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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2020

The first distribution of the FAR AALS forms came out this week. Here are the number of FAR forms in the first distribution for each year since 2009.

FAR Forms Over Time.20200820

Year Forms
2009 637
2010 662
2011 592
2012 588
2013 592
2014 492
2015 410
2016 382
2017 403
2018 344
2019 334
2020 297

(All information obtained from various blog posts, blog comments, Tweets, and Facebook postings over the years and not independently verified. If you have more accurate information, please post it in the comments and I will update accordingly.)

First posted August 20, 2020.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 20, 2020 at 11:12 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


I’d be interested in seeing a gender analysis of this year’s applicants. I wonder if we’ll see a drop in women applicants as we’ve seen with women submitting to journals in other disciplines, among other negative effects of the pandemic on women in the workplace.

Posted by: LadiesNight | Aug 22, 2020 4:32:07 AM

Many candidates do this multiple rounds, so if you are already in the "system" (i.e, VAP, fellowship or phd.) you don't really have much of a choice except to at least "try." It's hard to go back to practice now with firms not hiring so much. It may get better in 2 years once whoever is in the system clears out, probably 20-40 people will get jobs, the rest will wait another year or go back to practice. But I would not expect to see much of an effect on the supply side this year, which is what the FAR numbers indicate.

On positive side, there may not be as many people giving up secure jobs in law firms to do fellowships, especially when they realize how uncertain it is so if you are interested in doing a fellowship (or perhaps a second fellowship), that market may be hot, or at least if you strike at on tenure track market you could try for that. I suspect the huge drop off in the FAR over the last 5 years is the fact that many people are not willing to take the risk; 5 years ago a fellowship was almost a sure bet for a job; now, I know many fellows don't end up getting jobs, especially those who are not geographically flexible, which is in many cases is prohibitive in normal market times, even more so now.

Many schools also post ads, but it will be interesting in the end how many actually hire. Some may have had lines approved before the pandemic got real bad, and while they may be posting they don't really end up hiring or schools realize how bad their financial situation is and they can't get it approved. That happens in normal times (many schools in the bulletin end up hiring no one or end up hiring a lateral), so if there is only 32 in the book they surely won't all hire, and some that are not in the book will. There could potentially be more retirements in the years ahead if schools offer good early retirement programs as an incentive. But then schools may fill those with VAPs instead of tenure track.

It's a very very tough year. Most important thing to remember is not to take it personally, and that so much of the process has nothing to do with you.

Posted by: anon | Aug 20, 2020 8:32:04 PM


Posted by: a | Aug 20, 2020 4:48:43 PM

"...why would the number of candidates also drop?"

Conventional wisdom is that in the era where a VAP, PhD, and clerkship is preferred, there are fewer and fewer non-pedigreed applicants who really dont have a chance. What remains is a smaller group of people without all those credentials, and then the cohort of highly trained and prepared people who have spent years preparing for their one "market year."

Posted by: Anon | Aug 20, 2020 4:45:41 PM

Yeah, tbh I was secretly hoping (as someone on the market for the 3rd time, who made it to final round interview last time but obviously didn’t quite land the job) that there would be a big drop-off this year due to people laying low for COVID or whatever. But this looks like a small drop in candidates vying for what is assumed to be a significantly smaller number of slots. So a more competitive year overall. At least that’s what it looks like to me.

Posted by: SmoothCriminalAtty | Aug 20, 2020 3:38:51 PM

There's been a steady decline in applicants over the past decade. The drop from 2019 to 2020 seems pretty consistent with this.

Posted by: a non | Aug 20, 2020 1:54:52 PM

I have heard of several folks who negotiated to extend their VAPs/Fellowships another year, thinking this would be a crappy year to try for a permanent position.

Posted by: AnonProf | Aug 20, 2020 1:49:40 PM

Perhaps a "why bother" phenomenon, especially for weaker candidates?

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Aug 20, 2020 1:45:35 PM

This is surprising to me. Obviously number of open positions would drop due to COVID budget cuts, but why would the number of candidates also drop?

Posted by: surprising | Aug 20, 2020 1:06:00 PM

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