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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Secondary Effects of the AALS FRC

Everyone knows why you go to the "meat market."  Law schools go to find new hires, and candidates go to get a job.  But that isn't the end of the story.  After all, even if/when you land a teaching job, you have also interviewed with a number of faculties who do not hire you, and there are a number of secondary effects.  For ex, candidates and committee members can meet people in their fields and form lasting relationships, or candidates can get a call a year later from a team that didn't want to hire them the year before.  Conversely, these effects can affect the hiring schools, for ex, a school can make a great impression on star scholar, such that that scholar feeds the school future recruits, or a candidate can form a bad opinion of a prof or recruitment team that treats her badly, fights among themselves, etc. 

One interesting question, then, is whether law schools that aren't hiring that year should attend the AALS.  Are networking effects important?  Do candidates resent their time being wasted or do they view it as quality time with a school that might hire them in the future?  Any thoughts?

Posted by Kim Ferzan on July 13, 2006 at 08:28 AM in Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink


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It is unwise for a school to skip the meat market entirely. Hiring needs are unpredictable. Budgets can change and are often not fixed in the fall. Faculty members can unexpectedly resign, visit, retire, or die during the school year. Moreover, a decision not to hire permanently does not preclude a school from hiring as a visting assistant professor someone who does not receive a permanent appointment. This is a recently growing practice and injects more energy in a place lacking in junior faculty than hiring a podium visitor from the ranks of the recently retired (not to mention it's cheaper). Furthermore, a visiting assistant professor may go elsewhere the following year with good feelings about the school at which s/he visited. That helps spread the word for future potential hires and assists with general reputation.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 13, 2006 12:01:08 PM

Whether candidates resent it depends on whether the school is misrepresenting its intent. A meat market intveriew generally is understood as an honest expression of interest of consideration for an entry-level position, and schools that don't actually have honest interest should be clear about that.

Posted by: lawprof | Jul 13, 2006 11:59:15 AM

As long as schools are honest with candidates (thus allowing candidates to make up their minds whether to interview), I think they should go. Not just for the networking (although I think that matters) but also because it's hard to be sure in September-October that you really won't be hiring for next year. As chair of a hiring committee (that will be looking to hire), I promise you that all sorts of things can come up.

Posted by: Joseph Slater | Jul 13, 2006 11:57:49 AM

Last year we didn't hire and didn't send a committee to FAR (this year we are hiring!) -- i thought it was a mistake because I remembered schools that scheduled interviews with me and were honest about probably not hiring, and I still thought it was good, if you have time on your schedule and it is a school you are generally interested in, to get to know some of the folks. If you think about it, some schools, particuarly Yale, almost never hire juniors off the entry-market. But they still come to the party...

Posted by: Orly Lobel | Jul 13, 2006 10:33:42 AM

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