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Monday, July 23, 2012

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2012-2013

The 2012-2013 law school hiring market is soon beginning. 

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, but within the bounds of decency. I will keep an eye on things and delete misinformation and ban the IP addresses of those acting out of bounds. If you're a reader and you see something suspicious, please feel free to let me know via email.

We will have a distinct but related post in which 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.

So...questions? But before you ask your questions, take a look at the 500 questions and comments that came up on last year's thread.

Update: Here is a link to the last page of comments.

Posted by Administrators on July 23, 2012 at 08:44 AM in Blogging, Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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nibbles - just saw your comment above... thanks re American.

I've received confirmation emails/letters from several of these schools but am now mostly wondering whether they've starting issuing interview invites or rejections in response to target packets. Seems like the answer is no, or at least nothing for anyone who's reading/responding to this blog. But hopefully just a flat out no, and we'll start hearing AALS invites from them soon.

Haven't heard a thing about Chicago-Kent or Colorado.

Regarding the numbers question above, schools do interview 30 or so candidates, yielding a 30:5:2 or 30:5:1 approximate ratio. But that doesn't mean that the candidate return rate is comparable. From what I hear, some candidates are just plain unprepared or otherwise fall flat on their faces, so the average return rates for qualified/prepared candidates is better... 12:3:1 (give or take). Again, though, this is just statistics and the numbers truly don't apply universally.

I think it's crazy to try to predict how many interviews you're going to end up with based on the number you have at this particular moment in time. It might be that most of the schools hiring in your area are just getting started. Or they might be done. Or the needs of the schools change. Or you end up with a new geographic twist on your candidacy. Or a school makes an early offer to a candidate and that candidate drops a lot of interviews at AALS with less desirable schools making space for other candidates to meet with those schools. The conference is 4 weeks from Thursday. An entire month is a lot of time for things to change.

That having been said, if a week from now you still have 0-2 interviews, it's probably time to think about your options. On the one hand you could ask your references to go to bat for you getting the interviews. On the other, you might want to re-evaluate your participation on the market this year and opt to wait until next year and make a better run at it (publishing at least one article in the interim). [NB: some people will take the latter route, opening up interview slots for other candidates.]

Posted by: FARout | Sep 11, 2012 2:37:51 PM

Juniorminted, my notes (inherited from a previous job-seeker) say that the second digit of the room number tells you the tower. 0 is Center tower, 2 is Park tower, 3 is Wardman tower. I haven't verified this.

Posted by: the three towers | Sep 11, 2012 5:30:21 PM

FARout, about the totally unprepared people who fall on their face, do you or others have advice about how not to be that person? That is, what do we need to do to "be prepared" or seem prepared? For those of us who haven't been on the market before and don't come from schools that send a lot of people to the meat market, the best way to prepare isn't always obvious...

Posted by: nonymous | Sep 11, 2012 9:17:13 PM

So I'm a practicing attorney doing this on the low-key. I have a bit of a poison-pill i have to swallow. I can either have a court hearing a week before the conference begins, or I can have have one November 1, but I have to choose one.

This raises an issue regarding timing of callbacks (and I have invoked the proper karmic sources in hopes that this does not jinx me). How soon do these tend to occur after the market should you be so fortunate to get that far? RIght away? Over a period of time?

If someone calls and says hey we'd love to see you at date X, is it appropriate to say, I would love to meet you, unfortunately I am a practicing attorney and despite all my best efforts, I could not get out of this hearing, but I would love love love love to meet you the week after. Or does this signal lack of interest or risk someone else wowing the faculty and taking your chance?

All of which is to ask, all things being equal, do you take the hearing a week prior the hiring conference, or on November 1 in the midst of callback season?

Posted by: practicinganon | Sep 11, 2012 10:56:44 PM

Practicinganon, neither of those seems like a problem to me. Everyone on the market has a life and a job. I imagine any school that calls you back will be flexible and coordinate with you to find a date that works.

Posted by: gingerale | Sep 12, 2012 12:43:46 AM

I can't imagine a one day conflict being problematic. What if you had a callback at another school that day?

Posted by: the three towers | Sep 12, 2012 2:44:18 AM

"not a fancy person" - I'd wear a suit, but I am a slightly more formal person. I generally believe you cannot be overdressed, but perhaps that is less true in academia.

"Stevie" - I generally start with professor in an email or cover letter, but quickly progress to first names. But I am a slightly more formal person than many.

"nibblesnotbites" - I heard from the hiring chair that Cardozo are looking for corporate. I got an email forwarding me a letter saying that Colorado had received my targeted package.

"juniorminted"- I second what three towers said. The room # gives you the hint, although it is still very confusing. Some people like to walk their path the night before just to understand how to get from place to place. Rumor has it that some people are forced to the stairs over the elevators because the elevators are so slow and crowded and they are superstars with back-to-back 30 minute interviews.

"practicinganon" - provided you get a callback, you will be one of a few. They don't need you to show up on X day or not at all. They are real people who are flexible, especially once they have expressed interest in you.

"nonymous" - How do you prepare? Do some mock interviews. Think about (or ask people) what questions you should expect and then prepare and practice answers. Prepare a few 1-2 minute "success stories" or other key points about yourself that you want to be sure to get out during the course of your interview. The 3 pillars of the academy are teaching, service and scholarship. A story that demonstrates that you'll be able to contribute to each would be good. They may ask you what is your ideal course package, why you want to be an academic, why you want to move to XYZ place, would you really leave ABC place that you've called home for 10 years, etc. Being prepared means, at a minimum, having thought through answers to these questions.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 12, 2012 7:43:47 AM

nonymous - I would include in your preparation developing a very comfortable familiarity with all of your published work to date, as well as a 3-5 minute explanation of anything you have in press/in progress, including what you'd use as your job talk. The interviewers are likely going to be interested in how you convey your scholarly ideas, and may ask you questions about arguments you've made, whether you've thought about "x" argument, and so forth. Likewise you should be prepared to discuss your near-term research agenda so they can see you have issues you really care about and are eager to explore further.

Posted by: anonprof | Sep 12, 2012 8:16:38 AM

Hello, hiring committees? Are you out there? It's eerily quiet from the candidate side...

nonymous - You've gotten good comments already about preparing for this process. I'll add that sometimes even well-prepared/practiced candidates will fall flat on their faces and it's not necessarily something that we can prepare to avoid. So, for whatever reason (largely having nothing to do with us) one school will love us while others will be immediately turned off from our candidacies. Personally, this is why I'm hoping for a relatively large number of first round interviews.

Posted by: FARout | Sep 12, 2012 1:51:40 PM

Yesterday I organized the clothes in my closet by color, in ROYGBIV sequence. Generally I am looking for activities that take me away from my phone. I have 4 AALS interviews, and really hope to get a few more before all is said and done. But the phone remains ever-so-silent.

Posted by: bacon = the star of the meat market | Sep 12, 2012 1:57:06 PM

What are you guys talking about? I've gotten six calls/emails so far this week. I've been on the phone so much that I haven't even had time to post them!

(Kidding. Radio silence for me, too.)

Posted by: Pessimistic | Sep 12, 2012 2:08:51 PM

I have 3 interviews, but thankfully all at schools where I would be really happy; also hoping to get more. It is quiet this week but the profs I've talked to still say it's early. Some schools were only going to meet for the first time this week; some are still arguing about subject lines; others have made first rounds of calls but are still deciding on the next batch of candidates. Trying to stay optimistic. I know people have different thoughts on the necessary ratios of interviews to jobs but I would like at least 2 or 3 more interviews. Here's hoping.

Posted by: nibblesnotbites | Sep 12, 2012 2:19:14 PM

Brian Leiter has posted some interesting stats on where the AALS participants (first FAR distribution only) received their JDs(focusing on which schools had the most applicants). 107 forms from HYS grads, another 60 or so from NYU/Columbia/Chicago. And then another 140+ from other T14 schools and a few others. Anyone know how this compares to other years - it seems to me like a large number from *non* T14 schools, but maybe that's always the case?

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2012 2:39:16 PM

To clarify my comment on the stats - there were 588 forms in the first FAR, so Leiter's info indicates only about 1/2 of those were from T14 JDs. No idea what that means for any of us, but it isn't what I expected.

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2012 2:42:12 PM

"Anyone heard anything about American, Ohio State, Cardozo, Maryland, Tulane, or West Virginia?"

Ohio State can only hire one prof this year. They are currently calling back a few lateral candidates in health law and IP. If the faculty isn't impressed with them, they will focus on entry-level hiring.

Posted by: stayinganon | Sep 12, 2012 4:59:05 PM

Four interviews for me so far, including one I'm thrilled about, which came in today. So don't give up hope just yet!

Posted by: highhopeslowexpectations | Sep 12, 2012 5:12:18 PM

I am so glad to have this online community of anonymous aspiring prawfs. I have only 3 interviews thus far, and only 1 is with a school where I'd seriously like to be. I'm hoping to get more, but here's a perhaps premature concern. How are we supposed to make that 1 school think we're desirable if we don't have many other options? (BTW- I have a top 3 JD and a clerkship and a bunch of publications. This experience has been quite humbling, but it's also inspiring to know how much talent is out there.)

Posted by: marketmarket | Sep 12, 2012 6:25:20 PM

@marketmarket--may I ask what areas you want to teach in?

Posted by: bacon = the star of the meat market | Sep 12, 2012 6:44:56 PM

Bacon, I'm mainly a public law person, although I have a variety of areas. Perhaps they were not coherent enough. Seems like schools want the crim/crim pro/evidence person, or the corporations/m and a person.

Posted by: marketmarket | Sep 12, 2012 7:02:41 PM

@stayinganon - Thanks for the info re Ohio State. VERY helpful.

@marketmarket - I don't think your desirability necessarily depends entirely, or even largely, on the number of interviews you have. The interviewing school might not even know that information (and you certainly shouldn't offer it if you only have a few). I suggest asking your mentors from Harvard/Yale/Stanford, whichever of the three is your alma mater, how to make yourself most attractive to your top choice school and practice a bunch before you get to the conference.

Personally, I have 6 interviews so far and I'd be quite happy at 4 of the schools, with positive aspects about the other 2 as well. I am also a public law person, and I don't have a top 3 JD. I don't even have a tier one JD. Just goes to show that there's no guaranteed method of doing this "right."

I hope/suspect that the calls will pick up again later this week and early next week. Fingers crossed.

Posted by: FARout | Sep 12, 2012 8:08:58 PM

@stayinganon Do you mean laterals are currently giving job talks at OSU? And if one of those candidates works out they'll cancel their AALS entry level interviews?

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2012 8:48:29 PM

FWIW, I recently spoke with a friend on a hiring committee at a T4 school. In response to my question of what areas they were looking for, I was told, "I wish I knew." No information on how common this is, but it could help explain the relative lack of calls.

On a personal note, I have as many interviews this year as I did last year even though I'm a much stronger candidate this year (2 more completed papers, teaching evals, etc). It might just be a terrible year to be on the market... And in response to some recent comments, I would take any of the jobs if offered, although I clearly have geographic preferences.

@meatmarket - How would they know? I would bargain over salary and perks regardless. You're a sucker if you don't (and the Dean will think so too).

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 12, 2012 10:05:24 PM

@on the market (again): I am also on the market for the second time, and am faring worse this year -- last year I had twice as many interviews at this point. They were also with better-ranked schools in what most people, including myself, would consider more desirable locations. This process continues to be mystifying. (Similar to you, I thought I'd be a better candidate as I added publications and more relevant teaching experience. I may have gone from not yet ripe to stale overnight, or maybe my interviews last year went so horribly that the word has spread far and wide.)

Posted by: another repeat candidate | Sep 13, 2012 12:43:46 AM

@another repeat candidate: No, sorry, you're not allowed to think that. It's widespread - it's the market - it's NOT you! *You* sound awesome. It just so happens that we're hitting the market at a time when 1) things are generally terrible; and 2) the general terribleness has added fire to the perennial existential crisis of the legal academy, such that it has worked very suddenly (over the last year, I hear) and dramatically to switch around the nature of the characteristics that are most desired by law schools.

Posted by: doe | Sep 13, 2012 1:34:49 AM

I think it may just be a bad year. Sigh. Many law schools are reducing their first year class size, so it stands to reason they would be conservative about expanding the faculty at the same time.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2012 8:04:07 AM

"such that it has worked very suddenly (over the last year, I hear) and dramatically to switch around the nature of the characteristics that are most desired by law schools"

doe, could you elaborate a bit on this?

Posted by: Pessimistic | Sep 13, 2012 8:19:58 AM

Pessimistic - My understanding is that schools are looking to focus on getting candidates "practice-ready." Seems to help explain why the corporate/commercial types are getting lots of early interviews relative to public law folks.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 9:47:02 AM

Pessimistic - My understanding is that schools are looking to focus on getting candidates "practice-ready." Seems to help explain why the corporate/commercial types are getting lots of early interviews relative to public law folks.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 9:47:04 AM

I really wish we could have a breakdown of FAR forms by specialty (e.g. by first course listed of the 11) rather than just by JD school. Wouldn't it be helpful to know how many other people are on the market this year in each area?

Posted by: nutmegger | Sep 13, 2012 10:01:14 AM

Thanks. I'm also curious if schools are more interested in people with more experience this time around.

Posted by: Pessimistic | Sep 13, 2012 10:39:21 AM

FWIW, I have a lot of practice experience and several years of adjunct experience and I only have 3 interviews.

Posted by: Anonymous Lawyer | Sep 13, 2012 10:54:49 AM

To echo: YLS grad + clerkship + well-placed pub + killer references + practice experience = 4 interviews. I think there is a method to the madness but I don't think we can figure it out from where we sit.

Posted by: Check it! | Sep 13, 2012 12:08:51 PM

I think that the market over the past few years (not new) has really moved toward folks with either a PHD or a fellowship. SCOTUS clerks may be the exception, but even many of them have fellowships. There are just too many top 3 law grads, with clerkships, publications etc. Too hard to stand out in that crowd. It may not be a good thing for many reasons, but looking at the hiring numbers from last year very large number had either fellowship/VAP or PHD.

Posted by: anonyluck | Sep 13, 2012 12:16:36 PM

How are laterals handled in the AALS mix? Do entry-level candidates receive invitations for interviews first?

Posted by: gingersnap | Sep 13, 2012 12:26:30 PM

anonyluck - consensus seems to be that PHD or fellowship/VAP becoming (if not already have become) de facto requirements.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 12:31:54 PM

A couple of observations: I think there is an almost-unworkable tension between the goal of graduating practice-ready lawyers, which should tend to favor candidates with practice experience, and the fixation on PhDs. Those are two very different paths.

Also, it seems like there would not be enough people with fellowships each year to populate all the law schools that are hiring, but maybe I am off on the numbers.

The one stat I would really like to see (I think) is, for each school attending AALS, how many of their 30 or so slots they have filled at this point in time? Are fewer calls being made, on the whole? Are calls being made later? Or are the calls disproportionately going to the "top" 10-20 candidates?

Posted by: bacon = the star of the meat market | Sep 13, 2012 12:45:12 PM

I have about a half dozen interviews despite the fact that I was not a Supreme Court clerk, don't have a PhD, and did not do a VAP or fellowship. My guess is there are many methods to the madness: each school has it's own, and it's based on a variety of factors we cannot possibly know. No point in worrying about what you can't control.

Posted by: eh | Sep 13, 2012 1:01:47 PM

I am not on a hiring committee this year, but I've been on them in years past. My suspicion is that this year many schools who are hiring are approaching it more cautiously, which often translates into focusing more closely on important curricular needs. A given school's curricular needs will depend importantly on which faculty members have left or will be leaving soon: deaths, lateral moves, retirements. Thus, candidates with comparable credentials may have different results simply because they want to teach different courses.

Posted by: Jessica Litman | Sep 13, 2012 2:00:05 PM

What is with the silence this past week?! My phone has NOT been going crazy before now, but this week has been particularly quiet (just when I thought things would pick up). Seems to be the case for others as well. Any explanations from experienced folks? Am I just impatient? Is this it? Still early? Or what?

Posted by: waiting for the kettle to boil | Sep 13, 2012 2:37:50 PM

The silence is making me nutty. My guess is that committees are meeting this week to decide on the next round of calls to make. (In some cases, "next" means "first" because the school may have just gotten started with the Fall semester.) Cognitively, I get it. That doesn't make me stop checking my phone/email incessantly, particularly with the meat market literally 4 weeks from today.

Posted by: FARout | Sep 13, 2012 2:46:59 PM

This is all an elaborate test of our mental fortitude. Schools are delaying calls until the last minute to weed out those weak in ego and will.

Posted by: bacon = the star of the meat market | Sep 13, 2012 3:02:32 PM

Ha! I like this explanation the best - it seems the most accurate ;)

Posted by: waiting for the kettle to boil | Sep 13, 2012 3:22:36 PM

anon | Sep 12, 2012 8:48:29 PM: Yes, that is correct.

Posted by: stayinganon | Sep 13, 2012 3:28:27 PM

Jessica, that is my sense of things too based on conversations with friends on the faculty elsewhere.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 3:37:29 PM

@stayinganon Thanks. I guess I won't spend much time prepping for that AALS interview; wish they'd been candid with us.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2012 3:37:43 PM

So Ohio State has in fact issued AALS invites for entry level candidates?

Posted by: FARout | Sep 13, 2012 3:49:26 PM

Rumor has it that American is only hiring in the following areas: Clinical positions, international law, evidence, and crim.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 3:58:04 PM

My phone has been quiet this week also. I've nabbed a few interviews, but less than expected. Angsting like everyone else.

Posted by: AnonHuman | Sep 13, 2012 4:16:55 PM

@on the market again (and others): for those who have received calls from American, can you please share if your areas are clinical, international, evidence, or crim (or if American specified when they contacted you)?

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2012 4:17:13 PM

@anon - I didn't get a call. I got an informal heads-up based on information a recommender got when they called on my behalf.

Similarly, informally told I was a poor curricular fit at BC despite offering commercial law and contracts, which I had understood they sought. Hrmph!

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 4:37:43 PM

on the market (again), thanks for sharing! did your recommender happen to get any scoop on what BC actually wants?

Posted by: twizzlers | Sep 13, 2012 4:49:07 PM

@on the market again: glad I am not alone! I had the same reaction to the lack of attention from BC - contracts and commercial law are my fields and I was disappointed when there was only silence.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2012 5:27:46 PM

I posted this in the other thread, but should have posted it here: has anyone heard from Oklahoma, Arizona State, or W&L?

Posted by: Greendale Human Being | Sep 13, 2012 6:01:45 PM

Yes, I heard from Arizona State fairly early in the process. Doesn't mean they won't make more calls.

Posted by: anonyluck | Sep 13, 2012 6:08:08 PM

I send a targeted packet to OK State in July. They responded thusly, "University of Oklahoma College of Law. We expect to hire two tenure-track faculty to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year. Our greatest needs are in the areas of water law, energy law, agricultural law, biotechnology law, and administrative law."

In response to other questions, no word re what BC is actually looking for.

Posted by: on the market (again) | Sep 13, 2012 6:47:13 PM

I believe that W&L has made some calls.

Posted by: anoni | Sep 13, 2012 7:03:51 PM

on the market (again) - I hope you didn't refer to OU as "OK State."

Posted by: ummm... | Sep 14, 2012 9:21:16 AM

To answer the question about American: I didn't get any indication of what they're looking for (I got an email telling me to contact an admin person to set up an appointment so didn't actually speak with a committee member). None of the courses on my list matches the ones mentioned in the earlier post. My course package is unusual so I don't want to be more specific about it.

Posted by: snowflake | Sep 14, 2012 11:04:49 AM

In response to the comments about schools turning more toward PhDs, I tend to disagree. Practice experience is still highly favored from what I have seen. This is my second turn on the market and I have a PhD as well as books and articles and years of teaching and practice but only a top 50 school JD. It may be a bad year, but people are still getting interviews. I only have 1 interview so far this year compared to 15 last time.

Posted by: Doctor deficit | Sep 14, 2012 11:12:46 AM

What's the protocol on canceling interviews? I have some geographic restrictions not noted on the FAR form and I'm trying to give serious thought as to whether I would be willing to take a position at schools outside my target locations. I certainly don't want to take up a valuable interview space that someone else could have, but I'm uncertain whether there's an unspoken "cut off" beyond which it is considered very rude to cancel. Two weeks out? A week? Would appreciate any feedback from others.

Posted by: anon | Sep 14, 2012 11:29:13 AM

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