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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.

(Before you ask your questions, you may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.) 

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

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 26, 2013 at 11:02 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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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 jsilbey@suffolk.edu and rsmith@suffolk.edu, with a copy to bmello@suffolk.edu, 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.

Good times!

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

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