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Thursday, August 27, 2015

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2015-2016

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors 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 professors 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 2013-2014 and 2014-2015

Here is a link to the last page of comments.

Originally posted August 27, 2015.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 27, 2015 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


Sorry if this Q sounds stupid - don’t know where else to ask
Am an MBA from top Asian School + 23 yrs Fin Svcs industry exp. + 3 yrs full time FINANCE & BUSINESS LAW teaching + LLB just done from good (not Top) Asian school
Applying to top Asian Law School (several US Faculty on board) for faculty position
Giving my LLB teachers & ppl from the industry network (customers) as References
Dilemma : 2 of my MBA batchmates are Profs of Acctg (at Georgetown) & Biz Strategy (at HBS) - should I list them as References ? (they have only seen me as a fellow MBA student).

Posted by: BIZLAW | Jun 19, 2016 4:44:56 PM

When I was hired, I simply contacted the textbook companies, told them where I was going to work and what I was teaching and then requested that they send me the appropriate textbooks to review. They then called my future school and confirmed my hire. I had the books in no time. You might also google "syllabus [name of the course]" as you can find several online -- it'll give you a sense of which textbooks are more popular.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Jan 7, 2016 1:45:35 PM

For those of us who have secured jobs and are suddenly faced with prepping classes, where do we start with getting books? Do law schools normally have a representative who contacts the major publishers? Do new hires contact the major publishers? Are we supposed to know ahead of time which particular casebooks we might be interested in, or do we just give our subject area? Do publishers also send supplements, or just casebooks?

Posted by: Anon Hire | Jan 7, 2016 11:09:56 AM


Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 24, 2015 1:34:34 PM

Are there any public guides to offer negotiation (what to expect, what to ask about, etc)? That's the part of this process that I've heard the least about and (with luck) it'll be relevant to many of us over the next few months.

Posted by: Anon | Nov 24, 2015 12:44:18 PM

What are the likely explanations if a school has been silent since the interview at the AALS conference? On the B list for callbacks or NO?

Posted by: AnonC | Nov 16, 2015 12:30:53 PM

I'm not sure where it would fit on here, but as a hiring chair, I'd love to see a follow up to the initial "hiring chairs introduce yourselves" thread on the topic of post-AALS curricular focuses. I think most of us announce multiple subjects that we're interested in, but after AALS, we tend to whittle that down to 1-2 subject areas that we do callbacks for. I know that I, for one, am curious which other schools are pursuing the same subject areas as my school. Again, not sure where it would fit or whether it even justifies another post, but I throw the suggestion out there for what it's worth.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Nov 9, 2015 8:33:15 AM

With us, we have folks coming back now for callbacks. In just a few weeks, we will vote to make offers and then offer it to the #1 person. If they say no, we'll go down the list. We give folks two weeks to accept or reject. If we run out of folks who were called back, we'll call back 1-2 more. The other scenario would be if the faculty indicated that they didn't like any of the folks called back (which I'd find surprising given our options this year, but it's possible), then we'd call back some more as well. Based on timeframe, I'd say this would happen in January at the latest, but we've added callbacks in late November/early December as well in the past.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 25, 2015 10:00:34 PM

I think that the answer to this question is unclear in this market. Last year, barely any schools went to their B lists. It could change this year given that the market seems slightly better, but who knows. Bottom line, I wouldn't hold my breath on B-list callbacks.

Posted by: anon | Oct 25, 2015 9:51:57 PM

Question about candidates who are on a waitlist for callbacks. What would the typical process and timeframe for additional callbacks be? Do most schools wait until a full formal vote of the faculty on all candidates who they called back initially, and then until those offers have been accepted/rejected? If so, I assume any additional callbacks would happen quite late, like January? Or do some extend earlier based on how scheduled callbacks are going? Or in this market, do schools basically never go to that waitlist and it is better thought of as a rejection list?

Posted by: anonymouscandidate | Oct 25, 2015 9:43:30 PM

I'd say at least 10.

Posted by: AnonProf | Oct 24, 2015 8:09:36 PM

Obviously anything is possible, but how many callbacks does a candidate need before they can feel relatively safe?

Posted by: anon | Oct 24, 2015 7:54:14 PM

Someone posted: [H]ere is a request: a blog post discussing what to do after you have struck out on the market. What do you do next? Especially if you're committed to legal academia? After all, most of candidates will be facing this question.

My response: This is a good suggestion. I will calendar this for November 11, the same day that the VAPs and Fellowships thread will go up. If anyone has particular expertise in this area, send me an email and you can write the post (anonymously or otherwise--up to you). If not, I will float some ideas and then open the thread for discussion. I think there have been discussions of this in the past, but it would be good to get it consolidated in one post with that as the topic.

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Oct 22, 2015 2:11:22 PM

The missing word in my comment may be a sign that I am not good enough to get any callbacks.

Posted by: Anon1 | Oct 17, 2015 2:16:52 PM

How is going? Can we start posting about callbacks yet? None for me yet, but I hope some will come this evening or later this coming week.

Posted by: Anon1 | Oct 17, 2015 1:30:59 PM

Is everyone going to the reception at 6:00? Should I go to talk to the people who I interviewed with, or will it just be candidates?

Posted by: anon | Oct 16, 2015 5:42:39 PM

I was also on the market recently and had several callbacks. The earliest call came on Saturday evening. Most were during the following week. Two came significantly later, but both those schools had told me that they would likely take some extra time to decide.

Posted by: anonjr2 | Oct 16, 2015 4:11:38 PM

Former Clerk - I was on the market a couple years ago. I received 11 callbacks. All but one of those callbacks came in by the Wednesday after the FRC. One came several weeks later, which was after a school had determined that its curricular priorities may need to shift. The first callback I received came Friday evening from a top 20 school.

Posted by: anonjr. | Oct 16, 2015 2:06:49 PM

There is not enough caffeine for this conference. Nope, not nearly enough.

I've heard that higher ranked schools tend to be slower with calls. Anyone know how much slower?

Posted by: Anon | Oct 16, 2015 1:30:07 PM

Yes, we also highly value clerkships, but during the hiring search in question we were looking for candidates with at least 4-5 years of experience in representing clients (whether private or public). We ended up hiring 2 that year that had 5-7 years of such experience.

Posted by: AnonFormerHiringChair | Oct 16, 2015 10:03:14 AM

Good luck to everyone interviewing this weekend!

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 16, 2015 7:39:52 AM

We plan on calling Saturday evening.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 16, 2015 7:04:59 AM

When do schools usually call about callbacks? Within a week after FRC? Two weeks? More?

Posted by: FormerClerk | Oct 16, 2015 6:50:27 AM

We highly value clerkships, but don't count them as practice experience. We like to see ideally at least 2 years of practice experience, in addition to a clerkship.

Posted by: anotherhiringchair | Oct 16, 2015 3:35:19 AM

Though also anecdotal, I concur with AnonFormerHiringChair's comments.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 15, 2015 11:46:20 PM

We don't count clerkships toward practice experience, because the two are very different. That being said, 1) we greatly value clerkships for the amazing experience they provide and 2) we're comfortable with only 2-ish years of practice experience.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 15, 2015 8:02:44 PM

I don't think many schools count clerkship towards those years, which I think is a big mistake. You see more in a one year clerkship than most lawyers see in a decade.

Posted by: FormerClerk | Oct 15, 2015 7:33:56 PM

AnonFormerHiringChair, would I be correct in assuming clerkships don't count toward those 4-5 years?

Posted by: secretidentity | Oct 15, 2015 5:37:08 PM

This is anecdotal of course, but our last hiring search we were looking for all the typical academic credentials and scholarship markers and also for at least 4-5 years of solid practice experience. We passed on a large number of excellent people who were a solid curricular fit otherwise because they had only a couple of years or virtually none. My perception is that there is a growing trend in the market for law schools to want to see more significant practice experience in addition to excellent academic and scholarship credentials in the candidates they consider.

Posted by: AnonFormerHiringChair | Oct 15, 2015 11:42:16 AM

It doesn't take much, but there are folks in the FAR who only list a single summer associate position--that's it. That's definitely not enough.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 15, 2015 8:20:24 AM

What counts, that is definitely better than nothing. Depends on what the school is looking for. Those at big firms may not have done as much work, though some pick up the most substantive work through their pro bono work as junior associates. However, at a big firm you can make quite a lot of connections in practice and obviously the big name looks good on the CV. I'd make sure to explain your practice experience, because there are a number of academics who are "of counsel" or part-time at a firm and do next to nothing.

Posted by: AnonC | Oct 15, 2015 6:16:06 AM

So, practice experience is important, but what counts as practice experience?

If you've represented clients and participated at every stage of trial and appeals in very substantive or leading capacities in a practice area related to your research interests, but you did this through a small firm in a part time capacity while simultaneously working on a phd or research fellowship, is that practice that counts, or not?

Posted by: What counts as practice experience? | Oct 15, 2015 3:43:30 AM

Yes, teaching fit, personality match, and a commitment to student success are much more important now than before. That's not to say that pedigree and scholarship aren't important, but the mix is much more balanced now than before.

Posted by: AnonToo | Oct 15, 2015 12:38:45 AM

This is all good advice. I will just add that what we look for at our third-tier school is not the same as top schools.

Fit, both teaching needs and personality, are important to us. Teaching ability and potential are quite important to us, though admittedly, you get in the door on your experience and publishing record, and then have to show evidence of good teaching through evaluations and/or a well executed job talk.

We also really care about commitment to our local geographic area. Unfortunately, that is pretty hard to sell if you have never lived in our state or have some relatives or other connection to our state. We have obviously hired people with no connection, but enough of those have left relatively quickly that we are a bit hesitant to do that too often.

We also probably care more about work experience and practitioner publications than many other schools.

We are still focused on law review publications and a prestigious CV, but those other factors play a bigger role than some think.

Posted by: OneAnonProf | Oct 14, 2015 2:31:02 PM

I also received many unsolicited recommendations from "big names" in the academy when chairing hiring committees and those recommendations never made a bit of difference. Curricular needs drove the process and if a candidate did not fit within the curricular scope of what we were looking for no recommendation could make a difference. Even when receiving a recommendation for someone within the scope of what we were looking for, that would not elevate that candidate above others who we felt were stronger or were a better fit. I think the inside baseball stuff probably matters more at T14 type schools, but in the larger market I think it's way overblown.

Posted by: AnonFormerHiringChair | Oct 14, 2015 10:54:07 AM

I agree with everything that's been written. I'll add that I'm also quite comfortable crediting a candidate who checks all of the boxes other than having publications, so long as the job paper is strong.

Posted by: AnotherAnon | Oct 13, 2015 10:29:07 PM

I got dozens and dozens of unsolicited recommendations from "big names" this year, and I have to say I barely read them. I assume that any professor at the school where that person is a fellow/VAP (i.e., the folks typically sending the letters) has a vested interest in placing them well, so I take them with a grain of salt (if even that).

And, anon, teaching evaluations can make up some ground for those who are deficient in other areas (except for curricular fit), but probably only enough to benefit someone who is already right on the edge of getting an interview. With so many candidates strong in every area, teaching evaluations can only do so much in this market. We definitely treated it as a plus if someone had prior teaching experience.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 13, 2015 5:24:02 PM

My two cents: the missing variable may be recommenders. A few big names reaching out on a candidate's behalf is a huge deal -- and even having big names as references is likely to make a difference. I really wish it weren't this way, but the idea that the FRC combats the cronyism that characterized the market previously is something of a farce. It's still largely a game of inside baseball, particularly when it comes to the top schools.

Posted by: anotheranonprof | Oct 13, 2015 5:15:42 PM

anon 9:33

Your guess seems implausible to me, in that extensive practice experience PLUS no publications is usually the kiss of death rather than a magnet for interviews--it leads to the immediate inference that the person is burnt out and looking to retire and teach, which by your account is not an inaccurate inference in this case. Not to mention that practice experience by itself hardly ever gets much weight (maybe, only maybe, exceptions in tax and securities law). I get that you feel the whole process is unfair, and I can sympathize, but from my perspective your point of comparison is distorted because it is so very very odd.

Posted by: anonprof | Oct 13, 2015 4:16:10 PM

AnonHiringChair. I am wondering whether prior teaching evaluations mattered at all in your process, and if so, how. For instance, did it make up for a candidate who might be weaker in the publication, experience, or school categories? Obviously what is, is, with the curricular needs.

Posted by: anon | Oct 13, 2015 3:45:26 PM

Remember - schools with very particular hiring needs are, especially in this environment, able to find the candidate that meets their EXACT needs. If you dont match, for whatever reason, they do not need to look at you since they can easily find something that is a better fit. The problem for the candidate is that there is nothing they can do (or reasonably do) to get interviews when that fit simply isnt there. Its a difficult truth of the hiring market today (and maybe it was always this way, I dont know).

Posted by: Anon | Oct 13, 2015 3:20:13 PM

In my opinion, the biggest reasons one doesn't get interviews are: 1) lack of curricular fit -- I'm continually amazed at some of the niche areas entry level folks attempt to market themselves as. A lot of candidates shot themselves in the foot right there. Most of us don't need an Animal Law expert, but many of us need Business Law folks; 2) lack of publications or either poor publications -- if all your pubs are in 3rd and 4th tier journals, it's just going to be too hard to sell you to my faculty (ditto if your pubs. are in places I've never even heard of). If you haven't published at all, there better be something amazing about you or you're not going to get an interview; 3) lack of practice experience -- this speaks for itself; 4) You either didn't go to a top school or you didn't do very well at the not-so-top school you did go to.

I cannot think of anyone in the FAR who was a curricular fit (and I don't mean a "I guess I could teach that" fit, but a "I listed that subject high on my list and I back up that interest by my scholarship" kind of fit), had strong publications and practice experience that we did NOT extend an invitation to.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 13, 2015 3:13:25 PM

To anon 2:40:55. I don't want to go into too many details about the person in question - it doesn't seem right. I just want to use that as an example of how strange, and often unfair, the process can feel, especially those who have dedicated a very sizable part of their lives to academia. Needless to say, the person has none of the things you mention. My best guess is it is due to the area the person is in, plus the sizable practical experience that he/she has. Thanks B-Team and anon for the kind words.

Posted by: anon 9:33 | Oct 13, 2015 3:02:23 PM

anon 9:33

Care to share why your colleague who has published nothing has multiple interviews? Supreme Court clerk? Fantastic recommendations? Born into the right last name? The only positive trait you mention--a shining personality--does not come across a FAR form, and the process is not THAT arbitrary (or, more precisely, it is arbitrary in one direction--I'm not at all surprised to learn that good people fail to get interviews).

Posted by: anonprof | Oct 13, 2015 2:40:55 PM

anon 9:33

Care to share why your colleague who has published nothing has multiple interviews? Supreme Court clerk? Fantastic recommendations? Born into the right last name? The only positive trait you mention--a shining personality--does not come across a FAR form, and the process is not THAT arbitrary (or, more precisely, it is arbitrary in one direction--I'm not at all surprised to learn that good people fail to get interviews).

Posted by: anonprof | Oct 13, 2015 2:40:39 PM

That sounds about right, anon. There are so many variables to law school hiring. But the worst aspect is how enigmatic and arbitrary it can be, and how little is actually within your control. It sounds, though, like you've done everything you can to increase your chances of converting that screening interview into a callback. And B-Team is right. It only takes one interview to end up with a job. Everyone has stories about candidates of years past that had one or two interviews and ended up with a great faculty job.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 13, 2015 1:52:28 PM

Hello anon, if it makes you feel any better, I graduated from an elite school, have an advanced degree, and have published law articles. I have zero interviews. So, such is life. I'm lucky to have an incredibly fascinating legal job and I guess there's always next year... And in your case, remember that it only takes one offer to get a legal job. Best of luck!

Posted by: B-Team | Oct 13, 2015 11:38:36 AM

To anon 17:51 who asked how candidates are feeling. I would say more than a little depressed by the process. And frankly this is me getting some things off my chest.

I am not a superstar by any means. But I graduated from an elite school, have an advanced degree, and have been publishing good work for some years. I have one interview. I have a colleague who has published nothing, whose job talk paper is laughable, who came into academia because they wanted a much easier life than private practice (won't answer emails after 5pm or on weekends; comes in late, goes home early), who has never heard of Coase, Calabresi, Dworkin etc, and more importantly, seemingly has no desire to learn about legal scholarship. This person has multiple interviews ahead of AALS.

The colleague is a nice person so I wish them success in whatever happens, but it is hard for me to think about this person and the whole process without getting a little jealous. It just seems deeply unfair. I suspect a lot of candidates have similar stories.

Posted by: anon | Oct 13, 2015 9:33:40 AM

Yes, advanced degrees are helpful but the subject matter does make a lot of difference. E.g., a degree in economics is much more valuable than other degrees, primarily because of the methodological training the degree affords and the perceived value of the resulting scholarship. That said, I completely agree with the comment above that the fact a candidate has an advanced degree itself is insufficient and it's critical in today's market that a candidate understand what it means to be a practicing lawyer, even at the higher ranked schools. We're not in Kansas anymore.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 10, 2015 2:52:38 PM

We've had candidates do both approaches with great success. We've also had candidates bomb at both approaches. So, I don't think it matters.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 10, 2015 12:39:00 PM

I would welcome opinions on the use of PowerPoint for job talk presentations. Is this common? I would not expect visuals to make or break a job talk, but would appreciate insight into whether PowerPoint visuals would be conspicuous in their absence (or obnoxious in their presence) at your institution. Many thanks.

Posted by: AnonCandidate | Oct 10, 2015 12:21:02 PM

I agree with AnonHiringChair. The PhD is a bonus (sometimes), but not a reason that we grant an interview, and is usually viewed as surplusage. And it is often in place of legal practice experience. Unless you get a job at one of the very top schools, the vast majority of students that you will be educating will go on to be practicing lawyers. Thus, even at well-ranked schools, we want people who understand what it means to be a practicing lawyer. Even 1-2 years at a law firm gives you a perspective that time researching and writing in a PhD program cannot.

Posted by: anonprof | Oct 9, 2015 6:39:14 PM


Posted by: candidates | Oct 9, 2015 5:16:57 PM

Candidates, how you feeling?

Posted by: anon | Oct 9, 2015 4:17:51 PM

I place greater value on the teaching experience one gets from a fellowship/VAP given that such experience was obtained teaching law students. To be clear, we're interviewing a number of Ph.D folks this year, but we'd be interviewing them even without that degree as it was other things that caught our attention.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 8, 2015 10:46:31 PM

I can understand the skepticism towards someone who holds just a PhD that is trying to be a law professor, but I find it disturbing if these prior posts are also intended to apply to candidates who hold both a JD and a PhD. A PhD can be really useful to bring new methods or fresh perspectives to different conversations that are going on in the legal profession, and even start some new ones. Also, many PhDs have teaching experience in addition to the teaching experience that a JD/PhD might gain through a law fellowship after or during the completion of their degrees. Although practice can be really useful, great litigators or corporate lawyers are not necessarily great teachers. Two different (although not mutually exclusive) skill sets. I'm not saying that there are PhDs without a JD who are trying to break into the legal academy for the better pay check, but these conversations seem really shortsighted if JD/PhDs are being rejected without consideration of what their PhD can add to their teaching, research agenda, etc.

Posted by: anon | Oct 8, 2015 9:47:28 PM

I cannot agree enough with what Econ said. Going through the FAR this year, there were many instances where it looked like a Ph.D. holder was merely trying to get into law teaching as the intended career path had not really panned out.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 8, 2015 3:08:17 PM

We are a bit skeptical of PHDs if the legal experience and commitment to law are not strong. There are a fair number of PHDs who try to teach in law schools, or currently teach in law schools, mainly for the better paycheck.

Posted by: Econ | Oct 8, 2015 3:01:31 PM

I disagree with the prior posts. There are lots of PhDs on the market, but very few econ PhDs. Not every law school is looking for an econ PhD, in fact few are, but the small demand for them exceeds the even smaller supply, and the demand comes disproportionately from higher ranked schools, so econ PhDs tend to do very well. And while I'd like to say that it is the underlying merits and commitment and not the credential that is doing the work, that would be as untrue as saying that a Yale JD has no relevance except as demonstrating the underlying merits and commitment.

The ranking of your PhD program matters, just as the ranking of your JD matters. I wouldn't say there is a strict cut-off, though, any more than there is a strict cut-off on the JD side.

Posted by: anonprof | Oct 8, 2015 2:46:33 PM

PhDs don't impress me (or other members of our committee it seems) except to the extent they help demonstrate the candidate's commitment to the subject area for which we are considering them. We primarily look at whether the person has listed the subject area(s) for which we're hiring and whether that person's background (teaching, scholarship, other degrees, practice areas) seems to support those stated teaching interests. We not only look for those markers, of course, but we look at the quality of those experiences (e.g., publishing in the area for which we're hiring isn't very persuasion by itself, but publishing WELL in that area is). We also look to how successful that person has been academically. Finally, we are not interviewing anyone who hasn't published at least one law review article.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Oct 8, 2015 1:38:08 PM

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