« A Query on Oaths | Main | Defending Judge Bork »

Friday, July 08, 2005

Appointments and Res Judicata

Welcome, Orin.  Of course your posts generate more interest than anyone else's here.  I base this on your comment count and trackback count, which is like shepardizing and cite-counting for bloggers. 

Let me jump in on the matter that gets the most attention: law school appointments.  Michael Madison offers some thoughts in response to Orin's post on the matter here.  In short he recommends turning down a job you don't like--and overall encourages people to go on the market early and often.  I respectfully dissent. 

I went on the market twice--and not by choice.  Almost no school that interviewed me the first time around looked at me the second time around.  There were a few exceptions, I acknowledge.  But there is institutional memory even if there are new people on appointments committees.   Often, though, people serve for two years or more so at least someone remembers that you were rejected even if they can't remember why.  Go out once when you are good and ready.  It is true that many well-qualified people find themselves without jobs and need to do it again.  But they are usually disadvantaged when they do.  Don't give up hope, of course; but neither should you have the attitude of being cavalier about going before you feel ready.  Do the math: it is very unpleasant and very costly--emotionally and financially--to go through the process (flight to DC; postage; hotel; endless time suck taking you away from your research; endless Google and Westlaw searches looking up your competition; sweat; tears; fear; exhiliration; disappointment that your interview was a favor to your advisor and the school is not really taking you seriously; etc.).  It just isn't worth it to do it twice if you can avoid it.

As for turning down places, here's my advice: don't do the jobtalk if you aren't serious about taking the job.  Someone wants that job very badly and you are just putting someone else through the pain of rejection or of waiting unneccessarily, or of being a second choice candidate when they could be the first choice if you hadn't led the school on.  Some schools have very limited budgets and can only fly a very small number of people to their school for the jobtalk.  Don't take that spot if you aren't going to take the job.  It's selfish.

Some might say this logic suggests that you shouldn't even take the AALS screening interview if you wouldn't take the job.  Maybe that's right because there are limited slots.  But I think it is okay to err on the side of accepting AALS interviews.  There are many more of them to dole out--and few schools really fill every single available slot.  Moreover, you need to base your decision on more than a ranking, a website, and geography.  Meeting people can really change your perspective on a place.  There were some schools whose AALS interviews made me want to live in places that I thought I'd have ruled out.  But the people were just amazingly intellectual--and ended up impressing me far more than many folks at the much, much fancier schools.

There's my two cents.  If you want advice or have a question about the process--and don't want to ask through the blog--please feel free to write me directly. 

Posted by Ethan Leib on July 8, 2005 at 03:08 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Appointments and Res Judicata:

» Appointments and Job Talks from madisonian theory: on law, society, and technology
Ethan Leib at Prawsblawg has a thoughtful dissent from my post about running the AALS appointments gauntlet more than once. To be clear: My point was *not* that "recreational" interviewing at AALS (a characterization that appears in the comments ... [Read More]

Tracked on Jul 12, 2005 9:40:15 AM


Can you say a few words as to how those gender differences manifest?

Also, great article on the treatment of "enemy combatants" in the 1812 War. Offers excellent ammo against those who think our present course is somehow perfectly consistent with historical practice. Thank you for writing such a trenchant piece.

Posted by: Tiger | Jul 8, 2005 5:03:59 PM

For what it is worth, I agree. Interviewing -- even at the AALS -- can also be a networking opportunity. I have kept in touch with lots people at schools where I interviewed. It's hard to make that happen if you have no real interest in the school or the people who teach at it. Recreational-interviewing can also have its costs --- the school on the receiving end frequently figures it out, and the people whose time you wasted go on to other schools, etc. That's not usually the case, of course, but it adds to Ethan's point about it being selfish.

I wish more women blogged on the appointments process. Most all of the advice and insight holds true for everyone, but I do think there are some differences.

Posted by: Ingrid Wuerth | Jul 8, 2005 4:21:46 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.