Thursday, August 28, 2014
A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2014-2015
In this comment thread to 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 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.
Here is a link to the last page of comments.
First posted 8/28/14.
Last year at the end, the spreadsheet included over a hundred schools; this year's spreadsheet shows about a third of that number so far. Does anyone have data of how this compared, as of the same time last year?
Also, anyone have experience in interpreting initial emails? Does a thank you note for a C.V., or the lack thereof, connote useful information?
Posted by: Nemo | Aug 28, 2014 10:04:07 AM
I think a thank you e-mail (or lack thereof) says more about the hiring committee (and maybe the school) than it does about your chances. It is likely everyone (or no one) got one. I now see, however, that a bit of disorganization on my school's part during the recruiting process should have clued me in to how disorganized they are in general and how much red tape is present. More organized and gracious hiring committees might tell you something about the school's culture (or might just tell you that they got good people on their hiring committee this year).
As to hiring this year, I don't know how the numbers compare, but my guess is that it will be even worse than last year and last year was the worst in recent history.
Posted by: Prof | Aug 28, 2014 10:16:45 AM
Does anyone recall the wave of law firms deferring associates' start dates (or, in some instances, offering "buyouts" or simply rescinding offers) that happened around 2009? Three to four years later, there was (unsurprisingly) a dearth of mid-level associates, who often fill the essential role of "project managers" in large-scale litigation. Obviously, there are numerous differences between the infrastructure of huge law firms and law school faculty, but is there any reason to think that a similar dynamic might result in a spate of academic hiring in, say, two years (at least, for those who have the requisite publications, etc.)?
Posted by: AnAnon | Aug 28, 2014 10:42:27 AM
AnAnon, I don't think the law-firm analogy holds because junior faculty and senior law faculty do the same job. But I suspect you're right that the right-sizing enterprise has a time element. If you have a faculty of 60, and you really need to get down to a faculty size of 50, it will take a few years to do it. During that window you'll be reluctant to hire new profs. But once the shrinking is done, then there needs to be hiring to fill in the spots of departing and retiring profs to maintain the faculty at 50. That may or may not be a "spate" of hiring, as it's really just filling open slots, but it will be more of a return to normal. (Of course, this assumes that the school is stable operating at 50 profs over time; as always, YMMV.)
Posted by: Orin Kerr | Aug 28, 2014 12:45:07 PM
Something I noticed in comments from previous years is that some people put a research statement in their FAR form. Where is one supposed to do so? Attach it to the CV? Will that be looked on as obnoxious since it only asks for a resume? (Yes, I am one of the losers that will only be in the second distribution so I can still make changes...)
Posted by: anonatty | Aug 28, 2014 2:09:26 PM
When I was on the market about ten years ago, there was no need to have a personal statement. In the past three or five years, however, the norm has become to have a detailed (1-5 page) personal statement. From my experience, many of these are well written declarations of scholarship and the candidates' projective trajectory, to include works in progress and future articles. I'd probably add something about teaching agenda.
Given this trend, you'd be putting yourself at a disadvantage not having one. The personal statement can be sent directly to committees, posted at the end or beginning of a resume (I'd recommend appending it at the end), or as a separate document.
Posted by: AnonProf | Aug 28, 2014 3:06:53 PM
Posted by: anonatty | Aug 28, 2014 3:59:06 PM
If I could ask one more question...if something is not a serious academic publication, is it better to exclude it from the FAR? My situation is I have several papers under review, but the only thing I have published since law school is a half-page analysis in a lawyer magazine--and that was technically co-authored (in other words, I wrote it, but my boss' name got on it :)). Is it better to rely on my scholarship record as a PhD student (hence the 3 under review, plus my dissertation) or should I include that weak publication because it's better than nothing?
Posted by: anonatty | Aug 28, 2014 4:11:50 PM
I'd include it, especially if you would consider an offer from a third or fourth tier school. The opinions may vary on this one.
Posted by: Prof | Aug 28, 2014 5:06:29 PM
Describing something as "not a serious academic publication" answers the question. If it's not an academic publication, it doesn't count and listing it signals you may not understand what the market is looking for. Only list academic publications in the FAR and on your CV.
Posted by: anon | Aug 28, 2014 6:08:16 PM
anon, I disagree. there are a number of third and fourth tier schools that appreciate practitioner publications. The publications won't count for tenure, but they are better than nothing.
Posted by: Prof | Aug 28, 2014 9:29:32 PM
The category on the FAR form is "Major Published Writings." It's tough to imagine when a 1/2-page, co-written piece would count, regardless of the audience.
Posted by: BAG | Aug 28, 2014 10:56:56 PM
There is disagreement on some of these issues.
I strongly suspect all would say that a half-page anything is not a publication and should not be listed. But I think it is fine to include, among your publications, a practice-oriented publication that is directly related to your scholarly and teaching interests. So, you list Law Review Articles A & B, and then this article you published (with a partner) in, say, an ABA journal that is about Hobby Lobby (assuming you are on the market for health law, First Amendment, corporate law, gender and the law, etc.). I think that's reasonable, but I know some will say law reviews only.
Note that I did not say list every practice-oriented publication; use your judgment. I also assumed that you have law review publications, but if not, the problem is not that you are listing a practice-oriented publication; it is that you don't have law review publications, and people will notice.
Posted by: anon | Aug 29, 2014 11:12:17 AM
Apologies if this posts a second time.
There is disagreement on some of these issues.
A half-page anything is not a publication and should not be listed. But I think it is fine to include, among your publications, a practice-oriented publication that is directly related to your scholarly and teaching interests. So, you list Law Review Articles A & B, and then this article you published (with a partner) in, say, an ABA journal that is about Hobby Lobby (assuming you are on the market for health law, First Amendment, corporate law, gender and the law, etc.). I think that's reasonable, but I know some will say law reviews only.
Note that I did not say list every practice-oriented publication. Use your judgment. I also assumed that you have law review publications, but if not, the problem would not be that you are listing a practice-oriented publication. It would be a lack of law review publications.
Posted by: anon | Aug 29, 2014 11:16:33 AM
I have compiled the law professor positions in business schools that I am aware of at the Business Law Prof Blog: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2014/08/legal-studies-positions-in-business-schools.html
I will continue to update the list as I receive information.
FYI: My experience is that business schools hire professors with a wide range of research interests, as long as you can tie it back to business in some way (bankruptcy, business associations, contracts, corporate governance, employment, IP, property, securities regulation, torts, tax, etc.)
Posted by: Haskell Murray | Aug 29, 2014 3:46:05 PM
Also, note that a few of the postings (Babson and Cal State) have 9/15 deadlines. For those who are not aware, Babson has a truly excellent entrepreneurship program, but I had not heard of the school when I was on the market.
Posted by: Haskell Murray | Aug 29, 2014 3:51:37 PM
Faculty on hiring committees at third and fourth tier law schools know the difference between academic scholarship and writing that is something else. Highlighting non-academic work on the FAR and in your CV is likely to turn off hiring committees who are looking to interview candidates who will be expected to be good scholars as well as good classroom teachers. It's a risk to do so that I would advise against. The very fact that there is "disagreement" on this issue should be a warning to the risk adverse.
Posted by: anon | Aug 29, 2014 6:06:08 PM
Query on recent posts from other thread; do we have a common working definition of what should, and what should not, be considered for 'requests for more info/materials'? I.e., what is too trivial to report? E.g., one assumes requests for recent publications are material; would requests for research statements or requests to complete additional online forms be material?
Posted by: Anon | Aug 30, 2014 5:35:11 AM
As someone on the market any info is useful to me about whether a school has contacted you specifically to ask for anything - job talk, agenda, etc....
Posted by: anon | Aug 30, 2014 8:32:17 AM
I have been told that Suffolk law school is not hiring this year.
Posted by: Sarah L. | Aug 30, 2014 7:50:20 PM
I would guess not with Suffolk offering buyouts to all tenured faculty
Posted by: JA | Aug 31, 2014 12:01:53 PM
Is it just me or is this thread much quieter than in past years?
Posted by: HopefulProf | Aug 31, 2014 4:22:19 PM
Maybe fewer first time applicants or most people applying this year have been following prawfsblawg for years.
Posted by: anon | Aug 31, 2014 5:20:29 PM
Reading over last year's Clearinghouse, there was an "unwritten rule" that I had not heard before: "don't call someone professor." http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2013/08/a-clearinghouse-for-questions-2013-2014/comments/page/8/#comments Intuitively, this makes sense in the AALS interview setting, but what wasn't clear from the thread is whether it also applies to target letters to faculty whom you have not met before. What's the read on this?
Posted by: anon | Sep 1, 2014 9:14:07 AM
I think that was pretty foolish advice. I think there are more risks with calling someone by their first name or calling them "Mr. or Ms." As a junior professor, I still address professors I have never met (or only met once or twice) as "Professor" when writing them an e-mail or note.
Posted by: OneJRProf | Sep 1, 2014 4:50:55 PM
Isn't the obvious "best practice" to address them as "Professor ________" in your first e-mail, and then switch to their first name when they sign their response that way (as they usually will)?
Posted by: TwoJRProfs | Sep 1, 2014 5:10:11 PM
I asked the question. And I would agree that is the intuitive best practice, and also what I have been doing. Which is why the ambiguity of this alleged unwritten rule provoked the question.
Posted by: Anon | Sep 1, 2014 5:20:32 PM
Posted by: TwoJRProfs | Sep 1, 2014 5:44:45 PM
I think the unwritten rule was for the in-person interview, rather than emails, and for that purpose it seems like fair advice to me.
Posted by: anon | Sep 1, 2014 7:04:51 PM
If so, agreed.
Posted by: Anon | Sep 1, 2014 7:51:31 PM
Is there a set time that the committees take lunch breaks on Fri and Sat at the AALS conference, or do the lunch times differ by school? how about end times?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 1, 2014 7:58:23 PM
So, the other thread has forty odd schools listed as offering positions. Has the market really shrunk that much since last year's hundred odd positions, or are schools withholding their hiring strategies longer this year?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 2, 2014 1:09:45 AM
Advice in response to some of the queries on this thread --
(1) A brief note from the hiring chair in response to your message indicates courtesy and an attempt to humanize the process despite the extremely high volume of correspondence. It does not signify your standing in terms of review.
(2) In the event others in your program received the brief courtesy acknowledgment and you did not, don't worry. Unsolicited emails with materials and recommendations pile up after even an hour away from the computer. Your materials were safely filed for review along with the many others that came during the same time period even if a courtesy response was inadvertently omitted (perhaps because more application-related correspondence came in during the writing and sending of acknowledgments!)
(3) If you send unsolicited materials, address the hiring chair as Professor LastName. It can appear presumptuous to use a first name, particularly in an unsolicited mailing. Even eminent professors sending unsolicited recommendations generally use the courtesy Professor on the first message. You should too as an applicant.
(4) If you place an article in the fall submission season, send an update. When in doubt about other types of updates, a rule of thumb is that it should be similar in materiality to this kind of news. It bears repeating: Hiring chairs get huge amounts of email from applicants, recommenders, and fellow faculty members forwarding triplicate or even quadruplicate mailings from applicants and recommenders hitting up a buddy in hopes they'll put in a good word. (What often happens is a forward of the request and repeat mailing to the chair.) Send meaningful information to make a good impression and exercise good judgment about whether (and how often) to write.
Good luck out there! I know (and see from correspondence from candidates and recommenders) that the usual anxiety of going on the teaching job market is intensified because of market conditions. Don't let it get you down too much. When the interviews come, I hope you enjoy the thrill of talking about your projects to scholars who are excited about you and your work.
Posted by: HiringProf | Sep 2, 2014 3:08:55 AM
Is it me, or does it seem like schools are moving slower to schedule screening interviews as compared to previous years?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 2, 2014 10:07:08 AM
not particularly, if you look at the excel sheet from last year it seems as though ~6 schools sent out notices on what would have been last thursday/ friday; ~22 schools did it this week; 22 schools the following week, 23 the week following that; 14 following that and 3 the following week.
Of course some of these are repeats as the excel sheet was broken down by subject area so if Alabama called people in torts, health and IP, it got recorded three times (and often on different dates), and I did not account for this in my calculations as all I was interested in was rough numbers so I could know when to freak out if I hadn't heard anything by.
Posted by: anon | Sep 2, 2014 10:41:46 AM
We take our lunch breaks between 11:30 and 1:30, depending on when the scheduling works out.
Posted by: prof | Sep 2, 2014 9:17:24 PM
1. Are committees taking longer: With fewer applicants and few slots, committees like mine don't feel like there is much of a rush. The beginning of the semester is always a busy time and it sometimes takes a week or two before the committee can find time to meet to choose who to interview.
2. "Has the market really shrunk that much since last year's hundred odd positions, or are schools withholding their hiring strategies longer this year?" Unfortunately, I think that the market has gotten even worse. This isn't strategic, there aren't many places hiring that I am aware of. Some schools have not yet figured out their hiring priorities and will post once they know them.
3. How to address people in e-mails: I see no harm saying "Dear Professor X" to the hiring chair when e-mailing material. If they reply back with their first name, start using that. I know people stress about this, but I'd never fault someone who addresses me as professor at first.
Posted by: NewlyTenured | Sep 2, 2014 11:15:03 PM
I have been building up my resume by teaching for a couple of years as adjunct in many law schools in my area. My students' evaluation are excellent. I have also finished my first law review article and I am waiting to hear from law reviews. What would be the best strategy to become more appealing to law schools? Write and publish other articles? Finding a VAP position? Apply to a fellowship program?
Posted by: Adjunct | Sep 3, 2014 9:38:33 AM
Adjunct, I was in your position in 2010. As I was told at the time, publications are the coin of the realm, so write and write some more. Assuming you are still in practice, writing is really tough -- more so if you have a family. But it is worth it in marketability. The downside of VAPs and fellowships is that, in recent years, they have produced more candidates than they placed (anecdotally at least), leaving a cohort of candidates with numerous publications looking for their first TT job. Should you seek such a position? I think that depends on your ability to write while also practicing and teaching as an adjunct (as well as your financial position -- if you can afford to take a prestigious fellowship like a Climenko or Bigelow, I'd do it). But it also depends (to some extent) on where you want or are willing to teach. Lower ranked schools care less about VAPs and fellowships and even # of publications and more about teaching ability and (increasingly) practice experience. I guess ultimately, my advice would be WRITE, WRITE, WRITE and, if you can (a) do it financially and (b) land a top-notch fellowship (Climenko, Bigelow, the one at Stanford, etc.) -- but ONLY a top-notch fellowship -- then that would likewise be worthwhile.
Posted by: 4thYearProf | Sep 3, 2014 11:22:37 AM
@4thYearProf, thanks a lot for your advice. This gives me the right boost to continue writing. Thanks!
Posted by: Adjunct | Sep 3, 2014 11:48:43 AM
Does anyone know what courses GW actually needs an IP scholar to teach? Its AALS Bulletin advertisement doesn't elaborate.
Posted by: OtroAnon | Sep 3, 2014 6:27:52 PM
Adjunct--4thYearProf is right, keep on writing and don't risk a fellowship. I'm seeing too many FAR forms with candidates jumping from one fellowship to the next, unable to find a tenure-track position. Now is not the time to leave a paying permanent job.
Posted by: NewlyTenured | Sep 3, 2014 7:27:28 PM
@newlytenured: thanks to you as well. I will write. I am all fired up because my first law review article just received four good offers for publication...it means that I am not that bad ehehehe! Let's start writing the second article!!!!
Posted by: Adjunct | Sep 3, 2014 8:35:46 PM
I haven't gotten a single interview yet. I guess I should just assume that I probably won't find a job this year. I was told I was a pretty strong candidate, but I'm obviously not. Okay, enough whining.
Posted by: blueanon | Sep 3, 2014 10:40:57 PM
Buck up, blueanon - it's really still very early in the process; I think most schools still haven't set up interviews yet. As NewlyTenured says, they know the market and they're in no rush.
Posted by: AnotherAnon | Sep 4, 2014 5:41:20 AM
When an applicant receives a call offering an interview, how much should the applicant engage the caller beyond just scheduling the interview? I thank the caller, express interest in the school, and ask whether the school has specific curricular needs in mind. Beyond that, what would be appropriate to discuss during that phone call? (This question assumes that the caller is a member of the appointments committee.)
Posted by: Etiquette | Sep 4, 2014 10:11:41 AM
Do most schools make all their calls at once? Or do they sometimes make calls on different days? So, for instance, once we see that a school has made calls in the hiring thread, does that mean that we should no longer expect a call in the future if we haven't already heard from them? I'd be interested in hearing thoughts on this from someone with experience on a hiring committee.
Posted by: anonn | Sep 4, 2014 10:15:34 AM
What does it mean to get requests for more information? How likely is it to lead to interviews? I have gotten four of those in the last few days but no interviews yet.
Posted by: Anon | Sep 4, 2014 10:40:45 AM
Christ, this is like being in high school and waiting for a boy to call and ask you to prom.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2014 11:55:50 AM
How damaging to your chances with a school is a typo in the cover letter/letter of interest? I've sent almost twenty direct applications but have discovered small mistakes in three of them. Is that it for me with those schools?
Posted by: anonlife | Sep 4, 2014 1:07:31 PM
blueanon | Sep 3, 2014 10:40:57 PM, still very early. Write, work, love, and keep hoping.
Etiquette | Sep 4, 2014 10:11:41 AM, engage the caller for as long as you have something interesting (professional and personal) to talk about. Don't take up too much of the person's time, but take the opportunity to make a personal connection.
anonn | Sep 4, 2014 10:15:34 AM, differs from school to school. Usually, schools call in waves because (1) the hiring chair, or whoever is calling, doesn't have time to call everyone the same day or even the same week and (2) committees often vote to fill a few slots, not all slots, at a time.
Anon | Sep 4, 2014 10:40:45 AM, impossible to read into calls for information. Send it. Make yourself look the best possible and hope for the best.
Posted by: anon | Sep 4, 2014 11:55:50 AM, Sho' you're right, girl.
anonlife | Sep 4, 2014 1:07:31 PM, Try not to make typografical errors (woops there's one). But don't stress if you made them. Not much you can do to change them without drawing attention to yourself. If it's low key and you need to resend the material, make the correction then. If not, just think of it this way, "If they make a big deal of those small typos, they're not a faculty I'd want to work with." I know, I know, it's not fully satisfying, but there's nothing else to do but smile, smile, smile.
Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 4, 2014 2:06:18 PM
I got an email from a school asking to do a phone interview asap, i.e. this week. What on earth does that mean? I have no idea how to prepare since my impression was that AALS was the usual first interview...
Posted by: anonatty | Sep 4, 2014 2:18:15 PM
In my (limited) experience, phone interviews can either:
a) be in place of the AALS interview for faculties that are not going to AALS or want to use AALS slots for others. It can (and has) led to a straight callback (or rejection)
b) Be a quick "pre-screen" for schools that want to know more about some candidates before inviting them to a AALS interview.
Either way, the rules are the same as a AALS interview. Talk about your scholarship and teaching, sell yourself, try to make a connection. It can sometimes be hard because there may be multiple people on the otehr end that you can't see. I know that some faculties are now doing Skype interviews instead. See if that can be arranged, but avoid technical issues.
Posted by: anonandoff | Sep 4, 2014 4:38:57 PM
Phone interviews can be an interesting experience and also an opportunity for you to gauge the school. Look at the chronicle of higher education forum on job searches, there are some very useful threads on this issue.
Posted by: I.F | Sep 4, 2014 5:20:53 PM
Anyone know which SoCal schools are hiring or even have a hiring committee? Cal Western and USD appear to have very narrow searches; UC Irvine and UCLA more general. Is that really it? No Loyola, no Southwestern, no Pepperdine, no USC, no TjSL, no Chapman, no Whittier, no others?
Posted by: anon | Sep 5, 2014 4:23:12 PM
Has anyone gotten any calls from the Chicago area schools? DePaul, Kent, U Chicago, or Northwestern?
Posted by: Anon | Sep 5, 2014 5:25:56 PM
Is Kent hiring? Depaul is very subject limited, I have heard.
Posted by: anon | Sep 5, 2014 6:29:06 PM
Since not much is happening in this comments section, I shall pose a very important question. Do I need to shave my luxurious goatee for my AALS interview? I've been told that it imparts a certain prestige in academic circles, rife as it has recently become with strands of gray (indicating experience and wisdom) and symbolic of the true scholar's rejection of corporate norms. Yet clean-shavenness does seem better suited to the legal world, demonstrating a modicum of respect for and conformity to the norms of the profession. Male lawyers, of course, must be clean-shaven (with the exception of public defenders, who are honor-bound not to look too much more presentable than their clients); male judges, on the other hand, often benefit from a well-manicured facial growth (particularly those who find it difficult to avoid smirking at counsels' arguments). Alas--what is the aspiring law professor to do with his facial hair?
Posted by: anon_hirsute | Sep 8, 2014 2:04:37 PM
An early phone/video screening interview can be any of the things mentioned above (a way of doing initial interviews for the FRC or for doing additional interviews beyond those done at the FRC). If the school is fast-tracking it then it can also be a very good sign - that they like you a lot and want to get a jump on you so if things are good they can move quickly on your candidacy.
Posted by: An0n | Sep 8, 2014 2:34:13 PM
I'm keeping my beard.
Posted by: anon | Sep 8, 2014 2:48:27 PM