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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


There's at least one candidate in the FAR who has been scheduled for close to 30 interviews in D.C., so that gives you an idea of how many hiring schools have started contacting folks.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 15, 2015 6:58:52 PM

Being a later invite might but does not necessarily mean that a candidate was initially judged to be weaker. (Maybe the committee went by subject matter. Maybe the chair had time to call half the candidates on a Wednesday and didn't have time to call the others until Friday.)

Posted by: HiringCommitteeMember | Sep 15, 2015 5:28:19 PM

Schools advise that because they don't invite everyone at once and they don't want later invitees to realize that they were, in fact, a later invitee (i.e., meaning they weren't in the first batch to receive an interview and, thus, we initially judged to be weaker than some of the others who received invitations).

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 15, 2015 5:10:55 PM

Can I ask why people are advising not to post interviews? I would want to know if my schools of interest had started making calls.

Posted by: anon | Sep 15, 2015 4:10:24 PM

1st versus 2nd distribution without more doesn't reveal planning or preference intensity. For example, the financial hit of the FAR form can be a reason for missing the first round. AALS is generous enough to have a hardship waiver, but this is a possibility that is not announced very conspicuously, and the waiver policy may change late in the season (perhaps penalizing the motivated candidate who read the website too early).

"I have a question for those of you out there who were not in the first distribution but plan to be in the second distribution -- why? I can sometimes find myself guessing that someone is in the second distribution for less-than-impressive reasons like didn't get your materials in in time for the first go around, decided last minute to actually go on the market, etc. Actually, the only good reason I can think of you were waiting to get a placement on an article you sent out in the fall submission cycle. But perhaps I'm missing something -- so that I and and others in charge of hiring better understand, if there's any of you out there who fall into this category, can you share your reasons?

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Aug 29, 2015 8:34:39 AM"

Posted by: anon to AnonHiringChair8:34:39 | Sep 15, 2015 2:46:33 PM

For those open to legal studies professor positions outside of law schools, I have been keeping a list of the postings here: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/business_law/2015/07/legal-studies-professor-positions-in-business-schools-2016.html

Most of these positions are in business schools, but business schools are not always only looking for those who write in the "business law" area in the narrow sense. I have legal studies colleagues at business schools who write in areas as diverse as constitutional law, employment law, international law, health law, etc. Of course, your scholarship should have some tie back into business, but that is relatively easy for many.

As a general rule, business schools tend to advertise their openings later in the year (and throughout the year), so this list will likely grow over the coming months. To my knowledge, there is no equivalent of the AALS FRC for legal studies positions in business schools, but ALSB is our main academic organizations, and I have seen some aspiring academics attend ALSB conferences to network. http://www.alsb.org/

Posted by: Haskell Murray | Sep 15, 2015 2:17:12 PM

In better markets, I think this question might also help us determine how serious you are about our school. If you tell us that you really want to be in the pacific northwest, where our law school is, but with which you have no substantial connection, and all your other callbacks are on the east coast, we may doubt you.

However, in this environment, I think we all realize that very few candidates are free to choose the type of school they will interview with and most are just happy to land callbacks wherever they can. In that case, if we believe you about the geographic preferences, then not interviewing with any schools in our area may be a good thing because it increases our chances.

While the other "anonprof" said that "Other schools don't change [opinions of a candidate], I respectfully disagree. I think we all think that other schools don't change the opinion, but it is human nature for us to think more highly of someone being pursued by other peer schools.

However, much better than an interview at a peer school is an offer from a peer school, especially one we compete with directly. I don't think such a competing offer would change our opinion on a candidate, but it may move them up the rank a bit and may cause us to fast-track her application.

One good reason to answer this question vaguely--and we have asked the question, but only at the callback stage--is that if you list a high number of schools, but then are still available later in the process and haven't informed us of another offer, we will assume you got no other offers.

Some professors get their offers off of the "B-team" relatively late in the process, even into March and April. I would imagine this is even more common now because some lower-ranked schools think they can get "rock-stars" in this environment (which they may not be able to get) and schools are much less motivated to move quickly given the decrease in demand (though supply has decreased a good bit too).

I think I would think better of someone who only had one or two callbacks and got no offers than of someone who had half-a-dozen or more callbacks and was still on the market in March. The latter means a number of schools got to know you well and still passed on you. An answer like, "I am interviewing with a few other schools that are similar to your school in terms of ____." Would be a fine answer.

Of course, all of this probably just matters at the margins, I do think it is **mostly** about whether you are a good fit, well-liked, strongly-credentialed, and interviewed well with us.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 15, 2015 11:00:23 AM

There's another reason it is helpful to share, later in the process, where else you are interviewing. First, I agree with anonprof that "if we like the candidate, we like the candidate." However, If we know you are being considered elsewhere, we'll move quicker with meetings and with trying to get an offer in your hands. Even if you do not receive our first offer, we're more likely to put a shorter deadline on the person ahead of you if we know you are being sought elsewhere. If we know that we're the only school you're interviewing with, we certainly want to get things done ASAP, but we'll feel less pressure to move as quickly as we would if we feared we might lose you to another school.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 15, 2015 10:06:01 AM

I was on the market twice, and have been on committees a handful of times. I only heard this once and I think I kind of dodged the answer, like the response above. When candidates have volunteered (usually at later stages in the process), we have used the info to inform our chances of making the hire, not to rank the candidate. If we like the candidate, we like the candidate. Other schools don't change that.

Posted by: anonprof | Sep 15, 2015 9:35:23 AM

I was on the market last year. I am now a junior prof. I had multiple schools ask where else I was interviewing. I also remember having a one-on-one interview with a law school dean during a callback where he/she asked me to list the schools where I had callbacks.

A hiring chair at another school also asked (during a callback), "Relative to your other callbacks, where would you say we rank on your list of preferred landing spots?" I felt like that was a more gentle way of asking the same thing. I would definitely be prepared for questions like that.

Posted by: newprof | Sep 15, 2015 9:30:25 AM

Many committees asked where else I was interviewing, either at the FRC or when I was on campus. This is a tricky one, because it's not always clear whether they're asking to see how good you are ("wow, he's interviewing at a bunch of great schools, he must be awesome") or to see whether they have a chance at getting you ("wow, he's interviewing at a bunch of great schools, we have no chance of getting him so let's not waste an offer on him").

I agree it's not a great question to ask, but the response can't be, "Wow, that's a really jerky thing to ask." Often I just told them the list of places I was interviewing. Sometimes I said something vague, like, "I'm lucky to have interviews with a number of schools where I'd be very excited to work." (This is the equivalent of "Wow, that's a really jerky thing to ask," I guess.) I don't know what the best approach is.

Posted by: AnonProffy | Sep 15, 2015 8:26:44 AM

I can't imagine a school ever asking that. I would never ask that at any point during the process, although I do appreciate when candidates we have invited for an on-campus interview share that information.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 15, 2015 8:12:35 AM

Have any of you who have been on the market before been asked - "what other schools are you interviewing with"? If so, how did you answer or how would you suggest answering it?

I had a law firm ask me a similar question before and thankfully I was interviewing with most of their peer firms, so I did not mind telling them. But I do wonder what I would say if the highest ranked school I am interviewing with asks me this question. At least currently, I only have one interview with a top-100 school.

Posted by: AnonA | Sep 15, 2015 6:41:09 AM

DC has fine public transit, and the meat market falls in a relatively decent weather period; I'd say you can stay basically anywhere on the red line, or even anywhere on any metro line (with the possible exception of way out in the boonies), and you'll be fine---throw on your suit, go in in the morning, and go back in the evening. Ideally pick somewhere where you'll be able to get a nice breakfast and treat yourself, which means one of the more young residential + retail and less government buildingey parts.

I believe I stayed in Alexandria on my meat market run; that was fine. If I were doing it again, I'd probably do the same, or go for Capitol Hill or DuPont circle.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Sep 10, 2015 11:45:34 AM

I agree on Hotwire or Priceline, disagree on which location to look at. I'd look at the DuPont / Woodley Park area. In particular, people have gotten the Omni from doing that, although you are rolling the dice a bit.

Due to low turnout last year, standard rate rooms at the Marriott ended up being substantially less than the conference rate, as well.

Posted by: AnotherAnon | Sep 10, 2015 10:29:52 AM

Go on Hotwire. Search for DC and focus on the "White House - Downtown area." It doesn't tell you the name of the hotel until after you book and you can't cancel, but there are some great deals on there (e.g., a 4.5 star hotel for $124 a night). That area is only two Metro stops from the hiring conference.

My advice: The hiring conference hotel is huge and has lots of places to sit and prepare between interviews; it is really not necessary to book a hotel room at the hiring conference hotel.

Posted by: Anonymish | Sep 10, 2015 10:18:38 AM

Does anyone have recommendations on lodging near the conference that is not crazy-expensive?

Posted by: Anon | Sep 10, 2015 9:12:20 AM

I agree with the first AnonProf though with a bit of a difference in emphasis compared to AnonHiringChair. It is bad to have nothing but coauthored articles. But if you already have a few solo publications, seeing that you coauthored with someone I respect would really work in your favor. A well-known prof coauthoring with a candidate is vouching for that candidate with a credibility that an ordinary recommendation cannot match.

Posted by: anonprof | Sep 10, 2015 7:58:46 AM

I agree with AnonProf, I only look to co-authored pieces as a supplement to your solo publications, and if you don't have at least a couple of the latter, I tend to not count the co-authored piece(s) at all.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 10, 2015 7:32:32 AM

In my mind, it depends on what the rest of your publication record looks like. If you only had one law review article, I'd rather see a solo T100 than a coauthored T25. But I think I would rather see one solo T100 and one coauthored T25 than two solo T100s. To me, the T25 gives you a top publication and shows you are already connected in the academy, but if it were your only publication, it would be difficult to know how much credit to give you. If you were the first listed author, that would weigh in your favor, especially if your last name falls later in the alphabet than your coauthor. However, some schools significantly discount coauthored articles, so you may want to ask more people.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 10, 2015 7:01:53 AM

How much does co-authoring an article with a tenured prof discount the value of that publication for a candidate who is going on the market? Suppose a candidate could land a T25 publication by being a co-author, but would likely only land around T100 by solo authoring. How would committees view those two scenarios?

Posted by: A Non-E Mous | Sep 9, 2015 11:20:56 PM

Why on earth would you have been told NOT to post your interviews in the other thread? By the schools in question? That seems bizarre. What is the thinking in not contributing the information?

Posted by: anon | Sep 9, 2015 6:21:11 PM

Brian Leiter posts on the request for "teaching statements":


It may be useful to keep an eye on the comments to that post.

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Sep 9, 2015 1:57:33 PM

Anonywho wrote above: "Is it possible to do a job talk without submitting a draft?"

I did this, on the advice of one of the few professors I knew, and it was pretty much a disaster. I haven't seen anyone do it since.

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Sep 9, 2015 12:34:32 PM

Anon2: Seconding the advice not to worry at this stage. Last year, a handful of schools moved early, but things didn't really start to heat up until mid-September. I see no reason why the timing would be dramatically different this year; if anything, the timing of Labor Day might push it slightly later.

Posted by: Ellie Entry-Level | Sep 9, 2015 11:41:23 AM


Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 9, 2015 10:53:54 AM

@Anon2: I've been told not to worry that I only have one screener lined up thus far because I'm not in the niche areas that appear to be filling up and many of the top schools are moving slowly. I've also been told not to post my interviews in the other thread, so I'm contributing to the silence.

Posted by: anon | Sep 9, 2015 10:22:03 AM

Thanks anon @8:51. That explains the relative silence on this thread, though I am not sure it explains the relative silence on the interview reporting thread. Just trying to determine whether not having any interviews scheduled yet means I am doomed.

Posted by: Anon2 | Sep 9, 2015 9:14:10 AM

I think part of it is that there a lot of repeat players for whom this is not their first time on the market, so they don't have questions.

Posted by: anon | Sep 9, 2015 8:51:30 AM

Maybe people are just not using these PrawfBlawg threads as much this year. Are people scared to share?

Posted by: Anon2 | Sep 9, 2015 8:37:31 AM

AALS will send out a conference schedule closer to the event. Last year the Registrants' Workshop was Thursday from 3:30-5:15pm. A podcast of the 2013 workshop is available here: http://www.aals.org/home/resource-materials/. It doesn't change much from year to year. There was also a Religiously Affiliated Law Schools Reception last year on Thursday from 7:30-9:00pm. It is useful to spend time on Thursday locating your interview rooms and getting a feel for the hotel layout, but there is not much in the way of must-do scheduled events. I'd suggest doing the conference registration on Thursday if you can (last year registration was open until 8:00pm), but it is open on Friday and Saturday as well. I highly recommend eating the cookies near the registration area. Another pro tip: throughout the conference there is free coffee in the Registrants' Lounge; don't pay for it at the hotel coffeeshop.

Posted by: Anonymous | Sep 7, 2015 10:58:32 PM

What time should we aim to get in on the Thursday of the conference? I can't find any kind of schedule online.

Posted by: Anon | Sep 7, 2015 5:54:59 PM

I'm not so sure that it's slower this year - I know several people (who are not business or tax) with interviews and have not posted. Although these next two weeks are usually when things pick up.

Posted by: anon | Sep 7, 2015 2:12:41 PM

Wow. This thread is so incredibly quiet, as is the interview thread. Are schools just moving even more slowly this year? The number of positions have increased a bit, but the process seems slower.

Posted by: Quiet | Sep 7, 2015 1:24:37 PM

Tax, corporate, and clinical seem hot this year. Also, the sub-specialties of energy law and health law seem relatively hot.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 5, 2015 12:37:35 PM

I read that the hot subjects from a few years ago were commercial law, tax and IP. For those hiring or on the market, what are the hot subjects this year?

Posted by: Anony | Sep 5, 2015 7:30:52 AM

Strong second to AnonProf's "inner drive for scholarship" comment. If you have several publications while a student or still in practice, the take-away for many if not most committees will be, "this person is a good bet to continue being productive once they actually have time to write." When that is the take-away, placements probably matter much less.

Posted by: guest | Sep 4, 2015 1:17:56 PM

I published in some...

Following up on AnonProf's comments, one of the schools where I got the most traction (I ultimately withdrew when I got an offer elsewhere) spent the whole meat market interview discussing an article I wrote in law school and published in a fourth tier specialty journal a year later (and 7 years before I went on the market). I recall the comment that one interviewer liked the article and she usually hated law & economics work. I joked how pleased I was that they had read it, bringing the sum total to 10 or so.

In other words, you never know. If you wrote it and you think it's good, then stand by it and don't apologize for it and don't worry about it. You never know who will read it and like it. That's not to say that you don't want to publish as well as you can now, of course, but you play the hand you're dealt.

Posted by: Michael Risch | Sep 4, 2015 11:55:49 AM

I published in some...,

If you've published well after your student years, then you should be in fine shape for the market. Law faculty looks for excellence in quality, and most (I wish I could say all) of us know that placement is a proxy, and not always an accurate indicator. Moreover, publishing anywhere as a student is a plus, especially in other law schools' journals, because it shows an inner drive for scholarship.

On placement, try for the best you can, but really the main thrust of your effort should be quality. How people will respond is unknowable. In the past five or so years, people have gotten spots in top thirty law schools with placement in the top 5 flagship law reviews, but others during that time accepted offers with second tier publications, and in one case I'm thinking of, a secondary journal in a peer review journal.

The process is quirky, you have little control over what any one member of the faculty will respond to, much less to what an entire faculty (or at least a majority of its members) will react to. So do the best with what you have almost 100% control over, and that's scholarship.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 4, 2015 11:47:32 AM

I published a bunch of articles weak venues when a JD student (a lower t14 secondary, sub-top-100 flagship, and a couple of low ranked school's secondary journals) - five years ago when I didn't know better.

I now have an article coming out in what I took to be a decent secondary at a top-5 school.

If the standard is - publishing in the top 30, or at least top 50 flagships, would I be best off leaving my old articles off my CV? I now have a good university affiliation and have some flexibility about my timeline for going on the market, should I now only publish future articles in top 30 flagship journals and resubmit the next year if unsuccessful?

Posted by: I published in some awful journals | Sep 4, 2015 4:17:41 AM

I don't think there's any set number of interview slots per position. My school has between 25 and 30 slots total, and we've already scheduled about a dozen of those. More specifically, we're looking to fill two slots, and we currently have scheduled roughly 6 per subject area need. We'll add more once the second distribution comes out, but we're fine filling less than all our slots if we don't have enough people who have match what we're looking for. Also, we may end up with more interviewees in one of our subject area needs than the other, and that's fine.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 3, 2015 9:05:15 PM

How many initial interviews will a school customarily schedule for each spot it is planning to fill?

Posted by: anon | Sep 3, 2015 8:58:10 PM

Also, Anon, don't underestimate the fact that the process takes some getting used-to. I wouldn't recommend scheduling your first-choice school early on Friday, because you want to get some practice in.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Sep 3, 2015 7:18:31 PM

6:33 anon - i was on the market recently and the advice i was given was that friday is preferable to saturday, because people get tired. that said, i don't think it sends a bad signal; it might just be better strategically to pick Friday. Also fwiw, back to back isn't as bad as it used to be - my understanding is that once upon a time, you could get into fights about elevator space between interviews. Nowadays, though, the numbers are so diminished that it really isn't an issue - and at least when I did it, everyone was pretty considerate about ending interviews with enough time for me to travel.

Going to the bathroom between back to backs, though, takes a special kind of strategizing.

Posted by: veryjrprof | Sep 3, 2015 6:43:00 PM

First world problem: if offered a choice between interviewing Friday and Saturday, is there any reason to prefer one over the other? I have read the advice about not scheduling back to backs, but nothing about ordering or assumptions about different days. Would scheduling on Saturday be perceived badly for any reason?

Posted by: Anon | Sep 3, 2015 6:33:01 PM

AnonPhD, I roughly agree with Prof (with the exception of "only competitive at very top schools" ---there are strong interdisciplinary people at schools all across the spectrum these days). In terms of other-discipline work, it's a mixed bag. In my experience, most people consider such work a plus, however, there are some who wonder if you're really committed to the law, or who may not have the background to recognize area-specific strengths in work in the allied discipline.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Sep 2, 2015 9:56:34 PM


A candidate with your profile is really only going to be competitive at very top schools, who would know and care. But they'd also wonder why you weren't looking for a job in the PhD department.

My strong advice to you would be to get practice experience.

Posted by: Prof | Sep 2, 2015 8:52:06 PM

In the absence of any top-50 law review placements, would good social science journal placements (on law related research, in journals with 1.x or 2.x impact factor) do any good for an applicant with a PhD, or would this publishing outside the law review system actually harm the applicant's chances? How are these sorts of publications viewed by hiring committees?

Posted by: AnonPhD | Sep 2, 2015 6:39:56 PM

"I think a good article will almost always place out of the 4th tier (and probably the 3rd)."

I would agree with that, though, I do think it is definitely possible for a very solid article from a practicing attorney to have a tough time breaking into the top-100.

Also, I think hiring committees should really consult subject matter experts regarding specialty journals. Some elite sounding secondary journals are weak, and sometimes a not so impressive sounding secondary journal is actually very well respected.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 2, 2015 3:54:18 PM

Prof, of course, a "high" placement merely gets our attention. The article still has to deliver (in the ways you've identified) to get the offer.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 2, 2015 3:43:14 PM

At my first tier school, we would be most concerned with our perception of the article (particularly the perception of my colleagues in the field) as well as what external people in your area say about the article. We're looking to see signs that you are an extremely promising candidate with a well-thought out research agenda. "placement" wouldn't do much for us.

With that said, this mostly means we don't take "high" placements very seriously. "Low" placements can hurt you.

Posted by: Prof | Sep 2, 2015 3:31:55 PM

AnonProf, I'm sure that's true to some extent, and I do read the articles (although, I have to say, I often find the placement to be fairly consistent with the quality--at least when we're talking about very high and very low placements). But even taking letterhead bias, pedigree bias, subject matter bias, into account, I think a good article will almost always place out of the 4th tier (and probably the 3rd).

Beyond that, as an appointments committee, our job is to bring in candidates that the faculty will be excited by. If we bring back a candidate with all 4th tier placements or placements in obscure specialty journals, our faculty just isn't going to go for that -- and no amount of "but if you read it, it's pretty good!" is likely to change their mind (especially in this market, where whatever subject matter you seek, you can find a Ph.D. with numerous top placements). Is that fair? Probably not. But I do think it's the reality -- and those in the market should have an understanding of how things are likely to be perceived. That's my only point.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 2, 2015 3:02:45 PM

AnonHiringChair, I hope you actually take the time to read the articles and do not just rely on placement. As you know, law students are deciding on these articles and are heavily influenced by letterhead, CV, topic, etc. I'd be willing to bet that the very same article would experience a 50+ ranking-spot swing if submitted from a VAP at Harvard v. a practicing attorney at a regional law firm.

Posted by: AnonProf | Sep 2, 2015 2:45:16 PM

anonywho, if you haven't figured out yet what your job paper is (and yes, you do have to give them a draft) you need to figure that out pronto.

Posted by: anon | Sep 2, 2015 2:38:25 PM

If a job talk paper is requested before FRC what to submit-- an unpolished work in progress or a recently published paper? Is it possible to do a job talk without submitting a draft?

Posted by: anonywho | Sep 2, 2015 1:53:16 PM

A top 50 placement really gets my attention, and I get super excited if you have more than one of those. An entry level candidate though who has a few placements in the top 100 also gets my attention (especially if they haven't had the benefit of a fellowship or VAP to guide them). Placements below that, including placements in obscure specialty journals actually weaken the candidate in my eyes -- more so than if the candidate had no pubs at all actually. Further, the more "bad" placements the candidate has, the less interested I am.

Posted by: AnonHiringChair | Sep 2, 2015 1:25:47 PM

Entry - The short answer is: Poorly. In this market particularly. There are many, many excellent candidates who go on the market from a two-year fellowship at Harvard or Stanford, with top 30 placements, sometimes even much higher, who don't get jobs. You don't have to do a fellowship, but, with few exceptions, you need to place in at least the top 50 to be taken seriously.

Posted by: anon | Sep 2, 2015 12:43:46 PM

Question: For someone looking to break into academia, how much does placement matter? In my experience, it's tough to place articles if one is not already affiliated with a university or law school. How do potential employers view placements in the lower tier main law reviews or mid-tier specialty journals?

Posted by: Entry Question | Sep 2, 2015 10:39:39 AM

Probably because, from the little that has been posted, we're all laterals!

Posted by: Lateral Thinking | Sep 2, 2015 10:19:33 AM

There are no questions. We are all knowing.

Posted by: anon | Sep 2, 2015 10:11:44 AM

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