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Friday, September 01, 2017

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2017-2018

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors 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, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

After the AALS hiring conference, there will be a different thread in which candidates or professors 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.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-2016, and 2016-2017.

Originally posted September 1, 2017. 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 1, 2017 at 12:31 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


Should I be sending thank-you emails for AALS interviews?

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 7:45:18 AM

I received five callbacks last year, and the first one was the Monday after AALS.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 7:55:16 AM

I wouldn't freak out until Wednesday. I'm sure that many committees made calls last night (and the spreadsheet seems to back that up) but others need a few days to extend calls.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 5, 2017 7:56:08 AM

Has American made callbacks yet? They have been doing screening for a while.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 8:13:30 AM

If we interviewed at a school thatextended a callback yesterday per the spreadsheet, should we assume we are not getting one or just that we may not be a top candidate?

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 8:27:48 AM

I wouldn't assume that. Flight schedules might be different, for instance. If they interviewed u tol 4 yesterday and had a 7 pm flight, they probably aren't calling anyone.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 8:43:16 AM

Several committees mentioned their timelines being anywhere from a week to two months out for making these decisions. I would not freak out.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 8:44:09 AM

Patience is essential throughout this whole process. You may get a callback and not hear back for a month. They like you, but their first choice is the Bristow/Yale PhD/ SCOTUS clerk who probably will get more attractive offers. But they won't make an offer to you until the superstar declines.

I know very few people who received instant gratification in the law school hiring process.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 8:49:06 AM

Be patient but manage your expectations and start working on a plan B if you have no callbacks lined up by Thanksgiving and are on a fellowship that will end in a few months. Some hiring chairs keep candidates in the loop, but many don't.

I've received contrary advice from mentors in the past but I think there's nothing wrong with sending a friendly email inquiry to hiring chairs about two weeks after AALS, even if you don't have the pretext of an offer from another school. I say this having wasted precious time hoping -- against better judgment -- that some committees might still be considering me.

Good luck everyone!

Posted by: been there | Nov 5, 2017 11:03:24 AM

Do schools ever invite only one candidate for a callback, or are there always multiple?

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 11:51:48 AM

Does anyone know whether Vermont was the conference? I haven't seen them mentioned.

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 1:12:22 PM

There are almost always multiples -- faculty don't respond well to lack of choice when it comes to hiring. Typically 3-4 per slot. I would definitely email everyone you met with a thank you note, sometimes those emails can shake loose an official rejection or, perhaps even, a notification that you're still in the running.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 5, 2017 1:37:52 PM

anonhiringchair-thanks for your great insights. thoughts on thank-you emails to aals interviewers?

Posted by: anon | Nov 5, 2017 1:54:37 PM

Vermont was there...

Posted by: Anon | Nov 5, 2017 10:19:01 PM

Anyone knows whether University of Arkansas at Little Rock has made a callback?

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 11:19:01 AM

anyone else asked about "lutheran doctrine" at a certain school...

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 12:23:04 PM

The school that is my top choice (not based on ranking, but location, faculty, etc.) all but told me at AALS that I'd get a callback. I have not yet heard from that school, but I have from a few other schools. I'm worried about filling up my schedule with my less-preferred choices, making it difficult for me to schedule a callback with my first-ranked school (I live in an out-of-the-way location, so I have to add a day for travel on each end).

Is it OK to send a check-in email to my top-choice school? Or is that too aggressive?

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 12:32:48 PM

anon | Nov 6, 2017 12:32:48 PM,
Under those circumstances, I think sending an email is fine and advisable. Ordinarily, the advice is not to send a follow-up email this soon after the conference(although thank emails are just fine). However, because you've received several callbacks, it is legitimate to call the favored school's committee chair and say something like: "you are my preferred school because you have the follow programs, location, ambiance, collegiality, and what not. I apologize to take your time so soon after the conference, but given the circumstance I wanted to let you know that I have several other interviews already, while you remain at the top of my list. Please keep me apprised as the process moves forward, and I'll follow up if there's anything new" The more risky, but tempting, question is, "When do you anticipate making your decision?" Obviously that's very rough explication of gist the email can have, but I'm sure you get the idea.

Posted by: AnonProf1 | Nov 6, 2017 12:59:33 PM

Anon @ 12:32 -- Another alternative if you have someone willing to do it, is to have a recommender call. It is not uncommon for schools to receive calls from recommenders right after AALS, and that would allow that person to convey that you have multiple other callbacks (it sounds like at least some from higher ranked schools), as well as how interested you are in the school (this will be conveyed simply by the fact that you are having your recommender call when you have other callbacks already). It will also give them a chance to be reminded of your virtues by someone who thinks highly of you. If they are moving slow, this may get them to move more quickly (for fear of losing you). If they are waffling about the callback for some reason (and this has been known to happen, even when you think one is coming), this could shore up their interest.

Posted by: AnonProf2 | Nov 6, 2017 3:49:11 PM

I think it is a little presumptuous to email so soon. It's only Monday. For schools that do not have their deans there at AALS they have to meet this week. A way to deal with it is to hold off a day or two before cementing travel arrangements with the other schools. You can always move things around a day or two with some of those schools especially if you don't care as much about them.

These schools all know what kind of pressures we are under. With the thanksgiving holiday, if schools want to make callbacks before terms end there really is only 2 weeks to do it. This is usually not the situation at aals since aals is usually earlier. it's still really early.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 4:09:16 PM

I'm not sure about others, but I'm starting to worry. I've only received a few callback offers from AALS, and it's not the schools that I was hoping to hear from. Fortunately, those schools aren't listed as offering callbacks on the spreadsheet, so perhaps they have not yet called.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 4:33:31 PM

We often get thank you notes around this time that, beyond the thank you, say something like "Although I've been fortunate to receive a few callbacks, I would be delighted to visit your campus and learn more." Those never bother me. I would avoid telling a school that they're your first choice -- there's something about that which we cannot have that makes it all the more attractive. Thus, sadly, the candidate you feel you can easily recruit often appears less attractive. So I'd advise appearing interested but not smitten.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 6, 2017 4:33:40 PM

> I'm not sure about others, but I'm starting to worry. I've only received a few callback offers from AALS, and it's not the schools that I was hoping to hear from.

The default outcome for most of us is to end up without a single job offer from any school. "A few callback offers" means you have a shot at some job offer somewhere. If the wonderful prospect of actually getting a job makes you "worry," you can do the rest of us a favor by turning down your callbacks and letting those of us with more hunger have at them.

Posted by: anonapplicant | Nov 6, 2017 5:07:29 PM

agree^^ this is not firm OCI. "A few" is a lot.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 6, 2017 5:43:22 PM

Any offer should be celebrated. They're just so very difficult to get and there's a lot of luck that goes into getting even just one. The only schools I would be leery of are those that are constantly in the news about low bar passage as they may not be around much longer and an affiliation with that school could be taken as a black mark on your resume.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 6, 2017 5:48:25 PM

Does anyone have a sense as to how many of the people on the market are elite candidates (e.g., T14 grads w/ federal appellate clerkships, 1+ article published in a top 100 flagship (or top 10 secondary) journal, and a T14 fellowship/VAP/PhD)? My understanding is that the majority of people who go on the market are practitioners who, while impressive by most standards, haven't jumped through most of the hoops expected of wannabe law profs (or are people coming from second-tier VAPs).

I don't mean this to represent a judgment as to candidates' relative strengths--I'm just trying to get a better sense of the make-up of the applicant pool this year.

Posted by: anon3 | Nov 6, 2017 5:50:35 PM

Does anyone have a sense as to how many of the people on the market are elite candidates (e.g., T14 grads w/ federal appellate clerkships, 1+ article published in a top 100 flagship (or top 10 secondary) journal, and a T14 fellowship/VAP/PhD)? My understanding is that the majority of people who go on the market are practitioners who, while impressive by most standards, haven't jumped through most of the hoops expected of wannabe law profs (or are people coming from second-tier VAPs).

I don't mean this to represent a judgment as to candidates' relative strengths--I'm just trying to get a better sense of the make-up of the applicant pool this year.

Posted by: anon3 | Nov 6, 2017 5:50:36 PM

How common is it for a school to meet with a candidate for drinks or dinner during AALS (after the interview) but then not extend a callback? I would normally think that was a good sign, but this process is all new to me.

Posted by: surprised anon | Nov 6, 2017 6:10:51 PM

I don't think that anyone should assume that they are not getting a callback merely because the school has not yet called.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 6:17:37 PM

Really, any one on the Monday after the AALS who is "worrying" about not having more callbacks has a warped view of this process. Most applicants- I would wager 80 or 90%- probably have 1 or no callbacks the Monday after AALS. If a school did not have their full committee or dean there, they simply were not making decisions at AALS. Anyone who has multiple callbacks the day after AALS ends is a market star and has no reason to worry. And most applicants don't get their first choice schools -most people have to go somewhere else for a few years and make their way up.

I only fear that people reading that are going to freak out tonight when they have no or only one callback.

Also if the schools you are concerned about are the top schools you're not going to hear from them - at least not now. They often do callbacks after the new year. They also often only go to the market to scope it out and have no intention of hiring anyone. It puts people in a bad position in a way because you might get an offer at a T100 which expires at Thanksgiving before you even hear if you have a callback at the top school. But that's the way the system works and few people get their top choices.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 7:13:15 PM

As an example last year I heard 100 of the 400 people on the market had Ph.d. I think there are about 80-100 awesome candidates int he traditional sense- clerkship, phd or fellowship, at least one publications, Top law school.

Then there are people who are practitioners or those who did not jump through all the hoops yet. I was shocked to meet some of these people at AALS. One person I talked to had no idea the schools were even going to be asking about their research. It just puzzles ms what schools they possibly cold be interviewing at.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 7:16:43 PM

There's no need to disparage other candidates, including folks who didn't take the "finishing school" path. Some people can't afford to risk everything or make a rational decision not to. Anyone who got interviews at the meat market is a viable candidate. The person you encountered who was unfamiliar with the process may very well be a fantastic scholar with great practice experience who has a lot to offer.

Also, I hope you were able to hide your shock and puzzlement when you spoke with "some of these people," and that you didn't make him/ her feel as though s/he did not belong there.

Posted by: stay positive | Nov 6, 2017 8:31:52 PM

Ugh, that should be that you didn't make "them" feel as though "they" did not belong there. I may be the one who does not belong. :)

Posted by: stay positive | Nov 6, 2017 8:43:11 PM

We haven't called anyone just yet. It is far too early to be worried. By the way, when I was on the market I had just two callbacks, and it all ended well. Hang in there.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 6, 2017 10:39:53 PM

Completely disagree with AnonHiringChair above on not mentioning that a school is one’s top choice. Trust me, if we’re looking at two similar candidates, we’re going with the one who is more likely to accept our offer.

Posted by: anon | Nov 6, 2017 11:11:09 PM

I disagree with some of the rose-glasses spectacled posters. If you don't have any callbacks at this point you should be concerned. I got several callbacks last year and all but one came in by the Monday after AALS. What's more, schools are moving particularly fast this year because of the late conference. Be optimistic, but be realistic.

anon | Nov 6, 2017 12:32:48 PM:: Two schools I liked "all but told me" last year I'd be called back never called me back. They didn't even hire at the entry level TT, at least not in my area. Tea leaves are cheap. Focus your fire on the schools that have invited you back.

Posted by: newprof | Nov 6, 2017 11:18:17 PM

Two thoughts.

First, on whether to tell a school that they're your first choice, I think you can say super positive things about the school that indicates your singular enthusiasm without saying outright that they're your first choice. But how that might come across may depend on the school and your market position.

Second, as others have suggested above, higher-ranked schools take longer. Primarily, as far as I can tell, because they can. I assume it's also in part to use the interest shown by other schools as signals, but that's just my speculation.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 7, 2017 2:42:31 AM

I had one school start out the AALS interview with, "we're not hiring this year. we just want to make connections for the future.". That is sweet, but it sure would have been nice to know before I struggled to fit you into my schedule.

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 4:08:54 AM

There is a difference between not having the "finishing school path" and not having any idea whatsoever that schools would be even asking about a research agenda or about a job market paper. It's perfectly fine - and maybe even preferable - if schools departed from the normal pattern of de facto almost requiring fellowship or phd. But I encountered several practitioner candidates who thought that their years of experience were all they needed and they did not even have a written research agenda nor did they publish any articles and they were interviewing for doctrinal positions, though it was for "hot" fields.

I was always under the impression that you needed to have at least some publications and at least some research agenda to even get an interview at even the lowest ranked AALS school but I guess not, even for a doctrinal position. In fact, I always thought that if you were a practitioner you would almost have to go the extra mile and show you have published articles and a clearly thought out research agenda.

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 4:33:51 AM

Some of the statements made at the Thursday session may have misled some of the candidates or if they are true, I am just misinformed on how the process may work at lower ranked schools. I found several things they said to be somewhat odd, though maybe at lower ranked schools you can get away with it.

First, they mentioned sending in just an introduction in lieu of a job market paper or research statement. I never knew you could do that -- everyone has always asked me for the job market paper which I assumed was a full paper.

Second, they were not as assertive as in other years about this not really being a conference. I went to the session in other years and they were adamant not to randomly knock on doors asking for interviews and I think they even said that in an email not to do that. They did not give that caution this time I don't believe and while they emailed to "consider" not coming to the conference if you don't have any interviews, some people, especially local people, may truly have felt they paid $500, they were going to come to the conference even if they did not have any interviews and that is why some people seem to lack any notion that you needed a job talk paper.

Also, in response to a question, they mentioned you could email committees on Thursday saying I am at the conference and would like an interview, with the caveat that it was unlikely to help. But I found it odd that they would even tell candidates to even consider that - in the fellowship programs and at the top schools they always say not to appear desparate, I would be curious if anyone who did that got any additional interviews as I assume that committees got like 50 emails on thursday after the panel said that. Anyone know of anyone where that worked? Would be relevant info for future candidates when they read this board.

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 4:56:54 AM

You can't read anything into these schools. i know of people who got oral offers only to have them rescinded for budgetary reasons or because the committee chair spoke too soon. Schools change priorities, lines dry up, new lines open up. And everyone is always super nice to you at aals and sends nice notes back when you thank them. You can't read into it.

i disagree that people should be worried as of monday. Maybe by the end of this week but not Monday. Alot of schools emailed me and said they are meeting later this week. If a school had their full committee at aals they will move quick but if their full committee or dean were not there then it may take awhile, or at least a few days.

Top schools often send only 2-3 people. Their key decision makers are at home which is another reason why they may take more time to decide. They also do not appear constrained by the end of semester deadline.

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 5:02:37 AM

I remember hearing (was in at the Thurs workshop?) to use the “top choice” silver bullet only once, as schools do talk. Good advice. Just be yourself. If you are an obfuscator, meant in the best way, then obfuscate. If you are an open book, don’t change.

Did anyone else see the Leiter report that LSAT takers are up 10% from this period last year? Continues a trend of resurgence. All around great conditions for expanded hiring. http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2017/11/lsat-takers-up-more-than-10-in-septemberoctober-compared-to-last-year.html

Posted by: nona | Nov 7, 2017 7:12:18 AM

For those trying to read the tea leaves:
I'm on the appointments committee. We've extended three callbacks (already on the list), and expect to call three more. Two will probably hear today or tomorrow, the third might be a while because we have to coordinate with lateral appointments. If you get a call, it signals real excitement on our part. We think you can get an offer.

Posted by: Committee Member | Nov 7, 2017 1:18:55 PM

For experienced candidates, do appointments committee invite candidates directly to campus without screening interviews? If so, when do they typically invite?

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 1:32:22 PM

"I had one school start out the AALS interview with, 'we're not hiring this year. we just want to make connections for the future.'"

Yikes. To hide that from candidates until the interview -- after they have come to DC and perhaps given up interview slots with other schools who actually were interested in them -- is just remarkably inconsiderate. And of course the candidate has to be enthusiastic anyway, as you don't want to burn bridges, so you can't tell them that. Ugh.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 7, 2017 1:48:01 PM

Yes. That's called the old boy's club. People with deep connections to the dean or to powerful faculty members can sometimes be given callbacks without screening interviews. People have gotten jobs by skirting the whole AALS process. But then, if you even have to ask, you don't qualify.

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2017 1:51:32 PM

"For experienced candidates, do appointments committee invite candidates directly to campus without screening interviews? If so, when do they typically invite?"

If by "experienced candidates" you mean lateral candidates -- roughly speaking, those already on the tenure track or tenured elsewhere -- there is no screening interview. Instead, depending on the school, there is either a visit at the school (which might be a semester or a year, or might just be a week or two), or else just a callback day for a job talk and interview just like a callback for entry-levels. In terms of timing, it really varies by school, and the process can also take multiple years.

On the other hand, I haven't heard of skipping a screening interview for entry-levels. It's possible (as anon at 1:51 says) that some schools have a "old boy's club" that allows this at the entry-level, but at least I haven't heard of that or seen it.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Nov 7, 2017 2:00:02 PM

Second Orin's points. In modern times, I've never heard of any entry level candidate getting an on-campus interview without first going through a screening interview, except where the candidate was a fellow or VAP at the interviewing program.

I'm told by senior faculty that circumstances like that were not uncommon into the 1970s, in which practitioners working in the same city as the law school whom the dean knew would be the only candidate for the job and receive the offer. But the hiring process was very different back then (screening interviews at the main AALS meeting, etc.). Probably most people who got in that rout were men (ie. "old boys network") given that almost all law school graduates back then were men, but I personally know three women who got tenure track offers in just that way (two in around 1970 and another in the early 1980s).

Posted by: AnonProf1 | Nov 7, 2017 4:09:11 PM

I wouldn't say that there are "never" on-campus interviews without screening interviews. I did the AALS thing a couple of years ago (2013?) and had an on-campus without a screening. That being said, there was no old boys aspect to it (i.e. I had no connections whatsoever). The school was hiring for several spots and I think they were just trying to get a jump on things before AALS. But I would echo that this is quite uncommon.

Posted by: AnonProf | Nov 7, 2017 6:44:49 PM

AnonProf jarred my memory. I remember one excellent candidate in about 2000 who got a job without an initial screening interview. He had excellent credentials and wasn't on the market. A professor who was on the law school faculty knew him personally and thought the school could get a jump on the competition by pursuing his candidacy before he had a chance to test the market. The law school contacted him (I suppose in a way that's a screening interview), flew him in for an interview, and offered him a job. He has done very well through the years and indeed produced very good scholarship from the start of his academic career.

Posted by: AnonProf1 | Nov 8, 2017 6:45:39 AM

Thanks. I was a tenure-track faculty at a law school, but I am not currently on a law school faculty, and I am wondering if I am still considered a lateral candidate.

Posted by: anon | Nov 8, 2017 6:58:08 AM

Just one word of wisdom from a former appt committee member: if you had a screening interview at a school and see callbacks on the spreadsheet, do not assume you are out of the running until the school tells you. We often dipped back into the pool if an initial callback did not blow us away. Also, if a school has multiple openings, it may handle callbacks one position at a time. If you end up with an offer but still have not heard from a preferred school, please give the hiring chair an update before accepting. Worst case scenario, they tell you to accept the other offer.

Posted by: anonprofessor | Nov 8, 2017 7:35:05 AM

Has anyone heard anything from Arkansas-Fayetteville? They are not on the spreadsheet but were at AALS. Thanks.

Posted by: anon | Nov 8, 2017 7:44:32 AM

Anyone heard from Arkansas-Little Rock? They are not also on the spreadsheet but were at AALS. Thanks.

Posted by: anon | Nov 8, 2017 9:49:33 AM

Both Arkansas schools have dean searches currently underway. That might delay things.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 8, 2017 10:19:53 AM

AnonProf1, your story is very much the old boy's club in action. I know for a fact it still happens.

And it is not fair to the other candidates out there. A 20 minute screening interview with a committee where only one skeptical committee member has read the job talk paper is a far sterner test than an all-day callback interview with an audience that is already inclined to be friendly.

Posted by: anon | Nov 8, 2017 10:53:36 AM

What happened to the Gtown int that was on the spreadsheet, showing a callback?

Posted by: Anon | Nov 8, 2017 10:57:49 AM

Georgetown is still on there.

Posted by: anon3333 | Nov 8, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Thanks everyone here for the very helpful views. I wonder if I may post my question again - there was a wierd ad post (now removed) right after my earlier posting, and it may have distracted others. The question is "I was a tenure-track faculty at a law school, but I am not currently on a law school faculty, and I am wondering if I am still considered a lateral candidate." Thanks!

Posted by: formertenuretrack | Nov 8, 2017 11:11:31 AM

are you on a subject matter faculty like economics or political science? either way I think they probably consider you lateral. law school faculties have somewhat of an aversion to people from other disciplines- even as an entry level candidate i have been advised not to mention that i am even applying to my other discipline where i have a ph.d. It may be a big disadvantage to apply for a law school job coming from another discipline. I can only think of a few people who have done it successfully and those were in econ.

if the reason you left is because you went back to practice, that too is tough. they may perceive you as lack of committed to law. I don't mean to say these assumptions are true but it is unfortunately the case that law hiring has so many qualified candidates that committees often operate under these unfounded assumptions.

so the answer may very much depend on how long you were on the law faculty and why you left. either way, i doubt there is much substantive difference besides going to the meat market between entry level and lateral except for the fact you have more teaching experience. if you continue to publish in law journals that's good. if you have not, then that may be an issue. they will evaluate you on your record in law and whether they consider you as an entry level or lateral makes little difference i think in terms of the job. For salary purposes it will all depend if you are able to negotiate other offers, otherwise I think they will try to give you the lowest salary possible so in your case it's important to get at least one school even if lower ranked that will consider your law school teaching as part of years for tenure or salary so you negotiate that. Otherwise, some schools may be resistant to it.

Posted by: anon | Nov 8, 2017 11:53:54 AM

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