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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Secrets of the Volokh Conspiracy Revealed!

It's a pleasure to be guest-blogging here at Profsblog Prawnsblog, um , Prawfsblog, er, PrawfsBlawg.  Like co-blogger Dan Solove,  I'm a law professor at George Washington University Law School, where  I teach criminal law, criminal procedure, and computer crime law.  I've taught for three years now; I started in the fall of 2001, took a year off to clerk in 2003-04, and  made the switch from being tenure-track to tenured this past year.  Most of my scholarly writing is in the area of computer crime law, a field I practiced at the Justice Department from 1998 to 2001.  Right now I'm working on a casebook on Computer Crime Law for West Publishers, which is a pretty interesting intellectual challenge but also an enormous time drain.  (Writing those annoying notes and questions  takes a lot of time, it turns out.)  When looking for distractions, I blog over at the Volokh Conspiracy.

I'm planning on guest-blogging here for about a week or so, and I thought I would post about issues of interest to new and wannabe law professors.  I'm on the appointments committee at GW this coming year and don't want to blog about appointments stuff once the cycle starts up this fall, so I figured I would blog mostly about  appointments issues while I'm here.  I might also post about teaching styles, scholarship questions, and that sort of thing.   Beyond that, I'm pretty open.  Any suggestions?

Finally, I promised in the post title to reveal some secrets of the Volokh Conspiracy.   Here's one:  Juan non-Volokh's real name is not Juan non-Volokh.  Seriously, that non-Volokh bit is just a pseudonym.   

Posted by Orin Kerr on July 6, 2005 at 11:41 PM | Permalink


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Orin Kerr is moonlighting at PrawfsBlawg for a week or so and is answering questions from people thinking about going [Read More]

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Akhil --

Don't worry, I won't blow your cover.


Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jul 7, 2005 5:14:16 PM

I think you should say something about "authenticity." I think that most schools really want the person teaching labor law to write about it, ditto commercial law, IP, and so on. I could see this sub silentio authenticity requirement tripping people up as they think about getting ready, consider offering corporate courses because they were at a firm even though their hearts - and job talks - are in constitutional law.

Posted by: david | Jul 7, 2005 2:02:06 PM

Thanks for taking the time to post on this subject. I've got three questions/topic suggestions.

First, a follow-up to the first of Wanabe Prof's questions. How does one discover which subjects are hot for hiring purposes? I write about copyright, and have heard both (i) this is a hot field for which many schools are seeking specialists, and (ii) this was a hot field for hiring several years ago, but now most schools have filled their slots and the candidate field for this specialization is crowded. What to believe? The answer could determine whether I go on the market this year.

Second, to the extent there is a norm, what do candidates who go on the market more than once do between AALS conferences? Work at a firm? Try to obtain a fellowship (which would require applying before knowing the results of the hiring process)?

Finally, I wonder how important a clerkship is. Is it just a proxy for some quality (e.g., intelligence) that can be demonstrated in other ways (e.g, through published articles), or do many schools consider it an important prerequisite for academic work?

Posted by: More Questions | Jul 7, 2005 1:49:30 PM

Orin --

I thought you promised not to tell -- at least not until I get tenure.


Posted by: Juan Non-Volokh | Jul 7, 2005 1:32:42 PM

OK: I love your posts at volokh and, as someone who is planning to go on the market this year and is terribly anxious about it, I'm especially excited that you'll be blogging some about the process. Here's a couple of questions/suggestions I have...

1) Everyone who goes on the market (except for the lucky ones who can afford to be picky) must say they'll be willing to live anywhere, but I suspect most people really aren't willing to live just anywhere... or, at least, they won't live in a place they really don't like unless the job is great, etc. It's one thing to say, in theory "I'll live anywhere" and another to be confronted with the choice between staying at a firm in a city you love or going to a place you're pretty sure you'd hate to a job you'd like more. My question is this: do you have a sense of how common it is for people to go on the market, get a few offers that they decide they just don't want to take, turn them down, and then go back on the market? If you go on once and get a few offers, are you pretty much obligated to either take one or ruin your chances on the meat market in future years (by getting a reputation as someone who is too picky)? Also, if there are a few locations you'd really like to live, is there any way at all to try and target schools in those places without coming across like you are too picky about where you'd live?

2) I have a couple of pieces in the works, and one is almost in condition to send to law reviews. The AALS first round form is due August 1... how much better off would I be if I had another accepted article by the August 1 deadline versus getting accepted in mid-August and sending in an updated resume? Do hiring committees even look at updated resumes or is what a candidate sends out at the start pretty much it? I have the feeling that the odds of getting a good placement are better if you wait until the normal submission period rather than sending off in mid-July (plus, there's more time to fine-tune and revise the piece), but if post-August 1 accepted articles go largely unnoticed by hiring committees, is it better to send the piece out and take the best offer you can get (if you can get one) before sending the AALS form?

Posted by: Hopeful Prof | Jul 7, 2005 3:00:24 AM

Professor Kerr: I very much look forward to your posting here. As you asked for suggestions, my purely selfish ones are that you post about:

1. What an aspiring lawprof should write about vs. what they could teach if hired. Should one publish an article in a subject because they know it is “hot for teaching” right now, or should one stick to what one knows and loves best and let their talents rise to the top (even if it's a crowded area)?

2. What kind of portfolio should one have before one “meat markets” herself? Excluding supreme court clerks and editors of top-5 law reviews, is there a standard number of years one should practice and how “big firm” should that practice be? (It seems to me that “big firm” experience doing doc review would pale in experience to a small firm practice where one is in court 3 days a week.) Also, how many articles should one publish before one tests the waters? Some of my professors in law school said they only had published their student note plus one other, but that “I bet that wouldn't be enough these days.”

Posted by: Wanabe Prawf | Jul 7, 2005 1:28:47 AM

Welcome Orin to a real blog! Now that Orin is blogging in the big leagues, I thought I'd welcome him with my post about grand juries, which I'm sure will cause him much irritation.

I look forward to having Orin on my own turf for a while. Orin's office is just down the hall from mine, but there he can close his door to escape when I'm getting the better of him in an argument. But here at Prawfs, he's got nowhere to hide.

Anyway, Orin is one of the best bloggers in the blogosphere in my opinion, and I'm delighted he's blogging here.


Posted by: Daniel Solove | Jul 7, 2005 12:21:26 AM

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