee side be willing to give an overview of what the timing for making the calls usually is? I think so much anxiety is caused by not having any idea of when the calling starts, when it peaks, when it is basically all over, etc.

Posted by: 'mous | Aug 16, 2011 5:03:01 PM

Can someone who has previously served on hiring committees share when committees typically ask to see a candidate's work in progress? By "when," I mean what stage in the interviewing process. Thanks.

Posted by: anon | Aug 16, 2011 5:19:31 PM

Jessica, or anyone else,

When is the ideal date to send separate letters/forms to law schools I'm interested in by? I'm working on my research agenda and would like to have that ready before I submit (which is taking longer bc of surge in work at my day job).

Related question: should I have my recommenders reach out to ALL the schools I'm interested in, or some subset? What's the right number here (I don't want to overwork my references, but at the same time, I do want them going to work for me, chop chop!)


Posted by: Boourns | Aug 16, 2011 5:28:59 PM

I know that there are various perspectives on the utility of target emails/target letters, but I thought I'd share a quick anecdote: Last September, when I was on the market, a solid school in a less desirable area contacted one of my references saying that they were interested in interviewing me, but "we didn't get a target letter from him."

I ultimately did not get an interview, although I don't necessarily know whether a target letter would have made the difference. Nonetheless, I think some expression of interest would have been helpful.

Posted by: andy | Aug 16, 2011 6:00:42 PM

I agree with Jessica Litman that a target letter can be useful, but only if it is truly a target letter - meaning only if the letter conveys something specific about the school or the location that distinguishes the candidate's interest in my school from interest in getting a job. As far as I've been able to tell in my several years on appointments committees, very few of the cover letters actually fall in this category. Most are simply redundant of information I can learn in the FAR, and when that is true it really just makes my job more tedious. So I would say don't send a target letter unless you really mean to convey something targeted.

As for who to have your references reach out to, I would suggest that you use that very sparingly. If it were the case that appointments committees were regularly getting calls by references reaching out, they would start not to matter very much. In fact, I'd be inclined to take that call seriously only if it was from someone I already knew, or if the call conveyed something *very* particular about interest in my school. Now, after you've been invited to interview at a school, I might soften this a little bit and suggest that affirmative support might be more worthwhile.

Posted by: Mark McKenna | Aug 16, 2011 10:57:03 PM

One more thing - on the question of when committees ask to see your work in progress, I would follow Rebecca Tushnet's advice here (see http://tushnet.blogspot.com/2011/08/entry-level-applicants-post-your-work.html). Don't count on me asking you for work in progress at all, unless you're pretty sure there's something else on your CV that will interest me enough to take the time. If you've got several publications already and are relying in the work in progress as a bonus, then maybe this advice is somewhat less important. But in general, I would suggest that you make it easy for me to find your work without having to email you. You never know what piece will pique my interest, and you want the maximum number of chances possible. (It should go without saying here, however, that you shouldn't post it if it's not in a condition you're happy about. Better to have no impression than a bad one).

Posted by: Mark McKenna | Aug 16, 2011 11:04:27 PM

I'd suggest that you send out target letters so that they'll arrive during the week immediately following Labor Day. I think that maximizes the chances that they will be read on receipt rather than filed away for later. Although some schools' hiring committees start meeting in August, others don't even get started until September, so calls to candidates in the initial batch can come in any time from the day the first distribution goes out until the end of September (and beyond -- some committees will put candidates on a provisional list until some member reads the available writing). Most schools will ask for work in progress at the time they schedule the interview, but I agree with Mark and Rebecca that it will enhance your chances of being invited to interview if at least some of your work is readily available online without asking. On your references' making calls or sending email or letters on your behalf, it will probably have the most impact if they do so just before or just after the FRC. If you have a particular reason to be interested in a narrow range of schools (because, e.g., your spouse has a job in a part of the world with only a few law schools in plausible commuting range), it makes sense to have a reference write to or call those schools in early September (but you should aim to get your letter there first).

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 17, 2011 8:53:13 AM

What are good types of questions to ask when the interviewers say "so, what questions do you have for us"? I find it especially difficult to come up with good questions for the schools I am most interested in because I know the most about them. Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by: Waiting | Aug 17, 2011 11:06:20 AM

Re: posting work in progress/job talk papers, I'm not usually "happy" about a draft until it's in-press, and often not even then. Assuming that most candidates are similarly perfectionistic, and given the whole "you only have one chance to make a good impression" truism, can anybody please comment on (1) reasonable benchmarks for assessing when a paper is (not) good enough to be posted, and (2) granting that, ideally, candidates would have a perfectly polished faux "work in progress" posted yesterday, for those hiring committees who will not ask candidates for their work, by roughly what date will it be too late to post one's work?

Thanks very much in advance!

Posted by: oy and the vey | Aug 17, 2011 12:04:11 PM

Can someone share what questions candidates can/should ask when they are called to schedule an FRC interview? In other words, what do I absolutely need to ask before I hang up the phone? Thanks!

Posted by: anon | Aug 17, 2011 2:02:37 PM

Relax for a minute and give yourself permission to be curious. If you know a lot about a school, you probably have some actual questions: "I read you have a joint degree with the biology school in vegetable rights law. What sort of jobs do those graduates tend to get?" or "I understand that parking is very tough at your school. Do faculty car-pool, or live within walking distance?" or "Does your college have a figure skating rink on campus? Can faculty use it?" For schools you don't know so much about, there are probably some generic questions you actually have that it's hard to answer without talking to actual people, like "how has the contraction in the legal jobs market affected student morale?" or "what's the best thing and the worst thing about your students?" I think if you gin up a collection of canned questions you aren't actually curious about, it may get you through the last five minutes of the interview, but it won't give you any opportunity to shine. The idea, here, is to have a conversation. Like speed-dating.

Oy and the Vey:
Faculty members of hiring committees take different approaches. Some don't read anything any candidate wrote until after the FRC, so that they can decide which candidates they take seriously before investing the time to read their work. Others will try to read at least something before deciding whether to vote in favor of interviewing the candidate at all. Probably the largest group will try to read something by every candidate actually scheduled for an interview before the FRC, but may read some work earlier if there's a particular reason or it looks especially interesting. If you have previously published work that's readily available online, then you don't need to worry about posting your work in progress before you're comfortable doing so. If your publication record is thin, or it's been several years since the most recent publication, or you want to teach in a field that's unrelated to any of your prior published work, then you may want to get your work in progress posted sooner.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 17, 2011 2:24:08 PM

Professor Litman - Thank you very much for your thoughtful and very helpful response.

Posted by: Waiting | Aug 17, 2011 2:56:16 PM

I agree with Mark: "I agree with Jessica Litman that a target letter can be useful, but only if it is truly a target letter - meaning only if the letter conveys something specific about the school or the location that distinguishes the candidate's interest in my school from interest in getting a job. As far as I've been able to tell in my several years on appointments committees, very few of the cover letters actually fall in this category." And just saying that "I'd love to live in the D.C. area" doesn't cut it, though that might work for less desirable locations.

Posted by: David Bernstein | Aug 17, 2011 8:11:39 PM

My spouse’s career requires her to be in one of few major cities. As a result, those major cities are the only ones I’m targeting. So, here’s my question. How do appointment committees take a cover letter that conveys that information: I’m applying to your school not only because of its reputation, but because my spouse’s career requires me to be in city X. Would anyone hold that against me for some reason? Am I better off not mentioning it? Could it even be a plus because it means I’m not likely to change schools anytime soon, if ever?

Posted by: Husband/law-prof-wanna-be | Aug 18, 2011 10:56:18 AM

Both my spouse and I are going on the job market. Our research areas are completely different, so we don't compete with each other. We would naturally like to find a school where we could teach together or two schools that are not geographically far from each other and allow a commute. My question is at what point should we mention this consideration to hiring committees and how (if at all)? Should it be mentioned only to schools that are relatively isolated or to schools located in major cities as well?

Posted by: anon with spouse | Aug 18, 2011 11:47:24 AM

Same question as anon with a spouse, but my academic spouse is not in law.

Posted by: dreaded two-body problem | Aug 18, 2011 11:55:17 AM

I completed a successful two body search (with a spouse who is not in law but is an academic in the humanities) a few years ago. I did not mention my spouse until the callback stage, but then I talked about my spouse when asked what he did. I was lucky - at the very first school that called me back (and seemed very interested in me) someone had mentioned my spouse to the dean. at my meeting with the dean - my last meeting of the visit - he said "so, i hear you have a spouse in the humanities. do you want to talk about that?". Frankly, I hadn't planned on talking about it all, since I'd be told not to mention it until I had an offer. But I had a good, honest conversation with the dean about it at that point, and then felt confident enough to bring it up with the deans at all the schools i went to callbacks for. In the end, we had two offers that included tenure-track positions for both me and my spouse. I think it worked out because I was upfront about what we needed, and asked early enough that the deans were able to negotiate for help placing my spouse. I was also lucky, because I have a spouse who is very qualified in his own right, and I teach in a field where it is often difficult to find people. The downside of all of this is that there were other schools who made me offers that I couldn't seriously consider, since they didn't involve a job for my spouse. Also, I couldn't negotiate for a lot at the job I ultimately took, since the major thing I was asking for was already determined. I'm not complaining! I'm just saying it's difficult to ask for ANYTHING else (reduced teaching load, more money, research leave, etc.) if you're trying to get hired with someone else. But, when it works out, it's fabulous. Also, try not to take it personally if the school isn't able to help you. As far as I can tell, some universities have programs like this in place, and some don't. If they don't, and especially if they are underfunded state school (is there any other kind?) then they just won't be able to do anything, even if they really, really want to. Good luck everyone!

Posted by: successful two body placement | Aug 18, 2011 3:15:54 PM

How much does a top 20-30 placement help a candidate, all other things being equal?

Posted by: anon | Aug 19, 2011 9:05:37 AM

For those of us skipping AALS and applying directly to one or two local schools that we now know are hiring, would you recommend the labor day timing cited above for the resume/target letter? Are we likely to get called back for 2nd-round interviews around the same time as AALS candidates or is there a danger we would need a jobtalk ready much sooner? Many thanks.

Posted by: localtalent | Aug 19, 2011 11:00:10 AM

Re: Two body searches.

I've been told that this really depends on the school. Many more in-the-middle-of-nowhere schools commonly do it because (a) there is no where else for the spouse to work, and (b) they won't get a wide swath of candidates if the spouse can't work. Schools in big cities, though, frown on spousal hires under the theory that there are six other universities in (say) Chicago, so it shouldn't be difficult to get another job somewhere.

Posted by: Aspiring prawf | Aug 19, 2011 12:17:20 PM

Localtalent. I am in the same boat (not doing AALS, applied to a few local schools). I am giving a job talk next month. I don't know if my experience is standard, but it at least indicates the possibility of an earlier job talk.

Posted by: anon | Aug 19, 2011 12:21:09 PM

Is a request for further information/materials from a hiring chair you have sent a targeted packet to generally a good sign or do some schools make such requests routinely?

Posted by: And yet another anon | Aug 19, 2011 1:05:46 PM

Some make them routinely.

Posted by: Patrick Luff | Aug 19, 2011 1:21:34 PM

Local talent:
If you aren't doing the AALS FRC, I would send your letter now, so that it gets there before the 500+ FAR forms suck up everyone's attention. I would expect that if a school is interested, it will probably want to schedule a job talk before the FRC (as anon's experience confirms). That's because scheduling job talks in the weeks between the FRC and the end of fall semester is a logistical nightmare, since candidates have scheduling constraints and faculties have their own, different, scheduling constraints.

Those of you doing two-body searches:
This one is hard. Unless you'd be comfortable with a commute, though, I would let the committee know about it in time to be able to respond. If you're both looking for law teaching jobs, that probably means either putting it on your FAR form or letting the committee know when you are invited to interview at the FRC. That way, if the committee wants to interview your spouse, it can schedule an interview at the FRC at relatively low cost. If your spouse is looking for a teaching job outside of a law school, then I think you can safely wait to raise it at your callback interviews. The university may or may not have a program that encourages units to hire the spouses and partners of new hires, but more and more universities do.

One more thing: my impression (both from having served on hiring committees in the past, and from being half of a two-law-professor couple) is that it is easier to get two jobs at the same school as an entry-level couple than as a lateral couple.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 19, 2011 1:27:07 PM

@ And yet another anon: FWIW, I've sent a fair number of target letters and mostly received the standard "thanks for your materials... don't call us, we'll call you" response. One school asked for more information. I take that as a good sign from that school.

Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Aug 19, 2011 1:55:54 PM

Professor Litman, thanks for your response. The catch here is that I've been working 24/7 at my dayjob so I don't actually *have* a jobtalk to deliver. If I need to give one within a couple of weeks rather than months, I suppose I will just have to use an older paper.

Given the choice between circulating a published paper and building off of it for a talk, and circulating a much shorter but fresher work in progress, does anyone have advice? (I was planning to hold off a year before going on the market, but just learned a school nearby is hiring in my field, so I don't want to waste the opportunity but am frankly ill-prepared for the jobtalk part.)

Posted by: localtalent | Aug 19, 2011 4:27:28 PM

I'm dying for more details on the 4th tier school that is calling health law people. That is one of my areas! This process is killing me.

Posted by: anon | Aug 19, 2011 7:01:25 PM

Sorry, wrong thread.

Posted by: anon | Aug 19, 2011 7:07:54 PM

Our experience is very different. My spouse and I went on the market last year. We told many schools and most of them scheduled an AALS interview for the other. At schools that didn't know, we got callbacks. At schools that did know, we didn't get callbacks.

Our advice: Don't tell until you have an offer. Perversely, schools are more willing to accommodate if you surprise them with the information.

Don't tell your reference or anyone else. Law professors gossip like middle schoolers.

Posted by: 2 Body Problem | Aug 20, 2011 8:38:26 AM

I must say I find the comments about posting online work (post your work, don't make us ask you for it) somewhat unfair.
Many of us are working in law firms, and for obvious reasons we didn't include our employers in the list of people with which we share our teaching plans.
Posting a job online now may raise a red flag to the employer (trust me, my employer would notice if I posted a paper online).
Worse than that, some of us (like me) may be writing articles that some of our employers' clients would not like very much.
I am not sure why is it so hard to ask for a copy of work in progress to be e-mailed to you. The price that some of us may pay for posting our work online is simply to high. It seems weird to me that I need to chose between the risk of upsetting my current employer and the risk of not getting an FRC interview.

Posted by: InProcess | Aug 20, 2011 1:36:13 PM

I'm not sure that I understand why the comments are unfair, as the commenter was merely giving an opinion on what you should do, which you could disregard. One possible option is to send more targeted letters and include your work in progress in those packages. There are also various spaces for comments on the FAR forms where you could explain your situation.

Posted by: anon | Aug 20, 2011 2:50:23 PM

@Inprocess, interesting. I can't imagine my firm caring that I have papers on SSRN, but maybe I'm being obtuse. What's the danger, just that they'll Google you and know you're contemplating seeking an academic job?

Posted by: localtalent | Aug 20, 2011 3:29:03 PM

I imagine the fear is that if you don't get an academic job or not one that you want to accept, the firm will now cut you out of any good work because they view you as someone who wants to leave. So law firm associates might rationally want for their firm not to know anything until and unless another job is in hand.

Posted by: Shadowlighter | Aug 20, 2011 4:27:04 PM

Anon, point taken. Correct - we can take the initiative and send targeted letters, as I intend to do. My response originated in my understanding(maybe I'm wrong) that we are expected to post our work online. I simply won't do that, because it is possible that my employer would not like the content.
Local talent - no, my employer won't Google my name. However, articles in my field of interest that are posted on SSRN always make their way to a blog that everyone in my field reads. Including partners at my employer.
Re what I am afraid of - not sure. I simply do not want to be in a position where I need to explain myself to partners.

Posted by: InProcess | Aug 20, 2011 5:02:06 PM

This all raises a good question. What version of our article should we post/distribute? My piece was accepted by a decent law review (in the top 50-75 range). It's coming out in the fall (I'm told it's the "lead article," whatever that gets me) and is halfway through the editing process -- the text has been edited and approved, but the footnotes have not. My concern is that mid-sausage-making-process, it looks a lot rougher now than the version I submitted (the "supra note ##"'s are all off, there are a few "need cite here" footnotes, etc.). Plus, the formatting is all screwy now.

I know that the most sensible answer is to go through and put as many of the text edits in the submission version as possible without making it look like its halfway through the editing process, but, well, I also have to spend that time getting a second piece in job talk shape. And I kind of have a day job that I have to try to schedule around multiple upcoming interviews (AALS, fellowship, and "back-up" clerkship -- yes, I know this falls in the "good problem" category). Not to mention a wife and (several) kids. I really don't have the time to engage in the Sisyphean task of trying to replicate an AE's edits in a job talk version of my article.

So, bottom line, is it OK to submit my submission version from last spring, perhaps with minimal edits to capture the really good suggestions from the AE, with a note that the piece is at the "text edits approved, citechecking underway" stage of the editing process?

Posted by: Not a Prawf, but I Play One on TV | Aug 20, 2011 6:56:09 PM

InProcess -- I find it hard to believe there is any field where every paper posted on SSRN makes its way to a widely circulated blog that everyone reads. The best I know of are patents (PatentlyO), tax (TaxProf), legal theory (Solum), Supreme Court (ScotusBlog), corporate (Conglomerate and Truth on the Market) and criminal law (sentencing law and policy). None of these come even close to commenting on 10% of papers that are posted in their relevant field. Rather, I suspect that you just don't know the vast universe of the literature that is being posted on SSRN, which might make you rethink your readiness for the FAR.

Posted by: anon | Aug 20, 2011 7:20:36 PM

Thanks Anon. I didn't mean to say that ALL papers posted on SSRN make their way to the blog (bad drafting on my part). As an avid user of SSRN (both as a reader and as an author) I am very well familiar with it.
The specific paper I am currently drafting, given its topic, will almost certainly make its way to the specific blog (as my last two papers did).
And finally, I wish you the best of luck in the FRC as well.

Posted by: InProcess | Aug 20, 2011 11:38:24 PM

As to the concerns about your law firm, this brings up a related point: those of you working in law firms need to be ready to manage the process. I was on a fellowship last year, but before that I spent 5 years in a large law firm. I cannot imagine how I would have handled the AALS process from within the walls of a law firm. First, the communications alone can be challenging to manage. Most of the hiring committees call rather than e-mail, and they leave messages asking you to call them back, typically within short windows of time (such as their scheduled office hours for later that afternoon). Juggling that while working in a demanding practice will be very difficult.
Also, call-backs are all-day interviews, where you will not be able to access your blackberry for at least 8 hours (or upwards of 10+ hours, since a school might take you to dinner after the day of interviews). Although I wasn't working in the law firm, I had a pro bono matter heat up the day before a call-back, and it was amazing how stressful it was to go through the whole day not able to nurse e-mails. If you've practiced for any length of time, you will realize how long 10 hours can feel when you are worried that clients or senior partners are trying to reach you.
Finally, if you are fortunate enough to have multiple call-backs, you can expect them to be packed into a fairly condensed period of time. (Such as a few weeks). In my practice, barring something like a European vacation or a cruise where communication was impossible, we were expected to be available by e-mail at any time, even while on vacation. Multiple windows of complete unavailability in a few weeks' period would certainly raise eyebrows.
I know, these are clearly not the worst problems that a candidate can have. But to the extent you are worried about keeping your candidacy under wraps at your firm, be prepared to engage in some very fancy footwork. To make the whole process a bit less stressful, if you have a large number of AALS interviews, I would recommend putting in for 2 weeks of vacation time starting the week after AALS. You can always withdraw or move the vacation request. But being out of the office on a long vacation would be far easier to explain than a series of 1-2 day trips where you are mysteriously unavailable by phone or e-mail.

Posted by: anon | Aug 21, 2011 1:08:10 AM

Given the recent outing of Paul Campos as LawProf/ScamProf, what do people think of citing to him in a job talk piece? The cite is to something other than his recent blogging, and indeed a work that has been well-respected in its field. Thanks.

Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Aug 21, 2011 3:22:11 PM

Any thoughts on this inquiry from last week?

Can someone share what questions candidates can/should ask when they are called to schedule an FRC interview? In other words, what do I absolutely need to ask before I hang up the phone? Thanks!

Posted by: anon | Aug 17, 2011 2:02:37 PM

Posted by: bythephone | Aug 22, 2011 8:28:57 AM

bythephone, I can't think of any questions you need to ask.......I mean, you may wish to confirm subject area interests, and then you should ask for names of everyone you will be speaking with in the interview (so you can review their web profiles beforehand). Other than that, they should give you most of the information you need.

Posted by: anon | Aug 22, 2011 9:10:09 AM

InProcess, have you considered putting your latest work in progress up on a personal website that's password-protected, instead of SSRN? I did something similar last year, and it worked fine for me. I have a tenure-track job now at a school I love, and I didn't use SSRN.

For what it's worth, I used a simple, clean webpage as a way of linking to not just work in progress, but also my research agenda, previously published works, and even a scan of my law school transcript (after several schools asked for it). This little web page was a place the committees could download all the documents they might want to complete my file. Generally, I gave the URL to chairs when we scheduled the interview (or in the case of top tier schools, when they made the initial query requesting work in progress). Had I thought of it earlier, I think I would have put it in the comments section of my FAR.

If you don't want to include lots of large attachments on your targeted emails (I imagine chairs get a lot of those unsolicited emails, and such attachments are potentially annoying...), then giving out the URL and password to access the documents would make it easy for anyone who wants to see more about you to get what they need.

There are probably other solutions, but this one worked for me. Good luck!

Posted by: HappyNewProf | Aug 22, 2011 9:10:37 AM

The recommendations from me, Mark McKenna, Rebecca Tushnet and others to post your work online weren't intended to suggest that schools that decide to interview you won't ask you to send your work when they make the phone call. Rather, they were saying that for many of us, when we are going through the 500+ FAR forms and trying to make snap decisions about which candidates we want to bring to our colleagues attention, we commonly go looking for some published or unpublished legal scholarship to help us make up our minds, and are much more likely to read what we find if it's easy for us to find it. On the hiring committees on which I've served, the most persuasive argument in favor of calling a candidate to schedule an interview has been "I read this scholarly work and thought it was excellent." So, if you have work you feel comfortable posting, and you think it's good, you increase your odds of being invited to interview by making it easily available. If your circumstances prevent you from doing that, though, you can rely on your credentials and other virtues.

One warning: unless your firm is very unusual, I would expect at least some of your colleagues to know that you are exploring the possibility of academia by Halloween -- this sort of information oozes out unpredictably because law faculty and lawyers talk with each other. Someone who is phoning your firm to check references on a candidate who left the firm a few years back may ask, "and how does this candidate compare with InProcess?" Some lawyer in your firm may be best friends with a lawyer in a different firm who is married to a law professor on a hiring committee. So, as anon suggested, you want to start thinking, quite soon, about which colleagues you think should hear about this from you rather than the grapevine, and how you want to frame your account.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 22, 2011 9:38:39 AM

Time to bump ?

Posted by: anon | Aug 22, 2011 9:56:09 AM

"So, if you have work you feel comfortable posting, and you think it's good, you increase your odds of being invited to interview by making it easily available."

Two questions on this. First, what if you've already sent your FAR form sans link? Will committees just go on SSRN anyway and see if you are on there?

Second, how polished does a piece need to be to make it worthwhile to post? Are we talking early draft, friendly outside reader quality draft, stranger outside reader quality draft, submission quality? (Those are generally how I categorize the various stages of my work.)

Also, I'll second the question from above -- if you have a piece currently undergoing LR edits, would it be better to post the current draft or the cleaner, older submission draft?

Posted by: Anon, good nurse! | Aug 22, 2011 10:29:51 AM

Anon, good nurse,

Yes, some members of committees will search SSRN anyway to see if you're there, or do a Google search for your name and the name of your draft. Also, even after your FAR form is made public, you can sign on to the AALS site and replace your supplemental resume with an updated version (see http://aals.org/frs/faq.php#10), so committee members who download your CV will see the new one, with SSRN link. As for how polished a piece needs to be to post, I think you need to impose on a disinterested outside reader and rely on his or her advice. Different scholars take different approaches: some post early drafts; others wait until their drafts are ready to be submitted for publication before posting; others wait until the article is published. Whether posting an early draft is a good idea depends a lot on the ways your early drafts differ from your final drafts. (Not to make you crazy, but there are some common flaws, like making grandiose claims to have invented the wheel, or grossly misreading a well-known case, that may sour some readers on you forever. If you haven't yet arrived at a conclusion, it's too early a draft to post. Readers won't care much if your draft lacks pin-cites, parentheticals, or correct supra and infra values.) You can replace your drafts on SSRN with revised versions any time, though, so it isn't crazy to post a draft and keep working to make it better.

If you have a piece undergoing LR edits, I'd stick with the submission draft until you arrive at a reasonably clean edited draft.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Aug 22, 2011 10:59:06 AM

Thanks! Sounds like it's probably my stranger outside reader quality draft category. (I.e., what I'm willing to send to the people I cite heavily in the piece to see what they think.) Which makes sense given the point of SSRN.

Posted by: Anon, good nurse! | Aug 22, 2011 11:23:13 AM

I'm a phd-type doing interdisciplinary work (with a jd) + going on multiple markets. My main paper, which works for both disciplines, is in Chicago citation format.

Is it worth spending an hour or two (or paying some 1L) to convert it to bluebook format to send to law hiring committees, just to send the signal that I'm a law person?

Posted by: Foxey McFoxerson | Aug 22, 2011 1:51:11 PM

Repost -- for some reason this question didn't get posted.

Anyway, I'm an interdisciplinary jd/phd. My main paper in progress/job paper is in Chicago-style citation format. I'm going on both markets. Is it worthwhile taking a few hours or paying a 1L to convert it to bluebook to send the signal that I'm a real law person? Wisdom requested...

Posted by: Foxey McFoxington | Aug 22, 2011 3:06:28 PM

Jessica Litman's response at 9:38 a.m. is spot-on. The point is just that those of us on committees are going through 592 applications. The reality is that there are hundreds of really well qualified candidates, and your odds are best if you make it easy for me to find good information on you. If you don't have anything published and I can't find anything online, I'm probably going to assume you don't have anything far enough along to share, and it's unlikely that I'll ask. You might be in a situation where that's difficult for you, and if you are, I'd certainly suggest finding another way to get a draft before a committee.

As for the question of how polished a paper needs to be (which several asked about), I don't think any of us can give you a perfect answer to that. Certainly no one expects something noted as a draft or "in-progress" to be perfect (and particularly not the footnotes). Most of us post things to SSRN that aren't "finished" by any standard. My instinct is to say that, if you have several other things in print, I'd be less concerned about the rawness of a draft since I can judge it in light of other work. If it's the only thing I'm going to see from you, you might be better served by having it more finished. But of course, if you don't have other stuff in print and this is the only thing I'm going to see from you, and if I don't ever see it when I'm going through the FAR, I'm probably not going to flag you. So if the choice is between posting something rough or not posting anything at all, I would probably encourage you to post. If the choice is to post something raw or wait a bit and post it in a few weeks (and then contacting committees to let them know you've just posted something), then I might choose to wait.

This is probably a good place to say that having good mentors is incredibly valuable - they can help you determine if something is too raw to post, or if you would otherwise be attractive enough as a candidate to wait. And I can't emphasize to you enough that having references who have actually read your work and can speak substantively to it (rather than just "she was a good student") is a big advantage.

Posted by: Mark McKenna | Aug 22, 2011 4:28:49 PM

A few folks have posted questions about the time-line for interviews. The answers I have see are reassuring, but maybe not totally informative. In any event, for what it is worth, I used the information in last year's hiring thread to compute the quantiles for the timing of the first AALS FRC interview offer for a school (or at least when they were voluntarily mentioned): 25% of schools were up to an including 20 days after the first FAR distribution, 50% of schools were making offers up to and including 29 days after, and 75% of schools up to and including 43 days after. Assuming faculty appointments committees work at a similar pace this year, those dates would be about Aug. 30, Sept. 8, and Sept. 22 respectively. Take this with a grain of salt and keep in mind that these are (at least as I understand it) at best estimates of when schools first started contacting candidates for interviews, not when they finished contacting candidates. I hope that it reduces uncertainty somewhat, as we are still very early in that distribution (only 8% of school were making offers within 13 days). And good luck to everyone on the market this year.

Posted by: AnonEmpiricist | Aug 23, 2011 1:02:26 PM

I've also heard that it's still quite early in the process and that several appointments committees may not have met since the first FAR distribution. I have also received communications directly from a few hiring chairs that they will not be making any calls until the end of August or early September at the absolute earliest.

(This doesn't necessarily help with the angst, because the waiting game is so tough, but there it is.)

Best of luck to everyone.

Posted by: Prawf Hopeful | Aug 23, 2011 1:45:33 PM

This is to Foxey...

I'm no expert (just a hopeful myself), but I would *definitely* switch your citations from Chicago to Bluebook. These subtle signals are significant, particularly for JD/PhD types (I'm also one), particularly if there's any reason at all that hiring committees might see your foray into AALS as either (a) a backup plan if your preferred PhD market doesn't work out or (b) a refuge from failed or likely to fail searches in your PhD field.

It's a couple hours of time, and tedious as hell, sure, but it definitely changes how things look and feel, and that can matter subconsciously (although I'm sure no one would confess to thinking that it *actually* mattered, except for its signaling value).

You might also consider downloading and using the Law Review template from Volokh's site:

(It's on a link on the right-hand side.) Again, it's dumb, but appearances matter, and you want to signal that you know what's up.

Good luck y'all.

Posted by: Subconscious Bias Guy | Aug 23, 2011 2:06:28 PM

Query: If given the option to email vs. snail mail target letters, does it matter which you select? That would give me an extra week to get my you-know-what together.

Posted by: Anon, good nurse! | Aug 24, 2011 1:09:01 PM

I think most chairs now prefer emailed target letters because they can be easily forwarded to other members of the hiring committee and/or posted in shared electronic spaces for the committee. And sometimes (though rarely) the emailed submission can cause a valuable exchange to take place between the chair and the candidate that wouldn't occur with a mailed submission.

Posted by: anon | Aug 24, 2011 1:41:59 PM

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