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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2022

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.


2009: 637; 2010: 662; 2011: 592; 2012: 588; 2013: 592; 2014: 492; 2015: 410; 2016: 382; 2017: 403; 2018: 344; 2019: 334; 2020: 297; 2021: 328; 2022: 272.

(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.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 18, 2022 at 10:12 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


Just to add to point 2 of the longest response above: a ton of vacancies are listed on the Faculty Lounge blog. If you can find vacancies of interest on blogs, why bother with the FAR?

Posted by: ML | Sep 8, 2022 3:28:55 PM

It will be beneficial for all! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Grase Freeman | Sep 1, 2022 7:57:57 AM

It is my impression that in years past the AALS book and this blog focused mostly on doctrinal positions. I don't know whether anyone has a good read on whether numbers from years past include doctrinal+clinical or just doctrinal. The numbers this year I believe include both but I don't know whether you can say that historically. Just from my observation but it seems like more recent FARs seem to advertise more clinical positions now than in years past (and the ratio of doctrinal to clinical has decreased over time), perhaps because clinical were not as advertised in the FAR. I also don't even know if solely clinical people did the meat market in years past - It was my impression clinical hiring was done slightly differently. It may be different now because many law schools recognize clinical and doctrinal faculty as equal for tenure; that was not the case 10 years ago and it is still not the case at many schools.

So all this is saying that yes, if you consider that more recent FARs focus more on clinical the number of doctrinal is even less especially if the definition who was in the FAR has changed over time.

Posted by: anon | Aug 28, 2022 2:29:56 PM

Fascinating chart! Thanks for posting this information and for the interesting commentary, especially from "anon" on Aug. 25.

Posted by: anon reader | Aug 26, 2022 7:30:46 PM

Salaries affect the decision, too. For the first time, entry level law firm salaries are double what some law profs are earning.

Posted by: Anon | Aug 26, 2022 4:28:18 PM

Do these numbers include candidates primarily seeking clinical positions? Because if so, I suspect the proportion of clinical position seekers is higher now than 10 years ago, meaning even fewer candidates seeking doctrinal positions than the number suggest.

Posted by: Clinical | Aug 25, 2022 2:48:17 PM

Some thoughts having observed the market for many years:

1) If everything, the monetary costs of being in the FAR have gone down; the FAR use to be $500, creating some incentive for law firm people not to invest unless they were semi-serious. This year it is $290, a decline that started 2-3 years ago. Further, being that many screeners are online, applicants no longer need to invest an additional $500-1000 to physically go to the AALS conference in DC (as well as take time off from work). So, if anything, one would think there would be more practitioner people throwing their hat in the ring, since there is much less monetary cost than there use to be.

2) More information is available for applicants to go on the “soft” market. A few years ago, some law schools like Harvard and Yale circulated their lists of hiring committees, but this blog was not as complete as it is now in advertising the names and interests of hiring committees. The list this year appears much more complete than in years past, giving entry level applicants the chance to apply directly. Further, many schools, particularly state schools, actually require their own HR application anyway so one of the benefits of the FAR - that it saved time as a one stop shop - is diminished. These jobs are advertised on university websites more than they use to be thus decreasing the need for a FAR to let you know of opportunities.

3) Although FAR gives an option for a geographic preference, I was always told that applicants should not list anything for fear that they would not be taken “seriously” if they were not open to moving anywhere for a job. The pandemic might have underscored how important being semi-near family is, and applicants may be less likely to make these tradeoffs. Being upfront on geographic preferences is best for everyone, as it prevents committees from wasting time on applicants who really won’t come (or will try to lateral as soon as they come). Plus it saves the applicants lots of time and energy from interviewing at schools they never really would go to.
But the meat market created no incentive to limit yourself. If anything, it created an incentive to get as many interviews as possible to keep your options open and to appear in demand. It's much easier to interview at random schools when you would have nothing to do in between interviews at the hotel than if you separately have to arrange time for it. Plus, I think many applicants felt they should not decline too many interviews unless they really thought they would not go to that school.

Even with the increased openings this year, many if not most applicants are still limited geographically (either strictly or by strong preference); you have to have tremendous luck to find a job in your field AND in your desired geographic area, especially if your desired geographic area is Boston-NYC-DC, Chicago, or California. That limitation - field and location - will still mean many great candidates in this year’s FAR might not get jobs, despite the plentiful openings. The perceived stigma of being in the FAR multiple times and not getting a job may even encourage more people just to apply directly to selected jobs, especially given the ease I note above.

4) The pandemic and Zoom may have made law firm life more tolerable. I know plenty of people who went down the path of fellowships and then never got a law teaching job over multiple cycles. This fear has dissuaded people because you can take the financial hit to do a fellowship and/or phd or both and STILL not get a job, even if one is truly open to moving anywhere. The number in the FAR is likely less because last year’s hiring season was good, and many of the repeaters either got jobs (and thus they are no longer in the FAR) or gave up and decided they could tolerate private practice.

People also tell applicants to “just get a job, then lateral.” But that means yet another move for most people. The whole system of doing fellowship and/or phd or both, then move to first job then potentially move to another job years down the line just to end up in the geographic location where you really want to be is a system that many people just don’t want to be part of, especially if they have a spouse/partner or children, who are making all these moves with them. Fifty years ago it was maybe tolerable if you had one breadwinner family making all these moves, but it is not sustainable for a two couple family (and not desirable for anyone really regardless of familial status).

5) I saw on twitter that someone figured out there was something like 300 openings. If you look at past years, many schools often advertise then hire exactly no one. One trend I observed is that I see more schools hiring multiple people; five years ago, you were lucky if a school hired one person. So it’s great that many schools seem to have multiple openings. But historically it has always been the case the number advertised far exceeds the number actually hired.

The higher number of openings may be misleading for another reason for entry level candidates: the lackluster entry level hiring from 2014-2020 (or before) means there are many great junior and mid-level laterals who took jobs at lower ranked institutions and perhaps at places where they don’t want to be geographically because they lacked choice. Many of the top ranked schools have historically gone with laterals (despite interviewing during the meat market), so it will be interesting to see how that shakes out.

6) The pandemic messed up the market in the sense that the lack of a meat market both makes it harder and easier to interview candidates. The meat market imposed an arbitrary time limit on screeners, such that most schools physically could interview only 20-25 candidates over those 2 days. That limit is now removed with Zoom. At same time, doing 25 screeners for 30 minutes on Zoom is alot of work when you are not devoting a dedicated two day period to it. So schools may vary in whether they offer as many screeners (or potentially offer more). It’s also alot easier to do zoom callbacks for the hiring committee (as some did last year during the delta wave) than to have a person come to campus, take them to dinner and all that stuff. You might be more liberal in doing Zoom callbacks than doing normal callbacks given the time investment.

Posted by: anon | Aug 25, 2022 12:27:32 AM

Yes, but fuck the AALS.

Posted by: A nonny | Aug 24, 2022 6:21:20 AM

@A nonny | Aug 22, 2022 3:54:55 AM--The AALS does not permit the substance of the FAR forms to be used for any kind of public analysis (or for anything other than hiring).

Posted by: Sarah Lawsky | Aug 22, 2022 8:47:26 AM

Sarah, would you please (find someone to) analyze the first FAR folks' data in terms of PhDs, fellowships, clerkships, as you do for the new hires?

To follow up on Howard's "Judicial departmentalism in action" post:

2023: the federal judge in question is impeached for naked abuse of power.

2024: SCOTUS overrules the federal court's opinion. The media decries the Court's "competing view" as undemocratic. No one believes the media - or the legal academics - anymore, and hence no social consequences arise.

Posted by: A nonny | Aug 22, 2022 3:54:55 AM

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