Monday, August 26, 2013
A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2013-2014
In this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and prawfs or others can weigh in.
Both questions and answers can be anonymous, but I will delete pure nastiness, irrelevance, and misinformation. If you see something that you know to be wrong, please feel free to let me know via email, slawsky*at*law*dot*uci*dot*edu.
We have a different thread 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.
Update: here is a link to the last page of comments.
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Can anyone compare the size of the AALS Bulletin this year to previous years? The bulletin that came out last week looks quite thin.
Posted by: Bulletin | Aug 26, 2013 11:25:43 AM
There were around 85 schools with listings in the AALS last year (each school with 1 or more positions listed). How does this compare to this year?
Posted by: 1234 | Aug 26, 2013 12:16:09 PM
I counted only 33 schools with entry level positions. Anyone know how many forms were in the first FAR distribution?
Posted by: Anon | Aug 26, 2013 12:42:53 PM
Do we know how many people submitted forms for the first round of the FAR?
Posted by: fellow | Aug 26, 2013 12:48:48 PM
The first Placement Bulletin this year was 21 pages. Last year it was 40 pages. In 2011 it was 52 pages.
Posted by: Just a data point | Aug 26, 2013 1:02:17 PM
I'm so happy I decided to postpone going on the market. Who knows if next year is going to be any better, but at least I saved 450 USD for the AALS. No way I would have had a chance this year.
Posted by: AJ | Aug 26, 2013 1:37:11 PM
I hear that there were 600 people in the first distribution, which I believe is similar to past years.
Posted by: Prof | Aug 26, 2013 2:46:39 PM
Re FAR form distribution numbers:
592 this year.
588 in first distribution in 2012.
592 in first distribution in 2011.
Posted by: anon | Aug 26, 2013 2:52:32 PM
"The first Placement Bulletin this year was 21 pages. Last year it was 40 pages. In 2011 it was 52 pages."
"Re FAR form distribution numbers:
592 this year.
588 in first distribution in 2012.
592 in first distribution in 2011."
Posted by: Yikes | Aug 26, 2013 3:31:08 PM
You might be tempted to think the market will be twice as hard, given an equal number of candidates and what looks (from the thickness of the Bulletin) like half as many spots. No doubt it is worse than last year, but note that the outlook in August 2012 was much rosier than later in the year, so that the 40-page Bulletin paints an inaccurate picture of how things panned out. If schools knew what was coming then, the Bulletin might well have been 25 pages, for example.
Posted by: anon | Aug 26, 2013 3:46:25 PM
On the other other hand, there's reason to believe that this year's candidate pool is going to be especially strong, even relative to last year's. You have the natural selection aspect, where the weaker candidates from last year exit the market leaving only the strongest holdovers, plus the junior faculty from "at risk" schools going on the market (see: Seton Hall), plus the general fact that most of the traditional feeder schools' pre-academic advisory committees are no doubt telling everyone except the total superstars to hold off going on the market this year if at all possible.
This process has happened in other disciplines, especially in the arts and humanities. It's generally taken half a decade or so -- maybe more -- for the candidate pool to reflect the "new normal."
Posted by: Yikes | Aug 26, 2013 3:57:32 PM
It's worth pointing out, for any who may not be aware, that the absence of an ad in the first AALS bulletin (or any bulletin) does not necessarily mean a school is not hiring. Similarly, the presence of an ad doesn't mean that a school is actually likely to hire.
Posted by: prof | Aug 26, 2013 4:02:28 PM
Is anyone aware of other schools that are likely hiring but are not in the first AALS bulletin?
Posted by: other schools | Aug 27, 2013 11:19:23 AM
Any thoughts on whether laterals will fare better or worse in a market like this?
Posted by: anon | Aug 27, 2013 11:21:55 AM
"Any thoughts on whether laterals will fare better or worse in a market like this? "
Worse than entry-levels, I suspect, for two reasons. First, the small number of spots and roughly constant numbers of top candidates means that there are great opportunities for hiring at the entry level; a school with means to hire may get someone substantially better than they would have a few years ago. Second, laterals tend to be more expensive than entry-levels, so in a budget crunch they will be hard to hire.
Posted by: Orin Kerr | Aug 27, 2013 3:40:26 PM
in view of the 33 entry level positions in the PB, along with the fact that listing doesn't mean you're hiring, and not listing doesn't mean you're not hiring, does anyone have a reasonable projection of how many ACTUAL entry level positions are up for grabs this year?
Posted by: anon | Aug 27, 2013 6:06:19 PM
Posted by: projection | Aug 27, 2013 6:24:24 PM
FWIW, after setting myself up for the market over the past few years with publications, adjunct teaching experience, etc., I've ultimately decided a career in practice sounds a lot more appealing and for me will provide better long-term job security and opportunity, given the current state of affairs in legal education. So, less competition for you all at AALS! Good luck everyone--may the odds be ever in your favor.
Posted by: OUt | Aug 27, 2013 8:49:20 PM
Any idea when calls to schedule AALS screening interviews will start? Am watching the other page, but how soon do the calls normally start?
Posted by: anon | Aug 28, 2013 1:09:00 PM
The advice I've heard is that calls won't really pick up until after Labor Day.
Posted by: fellow | Aug 28, 2013 7:53:40 PM
"Any idea when calls to schedule AALS screening interviews will start? Am watching the other page, but how soon do the calls normally start?"
At my school, we only got access to the first distribution of FAR forms late last week. We still need to meet this week to figure out what our hiring priorities are, then wade through all the FAR forms to find out who to call. I'm guessing we won't get to the calls for another two weeks.
Many schools are taking their time because there are mixed feelings over whether to hire and if so, how many.
Posted by: 5thyearprawf | Aug 28, 2013 9:13:37 PM
Probably a silly question -- and ENTIRELY premature on my part -- but how much space should one schedule between interviews?
Posted by: Anon | Aug 28, 2013 9:13:45 PM
@Anon, I think SOP is to book every other slot (e.g. 9, 10, 11 or 9:30, 10:30, 11:30) until it becomes impossible to do so because you run out of slots or the schools calling you have only so many slots remaining. You'll probably still end up with an hour for lunch because most of the committees are breaking for lunch too.
Posted by: babyprof | Aug 28, 2013 11:52:06 PM
@Anon -- it depends on how many interviews you think you're going to get. If you are looking at under 18 interviews, then the every-other-slot strategy is a good one, since half an hour is enough rest. But if you are a superstar with 30+ interview offers, then you should try schedule one rest break for every two interviews (i.e. 9, 9:30, rest, 10:30, 11:00, rest). Avoid triple back to backs at all costs.
Posted by: anonprof | Aug 29, 2013 1:22:57 AM
Last year around this time I was expecting phone calls, and it was torture. I was totally neurotic. This year I have zero expectations and am completely relaxed! Perspective makes a difference.
@premature--aim for 30 minutes in between interviews, and recognize that at some point you might lose control over the process.
Posted by: Baconator | Aug 29, 2013 1:23:17 PM
I'm doing this for the first time, and I have to say the process is depressing. I didn't take a 'traditional' route to academic (read: I had the audacity to practice law and actually be pretty good at it) and everything I read makes me more and more glum about the process. Someone tell me it's worth going through this even if nothing comes of it because it'll make me a better candidate 2-3 years later if things change and I decide to do this again.
Posted by: FirstTimer | Aug 29, 2013 2:53:43 PM
FirstTimer -- I was in a similar boat to you and struck out. I can't say that it would make me a better candidate down the road (because I think there is little chance I'll try it again), but I can say that after a few years of academic track jobs and all they entail -- professional and geographic uncertainty, the constant feeling that you need to be writing, feelings of failure based mostly on things completely outside of your control -- going back to private practice is almost refreshing. There are worse things than living in my own house, practicing in a field I know and can thrive in, and making 2x-3x as much money as I did the past few years.
Posted by: Failed academic wannabe | Aug 29, 2013 3:25:13 PM
*sigh* the sad part is that I truly love writing/researching and teaching. I truly do. Enough to manage to accomplish it notwithstanding the roadblocks of have a pretty demanding day job and adjunct teaching as well. Is it the type of writing I could do if I had institutional support and wasn't also filing briefs every day, no, it's not up to my true capability. I've none-the-less been chipping away at it because I do love doing it. It just stinks thinking that I am dead in the water before I even get started. I am used to applying for things and feeling uncertainty (it's not like applying for firm jobs is that much different) The worst part is suddenly feeling like I everything I worked for in my career that has always GOTTEN me jobs in the past is suddenly a huge black mark on my resume (I mean CV!)
Posted by: FirstTimer | Aug 29, 2013 3:29:43 PM
Hi FirstTimer -
I think it is worth it as long as you keep your expectations in check. There are, unfortunately, a LOT of random factors that influence this process and it is very difficult to predict how any one candidate will fare. There is a small number "superstar" candidates who will garner the majority of the attention and over whom schools will fight, and then there's the rest of us who are good scholars and good teachers and who hopefully will find a good match. But I think on the whole this process can be characterized as more like trying to win the Miss America pageant than any rational job search effort.
I think the best uses of one's energy are: (1) generating scholarship that you care about and that is of a high quality and (2) cultivating relationships with colleagues across the country--reading their work, having them read your work, participating in conferences, etc.
My two cents--I am sure others see it differently.
Posted by: Baconator | Aug 29, 2013 3:37:48 PM
practice is not a black mark, firsttimer, so long as you're not writing articles that read like briefs. also, the comment above about academic life looking rosier from the outside is absolutely true -- do not allow yourself to think life in the academy is so much better. that's the natural instinct for anyone on the outside of anything: to think the inside is so much better. but it's often not better.
Posted by: anon | Aug 29, 2013 3:41:33 PM
No, I understand. I'm just saying that going from a year-to-year job making $60k-$70k, always feeling like I'm behind the eight ball because I only have two or three law review articles and not four or five, to a permanent job making $200k or so with no extracurricular publishing-type requirement (albeit with a much more inflexible schedule), is surprisingly liberating. Yes, I get home at 8:00, but when I do, I don't have to think twice about how much that six pack of beer was, and I can watch football. If I want to do some extracurricular writing, it's because I'm interested in the subject, not because I'm hard-pressed to get another thing placed ASAP.
Posted by: Failed academic wannabe | Aug 29, 2013 3:43:23 PM
Thanks, that does make me feel better. Maybe I might as well apply for a SOCUTS clerkship at the same time since it's as much of a longshot. ;)
Posted by: FirstTimer | Aug 29, 2013 3:49:27 PM
Well, you might have more success out of a SCOTUS clerkship than a SOCUTS one. ;)
But in all seriousness, I'd be interested to see the ratio of qualified applicants to openings for both SCOTUS clerkships and TT entry-level positions over the next few cycles. (Where qualified applicant = feeder clerkship plus top grades from the top handful of schools for SCOTUS, and VAP or fellowship plus COA clerkship plus three-plus law review publications for a TT position.) I'm guessing the ratios are much closer than you'd think.
Posted by: Failed academic wannabe | Aug 29, 2013 3:55:58 PM
Good lord, have I mentioned how much I hate the iphone?! LOL.
Posted by: FirstTimer | Aug 29, 2013 3:58:28 PM
Those of you who are assessing your chances should check out last year's (self-reported) entry level hiring report. As you'll see, a clerkship helps, but is not essential. It is tough to get a TT position without either an additional degree or a fellowship/VAP.
Posted by: Second Year Prof | Aug 29, 2013 4:17:03 PM
SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL in Boston invites applications for a tenure-track position starting in the 2014-2015 academic year. We seek entry-level and pre-tenure laterals with strong academic records and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Our search will focus on candidates with expertise or developing interest in business law, including but not limited to business entities, corporate finance, banking law, or securities regulation. Candidates’ teaching and research areas may also include advanced business topics in business planning or similar transactionally-oriented business subjects. Candidates may also be asked to teach a first year course. Suffolk University is an equal opportunity employer. We encourage applications from women, persons of color, sexual orientation minorities and others who will contribute to the diversity of the faculty. Interested candidates should contact Professors Jessica Silbey and Robert Smith, Co-Chairs, Faculty Appointments Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, with a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mail their materials to Co-Chairs of the Appointments Committee, c/o Babs Mello, at Suffolk University Law School, 120 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108-4677.
Posted by: Jeff Lipshaw | Aug 29, 2013 4:36:09 PM
This probably is a dumb question, but here goes anyway:
How do law schools usually contact you to set up interviews? By phone or by email?
Posted by: Clueless Fellow | Aug 30, 2013 2:41:03 AM
What is the basic range of possible AALS interview times? 9-5 Fri and Sat? How about Thurs?
Posted by: Anon | Aug 30, 2013 2:54:27 AM
>> By phone or by email?
And sometimes both, i.e., leaving message w/ secretary and sending email.
Posted by: answer | Aug 30, 2013 3:06:54 AM
Answer: any advice for someone who is out of the country for the next two weeks traveling on business? They will not be able to reach me by phone. In this case, would they simply send me an email?
Posted by: Clueless Fellow | Aug 30, 2013 3:30:33 AM
Re: Anon @ 2:54 - It's a bit idiosyncratic (like the entire process), but yes, that's about right. Some folks have complex schemes worked out about when to arrange your interviews so as to avoid people in food comas, avoid being the person keeping the committee from flying back home on Saturday night, etc. But it's all idiosyncratic.
@Clueless Fellow - Leave an away message on your phone asking people to email you? Have someone take your messages? Skip your trip for fear of missing a call? You can figure it out!
Posted by: Answers? | Aug 30, 2013 8:24:21 AM
Oh dear...He says from Germany.
Posted by: Clueless Fellow | Aug 30, 2013 8:45:26 AM
I think phones work in Germany. You'll be fine.
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 10:22:06 AM
If only they knew my German number.
Posted by: Clueless Fellow | Aug 30, 2013 10:30:36 AM
@Clueless Fellow, in my experience more than half the time a committee chair will email you if they don't reach you by phone (sometimes they'll only email and won't call at all). If it's too late to set your outgoing voicemail message, can't you just dial in to your voicemail from Germany every couple of days and then follow up with those who leave messages?
Posted by: babyprof | Aug 30, 2013 10:40:24 AM
That is a very good point babyprof. I will certainly try but I don't think it will work in my case (it's a long story!). So fingers crossed they email me when they don't get a phone answer.
Posted by: Clueless Fellow | Aug 30, 2013 10:49:04 AM
Here's a good one. Yesterday the school at which I am visiting changed my office phone number. So the number listed on my FAR form and CV now goes to someone else's line--someone who does not use their phone or check their messages very often, as it turns out.
Posted by: Baconator | Aug 30, 2013 11:02:31 AM
What is the general sense of the effectiveness of mailing packets to schools that haven't advertised in the AALS bulletin but in which a candidate might have a particular interest?
Posted by: RealisticOptimist | Aug 30, 2013 11:17:41 AM
@RO - I don't see that there is anything to lose. I'm certainly doing this.
Posted by: Baconator | Aug 30, 2013 11:52:53 AM
@RO +1 baconator's comment. I'm doing this as well.
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 12:21:40 PM
Germany? You are not alone CluelessFellow...small world indeed...
Posted by: Reader | Aug 30, 2013 1:28:12 PM
Another German? How many of us are in this game this year?
Posted by: germanon | Aug 30, 2013 3:16:03 PM
for what it's worth, i've now had calls from schools to whom i sent packets, who hadn't looked at the packets -- they were working off the FAR. and two of them didn't advertise in the bulletin. it seems a very random process.
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 3:30:13 PM
do people still send packets by post? or are these packets emailed?
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 3:43:15 PM
i emailed mine
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2013 4:35:05 PM
Interviews are generally set up by phone, but last year I got an E-mail or two.
Remember to check your spam filters!
Posted by: AlwaysAn0n | Aug 30, 2013 4:57:05 PM
FWIW, I checked the AALS website on behalf of the hiring committee to determine the deadline to place an ad in the first bulletin, and I couldn't find it-- I just kept going in circles. We wound up missing the first deadline and meeting the second. So to the extent people are reading a lot into the discrepancy between number of entry-level positions listed this year vs. last, I doubt I'm the only person who couldn't find guidance where it should have been easy to find, which means we're probably not the only committee that attempted to place an ad in the first bulletin and failed.
Posted by: jr | Aug 30, 2013 10:43:55 PM
Nonetheless, unless it's gotten a lot harder to place an ad, the same factors probably applied last year, no?
Posted by: nearFAR | Aug 31, 2013 1:22:52 AM
I would love to hear from veterans (current profs) weighing in on best/worst job talks they've seen (i.e., best practices and worst practices, without outing anyone). I've seen and gotten a lot of good advice from mentors and guides to the practice, but hearing more perspectives would be helpful. Not to get too metaphysical, but one thing I am struggling with, as I prepare mine, is how much to present the paper itself versus how much to talk about the paper (more meta, i.e., here is how it fits into the larger scholarship). Not that I am looking for an answer to that question, per se, but it would be terrific to have a thread or at least some comments on job talks.
Posted by: anon | Aug 31, 2013 12:11:41 PM
I know this may be a silly question, but I need to ask (while waiting anxiously for calls...) Does teaching experience play any consideration whatsoever when evaluating a candidate? I understand it is not as important as publications and other credentials, but is teaching even remotely relevant? Also, should I expect questions regarding my teaching experience during the AALS interviews?
Posted by: Reader | Aug 31, 2013 3:47:31 PM
@Reader, teaching experience is valued by many hiring committees, and does play a role. Many candidates are currently in VAPs or fellowships and will be asked about their approach to teaching, and committees will review student evaluations if they're available. Yes, you may get asked about your teaching experience, especially by schools outside of the top 50 and especially by schools that pride themselves on taking teaching seriously.
Posted by: babyprof | Aug 31, 2013 5:51:46 PM
@nearFAR, no: last year I remember the website was explicit about the deadline for schools to place ads in the first bulletin. This year it fumbled.
Posted by: jr | Aug 31, 2013 5:53:34 PM
@babyprof, Thank you for your input! Good news, I guess...
Posted by: Reader | Aug 31, 2013 7:02:50 PM
What's the deal with writing letters to some schools? Leiter recommends writing to schools in your area or other ones you're interested in, just to let them know of your ties to the area, interest, etc. But then the adviser from my law school sent me a sample that was very lengthy and just rehashed what's in the CV and FAR form, without mentioning any ties to a given area.
So should one send letters?
If so, to whom?
And what should one say in them?
Or is this all just busywork that won't accomplish anything apart from irritating some hiring chairs?
Thanks in advance!
Posted by: Steve | Sep 3, 2013 10:05:51 AM
I was strongy advised to write them directly to the hiring chair of schools I wanted to target. I am told that schools don't always click the CV and review it and so if you rely on FAR distribution you may be inviting a decision based on only that page. In my case, the letter was an opportunity to explain my background and interest with a bit more subjectivity, explain what makes me different, describe my research and writing interests more fulsomely, and target myself for the school (interested in this school for this reason, etc.).
Posted by: Anon | Sep 3, 2013 10:41:38 AM
how pessimistic should i be if i've not received any interviews yet?
Posted by: anon | Sep 3, 2013 11:53:35 AM
I suspect not at all. The vast majority of schools have yet to make any moves, and the few that have (Alabama, Florida, Missouri) all posted very specific hiring areas (Crim, Tax, Civ Pro, IP, etc.) on the AALS bulletin that probably helped streamline their decision-making significantly. Unless your main teaching interests lie in one of those areas, the process hasn't really started yet.
Posted by: Anon_2 | Sep 3, 2013 12:09:55 PM
Based on everyone I know on the market, the number of interview invitations so far is very small.
Posted by: fellow | Sep 3, 2013 2:25:22 PM
Are there any guides on how to determine when you are actually 'ready' to go on the AALS market in terms of publication record (Say for people with JDs from schools ranked below the top 5 but above 20 if it matters). In terms of placement and number? People have said that more is better and higher ranked law reviewers are better but that doesn't really provide a guideline as to what someone should have before feeling confident to go on the market.
Relatedly, how are academic books published by university presses regarded as compared to law review publications (do they count for more or for less?)?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 3, 2013 3:37:16 PM
Do hiring committee make calls in waves? Or if we see, say UC Irvine posts, should we assume if we did not get a call then we will not be getting one? Do they keep some spots open for people later like maybe if a recommender calls up, etc?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 3, 2013 5:02:12 PM
Based on threads from previous years, it appears schools call in waves. So if you had your heart set on Irvine, all is not necessarily lost. That said, not getting a call when others did can only be interpreted as a negative sign about your chances of getting a job at Irvine.
Posted by: anon | Sep 3, 2013 5:21:49 PM
I dunno. Looks like Alabama called some people on Thursday and other people today. Even taking into consideration the long weekend, it sounds like schools aren't necessarily making all calls the same day. If a school has more than one spot, they could be meeting to review the candidates for one spot first and then meeting to review the candidates for another spot later. Just a guess, but it's clear the Alabama calls were not only on separate days but had a full business day (Friday) between them.
Posted by: answer | Sep 3, 2013 5:26:58 PM
Yeah I did not necessarily mean Irvine per se but any of these schools. Do we know how they make callbacks, ie, a few more weeks they make more, etc. or perhaps after an email they respond"
I am assuming schools have a few slots open ...
Posted by: Anom | Sep 3, 2013 5:29:17 PM
I don't think we can assume Alabama called both days, I for one got called last week but only posted today. So maybe people should specify when called since not everyone will update right away.
Posted by: Anom | Sep 3, 2013 6:16:37 PM
1. Do schools call in waves?
Yes. We have an ititial group we schedule with, then people cancel, then we call up more people. I got an offer from a school that called me only 3 days before the hiring conference, so anything can happen.
2. Are there any guides on how to determine when you are actually 'ready' to go on the AALS market in terms of publication record?
This will vary by school. For me, I'm willing to go with as few as 1-2 publications if they are well-placed and the person has great credentials (top 20 JD, practice experience, clerkship, etc.). Otherwise, I look for more. Your last publication should not be your student note!
3. how pessimistic should i be if i've not received any interviews yet?
Don't be. Plenty of schools just started, and the committees have not met yet.
4. Send letters? Don't send letters?
Some people on my committee really value them, others don't. I find the letters to be most helpful if they say why the person actually wants to come to my geographic area. Many packets have been e-mailed directly to the chair, which makes it easy to forward to other committee members. One odd thing--some of the letters have come from a reference, not the candidate (usually some esteemed person from a T3 school). This is my first time on appointments, so I don't know how common that is.
5. Does anyone care about teaching experience?
A lot of schools are looking at how to revamp their classes so students actually learn something. I feel the consequence of this is that teaching experience is now valued more than when I was on the market. There are certain core classes my students are afraid of taking, and when we hire in that area, I want to be sure that person will be able to draw in students. The last thing I want is someone who can't get even 5 people to sign up for his or her class.
6. Best/worst job talks?
Worst: Candidate talks a mile a minute and is difficult to understand; uses too much jargon for their subject area, making it hard for us to understand; takes offense when someone interrupts their talk to ask a question (this happens on some faculties!); spends too long on background material and never gets to their thesis in 20 minutes.
Best: Most important--candidate states the thesis of the talk in the first minute and is not playing "hide the ball" with what the job talk is about. Candidate is clearly passionate about their subject area; breaks down difficult concepts that allow everyone on the faculty to follow the talk; handles difficult or off-the-wall questions gracefully.
Assume that more than half the faculty has not even flipped through your paper.
Posted by: 5thyearprawf | Sep 3, 2013 6:33:46 PM
Great insights - thank you 5thyearprawf.
Posted by: Baconator | Sep 3, 2013 6:39:39 PM
No problem, I'm happy to answer more questions!
Posted by: 5thyearprawf | Sep 3, 2013 7:04:39 PM
Posted by: thanks! | Sep 3, 2013 7:56:48 PM
I have friends who got calls from the same schools, last year, weeks apart. Everything I've ever heard suggests that calls come over time and you can't infer anything from timing. Do you really think a committee goes through all 600 forms in one meeting and makes just one set of scheduling calls?
Posted by: fellow | Sep 3, 2013 8:34:40 PM
Others may jump in here, but I was told by at least one hiring chair directly that after the FAR distribution comes out, there is almost no reason to send letters, since at that point they will either see you in the FAR distribution and pick you or they won't. This is just one hiring chair, of course, but it lines up with my personal experience from having done this multiple times, which was that even highly personalized letters, emphasizing ties to the area and highlighting a particularized fit with the school, resulted in no response, even when emailed to the hiring chair directly. In many cases, not even a "Thanks for your email, we will review your application." Literally no response. Now, it may be that I write terrible letters, but I think it is more likely that with so many candidates, hiring committees get overwhelmed with the level of personal applications, and need to make a cut somehow. Deciding to only look at the FAR seems like a fair way to do so.
Now, the one thing that was suggested to me was that if someone in your recommender list can make a *call* on your behalf, to someone that they *personally know* on the hiring committee, that can get you out of the FAR distribution and in to the list of interviewers, since someone is vouching for you other than yourself.
Posted by: anon | Sep 3, 2013 10:17:26 PM
"Do you really think a committee goes through all 600 forms in one meeting and makes just one set of scheduling calls?"
"Deciding to only look at the FAR seems like a fair way to do so."
I can tell you how it works for us. Each of us go through all of the FAR forms and pick out our top 25. Then we go to a very long meeting where we reach a consensus on who to interview. Then the chair immediately starts trying to schedule all of them for interviews.
There are more ways than just the FAR to get information. For example, there is a particular course that I really want to hire someone to teach. So I called a friend who is an expert in the field and asked him/her who the best candidates on the market are. I've also asked colleagues on my faculty who teach in related areas. This is a well-networked community, and many times if you ask enough colleagues, you will find one who knows of a great candidate in field X who is on the market.
Consequently, for those who are VAPs and are thinking of going on the market in the future, finding conferences where you can present is important. If a VAP gives a great talk at a conference and is going on the market, word will get out. I realize not all fields have this.
As for the lack of response to letters, they all go to the hiring chair and then get passed along to other committee members. If I find one useful, I'm not going to go back to the chair and send a thank-you e-mail. So don't take no response to mean the school isn't interested, there may just be a lag before it is considered.
Posted by: 5thyearprawf | Sep 3, 2013 11:12:56 PM
Aggregator: my alabama for civ pro was on 8/30 not 9/3. I just posted today but I got call Thursday. I was the one who posted earlier today. I think they may be doing a different field every day.
Posted by: Anon | Sep 4, 2013 12:05:17 AM
Posted by: aggregator | Sep 4, 2013 5:35:39 AM
Deadline for 2nd distribution FAR form today! Any info on how many people in the 2nd FAR distribution the last 2-3 years? Projections for this year?
Posted by: Reader | Sep 4, 2013 7:27:57 AM
Re: Tier 3 & 4 Schools - Does anyone have an opinion on how the drop in applications will affect tier 3 & 4 schools? I would expect that those schools would be the most "afraid" for the future, and thus, would limit hiring this year. Does anyone have any other thoughts on the subject?
Posted by: 1234 | Sep 4, 2013 9:47:38 AM
Lord, I'm nervous about the fate of even some Tier 1 schools. Personally, I would worry less about whether a school of interest will be hiring this year and more about whether that school will be around in ten or fifteen years.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 9:51:06 AM
what is tier 1 anyway? top 50? top 100?
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 11:55:48 AM
I was thinking USN&WR tier 1, which goes through 144. But YMMV.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 12:42:32 PM
I think the advice to send packets is a bit outdated. Now that the FAR form is much improved (thanks AALS!) and with full CVs viewable on line, the "packets" are most useful only if they add something specific about a school (e.g., I was born and raised in West Dakota and teaching at West Dakota law allows me access to friends and family). Good fit to a school's faculty or culture doesn't do that, unfortunately, since there are 50-100 candidates at a minimum who can make such a claim.
I am a sitting hiring chair, and we are getting 15-20 "packets" a day. While we would never hold against a candidate that they sent something in (even if it crashes my email), I don't think it adds much in most cases.
If you are not in the FAR, of course send packets. Anon 10:17 9/3 is right that a call (or email) from a reference is more likely to stand out then a full packet.
Posted by: hiring chair | Sep 4, 2013 12:50:11 PM
I always thought tier one was 1-50, tier two was 51-100, tier three was 101-150, and tier 4 was everyone else. Is that not right?
Posted by: 1234 | Sep 4, 2013 12:50:17 PM
This is probably a stupid question, but what information is typically included in a "packet" ? (or what -should- be included for those not currently in the FAR ?)
I'm a practicing gov't attorney and not sure about the $450 investment in the FAR. But I've published six good articles, am shopping a seventh, and polishing my CV. At this point, I'm not sure what to do next -- what do hiring chairs want to see from a potential candidate like me, other than a CV?
Posted by: practitioner | Sep 4, 2013 1:47:47 PM
Practitioner: Is this a question for this year's market? If so, the conventional wisdom is that it's too late. If you aren't in the first FAR distribution, most schools will never even look at you. With relatively few exceptions, $450 is the price of admission to the market. That said, I wouldn't pay the $450 to be in anything other than the first distribution.
On the substance of your Q, my understanding is that packets typically include a cover letter, CV, and research agenda, and they may also include some writing, such as your most recent article. You can send your job talk, but that's not essential.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 2:11:03 PM
I see a lot of questions on here from those who are on the market for the first time, so I thought I would share some observations based on having been through this process many times. Let me start by summarizing my qualifications and then I will share my experiences the multiple times I've been on the market.
The first time I was on the market was 2004. I graduated cum laude from a top 3 law school, (good) had a federal appellate clerkship, (good) but had no publications (bad) and was not on a law review (bad). I am a white male military veteran and had a decade of practice experience (bad, bad, bad and bad). I got 6 interviews, one from a VAP, three for legal writing and one for doctrinal from a struggling 4th tier school with accreditation issues. I got one callback from the 4th tier school and I got the offer and took the job. They called me based on the letter that I sent them. All the other interviews came from the FAR.
After two years full time teaching at the 4th tier school as a tenure track associate professor, I went back on the market in 2007. My goal was to try to move up to a higher tier school (why? better students, better pay, lighter courseload, more support for scholarship, easier to place articles, more prestige, etc.) I had two well placed law review articles by that time and a co-written book chapter. I had 6 interviews, and no callbacks.
After three years teaching, with a third article published/accepted and another in progress, I went on the market again in 2008 while on a military leave of absence while recalled to active duty. I had 13 interviews, which led to 2 callbacks from one school in the 50-100 range and one in the 100-150 range. I did not get an offer.
The following year, 2009, I went back on the market, I had 5 published articles by then, with a 6th in progress and had just won an important case which received national attention (e.g. front page NY Times). I had spoken at several symposia and conferences. I had 16 interviews with schools ranked as high as 30 down to the 4th tier. I got one callback which led to one offer from another struggling 4th tier school with a history of accreditation problems, but with an arguably slightly more promising outlook than my then current school. I took the offer.
I then decided to try a different tack. After two more years of teaching at the 4th tier school, and six more articles for a total of 11, I sought a visitorship and got a full year visitorship at a well-respected (rank 60-80) state law school for 2012-3. I then went back on the market last fall thinking that I would get more interviews as a lateral being at a higher ranked school. I had only 7 interviews from around 45 to 125, which led to one callback. I did not get the offer.
I should note that I was also on my school's faculty appointments committee twice, so I have been on the other side at the FRC as well.
So here are my general observations based on this experience:
Last year was the worse hiring market in the last 30 or maybe 40 years (my parents were in legal education for decades also so I'm drawing from their experience as well). This year is much worse. The first few times I applied there were roughly 25-30 law schools advertising for criminal law (my area). Last year there were a dozen. This year there are about half a dozen.
-People in the first distribution have a much better chance of getting interviews.
-Absent a SCOTUS clerkship, you need 3 law review articles (or 2 and a student law review note if you were on law review) to be seriously considered by a top 100 school. It is no coincidence that this year's FAR form allows for 5 publications. Law schools rarely hire on "scholarly promise" nowadays, so spectacular academic credentials just aren't enough. You must have a proven track record of scholarly productivity.
-There is a strong trend to hire those with Ph.Ds or other advanced degrees.
-For doctrinal positions, law practice of more than 3-5 years is generally a detriment, except at a few schools, mostly lower tier, which value practical experience a bit more. This might be changing a bit based on critiques that schools aren't providing practical skills.
-For entry level candidates, there is a good chance that you will have to do a VAP or a fellowship (like a Climenko Fellow or a Bigelow fellow) before you can get a tenure track position.
-Candidates who will increase the diversity of a faculty are at a distinct advantage.
-Sending an e-mail package to the hiring chair, or having one of your recommenders do so, can't hurt and might help. I have received 80-90% of my interviews through the FAR, but have received a few from the letters I sent specifying why I was a good match for the school's needs. Certainly, no hiring chair will penalize you for sending a package. And if they choose you from the FAR and then notice that you also sent a letter, that might make them feel that you have a genuine interest in the school and aren't just accepting any interview you get. If your favorite schools are hiring, I would definitely send a letter of interest.
-top 25-30 schools tend to hire the best available candidates regardless of specialty. After that, the lower you go, the more likely the school is to hire based on specific curricular needs.
-The AALS bulletin is not the final word on who is hiring or what they are hiring for. The ads have to be placed in the summer before the appointments committee has even met. Needs may change based on who goes on the market at a given school or who decides to retire or become a Dean. I have received several calls from schools in the past which did not advertise at all, or didn't advertise in my area.
- Interview invites will come in steadily through the month of September, and will continue at a trickle right through to the week before the conference. Many appointments committees are just meeting for the first time this week or next.
- If you are offered a choice of many interview slots, then you know you were one of the first people to be called, which might mean you are among the school's top picks. Or it might not. Some schools assign a faculty assistant/secretary to make the calls and some divide it up among the committee, and some appointment chairs handle it themselves.
- If they offer you only one or two interview times, then you are among the last to be called. This might mean they aren't all that interested in you and are just trying to fill their slots, or that they had a cancellation, or it might not. If you get an interview, assume they are interested and act accordingly.
- You might have heard about the rule of three - that you should expect one callback for every three interviews and one offer for every three callbacks. This has not been my experience. Schools will often interview 30 people for one or two positions and invite 3 for a callback, so it is more like 1 in 5 to 1 in 10. Schools do tend to invite 3 finalists, so I guess the rule of 3 might be more likely to apply there, but the best candidates will get a higher percentage of callbacks and offers.
I hope this was helpful. I am happy to answer additional questions.
Posted by: beenthere | Sep 4, 2013 2:21:43 PM
I'm in the first distribution, but having never been on the hiring side am curious *why* being in the first distribution is important, apart from timing.
I ask because timing seems to matter less this year; schools are taking their time. I thought the "distribution" just meant that candidates' FAR forms and CVs became available to schools on the AALS site. So, presumably, the second distribution just adds more people to the pool. If a school hasn't downloaded FAR forms/CVs until, say, the day after the second distribution - and it appears many schools are only moving on these things now - why wouldn't it download the FAR forms & CVs that were submitted as part of the second distribution as well? Just the usual proxy nonsense ("well, if they couldn't get their stuff together for the first distribution, then there is no way they could possibly be a brilliant scholar, and we have SO many people who DID apply in the first distribution") or is there something I am missing?
I am assuming schools can tell which distribution you were in, but I suppose that's another question.
Posted by: First distributionist | Sep 4, 2013 2:23:46 PM
If you have six good articles (by which I assume you mean actual law review articles), send your CV and a cover letter and one writing sample to the hiring chair. if you have prior teaching, you might send one set of teaching evals as a PDF, but I would probably just offer to send those and offer to send a list of references if not on your CV. Theoretically, you are not allowed to participate in the FRC unless you have paid your fee, so if you have missed the FAR, you might just wait and see if you get any interview invites before paying the registration fee. You can find the names of some hiring chairs elsewhere on prawfsblawg and also check the faculty lounge, the chronicle of higher education, highereducationjobs.com, the higher education recruitment consortium (HERC), and Inside Higher Ed for job leads. Good luck.
Next year start earlier and get into the first distro of the FAR.
Posted by: beenthere | Sep 4, 2013 2:28:09 PM
dude. yes, it was helpful. depressing as shit, but helpful.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2013 2:30:42 PM
RE: first distributionist
Although it may seem that schools are starting later this year, that is not necessarily true. The FRC has actually been moved up a week earlier this year from last (and last year was a week earlier than the year before), so the hiring committees are definitely under time pressure. The main reason you want to be in the first distro is that with close to 600 candidates in the first distro, there is a very good chance that a school will fill all its available interview slots at the hiring conference from among this group, in which case they may not even bother to look at the 2d distro. Or they might just look at the 2d distro to fill slots for cancellations, if any. Second, I think there is a sense, fair or not, that candidates with their act together would have gotten into the first distro.
Posted by: beenthere | Sep 4, 2013 2:55:48 PM
About being in the 2nd distribution, a different perspective:
Posted by: Reader | Sep 4, 2013 4:14:26 PM
It's all academic at this point because you are either in the first distro or you are not, but for future consideration my experience is that reviewing the FAR is a very fatiguing process. Committees get tired of it and want it over with, and that is another reason you don't want to be in the second distro. I think if the second distro gets looked at, it will probably not be reviewed with the same level of care and attention, so there is a greater chance of being overlooked.
Posted by: beenthere | Sep 4, 2013 4:26:57 PM
Another reason you want to be in the first distribution is a general bias towards candidates who are savvy about the marked. I have served on several committees and can tell you that when we looked at the second distribution, it was with a skeptical eye, because we assumed that anyone who was serious would have done their homework and gotten into the first distribution.
It is generally the case that candidates savvy about the process do much better. That is why VAPs are so important. There is a noticeable difference between candidates who have been educated about how the marked works and those who haven't. Even if the committee sets out to be open to less polished candidates, it is very hard not to be seduced by the many more savvy ones.
Posted by: VoiceOfExperience | Sep 4, 2013 7:23:29 PM
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