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Monday, August 26, 2013

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2013-2014

In this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and prawfs 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, slawsky*at*law*dot*uci*dot*edu.

We have a different thread in which candidates or prawfs can report on 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.

(Before you ask your questions, you may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.) 

Update: here is a link to the last page of comments.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 26, 2013 at 11:02 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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ana: "My point is only that the law professor salary (1) is not nearly as good as it looks when you factor in debt, which really should be considered for current grads, and (2) is bad enough that it likely serves as a barrier to entry for the less fortunate would-be members of our profession. (1) is more of a whine in response to some of the "look how great we have it!" sentiments expressed here. (2) is a serious point, that is worth more consideration in the field (and could be addressed by counting legal academia as a public interest option for purposes of LRAP programs)."

Note that much of what you say applies to your graduates. Earning $50-60K/year with $100-250K debt and high income risk is not a good deal.

Posted by: Barry | Feb 19, 2014 2:09:02 PM

The number of unproductive senior faculty at law schools is absurd. Let's hope they exit the ranks soon to make room for new hires.

Posted by: anon2 | Feb 19, 2014 12:13:57 AM

"Yes, I didn't expect for people not to be interested in me."


Best of luck next year everyone!

Posted by: anon1 | Feb 17, 2014 11:31:09 AM

I agree about reimbursements, which leads to a lesson: If a school gives you a choice between booking something (flights, e.g.) through them/their agent or booking on your own and getting reimbursed, always use their agent, who will often bill them directly.

I also learned that schools weren't interested in me.

Posted by: anon | Feb 15, 2014 11:45:12 PM

Yes, I didn't expect for people not to be interested in me.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 15, 2014 3:05:22 PM

Did anyone who went on a few callbacks learn something they weren't expecting during the process? I learned that I should have budgeted to front the cost of several flights/trips. It can take several weeks to get reimbursed (over 8 at some places).

Posted by: Anon | Feb 11, 2014 3:17:11 PM

Well, that was a conversation killer.

Posted by: aNon | Feb 10, 2014 4:13:37 PM

Which ones?

Posted by: anon | Feb 2, 2014 3:10:02 PM

It's not just Albany that's in bad financial shape.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 1, 2014 9:07:23 PM

I would be shocked if Albany were hiring in light of this: http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2014/01/financial-exigency-at-albany-law-school.html

Posted by: CBR | Jan 31, 2014 7:16:46 PM

Has anyone heard from Albany?

Posted by: Hopeful | Jan 31, 2014 4:26:57 PM

buttercoffee, submit to the Green Bag. Heck, it'll be another publication for your resume, and one that will be the envy of all those who have rejected good-humored folks like us.

Posted by: anon | Jan 30, 2014 10:59:23 AM

Oh my gosh! Buttercoffee you represent everything wrong with the legal academy. I mean, you wrote a poem, and dared to make a joke about legal practice in what no doubt amounted to a very serious bit of writing.

Indeed, this is all a farce! How dare you try and be funny! This is also a scam! And a rip-off! Law professors exist to train the future legal leaders of America, how dare you mock that!

Posted by: Sense of Humor | Jan 28, 2014 7:46:16 PM

Ha--nope, I'm not the least bit disdainful of practice! As the last two comments suggested, the end of my silly poem was meant to be tongue-in-cheek (which I was hoping the ellipses would convey, as well as the suggestions of things I'd "rather" do than practice, which are all made up). If I disdained practice, I wouldn't be trying so darn hard to get a job whose purpose is largely to train future practitioners! It's partly because I believe so *much* in legal practice that I want to teach law.

Posted by: buttercoffee | Jan 28, 2014 3:23:04 PM

Anon @1:19, I didn't read buttercoffee's "practice" thing to be "intimated disdain!" I read it to be toungue in cheek, like OMG-I-might-have-to-practice, not like s/he actually distains practice.

Posted by: Roald | Jan 28, 2014 3:16:30 PM

Anon @ 1:19: What jobs are available for lawyers? Most people on this board will have experience with a few: teaching, private practice for a large law firm, clerking for a judge, public sector/government practice, non-profit practice, etc. Since clerking isn't generally a career path for most people, I think that these jobs would fall broadly into two categories: (i) teaching and (ii) practice. Almost by definition, most everyone on this board believes that they'd prefer teaching to practicing. As a result, it seems unfair to claim that buttercoffee is disdainful of practice.

I'd wager that most people here would be glad for a job in practice if they are unable to find a teaching job. It's just not their first choice.

Posted by: teacher | Jan 28, 2014 8:58:28 AM

That is terrific, buttertoffee.

Keep your eyes open for podium-filler spots that might open up later in the semester, and good luck.

Posted by: anon | Jan 28, 2014 8:29:16 AM

The intimated disdain for practice in the post above demonstrates why the whole endeavor is a farce. Law faculty are supposed to train future practioners of law. While law school is not trade school, law faculty at the very least should appreciate, not outright reject, the practice of law or deem it to be a fallback.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 28, 2014 1:19:47 AM

Buttercoffee, I just found myself looking for a "like" button. You need to try out for American Idol with that. You will go viral.

Best of luck. I know I couldn't have gotten a job this year, in this market. I have so much respect for those, like you, who came out of this very tough situation with their senses of humor intact. And please believe me when I say that those of us who are lucky enough to have been part of the academy for a long time would love to welcome people who have your kind of wit.

Posted by: gettingolderprof | Jan 27, 2014 8:05:13 PM

Dang it all, folks--
Are we still in the game?
I have zero offers;
I'm feeling the shame.

I read and I write,
I swear I never nap!
But now I'd be happy
With a substandard VAP.

Or a clerkship in Georgia,
Idaho, or Maine
(At this point I'd kill
For Urbana-Champaign)

I wrote to some schools
From whom I hadn't heard,
And you know what they said
To this evidence nerd?

"Who are you? Oh, YOU?
Are YOU still around?
We forgot to tell you
We recently found

"A much better candidate,
Really on fire...
She's got practice, 10 pubs,
And she just clerked for Breyer

"She climbs mountains, swims oceans
Is SO great at cooking.
She's brilliant and earnest
And really good looking.

"Not that you're NOT great--
You totally are...
You'll land a job someday!
I know you'll go far."

I hang up and stare
At the phone in my hand.
If I was a tad smarter
I would have planned

A backup job somewhere,
Learned to speak Chinese,
Got a hedge fund position,
Been a keeper of bees...

I'd have learned to play tuba,
I'd have joined a band
Or bought five flocks of goats
And just farmed the land.

I'd become a Buddhist priest
And go contemplate koans
If it wasn't for all of
These darn law school loans.

I'd open a nursery
That only sold cactus.
But now I'm at wits' end,
And might have to... practice.

A little levity for all of you out there who, like me, haven't gotten any good news yet.

Posted by: buttercoffee | Jan 27, 2014 5:25:40 PM

Almost all schools have been on break for the last month or so. So nothing has happened recently. I expect offers to emerge over the next 3-5 weeks (if they emerge at all); but there is nothing to infer from the fact of silence over the last few weeks.

Posted by: anon | Jan 23, 2014 9:25:40 AM

any other news on the hiring front?

Posted by: anon | Jan 23, 2014 2:53:35 AM

And if a candidate has two offers?

Posted by: If two offers are made... | Jan 21, 2014 12:33:50 PM

Very little is negotiable if you have only one offer. You might get small concessions to enhance collegiality designed to make you happy when you arrive, particularly if they're one-off items (moving expenses, eg, might be possible). Also, typically teaching assignments do not go in the contract; they're done by some sort of academic dean or committee, and so view any commitments by the dean with some skepticism as he doesn't control that process directly. If you get another offer, then you can say, "school x offered y, could you match this?" You only get one or two such exchanges, though, so don't plan on 10 iterations of schools bidding for you.

Posted by: anon | Jan 21, 2014 11:49:36 AM

I'm hopeful that I'll receive an offer in the near-term future. What sort of things are negotiable?

Salary? Summer money? research support? moving expenses? teaching load? repeats in course load? credit for previously published work? years of credit for VAP years? others?

Posted by: If an offer is made... | Jan 21, 2014 11:02:01 AM

I wholeheartedly agree with the previous commenter.

While easier to seek a job as a professor from an employer who knows you are looking elsewhere (and wants you to get a job elsewhere), the risks of taking a VAP and failing to land a tenure-track job seem higher than ever. Add in the lost wages, the possibility of having to go on the market 2-3x (and pursuing back-to-back VAPs in different cities in the process), and it's abundantly clear to me why people would prefer to seek academic jobs from practice instead of VAPs.

Also, don't forget that there are far fewer VAPs then their used to be...

Posted by: Candidate | Jan 16, 2014 7:48:13 AM

There was some discussion last cycle about the career costs associated with leaving practice and taking a VAP, given the profound impact such a move has on one's career if an academic post cannot be secured. That is another reason why people may choose to transition from clerkship/practice rather than from a VAP in future years.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 16, 2014 1:12:41 AM

@anon 6:15:

"there is very good reason to think I would have fared better coming from a fellowship"

I'm not so sure. I know several fellows in top programs who are striking out this year and have heard of many more. You also say "it's been very hard," which I gather means not only that you have found the process frustrating (which is universal) but that scheduling interviews etc. while in practice has been difficult. I can easily see that being the case. Perhaps it might have been simpler or more pleasant logistically to go on the market from a fellowship, but I am not sure you'd have had a better outcome. If, as you say, you think it's going to work out, you're ahead of most fellows and VAPs this year, including many (possibly most) in top programs.

Posted by: Plan B | Jan 15, 2014 9:00:57 PM

I think whether fewer people do fellowships will turn in part on the credentials of those hired. If the number of hires is way down this year but the percentage with fellowships is way up, you might not see the percentage of practicing lawyers on the market go up. I'm on the market from practice this year, and while I think it's likely going to work out, it's been very hard, and there is very good reason to think I would have fared better coming from a fellowship.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 15, 2014 6:15:51 PM

I think the thought is that as long as getting a TT job out of a VAP or fellowship is a crapshoot, more potential candidates will be unwilling to do them. It's also possible that unsuccessful candidates will go back into practice after VAPs, but this is difficult to do for most. (I got lucky -- someone who I had practiced with/against a good bit was looking to hire someone who did what I used to do right when I was starting to look for a job.)

One other possibility is you might see more people go on the market out of clerkships, either the traditional right-out-of-law-school variety, or increasingly, a second clerkship after a couple of years of practice. Firms generally are much more amenable to taking you back after a clerkship than a VAP (though a second one might ruffle a few feathers).

Posted by: Failed academic wannabe | Jan 15, 2014 5:57:55 PM

^^ What's your basis for thinking it will be much much higher in the years to come?

Posted by: B | Jan 15, 2014 1:45:45 PM

It sounds like you made a great decision. Starting as early as next year, I think we'll start seeing many strong candidates entering the market from practice. That has always happened to some extent but the numbers will be much, much higher in the years to come. Who knows, maybe this new crop will bring their practice experience to bear on their teaching and research.

Posted by: anon | Jan 14, 2014 6:41:17 PM

I was on the market in recent years, didn't land anything, and rather than chase a vanishing number of jobs, went back to a big firm. It's been a great decision so far. I'm senior enough so that the work is interesting, I have a lot of client contact and essentially manage several smaller client relationships (alas, someone else brought them in so no origination bonus), and while it's been hard going back to working a job where I'm pretty much away from my family from 7:30 to 7:30 with some weekends, it's not been nearly as bad as my first stint in biglaw (I am in a smaller market now).

And my savings account balance goes up instead of down for the first time in several years. They even came by a few weeks ago and gave me an unexpected check. I had forgotten what a "bonus" was!

Posted by: Failed academic wannabe | Jan 14, 2014 5:32:36 PM

I'm with you, Plan B. And I, too, felt immensely relieved when I decided to just enjoy my last few months in academia. I will start reaching out to firms soon, and hope to find a way to teach and write on the side. There are many roads that lead to academia and I'm also not ruling out giving it another try, but for now I am shifting my focus.

Good luck to those of you who are still in the game!

Posted by: 2cents | Jan 14, 2014 4:25:32 PM

@anon 10:07 - sorry, I didn't fully answer your question. Firms and government for the most part, though the latter is of course tough these days. One benefit of beginning to look now is that my VAP does not formally end until the summer. I enjoyed practice and will probably end up back at a firm.

Posted by: Plan B | Jan 14, 2014 11:52:44 AM

Do you mean VAPs or other visiting positions?

Posted by: anon | Jan 14, 2014 11:25:09 AM

The time to apply for visiting positions is about to start...

Posted by: Not moving to Kentucky | Jan 14, 2014 11:16:56 AM

@anon: no offers. If against all odds my phone rings, sure, I'll listen. But - for me, anyway - it is time to begin making other arrangements.

Posted by: Plan B | Jan 14, 2014 10:40:51 AM

Plan b -- what options are you considering? Also, did you get any offers or just no suitable offers?

Posted by: anon | Jan 14, 2014 10:07:35 AM

Friends: it is time to start working seriously on backup plans. At least, this is the conclusion I have reached for myself (I'm finishing the second year of a VAP). It's mid-January and the end of the semester will be here in a flash.

Deciding to let go and begin working on new plans was the most liberating decision I've made in a while. I'd love to be an academic and will try again this fall or next. But in the meantime, I have bills to pay and a career I'd like to see not end up totally on the shoals if academia doesn't work out. Best of luck to you all.

Posted by: Plan B | Jan 13, 2014 11:30:20 PM

I sent (handwritten) thank you notes to (i) the chair of the committee, (ii) my faculty shepherd, and (iii) each professor that hosted an in-office interview. I asked each of them to pass along my note and thanks to the other members of the committee in the case of the former two and to each other attendee in the latter case.

Personally, I would not draw an adverse instance if someone did not send a note, but I always think well of people that do send notes.

Posted by: Candidate | Jan 13, 2014 7:57:13 AM

I can't speak to general practice, but when I was on the market very recently, I sent an (email) thank you to every faculty member I interacted with and could remember. That means that anyone I had dinner with, or interviewed with in their office, etc. If I could remember something they asked or helped me with, I tried to be as specific as possible with their thank you, but if not, I still thanked them for their time and information. As with any job, taking time out of your day to interact with a potential candidate is part of your job, yes, but also a potential distraction that is nice to get an acknowledgement for. I figure a nice, sincere thank you note can never hurt.

Now that I am on the other side (albeit for very few years), I have received thank you notes from candidates, and found them nice. I usually try to send back a short note thanking them for their talk as well. It is a small community, and you never know where either of you will end up. However, there have been candidates that have not sent thank you notes either, and I haven't made adverse inferences against them due to this.

I would say that a thank you note *might* have a larger chance of making a difference here than at AALS, as there is usually more lag between the interview and the decision. A thank you note might keep you in someone's mind when they are going to do the vote. And at the margins, looking like a nice future colleague that sends thank you notes could only help, I imagine.

Posted by: anonandoff | Jan 12, 2014 7:34:47 PM

After you do an on-campus visit and job talk, do you send thank you notes to the people who spoke with you in their offices, had dinner with you, escorted you around, or who asked a good question at the job talk?

Do you follow-up with someone who asked a question during your job talk that you weren't able to answer on the spot, but that you are able to now?

If you're a professor, what would your reaction be to such communications from job candidates?

How is this different or similar from the comments on thank you or follow-up notes right after AALS (discussed on this thread a few months earlier)?

Posted by: Thanks? | Jan 12, 2014 6:09:59 PM

Yes, I think jobs will only only up when applicants increase, and there is normally a lag between LSAT administrations (LSAT takers may try several times) and applications. Decembers LSAT takers are down another 6.5% from last year (http://www.lsac.org/lsacresources/data/lsats-administered), so I suspect a best case scenario is an increase in LSAT takers next year, applications in 2015-16, and hiring after that. But I also think that there is a psychological element, and that schools who have felt the financial impact of lowered applications will be less quick to hire even when things pick up--the stress of having to do layoffs, salary cuts etc. (and yes these are fairly widespread even now), makes schools more risk averse.

Posted by: CBR | Jan 10, 2014 2:40:13 PM

In my opinion, anyone who thinks that there are going to be way more jobs next year is fooling themselves.

Posted by: Not moving to Kentucky | Jan 10, 2014 10:38:01 AM

Yes, it looks like the so-called law school scam also screwed VAPs and used them as pawns. This is no good.

Posted by: anon | Jan 10, 2014 7:29:59 AM

I doubt it will be much better next year, there is alot of excess inventory from this season so many of those people will be applying again plus new people graduating from the VAPs and Ph.d programs started years earlier. Even if there are more openings, that is not saying alot considering that the number of jobs was down so much this year.

In years past 150 + schools interviewed at AALS, this year it was 80 and many of them might have been just for show. It might go back up to 100 next year but I doubt it will be anywhere near the 150 it was just 2 years ago given LSAT numbers are down

I doubt there will be more than 40-50 jobs this year whereas last year it was like 115. That is a huge difference. It is only going to get better if both positions increase and inventory decreases, the latter will take a few cycles to happen because people already in the pipeline started when things were brighter.

Posted by: anon2 | Jan 9, 2014 11:09:14 PM

I think schools overreacted this year and will need to do enhanced hiring next cycle.

Posted by: Anons | Jan 9, 2014 10:06:04 PM

Applications are down.

Applications are down.

Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2014 7:01:44 PM

What is the basis for claiming that overall the market next year will be the same or worse than this year?

Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2014 5:47:07 PM

What is the basis for claiming that overall the market next year will be the same or worse than this year?

Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2014 5:47:06 PM

Next year might be better for individual people as maybe your subject will be more in demand or you may have more papers published. Overall the market will be the same or worse than this year but individual prospects are based on luck and individualized factors.

Also over the next few years the pool may change. A VAP at a top program was almost a sure fire guarantee of a tenure track job but that has not been true the last few seasons. Once people realize that it may make the pool decline a little over time. You have to be prepared for possibly 2-4 years of a low or no salary to get a job. People who have financial obligations or geographic restrictions might not go down that path as readily as the past.

Posted by: anon2 | Jan 9, 2014 5:38:36 PM

But why should next year be any better?

(Buttercoffee -- I love your posts. I hope you land something soon.)

Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2014 5:29:22 PM

don't get too down buttercoffee, this was a hard year (and it's not over yet); go for it again next year if this year doesn't work out.

Posted by: anon | Jan 9, 2014 3:12:08 PM

I heart you buttercoffee.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 9, 2014 1:42:40 PM

Some Haikus:

I know everyone
Said this year would suck, and yet
I did not listen

Resounding silence
From my AALS schools
Fallback? barista.

I thought I'd not move
To the South or the Midwest
Now ANYthing's great.

Will the FRE
Be expounded from my lips?
...Stay locked in my heart?

Email refresh, and
Another refresh. One more.
They'll surely call soon.

Posted by: buttercoffee | Jan 9, 2014 11:59:56 AM

Has anyone heard anything from St. Mary's?

Posted by: anon1 | Jan 7, 2014 11:24:16 AM


I'll be helping Sarah with the aggregation for this hiring season.

I am currently working my way through the list -- please be patient! No need to tell me an area "actually was specified" -- most likely I just haven't finished aggregating everything yet. I'll try to post another comment when I do get caught up.

For those who would prefer not to post (on the other thread), but still want your data included, you may contact me directly at aalsaggregator (at) gmail (dot) com. All information will be kept in strict confidence.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask (publicly on the other thread or privately by email).

~ AALS Aggregator

p.s. - remember to post callback/offer/ding/etc info on the *other* thread, not this one, thanks!

Posted by: AALS Aggregator | Jan 3, 2014 12:24:46 AM

I think it depends on the school. Some have already begun making "b-team" offers, having received a "no thank you" from their first choice, others are still in the thick of interviewing and haven't make offers yet. At the end of the day, it ain't over until it's over. I can think of a handful of folks who got offers as late as April or May in the last few years and one last year who got a call in June.

Posted by: Anon | Jan 2, 2014 3:10:38 PM

At my school, no one will return to committee work until classes start again in a few weeks.

Posted by: Candidate | Jan 2, 2014 8:43:25 AM

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