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Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2014-2015

In this comment thread to 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 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.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2012-2013 and 2013-2014

Here is a link to the last page of comments.

First posted 8/28/14.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 28, 2014 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


LSAT takers were down 8% this Fall again compared to last year, continuing a 5-year plummet, which sadly means that this year's faculty hiring is probably not the bottom.

Posted by: anon | Dec 11, 2014 9:47:54 AM

is it worse than last year? absolutely no question. how does it bode for future? i think the number to watch is lsat takers. when applicant numbers start to rebound, so will hiring.

Posted by: cheers | Dec 10, 2014 10:46:38 PM

Could anyone with some knowledge provide an overview of the market thus far? Is it worse than last year? Are schools deferring hiring to the spring, or are they unlikely to hire at all? And what does this bode for the future?

Posted by: nonanon | Dec 10, 2014 9:29:35 PM

I had AALS interviews numbering in the double digits, and am now looking to go back to practice. Many folks I know on the market are in the same boat.

Kids considering VAPs/fellowships: think hard.

Posted by: VAP/fellow | Dec 10, 2014 2:10:56 PM

Similar to newly minted, I went through the entire process and the school claimed to have the line canceled. However, it could have been that they didn't get their first choice and therefore didn't want to dip any lower.

Posted by: anonprof | Dec 7, 2014 9:48:17 AM

At my former school, the faculty voted on acceptable candidates but the decision was ultimately the Dean's to make. I went through what seemed like the whole process, faculty interviews, dean interview, etc. only to have the line get cancelled... So, yes, I think there can be "university hurdles" to clear.

Posted by: newly minted | Dec 7, 2014 7:43:34 AM

at some schools, yes, the decision to extend an offer needs a rubber stamp. at other schools, faculty meets in the afternoon, dean has 2 other meetings and a conference call immediately after and then has to go pick up his/her children and eat dinner and puts "call entry-level candidates" on the top of the to do list for monday.

Posted by: cheers | Dec 6, 2014 11:06:00 PM

Why would schools not notify a candidate the date of the faculty vote? Is this because university hurdles that must be satisfied before a formal offer?

Posted by: anon | Dec 6, 2014 4:13:18 PM

@anon 11:28:19, depends on the school's process. i've had a school say essentially, we did 6 callbacks and are recommending 4 of the candidates to the faculty, so the faculty will discuss, vote on, and rank those candidates (and you are among them).

@anon 1:59:09 definitely not. i think making same-day offers following a vote is not the majority rule (and not how my school did it when i served on the hiring committee). they will likely update you by the end of next week, though, either with an offer or by telling you they have made an offer to someone else and you remain in the pool if the offer is declined.

Posted by: cheers | Dec 6, 2014 3:44:41 PM

If a faculty is meeting to vote on candidates on a certain day, does that mean that offers come on the same day? (In other words, if I was told the faculty voted on Friday and I haven't heard anything, should I assume the worst?)

Posted by: Anon | Dec 6, 2014 1:59:09 PM

My experience is that schools do not tend to reveal much. If you have someone on the faculty that you really hit it off with, they might feed you some information, but I have found faculty committees to be pretty secretive in general. Of course, if you have another offer, then the other schools may show more of their hand and may even speed up their vote if they really want you.

Posted by: anonprof | Dec 6, 2014 12:35:47 PM

How common is it for schools to give candidates a heads up about an upcoming vote? Does a candidate generally have a good idea about whether they are about to get an offer? Or do committees tend to not reveal much until the full faculty has reached a decision?

Posted by: anon | Dec 5, 2014 11:28:19 PM

Anyone? I am just waiting by the phone.

Posted by: anon# | Dec 5, 2014 10:36:25 PM

The good news is that the economy is finally, genuinely looking up. Law firms have announced big bonuses again. The federal hiring freeze is over. If need be, it may be easier for VAPs to go back to practice.

Posted by: anon | Nov 25, 2014 9:53:58 AM

Wow, this thread has really died. Maybe time to bump it to the top of the blog? What is the deal this year? Is there really this little action?

Posted by: anon# | Nov 25, 2014 9:04:44 AM

Depends on the school, but you can usually get a week or two. You might get longer if you ask for things that have to be run up the flagpole. Be careful, however, in this environment schools might pull an offer if they think you are demanding too much. If you have a significant other, you might be able to get another fly-back to have them check out the area.

Posted by: aprof | Nov 17, 2014 3:37:05 PM

How long do schools generally give a candidate to consider an offer before it's withdrawn?

Posted by: Anon | Nov 17, 2014 2:40:32 PM

Some faculty members, at some schools, will jump into questions soon after you start. Answer the questions directly. It always amazes me how many bright candidates totally miss the point of the questions (or willfully ignore it). Reminds me of politicians in debates. The candidates talk about what they want to talk about, and do not respond to questions. If the question is way outside of your paper, you can say that, but the faculty might still want your initial thoughts on the question.

Posted by: anonprof2 | Nov 17, 2014 8:30:41 AM

Re length of job talk - from my experience, different schools had different practices with respect to job talks. I'd suggest that when scheduling the callback you ask how long you should plan to speak for. Then practice your talk and make sure you're able to deliver it within the recommended time, ideally 5 minutes less, but not a minute longer!

Posted by: anonprof | Nov 12, 2014 2:41:29 PM

I have a few years in this game and i want to respond to the question about length of job talk. I think it is foolish, foolish, foolish how long people go in their talks. here's the way you should approach the job talk: assume that everyone in that room has a question that they are dying to ask and if they don't get the chance because either your talk goes for 30 minutes OR when you do answer questions, you drone on and one, well assume they won't be happy with that result. Sounds like simple enough advice, but it seems like almost every job talk i've ever heard goes too long. Short answer, i would say no more than 20 mins. Seriously.

Posted by: juniorlawprof | Nov 11, 2014 7:07:14 PM

Frequently a formal offer requires various levels of administrative sign-off (dean, chancellor, board, etc.). Candidates sometimes will hear that they're getting an offer once it gets past the stage where it is very unlikely to be vetoed (usually either when the faculty votes to make the offer, or when the dean approves it).

Posted by: Humanities spouse | Nov 11, 2014 6:06:48 PM


Congrats on the callback. I was puzzled by that comment too. I guess the idea is that maybe a friend or ally at School 1 signals to you that you're getting an offer before it's official. But how much time tends to elapse between taking the faculty vote and extending the offer formally? I would have thought it would be pretty quick, once there's a vote. I may be overlooking something.

Why are fewer people posting? We won't know for sure till spring, but anecdotally the market appears to be, yes, even worse than last year. I suspect many candidates have simply stopped reading or posting.

Posted by: anon | Nov 11, 2014 5:43:40 PM

Anonprof's suggestions seem correct. I do wonder, however, what he/she means by you "knowing it's [the offer] forthcoming." Does this mean let the other schools know when you "think" you are going to get an offer from another school? When you hear from a reliable source that you are getting an offer? When you get an informal offer but still have to work out the details?

To make it more concrete. Here is my situation. I had a callback with School 1 a little over a week ago and it went well. They will likely make decisions by the end of the month. School 2 did not go to AALS, has responded positively to my application and suggested they are interested in me, but has not even done first round interviews yet.

School 2 is significantly better than School 1. Do I alert School 2 before I get an offer from School 1, in hopes that School 2 could act in time to compete? I think that could come off as annoying and is unlikely to speed up the process anyway. Thoughts?

Also, why is this thread so quiet this year? I was also on the market last year and this thread was much more active. Is the market that much worse? It was already quite bad last year.

Posted by: hopeful | Nov 11, 2014 4:29:14 PM

best length (in minutes) for the talk portion of the jobtalk, assuming a faculty that holds Qs for Q&A? i like 17, i think.

Posted by: candy | Nov 9, 2014 6:04:22 PM

If you remain interested in those schools, you update the chair when you get another offer or know it's forthcoming. You say you'd like to keep them updated, have X news, are pleased with how things are going, but remain interested.
If you aren't still interested, you write once you've accepted your offer and withdraw, saying how much you enjoyed meeting them. These are people you are likely to run into again, so beyond being polite--a worthy goal on its own--it just makes sense to leave them with a good feeling. Also, they will write back to congratulate you and say nice things, which is much more pleasant than if you remain silent and receive a rejection in March, August, or sometime next year.
If, however, you do remain silent, and subsequently receive a rejection, it is considered petty to write back and reject the rejection on the basis of already having another job.

Posted by: anonprof | Nov 7, 2014 5:00:02 PM

I have a question - it's seriously premature, but I've been wondering.

So I went to AALS and I had several interviews. I now have a few callbacks, a few dings, and a few schools that have been silent. My understanding is that the silence either means I've been dinged and they didn't tell me, or that the schools have slotted me into some sort of "second tier" where I might still get a callback if things don't work out with their first choices.

If I am fortunate enough to get a job offer from the schools where I have callbacks, and I accept, do I contact the "silent" schools and tell them I'm off the market? Or do I just wait and see if I ultimately do get callbacks from them, and if I do, tell them at that time?

Posted by: anon | Nov 7, 2014 4:24:30 PM

Is everyone either working on job talks or too depressed to post?

Posted by: anon* | Nov 4, 2014 3:07:37 PM

Some of the business schools on my updated list are still looking for law professors. For example, Stephen F. Austin and DePaul just posted their listings over the past few days: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2014/08/legal-studies-positions-in-business-schools.html

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Nov 1, 2014 2:20:00 PM

@anon | Oct 31, 2014 2:53:45 PM:

I am not on my school's hiring committee, but I go to job talks, have meals with candidates, and ultimately vote on them. Since I haven't met them yet, they are all on equal footing as far as I'm concerned. I'm sure the members of the hiring committee have their preferred candidates, but they haven't lobbied the rest of the faculty to vote for them, or anything of that nature. I don't know if that's typical at other schools.

The job talk is certainly one piece of the puzzle, but not the whole piece. Different faculty members look for different things-- how you think under pressure and respond to questions (job talk stuff), how productive they think you will be, whether you will be a good teacher, whether you can interact well with students, whether you are someone they would want to interact with for the next 5 or 10 or 20 years, etc. All the meetings and meals you have with people throughout the day are opportunities to convince the faculty (some of whom might not be able to attend the job talk) to like you. Try to connect with as many people as you can during your visit-- staff and students included.

Again, I can only speak to my school's situation, but I think it's fair to say that anyone who is invited back for a callback has a real shot to be the faculty's favorite.

Congratulations on your callback, and good luck!

Posted by: Another Jr. Prof | Oct 31, 2014 7:11:11 PM

I have a question for faculty members. Once you have completed callbacks, what factors are most important in deciding which candidate gets an offer? Is much of the decision made up before a candidate does his or her job talk? Or is the decision primarily driven by the quality of the job talk? Basically, are most candidates that you callback on roughly equal footing going into their job talks?

Posted by: anon | Oct 31, 2014 2:53:45 PM

A post (and comment section) on The Faculty Lounge that may be of interest to those on the market:


Posted by: anon | Oct 28, 2014 2:35:51 PM

the high school question is so completely ridiculous and irrelevant -- and, indeed, condescending. It demonstrates that some very unimpressive people are sitting on these committees.

Posted by: anonished | Oct 26, 2014 8:34:42 AM

Anyone hearing from Australian, Canadian or UK schools?

Posted by: Anon | Oct 26, 2014 7:52:15 AM

Didn't work, wasn't rich – your story provides another example of why it's an unhelpful question. Our backgrounds sound pretty similar and I know I wouldn't particularly want to talk about it in an interview.

Posted by: anon 12:45 | Oct 22, 2014 9:47:03 PM

For what it's worth, not everyone who escaped high school without a job did so because of privilege. Until I graduated high school, my family lived on one working parent salary, we lived in small apartments generally otherwise occupied by college students, and I wore home-made clothes. But my parents were fiercely determined to protect my time for studying and simply would not permit me to work, except during the final summer before I graduated (and only in the summer). We never had cable, we had one very old car, and we did not take vacations. My point is just that it is dangerous to assume (as someone earlier in the thread did, though the post seems to have been deleted) that this sort of question would in fact weed privilege from lack thereof.

Posted by: didn't work, wasn't rich | Oct 22, 2014 8:46:59 PM

Taking up the Colorado thread from the callback post, I think the "tell us about a job you had in high school" question the committee apparently asked should be scrapped. Two rationales have been offered: the question is designed to sniff out your ability to (1) overcome difficult life circumstances or (2) respond to unscripted questions.

The second one seems implausible as an independent explanation. There are many other ways you can get someone off a script that are less problematic.

The first seems reasonable enough, but I think it risks real unfairness to candidates. I would encourage committees to think harder about this.

Having worked 3-4 jobs by the time I graduated from high school, I would personally welcome the opportunity, in most contexts, to talk about the obligation to work (I often feel a little out of place background-wise in academia and fancy institutions). But - again in my own case - I could see that going either way in an interview context. My experience in academia is that it's easy to make people who have had an easier time feel uncomfortable, and I would not want to have to navigate that (more than I already find I have to) in addition to everything else at AALS.

But I probably have the type of background the committee was hoping to hear about: someone who has less privilege than meets the eye (this part they probably thought about), but has also not experienced privation (this they seem to have assumed). The assumption seems to be that some people will be nervous because they never worked, and the committee wants to see how the candidate handles the unexpected nature of the question and maybe some of the class anxiety it creates. But some people will be nervous because their high school "job" was going down to the dump to collect recyclable materials with their dad, or cleaning their neighbors' houses with their mom. (My own jobs were not glamorous, but not that bad.)

Academic hiring isn't a political campaign where you get points for talking about growing up with an empty refrigerator. Academia is a privileged environment where the worst high school job you're supposed to be able to imagine is working at McDonald's.

Whatever the committee is hoping to achieve here, I'd be concerned about making people feel really embarrassed or at least creating a level of awkwardness that's hard to defuse in 30 minutes. Drop the question, or make it much less specific ("tell us about a job you had in high school or another time that presented challenges that were not only intellectual").

Posted by: anon | Oct 22, 2014 12:45:16 PM

Using the data from the last two AALS conferences (source: AALS annual reports), based on the average of schools-to-candidates ratio, there should've been more than 300 candidates attending AALS this year for the 81 schools, which was certainly not the case. Furthermore, in the last two years, the average of self-reported, entry-level hires per schools attending has been about 90% and the average of hires per candidates attending has been about 25%. If the hires per schools attending remains constant, then the hires per candidates attending should go up, assuming that there were less than 300 candidates attending.

Posted by: Call Me Maybe | Oct 21, 2014 11:11:08 AM

I'm pretty sure there is big under-reporting happening for callbacks. This is based half on knowledge of callbacks not posted (but since they're not mine, I don't feel comfortable doing so), and half on extrapolating from that.

Posted by: anon | Oct 21, 2014 10:43:53 AM

Does anyone know which committees mentioned also looking at laterals? Somone on here mentioned a committee specifically said they would.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 21, 2014 10:00:04 AM

My sense is that my references were contacted pre-AALS conference by about a quarter of the committees that I interviewed with at the conference.

Posted by: anon | Oct 21, 2014 9:57:18 AM

Do committees typically contact references before the meat market interview or, if still interested, afterwards?

Posted by: anon | Oct 21, 2014 9:46:49 AM

I agree with Call Me Maybe's observation. Even accounting for people who missed out on the various receptions and who had a few number of interviews, there were either fewer or a similar number of candidates as compared to schools at the conference.

I suspect that many candidates will be hired in the second wave of hiring around January because I think schools are all competing for the same few "top athletes," under the impression that the bad market means that they can get better candidates than usual. But, I think it will actually work against lower ranked schools. In this market, no one will turn down a call back even at schools where they would not usually teach. This will only drag out the process.

However, this is just speculation from my casual conversations at the conference and my impressions of hiring committees' thinking.

Posted by: anon | Oct 21, 2014 9:31:48 AM

Call me maybe,

I suspect the actual number of conference attendees was larger than you imagined as those of us with a low number of interviews could easily go from interview mode to stealth mode. I for one didn't go below the 6th floor of center tower wearing a suit and didn't wear my name tag to open city.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 20, 2014 8:23:31 PM

"Relatedly, what should we take from the fact that a number of committees seemed to come only for Friday -- does that mean they're less likely to hire, or is it a good sign for those candidates whom they *did* interview because the odds are better?"

This is not unusual and happens in other years as well. I wouldn't read too much into it.

Unrelated but did anyone else see that Princeton Law School was interviewing?

Posted by: anon | Oct 20, 2014 7:30:55 PM

any more reports from others about how many schools were at the conference and actually hiring? Is that 80 number (for number of schools at the conference) accurate?

Posted by: curious but not there | Oct 20, 2014 7:12:37 PM

Is the stock market going up or down tomorrow?

Who will win in 2016?


Posted by: i have some questions too | Oct 20, 2014 5:24:12 PM

Relatedly, what should we take from the fact that a number of committees seemed to come only for Friday -- does that mean they're less likely to hire, or is it a good sign for those candidates whom they *did* interview because the odds are better?

Posted by: anon | Oct 20, 2014 4:56:38 PM

Call me crazy, but it seemed like there were more schools (80 or so) than candidates at the AALS conference. Of course, schools like Yale and a few others come for window shopping. But most of the other schools were there to hire. So this was a rough year to make it to the conference, but if you did, the odds don't seem that bad. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Call Me Maybe | Oct 20, 2014 4:49:01 PM

I realize this is early, but since someone asked, remember you can negotiate most "time to respond" deadlines too. If they ask for a response by a certain date, but you are waiting on another school, you can ask for more time, and I have never heard of any school saying no. Remember that if you do accept, there is a good chance you will have to see this person in the hallway for years, so they have very little incentive to be a hardball negotiator and tank the relationship. Remember, of course, that this goes for you, too.

Posted by: anonandoff | Oct 19, 2014 2:21:47 PM

Any callbacks scheduled yet?

Posted by: anon | Oct 18, 2014 8:28:55 AM

i was given a week to respond.

Posted by: anon | Oct 17, 2014 10:35:55 PM

I would agree with that. I mostly ran into the same folks today, and almost none in the lobby. I also noticed lots of people sitting outside rooms, suggesting back-to-backs are the exception this year. Though, I think it is probably more track-oriented, with a dozen people competing for each substantive slot.

Posted by: A-Anon | Oct 17, 2014 5:48:38 PM

This year seems nothing like what I've heard about past years. It honestly feels like it's only a few dozen candidates all interviewing for the same few positions that are available. No elevator problems. No crowds of anxious future professors. It's just been repeated confirmation that this is a very rough year.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 17, 2014 4:36:20 PM

anon | Oct 17, 2014 2:35:47 PM - Someone asked about post-callback offers. This sparked several responses.

Posted by: newlyminted | Oct 17, 2014 3:56:30 PM

Wait, are you folks talking about offers that you get without even having to do a callback interview? Or are you talking about after you've done the callbacks? I wasn't aware you could get an actual offer that quickly...maybe that's just the "elite" candidates?

Posted by: anon | Oct 17, 2014 2:35:47 PM

I had a deadline (I think 2 weeks; in any event too short for the one other school that I might have considered instead to have me in and make a decision). But, there was a lot of pre-offer feeling me out about whether I would be OK with that. (I was, since the deadline/offering school was a school I was very excited about). I think most schools are pretty up front about whether they do this, so it is likely to be something you can prepare yourself for if you are in the pipeline with a school where it may be the practice.

Posted by: anona | Oct 17, 2014 1:48:25 PM

Likewise to newly minted. Nothing formal, discussion of terms took a bit of time, probably accepted in under two weeks, definitely under three. Best to decide as quickly as you can, more fair to other candidates. ^^

Posted by: # 2 | Oct 17, 2014 11:11:08 AM

What elevator problems? Maybe it's just that empty.

Posted by: A-Anon | Oct 17, 2014 9:39:30 AM

anon | Oct 14, 2014 7:49:19 PM

School X called me either later the same day (Friday) or sometime on Saturday to offer me a call back and also to ask me to dinner on Saturday night. I did not end up there.

| Oct 16, 2014 6:25:42 PM

No one gave me a deadline. I expressed genuine enthusiasm when I received an offer and then negotiated. I wasn't blessed with many offers, but did receive an offer from my top choice school and so deciding to accept was easy. My dean needed to check with the Provost about some of my requests. So, although we were in regular contact, I'm sure it took closer to 2 weeks before I formally accepted my offer. YMMV

Posted by: newly minted | Oct 16, 2014 9:39:59 PM

Is there anyone at Open City who's not attending the conference? I swear the server just asked about my research agenda.

Posted by: anon | Oct 16, 2014 8:01:36 PM

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