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Monday, November 21, 2022

Leiter Lateral Moves with Tenure 2012-2022 - Analysis

This report looks at Brian Leiter's information about tenured lateral law professor moves between 2012 and 2022, inclusive. (Links to each of the specific posts used are below.)

Number of Moves and Movers

Between 2012 and 2022, Leiter reported 883 moves. This report focuses on the 759 moves that were not moves to or from an administrative position, such as Dean or President.

While there were 759 such moves, there were only 671 individual law professors who made moves ("movers"), as a number of faculty moved more than once between 2012 and 2022.


1 move: 592 faculty members. 2 moves: 70 faculty members. 3 moves: 9 faculty members.

Schools From Which People Moved

Of these 759 moves, faculty moved from 194 different schools; thus nearly every law school was the source of at least one move (there are only about 200 law schools).


More than 10 and less than or equal to 15: American University; Duke University; George Washington University; University of California, Los Angeles; University of Colorado, Boulder.

More than 15 and less than or equal to 20: University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Irvine.

There were 16 moves from the University of California, Berkeley, to another school, and 16 moves from the University of California, Irvine, to another school. These two schools together were thus the source of about 4% of the total moves reported, though they are less than 1% of the total law schools.

Hiring Schools

These 759 hires were at 160 different schools--again, almost all law schools.

The schools with the most tenured lateral hires in this time period overall were University of Virginia, 28 hires; Georgetown University, 21 hires; University of California, Los Angeles, 21 hires; University of California, Berkeley, 20 hires; University of California, Irvine, 19 hires.

Looking year by year, the biggest single hiring years for a given school were University of Michigan, in 2022, with 12 hires; University of Virginia, in 2020, with 9 hires; University of Virginia, in 2021, with 8 hires; Texas A&M University, in 2015, with 7 hires. (These were the only instances of more than five reported hires by a school in any single year.)

24 of the hires came from foreign institutions to U.S. law schools, and 16 of the hires went from U.S. law schools to foreign institutions.

10 of the hires came from schools that were not a law school, and 11 of the hires went to schools that were not a law school.

695 hires came from a U.S. law school and went to a U.S. law school.

Relative Rankings

U.S. law schools have historically been ranked by U.S. News. For each of the 695 moves from a U.S. law school to a U.S. law school, I compare the U.S. News rank of the two schools. For this purpose, I use the historical ranking of each law school--what's likely the most recent ranking the mover would have had access to at the time of their decision. For example, if the move was reported in 2011-2012, and the person came from School X, I use the U.S. News ranking of School X that was published in 2011 (what U.S. News calls the 2012 ranking).

That said, rankings at a close-up level can be quite misleading. It is moderately more informational to group the moves, so that only a move "up" or "down" more than five ranks (number picked essentially arbitrarily) counts as an upward or downward move, and anything else is considered to be a move to a school of roughly the same rank. Thus, for example, a move in 2012 from the University of Chicago to NYU is considered a move with "No Big Rank Difference" (the schools happened to be ranked one apart that year).

About 63% of the moves were to a higher-ranked law school using this approach, and about 15% were to a school of roughly the same rank.


Up > 5: 443 moves. Down > 5: 125 moves. No Big Rank Difference: 106 moves. Cannot Compare: 21 moves.

Even grouping the moves this way can be misleading. For example, many of the moves that were "down" more than five U.S. News rankings were actually "up" in scholarly ranking, based on the Sisk citation count study. 34 of the moves "down" more than five U.S. News spots were between schools where both schools are in the top 50 for scholarly impact, and of those 34, 11, nearly a third, were moves to schools currently ranked higher in scholarly impact.

Returning to the U.S. News rankings, of the 674 moves where comparison of numerical ranks is possible, and looking only at moves up more than 5 in the rankings, the average move up was 38, and the median move up was 31. The largest move up was 145, and there were 15 moves where the person "jumped" more than 100 ranks.

No comparison is possible where one of the schools is unranked. Of the 21 moves where no comparison is possible, 9, or 42% of the moves where no comparison is possible, involved moves to or from UC Irvine in years before UC Irvine was ranked (because it was a new law school, it was not ranked until 2016).

Of the 759 reported lateral hires, 165, or 21%, were at schools ranked 10 or better at the time of the hire. Such schools represent, obviously, only about 5% of U.S. law schools.

Leiter Reports

2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012

Thank you to Brian Leiter for collecting this information each year and for helpful suggestions about how to approach this analysis.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 21, 2022 at 07:18 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink


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