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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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Does anyone know when faculties generally turn their attentions back to the hiring process after the New Year? With exams graded and holidays over, do they jump right back in or does it take a few weeks to get everyone's attention again?

Posted by: anonymoose | Jan 1, 2014 4:36:29 PM

I am currently on the market in Canada and so can perhaps address some of the points about Canadian hiring above. First, it is correct that all Canadian law schools are in public universities. Second, it is correct that immigration laws require Canadians to be hired, where possible (if I am not mistaken US law, at least with regard to some visa types also requires this...I recall a friend's New York law firm drafting a very specific job posting which was not circulated very widely to get around this). This obviously doesn't preclude hiring people from outside of Canada (as evidenced by the anecdotal examples of foreign hiring noted above), but it does make it more difficult where one's subject interests are more general. The bigger hurdles for US candidates is the differences in qualification preferences between Canadian and US law schools. For example, although it is my understanding that increasing numbers of US hires have doctoral degrees (or doctorates in progress), especially at more elite schools, this has basically become a mandatory qualification at Canadian schools. VAPs and fellowships are relatively uncommon here and so Canadian schools may not always be clear on what weight to give those. Also, we generally have peer reviewed law journals so being on law journal is not particularly prestigious here and thus may not be a big deal in the eyes of committee members. Similarly, although a clerkship with the Supreme Court of Canada is certainly prestigious and there are several former SCC clerks in academia, clerkships (particularly below the SCC) are not all that common among academics compared to US academics.

Posted by: anoncanuck | Jan 1, 2014 12:48:41 PM

Has anyone gotten any news over the break?

I'm especially curious about Howard.

Posted by: news? | Dec 31, 2013 7:56:24 PM

This thread is beyond belief. Has it ever occurred to you professors that none of your students will earn close to this amount?

Posted by: flurg | Dec 31, 2013 2:14:24 AM

I wonder what fraction of the schools who interviewed at AALS will end up not hiring this year. I know of at least a one or two on my list of schools. It will be interesting to see the total number of hires at the end of the year.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 23, 2013 4:24:10 PM

Seems inevitable. If only 80 schools or so were even pretending to look at stage 1, then there aren't going to be many jobs to go around.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 23, 2013 10:16:10 AM

Is the market this year shaping up to be as bad as people predicted?

Posted by: Anon | Dec 23, 2013 2:32:41 AM

This thread is attracting attention: http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2013/12/the-other-america#comments

Posted by: anon | Dec 21, 2013 3:31:01 PM

Any word on Texas Southern?

Posted by: anon | Dec 19, 2013 3:02:06 PM

In response to my email, I was told that offers were extended in late November for N. Kentucky.

Posted by: Not moving to Kentucky | Dec 19, 2013 12:26:27 PM

Any news on Northern Kentucky?

Posted by: Anonomite | Dec 19, 2013 10:47:42 AM

Any word on Howard?

Posted by: anon | Dec 18, 2013 5:07:03 PM

I would expect questions regarding why you are interested in teaching at a business school as opposed to a law school. Depending on the program, you may also get some questions regarding the differences between teaching undergrade or MBA students as opposed to law students.

Posted by: Anonity | Dec 17, 2013 3:48:00 PM

Any wisdom to share regarding the kind of questions business schools ask in first round interviews?

Posted by: Candidate | Dec 17, 2013 3:06:23 PM

But what about these job postings in Hong Kong, Macau, etc.?

Posted by: anon | Dec 17, 2013 11:18:16 AM

@anon2 - All current Canadian law schools are public institutions, including Toronto.

Posted by: anon | Dec 17, 2013 10:28:00 AM

Any word from Alabama? Have they made any offers?

Posted by: anon | Dec 16, 2013 7:29:34 PM

I think they were referring to it being important for Canadian public universities. I imagine there is no constraint on citizenship at private schools.

Posted by: anon2 | Dec 16, 2013 6:14:44 PM

There are plenty of foreign academics in public Canadian law schools. Toronto alone has profs from the US, Germany, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, etc. There may be a preference for those with Canadian citizenship or permanent residency (which you can get after 3 years in the country), but it's certainly not determinative.

Posted by: anon | Dec 16, 2013 4:48:51 PM

I'm aware of two Americans who recently got jobs at Canadian universities. While they are both very well qualified, I can't imagine that in either case there were literally no Canadians who could do the job for which they were hired. Both were in semi-specialized areas, which perhaps helped. (Neither had any expertise in Canadian law, but they had border-transcending interests.)

Posted by: anon | Dec 16, 2013 4:32:16 PM

I have heard of one hire at Indiana. No further info.

Posted by: anon | Dec 15, 2013 6:07:56 PM

Re teaching at a non-US school being a negative for publishing - it may depend on your subject matter. Prior to my current US position I taught overseas and placed articles in a number of the top international journals. Same experience for many of my colleagues. Of course internationally-focused journals may care less about the location of the author's school.

Posted by: anon | Dec 14, 2013 12:41:31 PM

Had anyone heard anything about Indiana?

Posted by: anon | Dec 14, 2013 10:58:20 AM

anon 12:06: that's not really true. Israeli and Canadian law professors write in top US law reviews all the time. Maybe depends where one is teaching.

Posted by: anon | Dec 13, 2013 2:33:30 PM

anon 12:06: that's not really true. Israeli and Canadian law professors write in top US law reviews all the time. Maybe depends where one is teaching.

Posted by: anon | Dec 13, 2013 2:33:29 PM

I just did a quick email search for the hiring chair's response. Here is the relevant portion of what he wrote: "Canadian immigration requirements state that Canadians and permanent residents have to be given priority in the hiring process. We may not hire a non-citizen unless no Canadian is qualified for the position, a situation that – given our subject matter needs - is possible but not likely."

Posted by: anon | Dec 13, 2013 2:23:34 PM

As I understand it, if it is a public Canadian university, no amount of awesomeness on your part can trump it. They can only even look at your application if there are no qualified Canadian applicants. It is not a direct competition between your qualifications and theirs - they must not qualify at all. This is extremely rare, of course. I once applied for a lateral position at a Canadian school and had this explained to me by their hiring chair.

Posted by: anon | Dec 13, 2013 2:20:32 PM

I'm sorry about that. None of those showed up, until they all did.

Posted by: anonmerican | Dec 13, 2013 12:38:54 PM

I'm curious about the role of nationality preferences in Canadian hiring. Canadian schools seem to post a lot of announcements (and perhaps therefore to also do a lot of hiring), but many state that they favor Canadians in their hiring decisions. I know a few Americans who have gotten hired in spite of this preference, but I am curious to know how big a role it plays.

Posted by: anonmerican | Dec 13, 2013 12:34:11 PM

I'm curious about the role of nationality preferences in Canadian hiring. Canadian schools seem to post a lot of announcements (and perhaps therefore to also do a lot of hiring), but many state that they favor Canadians in their hiring decisions. I know a few Americans who have gotten hired in spite of this preference, but I am curious to know how big a role it plays.

Posted by: anonmerican | Dec 13, 2013 12:33:44 PM

I'm curious about the role of nationality preferences in Canadian hiring. Canadian schools seem to post a lot of announcements (and perhaps therefore to also do a lot of hiring), but many state explicitly that they favor Canadians in their hiring decisions. I know a few Americans who have gotten hired in spite of this preference, but I am curious to know how big a role it plays.

Posted by: anonmerican | Dec 13, 2013 12:30:37 PM

I'm curious about the role of nationality preferences in Canadian hiring. Canadian schools seem to post a lot of announcements (and perhaps therefore to also do a lot of hiring), but many state explicitly that they favor Canadians in their hiring decisions. I know a few Americans who have gotten hired in spite of this preference, but I am curious to know how big a role it plays.

Posted by: anonmerican | Dec 13, 2013 12:30:33 PM

I'm also interested in overseas postings, especially in Canada. But I have no sense of whether these schools would be interested in professors who only know U.S. law, or if I would be taken seriously among American profs if I were based in, say, Hong Kong. (I vaguely recall a study finding that employment at a non-U.S. law school was the most influential *negative* factor in placing articles with law reviews.)

Posted by: anon | Dec 13, 2013 12:06:13 PM

Anyone watching the overseas postings? What impact might that have on one's longterm career?

Posted by: anon | Dec 12, 2013 7:24:05 PM

re: What else can you ask.

First, I agree you can and should ask questions about financial situation specifically during the interview, albeit in a respectful, tactful way (i.e. "How is your school dealing with the decreased enrollment across schools?" vs. "I hear this school is a sinking ship. What's up with that?").

Other than that, you can and should ask about the dean's plan for the future of the school - if it is a new dean, what's their vision for the school? Are they putting a focus on rising in the rankings? (Many are) How? Is there a plan for increased scholarship (through incentives), or new clinics, or new centers? This may have an impact on how the next few years go.

You can also ask about how they see you fitting in to the school and its plans. Sometimes, the dean is planning on tapping you to be involved with or run a particular center (either existing or planned), or be the successor to the current leader of a program or center, because of planned retirements or lateral moves. Ask about this up front - "How do you see me fitting in to service activities here?" or some variation thereof. It may help you decide on a particular school if they are putting you in to your dream role, or, alternatively, are planning on sucking up a bunch of time you could be writing on running something you are not that interested in.

You can always ask the dean about their impression of the faculty, compared to others they have been at. Many deans have been at other schools by the time they make it to the dean level, and so might have some comparative impressions. Now, no dean is going to say their faculty is terrible in any way, but they might give you a sense of the faculty culture.

In a very tactful way, you might also ask about the dean's own personal plans. Deans can and do change the culture of a school (at least to some degree, mainly for the faculty), and it may be good to know how long the dean plans to stick around to implement his or her vision. If the school is going through a dean transition, as many are, feel free to ask about that and the impact it may have on the school. However, this might be a question you leave till after the offer is in hand.

Posted by: anonandoff | Dec 11, 2013 2:30:07 PM

What else can you ask the Dean during the interview? (That is, when the Dean says "Do you have any questions for me?")

I might want to stay away from discomforting questions, but I'd be surprised if a Dean wasn't prepared for a question about the school's financial health, especially if they were planning to hire people.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 2:07:36 PM

Any news on b-school business law positions, specifically Wharton and Smeal (PSU)?

Posted by: anonymoose | Dec 11, 2013 2:02:04 PM

In all interviewing situations I have always avoided potentially uncomfortable questions until I became the buyer rather than the seller...So I'd wait until you get an offer to ask such questions - but I am perhaps overly risk averse.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 12:42:22 PM

I agree, I asked at the callbacks, which I think is more tasteful than asking during a salary negotiation. However, if that ship has already sailed, I now would ask other people who might know and not the Dean during the negotiation. But, it could be a negotiation tactic too because either the dean says they're financially strong (at which point you ask for more money) - OR he's forced to come clean about teetering on the brink and that they are hiring you as the one last-ditch effort to save that sinking ship.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 12:25:47 PM

I think you address it during your interview with the Dean, and just be polite but also direct. I wouldn't apologize for bringing it up or act like it is somehow distasteful to talk about. They will always say, "Do you have any questions for us?" At which point you say, "How is the law school responding to the decline in law school applications?" or "What can you tell me about the financial health of the law school?" If a Dean were to be evasive or pollyannaish in answering this question I would consider that a red flag.

I did not receive any adverse reaction to this question, just a very matter-of-fact and transparent response. I think if anything they had the impression that I was at least somewhat savvy about the state of legal education and was thinking carefully about my career.

I think with the market being as tough as it is it is easy to feel like you can't have any demands or criteria, but this is not true. If they have invested the time and energy into giving you a call back you are entitled to really get to know the school in all aspects. Also, you may be in the position of deciding between two schools, one of which has a realistic plan for weathering the current storm and one that does not. This information would be critical in that scenario.

Posted by: Second Time | Dec 11, 2013 10:56:49 AM

I know you're right, but it does seem awkward to ask about the school's financial health, particularly during callbacks. How do you phrase this type of question? Seems delicate. Most of the info I gathered came from comments by faculty during the callback -- sometimes faculties talk a lot about reforms, need for change, etc, and others really talked up the positive financial condition of the school (with no prompting on my end), and others did not mention finances at all.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 10:34:29 AM

I asked explicit questions about the financial health of the law schools at which I had call backs and found the Deans to be very forthcoming. It is absolutely a fair question.

Posted by: Second Time | Dec 11, 2013 10:20:23 AM

That's a good question, and there will likely be some good answers posted soon about what to ask, but just as a comment to calm the fears: among the many good ways to vet this, perhaps the strongest has already been accomplished before you ask the question, which is whether they are hiring. We are hiring this year, as we do in most years, but it is the first time that I have experienced other law profs congratulating me when I say we're hiring. They get a very impressed look and say "wow, that's great that you can hire this year, congratulations!" when I am merely telling some story about something that happened in our hiring process, not attempting to brag about our school's health. The ability to hire in this climate is a really big deal - don't underestimate it's value. Of course things can seem okay and then take a turn for the worse, but frankly I think that was last year and we are at the front end of a 2-3-year rebound, so if a school is confident enough (and has the $ and university support) to hire this year, odds are good.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 9:38:00 AM

Any thoughts on what sort of inquiries one should make into the financial health of a school before accepting an offer? With application numbers down and schools making headlines for axing their junior faculty (either directly or indirectly) what should a candidate entering the field consider or ask to know? And no, I am not talking about Top 20 schools, I am talking about Tier 2 and below.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2013 9:10:53 AM

anon | Dec 10, 2013 7:34:23 PM: My school has done it both ways. This year we are waiting until we've seen everyone; in some previous years we have considered people before the holiday break and considered others after the break. We have told the candidates we've seen so far when we are going to be considering them. (We have a date for that faculty meeting - it's not until late January.)

Posted by: prof | Dec 10, 2013 7:39:26 PM

If a school interviews several people in Nov/Dec and has several more interviews lined up for January, will the school always wait until all callbacks are finished before taking a vote (or making the call)? Or will the school consider the first batch before the holiday break, so that the fall interviews are fresher in people's minds?

Posted by: anon | Dec 10, 2013 7:34:23 PM

My school finished callbacks last week. We are voting & should make at least one offer by the end of this week.

Posted by: Young prof | Dec 10, 2013 6:06:13 PM

Thanks. I will go with "a week after the dates they mentioned as possible response dates."

Posted by: Anonna | Dec 10, 2013 6:05:57 PM

If you did a callback at a school, you should feel free to check in with them after a reasonable interval, especially of course if you face some sort of deadline. A reasonable interval means either (a) a week following any date they mention as a possible response date or (b) early in spring semester, so late January or early February (there will be little to no personnel activity between fall exams and the start of spring semester). If the school has shown no interest in you (ie, no contact post AALS), then there's really no point to contacting them, best to just let that dream die quietly and move on.

Posted by: anon | Dec 10, 2013 5:17:52 PM

Going back my topic for a brief second (hate to interrupt the Dismal Salary Party but): when, if ever, is it kosher to inquire about timing and status, if one believes the calls are likely to have happened?

Posted by: Anonna | Dec 10, 2013 4:44:51 PM

Ok, let's see if we can wrap this up.

$100k is a very good salary for a wonderful job that offers a lot of freedom and as much job security as you're going to be able to find in this market.

It isn't as much as it sounds like, though, when you factor in the extreme debt loads many recent law school graduates carry (I'm not going to address the three-children and non-working significant other issue -- those are life choices that limit one's options in ways that aren't specific to law school graduates). Thankfully those who are serious contenders for a teaching job almost always have the opportunity to take a job for a year or two that will help them make a significant dent in those loans. They may prefer not to, but it is an option.

This said, tuition has spiraled out of control. This seriously harms law graduates who have a hard time finding high-paying jobs. It is also unfortunate that student loans keeps those who do have many options away from pursuing their passion and doing work that may be more beneficial to society, even if for a few years.

Ironically, the way to address the tuition problem in the long run is by cutting costs, including through hiring freezes and ultimately lowering TT salaries.

Posted by: 2cents | Dec 10, 2013 1:38:50 PM

I just looked into it, and you need to owe more than $60,000 to qualify for a 30-year repayment period on federal loans. Even though I have over that amount in loans, the way my loans were disbursed is such that I technically have something like 6 loans of lesser amounts. Apparently this is standard practice at my law school (and the representative who I spoke to from my lender thought this was standard practice everywhere now). Both my lender and law school financial aid office told me that this will not just preclude me from switching to a 30-year payment plan, but would similarly preclude someone with substantially greater loans (and I specifically asked about >$200k). So I stand by my previous comment that a 10-year repayment plan (and approximately 30k in loan repayment per year) is the relevant number to look at: even if I'm being screwed, I am almost surely not alone.

And again, for the final time, my argument is not law profs have a uniquely bad financial situation, or that it's impossible to make it work as a law prof. I don't think the median US household is doing all that great these days, so the fact that law profs---who have to be in the top 1% of top 1% of performers over about a decade---can hope to make slightly more than that is not a strong argument for the salary being something other than mediocre. Maybe "dismal" is an overstatement, and it sounds like earlier generations of law profs do have it great. But for many current grads, the salary is definitely a big limiting factor. Just as it is for public interest law -- which is a separate matter of concern.

Posted by: ana | Dec 10, 2013 1:34:56 PM

"You counted childcare for a working spouse but no income for that spouse."

I was responding to the following: "Frankly, if you can't imagine how $100k is enough to support a family once your old debts are at a manageable level, then you're not very imaginative."

In any event, if your point is that it's doable to have a family on $100k in a medium-COL area if that all comes from a sole earner and the other person gives up their career and stays home with the kids, then point taken. It's a lousy point, but point taken.

Posted by: Well... | Dec 10, 2013 1:20:07 PM

Well...: You counted childcare for a working spouse but no income for that spouse. Gotta pick one or the other. Income minus childcare or zero/zero (unless you are a single parent, but that doesn't match your hypo). Totally undermines your argument and leaves a nice pool for debt repayment. Also, your monthly take is wrong for at least a couple of reasons: a. sounds like you have a lot of deductions (my refunds get very near the 5-figure mark each year), b. usually that 100k salary is paid out over 9 months so the monthly amount is much higher, and you are free to work for more income in the summers (most profs I know make between 10k and 25k in the summers, so add that to your salary - 10k if just a research grant at a cheapish school for grant size, more if better grants and/or any teaching, and way more if consulting).

ana: You keep returning with the 200k debt rebuttal to the notion that families typically live on 50k, though that debt only makes a dent of about 16k per year in the 100k (we've covered this), leaving you way better off than a typical middle class family.

Posted by: anon | Dec 10, 2013 1:14:42 PM

Yeesh. The complaints aren't that $100k in salary is lousy, period. The complaints are that, in the context of the new reality of ~$200k debt loads at ~7.5% interest rates, a $100k salary is lousy. And nobody has said that lousy = impossible.

Posted by: ana | Dec 10, 2013 1:06:57 PM

Public interest lawyer here. Married to another public interest lawyer. We live on WAY less than $100k each and support a family and live in an expensive city. It's possible, it just may not comport with the lifestyle that you are used to. We don't order in food, we cook it; we buy cheap clothing; our vacations are local; our daycare isn't fancy; our furniture is from IKEA; etc. I wouldn't recommend complaining about an $100k salary without the cloak of anonymity b/c folks like me also adjunct and then eventually teach full-time and we might be sitting next to you and not appreciate the comment.

Posted by: anon | Dec 10, 2013 1:01:30 PM

The median household does not have $200k in debt.

Posted by: ana | Dec 10, 2013 12:59:14 PM

Bottom line, the Census Bureau's data can attest to the fact that $100k is plenty of money for a family to live on given that the median household income in this country is approximately $53k (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/36000.html).

How about 'dem apples?

Posted by: Candidate | Dec 10, 2013 12:50:01 PM

"if you can't imagine how $100k is enough to support a family once your old debts are at a manageable level"

$100,000/year works out to $8333/month, with is around $6250 after taxes. Let's assume you have three kids and both spouses work. Childcare is probably going to be $2500 a month on average (more during the summer when the older kids are out of school). That takes you to $3750. Let's assume that you live in a medium-cost city. Rent/mortgage for a modest place big enough for five is probably going to be at least $1500/month. That takes you down to $2250. Health insurance will run minimum $300 for catastrophic-level coverage. Now it's $1950. Figure food for a family of five is $150/week. Now you're at $1300. Figure in gas/electricity ($150), vehicle fuel ($150), phone for two ($75), and water ($50). Now you're at $875 to cover clothing, entertainment (restaurants, cable, movies), emergencies, out-of-pocket health care (remember you got a cat policy, so this is going to be significant), travel, student loans, etc.

Posted by: Well... | Dec 10, 2013 12:21:57 PM

Candidate, sure, and it's a problem, too.

Posted by: aan | Dec 10, 2013 12:10:18 PM

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