« Grading the Slave-Owning Framers (and Yourself) on a Historical Curve: The Moral Case Against/For George Washington -- and Everyone Else | Main | Judge Posner retires »

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.

Update, January 2, 2018: I am unable to add a link to the last page of comments. Typepad has killed the trick for adding "last page" links. Here is the last page of comments as of January 2, 2018; this will not remain the last page of comments, but at least you will be able to click through fewer pages.

Another approach: here is a link to the last page of comments as of January 2, 2018: 


Substitute a higher number for the "19" and you will be taken to a later page of comments. If you guess too high, you will be taken to the first page of comments.

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


What kind of stuff do schools ask for in those kinds of emails? Job talks?

Posted by: newb | Sep 8, 2017 11:09:29 AM

I was asked for my job talk, which is not ideal since I am still polishing it.

Posted by: anon | Sep 8, 2017 11:21:41 AM

Haha, figures!

Posted by: newb | Sep 8, 2017 11:23:54 AM

If you get a request for a job talk paper, is it acceptable to take a few days to revise before sending? Or are you expected to have something ready to go immediately?

Posted by: 1sttimer | Sep 8, 2017 12:14:52 PM

I have a question for Committee members: Given the explosion of VAPs and PhDs, I know there has been a real creep in the credentials of candidates on the market. The (old) standard used to be that a credible candidate needed to come to the market with one published/placed article. I've heard that won't get a candidate any interviews these days. What is the sweet spot for publication credits for candidates to whom you choose to extend interviews?

Posted by: Anonomon | Sep 8, 2017 12:21:01 PM

Another question about finding the sweet spot of a job talk that has been "accepted for publication": how close to publication can it be? Let's say I have a piece that gets sent to the publisher this fall, but then it will be a few months before I get to give the final nod. So while I technically could still make revisions, obviously that would be a huge inconvenience for the Law Review. That said, the "job talk as workshop" charade seems silly to me, so I'm tempted to just go with the illusion that it is not yet in print and therefore could still be revised.

Posted by: Yaz | Sep 8, 2017 12:47:27 PM

Did everyone just get that form letter from Penn State?

Posted by: NewHere | Sep 8, 2017 3:13:59 PM


Posted by: anon | Sep 8, 2017 3:15:27 PM

Yeah penn state sent that last year as well. I got a rejection from them a week later so I think they send it to everyone. Last year they were looking only in health so it was not my field. But they were the only school that sent me an outright rejection that they were not interviewing me (and like I said just a few days after I got the very same form letter they just sent).

Posted by: anon | Sep 8, 2017 3:21:16 PM

I received it even though my FAR said I am only looking in the West.

Posted by: anon | Sep 8, 2017 3:33:54 PM

Anyone else who applied first round not hearing anything yet?

Posted by: crickets? | Sep 8, 2017 8:50:27 PM

Crickets! It's still very early. No worries.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 8, 2017 9:09:55 PM

Yaz, I think that's just fine. (Also, you'd be surprised at the scale of revisions you can get in late in the game...)

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Sep 9, 2017 11:44:51 AM

it would be extremely rare to hear anything yet. Lower ranked schools will move end of this upcoming week and beginning of next. Up and comers too move early like AZ State. Top 14 schools don't move until later in the process - usually 3rd week in September under old model - we are delayed 2 weeks now so probably first or second week of October for top schools.

Everyone should just have a nice weekend, nothing is going to happen for awhile. Also look at past blogs to see when schools move. I have followed this for several years and schools are pretty set in their schedules with some schools always moving early (I give AZ State as one example since if you look at past blogs they always move by the end of August under the old system, I am sure there are others). Schools are remarkably set in their ways.

Posted by: anon | Sep 9, 2017 12:10:13 PM

If you are interested in an undergraduate tenure-track position, the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University has a position available for a Legal Studies professor beginning in August 2018. Search under "Jobs" at the website.

Posted by: Griffin | Sep 11, 2017 3:59:22 PM

Meat market interview invite, ~T50, criminal law/proc

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2017 6:17:10 AM

Congrats, anon! Still silence here. Trying to stay cool.

Posted by: 2ndGoRound | Sep 12, 2017 11:03:16 AM

Same here. All silent on the phone call front. I know it's early, but still...

Posted by: Anonomon | Sep 12, 2017 11:10:13 AM

It is still ridiculously early. Try to remain calm.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 12, 2017 11:20:18 AM

Given that the meat market isn't until November (which, by the way, was ridiculous of AALS -- many of us are skipping the meat market this year, so if you're interested in a school make sure you apply directly!), schools have more time this year to get the calls out, so I'd expect delays.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 12, 2017 11:41:56 AM

If a school skips the meat markef, can it still list in the AALS bulletin?

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2017 11:44:03 AM

AnonHiringChair, I'm curious how schools that are skipping the meat market plan to do their first round screening interviews.

Posted by: Yaz | Sep 12, 2017 11:49:20 AM

@yaz: when i was on the market i interviewed with a school that did all first-round interviews via skype, then did callbacks on campus.

Posted by: jr committee member | Sep 12, 2017 11:58:56 AM

@yaz: when i was on the market i interviewed with a school that did all first-round interviews via skype, then did callbacks on campus.

Posted by: jr committee member | Sep 12, 2017 11:58:56 AM

Yep, they'll just be skyping. In fact, in light of Skype, a number of schools now don't even go to the conference.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 12, 2017 12:01:28 PM

@AnonHiringChair: And how many of you are skipping the meat market this year because it is in November?

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2017 12:20:04 PM

Has anyone ever studied whether people at the beginning of the alphabet get more interviews than people at the end?

Posted by: curious | Sep 12, 2017 12:24:32 PM

Curious - there are serious restrictions on the AALS profile data, so even if someone had done so, they couldnt publish the results

Posted by: Anon | Sep 12, 2017 12:47:46 PM

How are people making the fish-and-cut-bait decision w/r/t to going back to the private sector v. staying in academia? I realized that with the market giving good returns the opportunity cost of a couple fellowship years is close to three hundred thousand dollars. I've noticed there's a lot of pressure to keep taking back to back to... fellowships now if you have good credentials, but a real impetus of that appears to be brainwashing and self-interest by true believers with tenure.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 12, 2017 1:45:42 PM

1. I agree with someone who said that it would be early to hear (Penn has made no calls yet for sure.) FARs were just released on Thursday -- you'd have to have a really intense & go-getting committee to've come to informed decisions by today.

2. For most other questions, I'd just say that there is lots of variance - not only between schools (i.e., schools of different wealth/prestige) but also between committees in different years. I ran Temple's hiring once and tried to push for early recruiting/offers (in the FSU model), with some smoke but no fire. Other years Temple sat back. It's driven by the Chair & the Dean & faculty politics. Figuring out that stuff ex ante, or even worrying about it, seems to me not worth your time.

3. One question that recurs here is whether it makes sense to send direct emails/packets. Opinions obviously vary, and I doubt it could hurt. But your best use of time (IMHO) right now is trying to get references to push their contacts.

Posted by: dave hoffman | Sep 12, 2017 2:44:19 PM

@dave hoffman

"3. One question that recurs here is whether it makes sense to send direct emails/packets. Opinions obviously vary, and I doubt it could hurt. But your best use of time (IMHO) right now is trying to get references to push their contacts."

Reading this kind of statement is phenomenally depressing.
"May the odds be ever in your favour..."

Posted by: anon | Sep 12, 2017 9:39:51 PM

Why? I mean, you can't control that much right now (as a candidate) -- you've already done the work that matters. So, the question of what to do right now is either "packets", "reference pushing" or "nothing." I'm not sure it matters so much (except on the margin!) but I wanted to reassure against those who wrote earlier in the thread that it certainly can't hurt to send packets. That said, I vote for "references" since that seems likeliest to distinguish.

Posted by: Dave Hoffman | Sep 12, 2017 9:53:59 PM

i expect it's depressing to a person who doesn't have references with deep contacts... or who has been out of school long enough that they're not confident their law prof references will advocate strongly for them.

Posted by: jr committee member | Sep 12, 2017 10:02:29 PM

Don't be depressed. Packets don't seem especially helpful. Spending the time talking to your mentors and references, whether or not they have a broad network and are willing to talk you up, doesn't have to be very helpful to exceed the value of sending packets.

On a related note, I'll agree with an earlier statement that packets seem mostly helpful when applying to places where you might not seem like an obvious fit and your FAR form cannot communicate why you are a good fit. Family in town, etc.

Posted by: Matthew Bruckner | Sep 12, 2017 10:29:52 PM

with references it seems like that os where people in the fellows program get true benefits. Also, it is probably where the old boys network is most prevalent. It is probably especially the case that women and minorities may have a much harder time of bonding with more powerful male professors than men do. If you look at some of the fellows program this year one in particular is almost all men (it is obvious when you look at the webpage that there are like 2 women), which strikes me as odd since it had not been the way in the recent past. Some of the other prominent fellows program are also predominantly men the last few years. And not very diverse either (at least some of them).

A system that puts so much emphasis on references is one that reinforces some of these disparities, since you need references to get the fellowship then to get the tenure track job. While references are key in all of academia and the aals system was seen as a way to level the bargaining field, I truly wonder whether that is really the case in practice and whether the old system of "references" really is just a polite way of saying that the system never really changed. Everyone is certainly capable of reading someone's work. Law schools, especially the top ones, have made some good strides to diversify their faculty so it's not that the two are mutually exclusive.

But I do think there is some residual effect from relying on a system so heavily dependent on references. It hurts people, mostly women, who want to transition to academia after years in practice or from taking time off for having children. And it pretty much eliminates anyone who was out of law school for more than 3 years who did not do a fellowship. In fact it almost eliminates anyone who does not have a sustained contact to a law school. Whether that's a good thing for legal education - especially legal education below the top tier - is another matter.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 6:07:53 AM

I landed a T50 tenure track job with no PhD or fellowship. had been out of law school for five years, so my references were not amazing. But I had published two T25 law review articles while in practice and had a specialty that was in demand. That seemed far more important to the schools that interviewed me.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 7:18:35 AM

"Everyone is certainly capable of reading someone's work." Carefully? All 400+ applicants? With an expert eye?

Posted by: juniorprof | Sep 13, 2017 8:46:52 AM

anon @ 6:07:53: As a recent hire from a fellowship who is not a white male, I would not paint as bleak a picture of the role of networking. I benefitted hugely on the job market from mentors and contacts who I had gotten to know over several years of concerted effort, both in terms of writing and networking. It definitely did not feel like an old boys network to me.

The challenge you identify I think starts earlier. To the extent the fellowship programs are not as diverse as you and I might wish them to be, that reflects in part the applicant pool, which skews white and male. I wonder if the challenge is for non-white male students to see themselves as potential academics (particularly given current faculty representation at elite schools), and also to see how the system works to get there. I know I didn't, and it took me a long time to figure out the system. Both as a fellow and as a prof, I try to identify students who might not realize their own potential and to clue them into how the unspoken system works, whether for academia or for clerkships or other opportunities. It's that cultural knowledge that I think still represents the keys to the kingdom, and I do commend prawfsblawg for greatly increasing transparency into the hiring process.

Posted by: Jr. prof | Sep 13, 2017 9:37:00 AM

The true applicant pool is not 400 people. You have about 50-60 people from the fellows programs, a handful of people with Supreme Court clerkships, 50 or so phd people with a joint degree, some law firm practitioners, and probably a bunch of former fellows/practitioners who have been on the market again from prior years. Once you narrow the pool by subject matter, which is especially the case for lower ranked schools, the actual pool of truly qualified people for any particular position is not so great that among 5 committee members you can't read 10 papers or at least skim those papers.

Which is what I think the top schools do- they dole out the work among themselves and read the job market paper. Lower ranked schools I get the sense don't rely so much on the paper at the initial stage since they never have asked me for it nor did it ever appear like they seriously read it before the meat market.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 9:53:45 AM

I looked at the websites of some of the fellows program and I am just surprised how at not very diverse they are. I was just surprised when I saw it since when I looked in prior years they seemed more diverse. This year may be a fluke or it could be part of a trend where the market is so bad that you see people dropping out of the process. According to the numbers, AALS receives at least 200 less people are in FAR than just 2 years ago so who exactly is dropping out and why? I would not be surprised if the drop out are disproportionately women and people of color as the current track for law professorship = fellowship or phd or both - is something that is quite difficult for a two career couple, which many people are nowadays. I can't tell you how many women I know who tried the meat market but because of geographic issues with spouses and kids their opportunities are limited. That's not to say it also does not happen with men, but I think that probably disproportionately affects women, especially those in child bearing years, who have spouses who are partners or I bankers and can't/won't move. In fact, since most people have to start at lower ranked schools and law schools often recruit laterally by visitor professorships, it often means up to 3-4 job moves pre tenure from the beginning of the fellowship. Alot of people can't/won't do that. I don't have the answers but I am not sure if there is a better way.

It could be that there was a pile up of people from the 2010-2011 markets, but still. Numbers are way down, and many of the people I know do this two or three times so alot are repeats. The market and the opportunity costs of basically often having to move at least 2 times in most cases just to get a tenure track job dissuade many people. The fact that people often can't get jobs straight from practice changed the pool of people applying and I am not sure it is for the better (who has time to write law review articles in practice nor would anyone have the "network" unless they were a recent graduate to get a job. In fact you need the network to get the fellowship too). The lack of diversity could be part of a worrying trend.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 10:08:44 AM

hr-prof: But the concern you identify is exactly what I mean - you need sustained contact for references. You can't just call up some prof you took civi pro with 5 years ago. I think there are alot of issues with the process for getting such sustained contact, because a process that relies on that does have gender and racial implications. The next generation of law professors will do a better job of it but I always felt like the mostly white male professors in law school were very distant. If you are not by nature a pushy person it makes it difficult to develop such sustained contact. That's not to say it's an old boys network like in the past; it's changed, but my point is that a system that relies so much on references is one that may reproduce some of the underlying racial and gender dynamics that perpetuate the entire system.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 10:17:59 AM

I'm sympathetic to your point, anon. Though I wonder (genuinely) whether the normal effect you would expect on these kinds of things is tempered by the fact that most of the candidates are coming from a handful of top schools anyway, and that the barriers to getting those connections are much lower at those schools these days. I suspect the problems of attrition after a market year or two or general self-selection identified earlier likely has the biggest effects with respect to gender and race, but I'm just guessing.

Posted by: other anon | Sep 13, 2017 10:54:10 AM

It is an old boys network. Schools would not admit who they hired off of the FAR process through "contacts," but I see on the list at least one name hired as an entry-level at a T50 school who for certain did not participate in the FAR last year.

Anyway, the whole process benefits those with lots of money, who can forgo lucrative jobs to take fellowships and who can throw globs of money at Scholastica to get journal placement. And it makes a mockery of claims on all the advertisements about how schools want to increase diversity in their faculty. Yeah, sure, they claim they aspire to increase diversity, but they surely are doing nothing to create a process that can make that happen.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 10:59:12 AM

to other anon: i also think it varies by school. Some of the big schools like Harvard or Georgetown say are a lot less nurturing that Yale or Stanford or Chicago. Chicago does alot to place its candidates and the Bigelow fellows. In fact, schools have a vested interest in making sure their fellows are placed because it reflects on them. If you don't have that, and if were not already a research assistant for a professor, there's really no reason for a professor to go out of their way for you. You have to have a tight connection for it to matter. And few beyond fellows or those who just graduated from law school have those kind of tight connections where someone is going to be aggressively advocating on your behalf. Sure they may respond to an email or phone call but what really is the incentive for them to go out of the way in their busy schedule?

People can apply directly to law schools outside the FAR and people may have been candidates in the FAR but opt out another year since it really is just a colossal waste of money. Why not just sent up an interfolio site like some law schools are doing and solicit applications for free? I guess they want to discourage people but that in turn reinforces the point that you need to have money to do this. It costs at least $1000 for most people just to interview between hotel, transportation and FAR fee. No other field does that.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 11:43:07 AM

And law reviews perpetuate this. For all their claims about merit, law reviews care about who you cite in the acknowledgements. If you are a nobody scholar like most of us are and if you don't have a fellowship it is hard to get people to read your work off the street. Relying on law review publication as a harbinger of quality is problematic in that sense because it again just perpetuates the issue of networks and connections. Not always but often.Unless you write in a sexy or hot field it is hard to get placed without those kind of networks.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 11:49:20 AM

First interview scheduled.

Posted by: hopeful | Sep 13, 2017 1:25:23 PM

. . . yesterday.

Posted by: hopeful | Sep 13, 2017 1:25:46 PM

The link to the "last page of comments" doesn't work. Can we fix that, please?

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 13, 2017 1:41:03 PM

Anon @ 11:43, FAR is more democratic than direct applications. It allows whoever wants to be a professor to stand up and be counted. It makes sure every application is at least equally visible within the system. I have no confidence that, without FAR, law schools will even post public job listings to hire professors. We have seen what clerkship hiring looks like without OSCAR, and we do not need law faculty hiring to go that same way.

And no other field does what we do because no other field is so completely dominated by a few "elite" schools. For example, you most definitely do not need a Ph.D. from MIT or Caltech or Stanford to get a teaching job in science. In fact, no department that I know of in science sees it as a point of pride that their faculty all graduated from a few schools. How many at Yale Law did not graduate from Yale or Harvard? I don't see remotely the same percentage of MIT graduates among the faculty of MIT Physics.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 1:48:53 PM

Interview with a T14. Corp. law

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 1:53:55 PM

And request for more materials from a T14.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 2:03:56 PM

The difference between law and other fields is not entirely accurate. It is incredibly difficult to get a job at a phd program if you did not go to a top 10 program. it is even incredibly difficult if you did go to a top program. So while there is a little more democracy in academia generally, there's not much. Also, law schools have an incredible broad range of schools within the top 14. While at Yale and Harvard most went to those schools but beyond the top 3 you see a fair number that go to other schools in top 14. Just look at the entry level hiring list last year. I think Yale had 27 applicants last year and not all of them got jobs but someone from like U of Georgia did.

Law schools can do more to make the process more like academia in general by just have people apply and apply for free. There's no reason to have a $500 fee just to be included in a book, which many applicants have to at least two times. While the idea of a meat market is a good idea (economics does this as well at the annual conference), combining the meat market with an actual conference might be a better idea. And like I said just accepting normal application or have a centralized application process that is free or costs like $100 would do much to equalize the process more.

lateral hiring in law schools seems a mess in part because there is no FAR. There really could not be a FAR for laterals the same way because some people don't want people to know they are on the market, but again having a normal application process like they do in the rest of academia would do much to equalize hiring at the lateral level too. That is, advertise the job in a trade publication and sent up an inter folio or academics online to collect application. Only vanderbilt, american and CT law schools do that.

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 2:39:10 PM

Greetings. The trick I was using to link to the last page of comments is no longer working. It used to be that when I put this link, with a high number like "52," Typepad would automatically redirect to the last page of comments:


However, this no longer works. Now Typepad drops the number out entirely, which takes us to the first page of comments. Not useful. If anyone has a trick that would work to create a link to the last page of comments, please post a comment and let me know. Thanks.

(I understand that one way to do it would be for me to manually update the number every time the comments go onto a new page. This is not going to happen.)

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Sep 13, 2017 3:20:52 PM

Just to add: All the links on this blog to last pages of comments are broken now, of course. Why, Typepad, why? This is an obvious thing that Typepad should supply. (People have been asking for it for at least nine years.) If they're not going to supply it, why prevent people from making their own? ARGH.

Sorry. Back to your regularly scheduled commenting. (Also, I'll put the spreadsheet thread up tomorrow.)

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Sep 13, 2017 3:29:00 PM

Job talk papers. I have two equally good pending publications. One is 36k words woth footnotes. One is 17k words with footnotes. All else equal, which do you submit?

Posted by: anon | Sep 13, 2017 10:52:53 PM

@anon: i'm no expert but i think a lot of people would groan to receive a 36k word article & form negative associations with you for being so verbose and subjecting them to your verbosity. 17k might have the opposite effect.

Posted by: jr committee member | Sep 14, 2017 12:11:29 AM

Yes, a 36k paper would be very off-putting. Avoid!

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 14, 2017 12:31:53 AM

thanks! but is 17k too short? should i expand?

Posted by: anon | Sep 14, 2017 4:42:03 AM

Overnight, I received a request for my job talk paper from the head of the appointments committee at a T50 school. My paper is an accepted LR article. I had really wanted to do a thorough proofread and expand a section. Is it OK to ask to send him my paper in a few days? Or does it have to be right now?

Posted by: anon | Sep 14, 2017 5:18:54 AM

Request for job talk paper and other info from T-10.

Regarding verbosity, for what it's worth, I had two pieces last year that were both ready to go, one very short and one very long, and I gave the two schools that contacted me the option. A foreign law school took the shorter piece while a T-14 wanted the longer.

Posted by: Secondtimearound | Sep 14, 2017 6:51:37 AM

Post a comment