Friday, September 08, 2023

VAPs and Fellowships 2023-2024

On this thread, comments can be shared regarding news of appointments to VAPs or similar fellowships (for example, the Climenko and Bigelow).  Here is last year's thread.

You can also add comments to the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 8, 2023 at 10:03 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (31)

Monday, August 28, 2023

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2023-2024

I. The Spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet, you can enter information regarding whether you have received

(a) a first round interview at a school (including the subject areas the school mentioned, if any, as being of particular interest, and whether the interview offer was accepted);

(b)  a callback from a law school and/or accepted it; or

(c) an offer from a law school and/or accepted it; feel free to also leave details about the offer, including teaching load, research leave, etc. A school listed as "offer accepted" may have made more than one offer and may still have some slots open.

Law professors may also choose to provide information that is relevant to the entry-level market.  

Anyone can edit the spreadsheet; I will not be editing it or otherwise monitoring it. It is available here:

II. The Comment Thread

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, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-20162016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, 2022-2023. In general, there's quite a cache of materials relevant to the law job market under the archive categories Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market and Entry Level Hiring Report.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 28, 2023 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (122)

Monday, August 21, 2023

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2023

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.

15_FAR_graph

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; 2023: 348.

(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 21, 2023 at 12:48 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Law School Entry-Level Hiring Posting Schedule 2023-2024

The usual posts will occur this year regarding entry-level law school hiring.

The post collecting information about Hiring Committees is up.

On August 21, the first distribution of FAR forms will be released to schools. If/when anyone publicly posts the number of FAR forms, I will post Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time (last year's FAR Forms Over Time post).

Around August 28, I will post Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2023-2024 (last year's Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse Post).

Around September 5, I will post the VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread (last year's VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread).

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 11, 2023 at 12:23 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2023-2024

Update 8/13/23: I have built a tool that allows you to filter the information in the below spreadsheet by subject area, location, and lateral/entry level. You can access that tool here:

https://www.lawskyprojects.org/hiring

 

I am collecting information about (1) whether a particular school plans to hire in 2023-2024, and (2) if so, information about the school's hiring committee and hiring interests.

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2023-2024 law school faculty hiring season. (A spreadsheet is below. You cannot edit the spreadsheet directly.)

First:
 
(a) your school;
 
(b) whether your school is pursuing entry-level hiring in 2023-2024 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else);
 
(c) whether your school is pursuing lateral hiring in 2023-2024 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else).
 
If your school does plan on pursuing hiring in 2023-2024:
 
(d) the chair of your hiring committee (please note if you have different chairs for entry level and lateral candidates--I hope that this information will be useful for both entry level and lateral candidates);
 
(e) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(f) any particular subject areas in which your school is looking to hire.

Additionally, if you would like to share the following information, candidates might find it helpful to know:

(g) whether you are open to direct applications/individualized expressions of interest (affirmatively want to receive them, affirmatively don't want to receive them, or don't care one way or the other); 
 
(h) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); 
 
(i) the website, if any, that candidates should use to obtain information about the position or to apply; and
 
(j) the number of available faculty positions at your school.

I will gather all this information in a downloadable, sortable spreadsheet. (Click on that link to access the spreadsheet and download it; you can also scroll through the embedded version below.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 11, 2023 at 12:19 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (107)

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Hiring Announcement - Wisconsin - Fall 2023 Start

The University of Wisconsin is looking for a full-time faculty member, to start Fall 2023, to teach criminal law and criminal procedure. More information, including how to apply, here:

https://jobs.wisc.edu/jobs/assistant-professor-of-law-criminal-law-madison-wisconsin-united-states

(As a side comment, I generally do not post permanent faculty hiring announcements; I ask that people put them in the comments of the hiring committees post. However, the hiring committees post for last year is sufficiently old that I assume nobody is looking at it for information; the new hiring committees post won't be up for a little while; and it is May 2023, and this listing is for Fall 2023, which perhaps represents something interesting about decentralization in the hiring market.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on May 16, 2023 at 08:42 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Hastie Fellowship Call for Applications - 2023

From the University of Wisconsin Law School:

The University of Wisconsin Law School invites applications for the William H. Hastie Fellowship.

For over 40 years, the Hastie Fellowship has provided a path to law teaching for candidates poised to contribute to diversity and inclusion in the legal academy. Hastie Fellows have succeeded at securing tenure-track positions at law schools throughout the country, including Columbia, UCLA, Indiana, Colorado, ASU, Texas A&M, Ohio State, UNC, Washington & Lee, UC Irvine, and USC. The Fellowship reflects a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and especially encourages applications from candidates of color and other underrepresented communities in the legal academy.

For additional information on the program and its history, see https://www.law.wisc.edu/hastie/.

Program Overview

The term and internal sequence of the Hastie Fellowship Program are designed to accommodate the needs for intensive research and writing, participation in the hiring process of law schools, and gaining teaching experience.

Hastie Fellows will be appointed for a term of two years. During the term of the appointment, Fellows are required to be in residence in Madison with a commitment to participating fully in the life of the Law School.

The first year of the program is devoted primarily to scholarship. By the fall of the second year, Fellows should be sufficiently advanced in their research to apply to the legal teaching market. In addition to supporting Fellows on the teaching market, the second year of the program focuses on teaching experience and publication of the Fellow’s research.

Compensation and Support

The Hastie Fellowship provides compensation of $75,000 per year along with a research support fund of $4000 per year; Fellows receive mentoring and support to devote the majority of their time to their research and writing. The Fellowship also provides mentoring and practice opportunities for interviewing on the law teaching market.

Application

To ensure full consideration, applications for Fall 2023 should be completed by March 1, 2023. Applicants should send the following items as PDF attachments to [email protected]: (1) personal statement; (2) resume or curriculum vitae; (3) research proposal; (4) two or three letters of references (emailed by referrers); and (5) official electronic PDF transcripts sent directly from all higher education institutions attended. For additional details, see https://www.law.wisc.edu/hastie/apply/.

Please reach out with any questions to the Graduate Programs Office at [email protected] or to BJ Ard, the current chair of the Hastie Fellowship Committee, at [email protected].

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 9, 2023 at 02:40 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Tulane Forrester Fellowship and VAP Positions - 2023

From Tulane Law School:

 

Tulane Law School invites applications for its Forrester Fellowship and Visiting Assistant Professor positions, both of which are designed for promising scholars who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions. Both positions are full-time faculty in the law school and are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the intellectual life of the school. The law school provides significant support and mentorship, a professional travel budget, and opportunities to present works-in-progress in faculty workshops.

 

Tulane’s Forrester Fellows teach legal writing in the first-year curriculum to first-year law students in a program coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing. Fellows are appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of a single one-year renewal. Applicants must have a JD from an ABA-accredited law school, outstanding academic credentials, and significant law-related practice and/or clerkship experience. If you have any questions about this position, please contact Erin Donelon at [email protected].

 

Tulane’s visiting assistant professor position is supported by the Murphy Institute at Tulane (http://murphy.tulane.edu/home/), an interdisciplinary unit specializing in political economy and ethics that draws faculty from the university’s departments of economics, philosophy, history, and political science. The position is designed for scholars focusing on regulation of economic activity very broadly construed (including, for example, research with a methodological or analytical focus relevant to scholars of regulation).  If you have any questions about this position, please contact Adam Feibelman at [email protected]

 

Candidates for either position should apply through Interfolio, at apply.interfolio.com/119886.

 

Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and candidates who will enhance the diversity of the law faculty are especially invited to apply.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on January 29, 2023 at 04:26 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

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.

CountOfMoves

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).

SchoolsFromCount

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.

MovesUpDownBig

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 | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

VAPs and Fellowships 2022-2023

On this thread, comments can be shared regarding news of appointments to VAPs or similar fellowships (for example, the Climenko and Bigelow).  Here is last year's thread.

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 28, 2022 at 03:40 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (45)

Thursday, September 22, 2022

UVA - Karsh Center for Law and Democracy Fellow 2023-2024

From the University of Virginia School of Law:

The University of Virginia School of Law seeks a Research Assistant Professor of Law to serve as the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy Fellow (“Karsh Fellow”). This non-tenure-track Academic General Faculty position will start near the beginning of the 2023-24 academic year and have a fixed-term appointment of two years. The position offers compensation of $70,000 plus benefits.

The Karsh Center is a nonpartisan legal institute at the Law School. The Center’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the principles and practices necessary for a well- functioning, pluralistic democracy. These include civil discourse and democratic dialogue, civic engagement and citizenship, ethics and integrity in public office, and respect for the rule of law. The Center supports these essential features of our democratic life through rigorous and cutting-edge legal and interdisciplinary scholarship, curricular offerings, and academic programs such as conferences and workshops. The Center’s aim is to advance the values of law and democracy within the academy and in public discourse.

The Karsh Fellow will conduct research and refine their scholarly portfolio with the goal of obtaining a tenure-line faculty position at a law school. The Karsh Fellow will be mentored by Law School faculty, be able to attend and participate in faculty workshops, and have the opportunity to teach a course. The Karsh Fellow will also have the opportunity to network with other democracy-related programs and scholars at the University of Virginia. 

The Karsh Fellow will work under the direction of and closely with the Karsh Center’s faculty directors, Professor Bertrall Ross and Professor Micah Schwartzman. While the Fellow will dedicate significant time to pursuing their proposed research projects, the Fellow will also provide administrative support to the Center, and assist with programming, maintain the Center’s website and related publications, and manage the Center’s budget. The Fellow may also be called on to help design and implement new Center initiatives.

Qualifications:

Candidates must have a J.D. degree from an ABA accredited law school or foreign equivalent degree. Experience in legal practice or a judicial clerkship strongly preferred. Candidates must have strong potential for success on the legal academic market, as evidenced by an outstanding academic record, a clear research agenda, and recommendations from legal scholars. Strong interpersonal skills, including the ability to communicate effectively and professionally in writing and orally, and strong managerial and organizational skills are also required.

To apply, visit https://uva.wd1.myworkdayjobs.com/UVAJobs, search for Requisition R0040373, complete an application online, and upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, academic agenda, and contact information for three references.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 22, 2022 at 09:11 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Other "Other Legal Academy" - Scholarship

Jeremy-Telman-scaled-e1598277351203My friend Jeremy Telman (Oklahoma City University, left) has a series of three posts at ContractsProf Blog on his experience as a teacher and scholar in what he refers to as the "Other Legal Academy" or OLA.  His thesis is that there are at least two legal academies, one elite ("The Legal Academy") and one consisting of unranked law schools (the OLA) and they "meet fleetingly." (Full disclosure: Jeremy's post on scholarship has a picture without link to his edited volume Hans Kelsen in America - Selective Affinities and the Mysteries of Academic Influence (Springer, 2016).  I contributed a chapter.)

The posts deal, respectively, with hiring, scholarship, and teaching.  They are provocative, overly modest about Jeremy's own accomplishments, and fodder for my own promised reflections toward the end of a career in what Jeremy might think of as part of the OLA.

This sentence triggered my initial and visceral response to his distinction between The Legal Academy and the OLA:

But unless you are one of the few who can make the leap from the Other Legal Academy to The Legal Academy, do not expect that your scholarship will have an impact or even be read beyond a small circle.

I asked Jeremy how many OCU faculty had moved laterally since 2007 (when I started teaching), because my experience at Suffolk was that a substantial number of my colleagues who got tenure at Suffolk moved on to schools up the food chain - for example, Jessica Silbey to Northeastern and then to Boston University, Hilary Allen to American, Frank Rudy Cooper and Leah Chan Grinvald to UNLV (the latter as dean).  His answer was very few.  I have had colleagues whose scholarly work I know is widely read and influential, including David Yamada on workplace issues (such as bullying), Michael Rustad on tort law, John Infranca on housing communities, Marc Rodwin on health care, and most recently, Sarah Burstein on design patent law.  (There are others as well.)  

Yet for reasons best explained by the US News ranking algorithm, Suffolk currently sits in the #122 bracket along with Albany, Mercer, Baltimore, and Dayton, just behind the #118 group (Chapman, Hofstra, Tulsa, West Virginia) and just ahead of the #127 group (Cleveland State and St. Thomas (MN)).  Indeed, the impact of that algorithm (LSAT scores and bar passage rates) combined with past decisions on class size have caused Suffolk to flirt with over the last ten years, but never succumb to, the unranked list at the bottom where you find OCU and others.

There's no question that it's different being at Suffolk is different than being at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or even BU. Nevertheless, and despite my unusual path to a faculty and perhaps even to tenure, I never felt like I was on the outside of The Legal Academy looking in as a scholar.  Below the break, I'll reflect on that. (And perhaps touch on Jeremy's reactions to hiring and teaching in later posts.)

1.  In 2004, I was the general counsel of a chemical company in Indianapolis.  For reasons too lengthy and, perhaps, sensitive, I had time on my hands and contacted the then-dean at the IU-Indianapolis law school (now McKinney) about teaching a course on entrepreneurship and venture capital as an adjunct.  I was shocked to find him recruiting me as a potential director of the school's nascent center on entrepreneurship and technology.  Even then, I could see that being a center director but merely as an adjunct faculty member was a losing proposition.  I said, "I'd have to be on the faculty."  He said, "That would be almost impossible; you've never published any scholarly work."  I had no idea what that meant, having been a lawyer in the real world for 25 years at that point.  I went home, and looked into what legal scholarship was.  I consulted a couple of law school classmates who were on "elite" faculties.  I had an idea for an article arising out of one of our board members' concern about being named as the Audit Committee Financial Expert under Sarbanes-Oxley.  I called the dean.  "Okay, fine, if I need a publication, I will write and publish one." I started writing it on Memorial Day, 2004 and finished it by July 4, 2004.  

I cannot now recall if I used ExpressO.  I have a vague recollection either of making hard copies and mailing them, or emailing them separately, in a fit of self-delusion, to law reviews at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, Michigan, and for some reason I don't now recall, Wayne State.  Within a week or two, an editor at Wayne State emailed me to say that it had accepted the piece, and I went bouncing up and down around the house like I had just won the U.S. Open.  

One of those law school classmates (Douglas Baird) said to me, "You need to post it on SSRN."  I replied, "What is SSRN?"  I posted it.  Later, Avery Katz (who had summer clerked at my law firm in Detroit and knew my wife from when they were kids) sent me a note to the effect that Larry Solum had posted the article on his "influential blog." To which I believe I responded, "who is Larry Solum and what is a blog?" (NB: while there are portions of that piece I still like, I cringe every time I look at it or think about its puerile naïveté, notwithstanding the fact that it has been downloaded more than 1,000 times on SSRN, no doubt as a result of its truly bizarre and suggestively interdisciplinary title.)

At some point, one of the faculty members at IU-Indianapolis sent me a video file of a talk Ron Krotoszynski (now at Alabama) gave on how to play the law review placement game. The upshot of all this was my reaction to the process: "Damn, this is fun."  So, over the next six months or so, I wrote and placed two more pieces, one in the DePaul Law Review and one in the Temple Law Review.  (Those two pieces involved an email exchange I initiated with Richard Posner, who, to my complete shock, graciously responded, but that story will have to wait for another post.)

My point is that, while my initial forays weren't the elites, they weren't chopped liver either, and I felt like I had entered the mainstream of legal scholarship, whatever it was, even before I had a full time academic position.  

2.   A theme of Jeremy's post is his despair over the quality and the fate of his own scholarship: "very few people care about what I write as a scholar...." "I sent my babies off into the world and watched as they were neither nurtured nor savaged but left to waste away until totgeschwiegen.  Now I am resigned...." "I do regret that I don't think I will ever know if my scholarship is any good...."  First, I think his despair about being unread is unwarranted.  I speak from experience when I say that, if you decide to spend a lot of time writing about the work of Hans Kelsen, you are already speaking to a relatively limited audience.  Nevertheless, I went to his SSRN page expecting to see a mere dribble of downloads.  Instead I found thirty-four papers, twenty of which had in excess of 100 downloads, twelve in excess of 200, four in excess of 300, and one just about to reach 500.  [I have a question in at SSRN about the percentage of posted papers that achieve those benchmarks, so I won't guess, but I know I would be happy with that kind of reception for my own work!]

But, second, is it any good?  That is such an interesting and complex question, particularly in academia, because the criteria are not solely objective.  Another well-known blogger is currently posting the h-index of law professors.  The h-index measures a professor's productivity (at least on Google Scholar) as well as the citation impact - your h-index is the highest number h of your papers that have been cited h times.  As of right now, Cass Sunstein (there's a shocker) leads the pack with 172.  Understand what that means.  He has written 172 pieces that have been cited at least 172 times.   My h-index is 12.  I believe the highest h-index at Suffolk is Michael Rustad's 34.  Marc Rodwin's is 29. David Yamada's is 18.  John Infranca's is also 12 (and he's been at it not nearly as long as I) and Sarah Burstein's is 8, but they are both youngsters.  Google also uses something called the i10 index, which is simply the number of your pieces that have been cited ten times.  Cass Sunstein's is 692.  For that, there are simply no words.  My i10 index is 19, which I've justified with the notion that I've been writing academic articles since 2004, making it eighteen years, that I consider one significant piece a year to be on par for a productive law professor, and thus I have at least one ten-citation piece for every year I've been doing this.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

But, of course, we all know that you can write good stuff without having astronomical h-index numbers.  The subject matter makes a big difference.  And you can be widely cited as an example of getting something totally wrong!  

The far more fascinating subject (to me, at least) is the subjective assessment of scholarly legal work as "good," particularly in light of disciplinary boundaries.  Before I was a law professor, I was the chief legal officer for a couple big organizations, which meant that, in making my own decisions in hard cases, I often had to rely on the judgments of experts in fields I knew little about, and whose views either conflicted or were inconsistent with each other.  I have written about that.  Louis Menand and Michele Lamont have each written about the benefits and costs of disciplinary boundaries in academia.  Menand described interdisciplinary anxiety as being "about the formalism and methodological fetishism of the disciplines and about the danger of sliding into an aimless subjectivism or eclecticism." Lamont studied how judgments got made for interdisciplinary grant approvals, concluding that there is no canon for judging interdisciplinary work, and it "struggles with the concurrent polarities of “expert and generalist criteria (what one respondent [in Lamont’s study] defines as ‘virtuosity and significance’).” Indeed, Lamont wrote: "given the emergent quality of the standards of evaluation for interdisciplinary genres, panelists readily fall back on existing disciplinary standards to determine what should and should not be funded."

Which brings me back to my experience.  In his post on hiring in The Other Legal Academy, Jeremy quotes Orin Kerr: "To have a realistic chance, a candidate usually needs either a VAP/fellowship or a PhD. — and everyone knows it."  (Jeremy's point is that may be true for Orin's Legal Academy, but not for Jeremy's.) Credentials are simply easier heuristics for expertise and what is good.  Historically, law professors, even those doing "law and ..." have been autodidacts with JDs, the prime example being Cass Sunstein himself, whose degrees (and their dates) look a lot like mine!  (Obviously, that is where the comparison rightly ends; see above h- and i10 indices.)  What I found from 2004 to 2007, while I was considering that odd late-career jump to academia, was that the world of legal academic split into two categories, one in which my lack of credential was the basis for ignoring me (or at least not returning emails), and a larger one that invited me into the conversations about which I was interested.  That has been no different at Suffolk.

3.  In 2007, we moved to Cambridge and were fortunate enough to buy a house next door to, and connected by a gate with, a wonderful family one of whom was and is a pretty renowned Harvard evolutionary biologist.  We have spent many a Saturday or Sunday late afternoon, going through the gate and sharing a bottle of good or not-so-good wine, comparing notes about research, peer-review and getting published, teaching, faculty dynamics, and our shared interest in ultimate questions (telos being a particular interest of mine, and telos or "purpose" being a fascinating aspect of adaptation).  Honestly, despite the gap in the relevant prestige of our institutions (and our respective careers), the worlds seem remarkably similar.

4.  In short (and this has been anything but), I think Jeremy has overstated the case by focusing on law schools at the extremes of the rankings.  I don't know whether Orin is right about the required credentials to be hired in today's market - it looks to me that the market favors applicants for the first time in years - but I suspect there is still a substantial job market where  you still have a good chance of being hired as a JD-autodidact.  A wise mentor back in 2005 or so told me that I was going to have a hard time getting hired because I wrote to please (or teach) myself rather than inserting myself into existing and ongoing debates.  That was simply a realistic assessment of credentialism back then and it's probably still true.

I agree with Jeremy completely about this: if you can get it, it's a great job, paying significantly more than entry level positions in most other disciplines. More importantly, as the explosion of journals has demonstrated over the last twenty-five or thirty years, unlike philosophy or history professors, the overwhelming majority of our students have no interest whatsoever in following in our academic footsteps, and unwittingly subsidize our ability to write about whatever we damn please and usually publish it somewhere.  Carpe diem.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on September 10, 2022 at 08:19 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, September 05, 2022

Iowa Law VAP and Fellowship - 2023-2024

From the University of Iowa College of Law:

The University of Iowa College of Law seeks applicants for the Hubbell Visiting Assistant Professor and the Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship

The Iowa Faculty Fellowship aims to further the College of Law’s and the University of Iowa’s longstanding goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession and recruiting and retaining a more diverse campus community of faculty, staff, and students. The Hubbell VAP will teach in the environmental law curriculum and will be encouraged to pursue independent research. Both programs provide research and teaching opportunities, faculty mentoring, and career development for promising legal scholars and teachers aiming to launch new careers in legal academia.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the positions are filled. For more information, please contact Chris Odinet, chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at [email protected]. Applications for the Iowa Faculty Fellowship can be submitted here and the Hubbell VAP here.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 5, 2022 at 04:32 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2022-2023

I. The Spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet, you can enter information regarding whether you have received

(a) a first round interview at a school (including the subject areas the school mentioned, if any, as being of particular interest, and whether the interview offer was accepted);

(b)  a callback from a law school and/or accepted it; or

(c) an offer from a law school and/or accepted it; feel free to also leave details about the offer, including teaching load, research leave, etc. A school listed as "offer accepted" may have made more than one offer and may still have some slots open.

Law professors may also choose to provide information that is relevant to the entry-level market.  

Anyone can edit the spreadsheet; I will not be editing it or otherwise monitoring it. It is available here:

II. The Comment Thread

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, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-20162016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022. In general, there's quite a cache of materials relevant to the law job market under the archive categories Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market and Entry Level Hiring Report.

 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 25, 2022 at 08:36 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (186)

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.

FARFormsOverTime.20220818

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 | Comments (10)

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Law School Entry-Level Hiring Posting Schedule 2022-2023

The usual posts will occur this year regarding entry-level law school hiring.

On August 18, the first distribution of FAR forms will be released to schools. If/when anyone publicly posts the number of FAR forms, I will post Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time (last year's FAR Forms Over Time post).

Around August 25, I will post Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2022-2023 (last year's Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse Post).

Around October 24, I will post the VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread (last year's VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread).

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 16, 2022 at 03:55 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, July 18, 2022

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2022-2023

I am collecting information about (1) whether a particular school plans to hire in 2022-2023, and (2) if so, information about the school's hiring committee and hiring interests.

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2022-2023 law school faculty hiring season. (A spreadsheet is below. You cannot edit the spreadsheet directly.)

First:
 
(a) your school;
 
(b) whether your school is pursuing entry-level hiring in 2022-2023 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else);
 
(c) whether your school is pursuing lateral hiring in 2022-2023 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else).
 
If your school does plan on pursuing hiring in 2022-2023:
 
(d) the chair of your hiring committee (please note if you have different chairs for entry level and lateral candidates--we hope that this information will be useful for both entry level and lateral candidates);
 
(e) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(f) any particular subject areas in which your school is looking to hire.

Additionally, if you would like to share the following information, candidates might find it helpful to know:

(g) your committee's feeling about packets/individualized expressions of interest (affirmatively want to receive them, affirmatively don't want to receive them, or don't care one way or the other); 
 
(h) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); 
 
(i) the website, if any, that candidates should use to obtain information about the position or to apply; and
 
(j) the number of available faculty positions at your school.

I will gather all this information in a downloadable, sortable spreadsheet. (Click on that link to access the spreadsheet and download it; you can also scroll through the embedded version below.)

Edited 7/19/22 to remove question (k), "whether you are interested in hiring entry-level candidates, lateral candidates, or both," because the question was already asked above in (b) and (c). If someone can figure out why this question is not a duplicate, please let me know and I will put it back.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 18, 2022 at 01:21 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (91)

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Tulane Forrester Fellowship - 2022

From Tulane Law School:

Tulane Law School invites applications for a Forrester Fellowship. Forrester Fellowships are designed for promising scholars who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions. The Fellows are full-time faculty in the law school and are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the intellectual life of the school. The law school provides significant support, both formal and informal, including faculty mentors, a professional travel budget, and opportunities to present works-in-progress in various settings.

Tulane’s Forrester Fellows teach legal writing in the first-year curriculum to two sections of first-year law students in a program coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing. Fellows are appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of a single one-year renewal. Applicants must have a JD from an ABA-accredited law school, outstanding academic credentials, and significant law-related practice and/or clerkship experience. Candidates should apply through Interfolio at http://apply.interfolio.com/104393

If you have any questions, please contact Erin Donelon at [email protected]. The law school aims to fill this position by April of 2022. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women and members of minority communities to apply.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on April 5, 2022 at 01:47 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, March 11, 2022

Teaching Positions - Northwestern MSL Program

The Northwestern Pritzker School of Law invites applications for three full-time faculty positions in its Master of Science in Law program, with an expected start date of July 1, 2022.  Candidates will be considered for appointment on the law school’s lecturer track (Lecturer or Senior Lecturer); these positions are not tenure eligible.

The Master of Science in Law (MSL) is an innovative legal master's degree offered by the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.  This program is geared specifically towards STEM professionals who are interested in topics at the intersection of law, regulation, business, and policy.  The residential full-time program began in 2014; the online part-time format was added in 2017.  The MSL program has a diverse student body, with both domestic and international students, and students of different ages, levels of work experience, backgrounds, race and ethnicity, and career goals.  There are currently over 200 students enrolled and the program has over 400 alumni.  Graduates of the MSL work in a variety of industries, including consulting, finance, pharma, biotech, engineering, healthcare, and law (including intellectual property, legal operations, and others); some go on to further study in medicine, business, law, and other fields.

The duties of the positions include teaching a full-time load of courses each year within both formats (residential and online) of the MSL program; there may also be the opportunity to teach in the JD program.  Administrative responsibilities of the positions include advising and recruiting students.  We seek applicants with a record of or potential for excellence in teaching, an aptitude for mentoring students regarding academic and career goals, and the ability to work collaboratively with others.

Preferred qualifications include a JD and 3-5 years of experience teaching or working in a field relevant to the MSL curriculum, such as a legal, business, entrepreneurship, or regulatory setting.  In addition, we seek applicants who have experience with or interest in working with international students and global issues.

For more information, and to submit an application, including a CV and a cover letter explaining interest in the position through Northwestern’s online application system, go to this link: https://facultyrecruiting.northwestern.edu/apply/MTQ2Mg==.  Applicants are encouraged to apply by April 8, 2022.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on March 11, 2022 at 01:20 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship - 2022-2023

From the University of Iowa College of Law:

The University of Iowa College of Law seeks applicants for the Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship.  This program provides research and teaching opportunities, faculty mentoring, and career development for promising legal scholars and teachers aiming to launch new careers in legal academia.  The program also aims to further the College of Law’s and the University of Iowa’s longstanding goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession and recruiting and retaining a more diverse campus community of faculty, staff, and students.  (For information on the College’s DEI commitments and activities, see Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | College of Law - The University of Iowa (uiowa.edu). For information on the University’s DEI commitments and activities, see Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion | The University of Iowa (uiowa.edu).) 

Iowa Law is well known for its strong focus on law teaching, exceptionally comprehensive law library, and collaborative atmosphere.  The University of Iowa itself is a major public research university located in Iowa City, a quintessential college town brimming with writers, students, and scholars.   

The Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship is a successor to the Faculty Fellows program, which provided aspiring legal academics with an opportunity to develop their scholarship and teaching, and ultimately seek long-term academic positions. Iowa Law Faculty Fellows concentrate on those aspects of academic life that are most likely to be helpful in preparing for a faculty career in legal education.  Typically, faculty fellows teach one course during the academic year, with the remainder of the fellow’s time devoted to research and development of one or more major works of scholarship.  The Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship does not have a specific subject matter focus, but prioritizes applicants who seek to conduct interdisciplinary research that connects with other fields of study at the University of Iowa.  The fellow works closely with a faculty mentor and advisory team of faculty members.  Faculty fellows participate in the life of the College, but have limited service assignments so they can concentrate on teaching and scholarship.  Fellows are expected to contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion goals at the College and University.   

Initial Faculty Fellowship appointments are for one year and can be renewed once.  Fellows will be appointed at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor of Law.  Most Faculty Fellows will serve for two years and participate in the law hiring market during the second year of the fellowship.  The salary for the 2022-2023 academic year will be competitive with well-regarded law fellowship and VAP programs.  In addition, Faculty Fellows will be provided with research support including research funds, travel funds, and the opportunity to hire law student research assistants.  Fellows will be expected to be in full-time residence at Iowa Law during the academic year.

To apply for the Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship program, an applicant should submit the following through Jobs@Iowa, at jobs.uiowa.edu (refer to requisition #74372):

  • Cover letter, including a description of the applicant’s (1) research plan to be carried out during the fellowship and (2) plans for contributing to diversity, equity and inclusion goals at the College and University during the fellowship.
  • C.V.
  • Graduate, and professional transcripts (including law school transcripts)
  • Academic writing sample
  • Three letters of reference providing support for the applicant’s potential as a legal scholar and teacher

Required qualifications:

  • J.D. or equivalent, or a Ph.D. from a relevant field of study. 
  • Strong potential for legal teaching
  • Strong potential for legal scholarship
  • Strong potential for making contributions to the College’s and University’s diversity, equity, and inclusion goals
  • Strong communication and interpersonal skills

Desired qualifications:

  • Demonstrated ability to conduct interdisciplinary research
  • Alignment between the proposed research plan and collegiate and university resources and opportunities.

Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  For fullest consideration, submit applications before February 25, 2022.  For more information, please contact Todd Pettys, chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee, at [email protected].

The University of Iowa is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply and will receive consideration for employment free from discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, age, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, religion, associational preference, status as a qualified individual with a disability, or status as a protected veteran. The University also affirms its commitment to providing equal opportunities and equal access to University facilities. Women and Minorities are encouraged to apply for all employment vacancies. For additional information on nondiscrimination policies, contact the Office of Institutional Equity, 319/335-0705, The University of Iowa, 202 Jessup Hall, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1316.  Persons with disabilities may contact University Human Resources/Faculty and Staff Disability Services, (319) 335-2660 or [email protected], to inquire or discuss accommodation needs.  Prospective employees may review the University Campus Security Policy and the latest annual crime statistics by contacting the Department of Public Safety at 319/335-5022.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on January 26, 2022 at 05:32 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Drexel University VAP Positions

From Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law:

The Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law invites applications for a two Visiting Assistant Professor positions.   One position is dedicated to a faculty member who will teach and research in the area of tax.  The other position is open, with a preference for someone who does research that touches on legal implications of new technology and/or someone open to teaching Torts.  Each position will last two years and VAP’s are expected to fully participate in the intellectual life of the law school.

We seek candidates who hold (at minimum) a JD or appropriate equivalent degree.  We are particularly interested in candidates embarking on an academic career.  The Kline School of Law is committed to recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding faculty members who bring scholarly interests and life experiences that contribute to the diversity and success of our students, our University, and our communities.

Drexel University, founded in 1891, is an R1 comprehensive research institution.  Drexel established its law school in 2006, and it has rapidly developed a reputation for innovative scholarship across disciplines, a diverse portfolio of academic programs, and a focus on civic engagement.  The Kline School of Law is home to the Center for Law and Transformational Technology and the Center for Law, Policy and Social Action.   The law school has a vibrant scholarly culture, including an active workshop series.  Kline Law has moved up steadily in the rankings and is now ranked #81 by U.S. News.

Applications for this position should include a CV and cover letter.

Review of applications will begin immediately, and prompt application is encouraged.  Questions should be directed to Professor Bret Asbury. 

Apply online via Drexel’s HR portal: https://careers.drexel.edu/en-us/job/497570/visiting-assistant-professor-kline-school-of-law.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on January 19, 2022 at 03:24 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

VAPs and Fellowships 2021-2022

On this thread, comments can be shared regarding news of appointments to VAPs or similar fellowships (for example, the Climenko and Bigelow).  Here is last year's thread.

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 19, 2021 at 07:00 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (29)

Monday, October 04, 2021

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Faculty Hiring

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law invites applications for tenured or tenure-track faculty positions with an expected start date of September 1, 2022. This is part of a multi-year strategic hiring plan, and we will consider entry-level, junior, and senior lateral candidates.

Northwestern seeks applicants with distinguished academic credentials and a record of or potential for high scholarly achievement and excellence in teaching. Specialties of particular interest include: tax, anti-discrimination law, international law (joint search with the Buffett Institute for Global Affairs), health law (joint search with the Feinberg School of Medicine), and business law. Northwestern welcomes applications from candidates who would contribute to the diversity of our faculty and community. Positions are full-time appointments with tenure or on a tenure-track.

Candidates must have a J.D., Ph.D., or equivalent degree, a distinguished academic record, and demonstrated potential to produce outstanding scholarship. Northwestern Pritzker School of Law will consider the entry level candidates in the AALS Faculty Appointments Register, as well as through application directly to our law school. Candidates applying directly should submit a cover letter, C.V., and draft work-in-progress through our online application system: https://facultyrecruiting.northwestern.edu/apply/MTE3Mw. Specific inquiries should be addressed to the chair of the Appointments Committee, Zach Clopton, zclopton at law dot northwestern dot edu.

Northwestern University is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes, including veterans and individuals with disabilities. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, individuals with disabilities, and veterans are encouraged to apply. Click for information on EEO is the Law.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 4, 2021 at 01:33 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2021-2022

I. The Spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet, you can enter information regarding whether you have received

(a) a first round interview at a school (including the subject areas the school mentioned, if any, as being of particular interest, and whether the interview offer was accepted);

(b)  a callback from a law school and/or accepted it; or

(c) an offer from a law school and/or accepted it; feel free to also leave details about the offer, including teaching load, research leave, etc. A school listed as "offer accepted" may have made more than one offer and may still have some slots open.

Law professors may also choose to provide information that is relevant to the entry-level market.  

Anyone can edit the spreadsheet; I will not be editing it or otherwise monitoring it. It is available here:

II. The Comment Thread

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, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-20162016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020, 2020-2021. In general, there's quite a cache of materials relevant to the law job market under the archive categories Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market and Entry Level Hiring Report.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 28, 2021 at 03:15 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (431)

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2021

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.20210819

Far Forms Chart.20210818

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

(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 18, 2021.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 18, 2021 at 10:15 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (9)

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Law School Entry-Level Hiring Posting Schedule 2021-2022

The usual posts will occur this year regarding entry-level law school hiring.

On August 18, the first distribution of FAR forms will be released to schools. If/when anyone publicly posts the number of FAR forms, I will post Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time (last year's FAR Forms Over Time post).

Around August 25, I will post Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2021-2022 (last year's Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse Post).

Around October 24, I will post the VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread (last year's VAPs and Fellowship Open Thread).

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 10, 2021 at 04:29 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2021-2022

I am collecting information about (1) whether a particular school plans to hire in 2021-2022, and (2) if so, information about the school's hiring committee and hiring interests.

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2021-2022 law school faculty hiring season. (A spreadsheet is below. You cannot edit the spreadsheet directly.)

First:
 
(a) your school;
 
(b) whether your school is pursuing entry-level hiring in 2021-2022 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else);
 
(c) whether your school is pursuing lateral hiring in 2021-2022 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else).
 
If your school does plan on pursuing hiring in 2021-2022:
 
(d) the chair of your hiring committee (please note if you have different chairs for entry level and lateral candidates--we hope that this information will be useful for both entry level and lateral candidates);
 
(e) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(f) any particular subject areas in which your school is looking to hire.

Additionally, if you would like to share the following information, candidates might find it helpful to know:

(g) your committee's feeling about packets/individualized expressions of interest (affirmatively want to receive them, affirmatively don't want to receive them, or don't care one way or the other); 
 
(h) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); 
 
(i) the website, if any, that candidates should use to obtain information about the position or to apply;
 
(j) the number of available faculty positions at your school; and
 
(k) whether you are interested in hiring entry-level candidates, lateral candidates, or both.

I will gather all this information in a downloadable, sortable spreadsheet. (Click on that link to access the spreadsheet and download it; you can also scroll through the embedded version below.)

Update, 8/11/2021: My understanding is that there is a complete collection of this information that is generated privately by one or more individual law schools. (I don't have access to this complete collection of information.) The purpose of this post and the accompanying spreadsheet is to allow the information to be accessible to anyone, regardless of where they happened to go to law school or do their fellowship.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 6, 2021 at 10:30 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (95)

Monday, June 28, 2021

Faculty Hiring Announcement - Gonzaga

From Gonzaga University School of Law:

GONZAGA UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW in Spokane, WA seeks applicants for up to three entry-level full-time tenure-track positions as Assistant Professor beginning in the Fall 2022. Our curricular needs include a variety of first-year, required, and elective courses, including Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation, and E-Discovery; Constitutional Law, Employment Discrimination, Federal Courts, Health Law, and Indian Law; Contracts, Antitrust, and other Business Law courses with an emphasis on Corporate Social Responsibility; and academic support or bar preparation courses taught in conjunction with doctrinal courses.

Gonzaga Law embraces a unified faculty model, in which all faculty members are supported as scholars in all subject matter areas and have the opportunity to teach experiential, clinical, academic support, or bar preparation courses if desired. Candidates must demonstrate the ability to be an outstanding teacher, a commitment to service, and excellent scholarly potential, particularly in alignment with Gonzaga Law’s two academic Centers – the Center for Civil & Human Rights and the Center for Law, Ethics & Commerce. For Gonzaga University School of Law’s mission and diversity statements, please visit https://www.gonzaga.edu/school-of-law/about/mission-vision

To apply or view the complete position description, please visit our website at www.gonzaga.edu/jobs. To apply, please visit our website at www.gonzaga.edu/jobs. Applicants must complete an online application and electronically submit the following: (1) a cover letter, (2) a curriculum vitae, (3) a statement that includes evidence of teaching effectiveness and experience creating and maintaining an inclusive learning environment, and (4) a list of three references. Candidates may, at their option, also upload a research agenda and statement of teaching philosophy.  Additionally, finalists will be asked to provide names and contact information for three professional references to provide confidential letters of recommendation.  Inquiries about the position may be directed to the Chair of the Faculty Recruitment Committee, Professor Agnieszka McPeak, at [email protected]; however, the applicant must apply directly to Gonzaga University, Office of Human Resources. The position closes on September 1, 2021 at midnight, PST. However, for priority consideration, please apply by July 22, 2021 at midnight, PST. For assistance with your online application, please contact Human Resources at 509-313-5996.Fac

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on June 28, 2021 at 07:14 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Tulane VAP 2021-2022 - Murphy Institute

From Tulane Law School:

Tulane Law School is currently accepting applications for a two-year position of visiting assistant professor.  The position is being supported by the Murphy Institute at Tulane (http://murphy.tulane.edu/home/), an interdisciplinary unit specializing in political economy and ethics that draws faculty from the university’s departments of economics, philosophy, history, and political science. The position is designed for scholars focusing on regulation of economic activity very broadly construed (including, for example, research with a methodological or analytical focus relevant to scholars of regulation).  It is also designed for individuals who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions during the second year of the professorship.  The law school will provide significant informal support for such. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and candidates who will enhance the diversity of the law faculty are especially invited to apply.  The position will start fall 2021; the precise start date is flexible.

Candidates should apply through Interfolio, at http://apply.interfolio.com/84001, providing a CV identifying at least three references, post-graduate transcripts, electronic copies of any scholarship completed or in-progress, and a letter explaining your teaching interests and your research agenda. If you have any questions, please contact Adam Feibelman at [email protected].

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on June 6, 2021 at 08:55 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 30, 2021

Westerfield Fellowship - Loyola New Orleans College of Law - 2021

From Loyola University New Orleans:

Loyola University New Orleans is looking to hire one Westerfield Fellow. Start date: August 2021. Classes will be held on campus in New Orleans.

This position is designed for individuals pursuing a career in law teaching and seeking to gain law teaching experience, while being afforded time to devote to scholarship.  Applicants should have strong academic credentials and excellent written and oral communication skills.  The Fellow will be responsible for teaching two sections of legal research & writing to first-year law students in a three-credit-hour course each semester.  The Fellow will have a faculty mentor in addition to the other professors teaching in the program.  One-year contracts may be renewed.  The typical fellowship tenure is two years. Salary is competitive with fellowships of a similar nature.  Westerfield Fellows have successfully obtained tenure-track positions at ABA accredited law schools.

If you are interested in applying, please send your curriculum vitae and cover letter to [email protected]. Inquiries may be sent to the Chair of the Appointments Committee, Professor Bobby Harges at [email protected].  Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. We especially welcome applications from candidates who will add to the diversity of our educational community and who have demonstrated expertise in working with a diverse population.

Link to full ad:

Faculty Employment Opportunities | Finance + Administration | Loyola University New Orleans (loyno.edu)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on April 30, 2021 at 11:17 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 22, 2021

Levin Center at Wayne Law - Congressional Oversight Fellowship - 2021-2022

Scholars interested in congressional oversight research may apply for a new fellowship program established by the Levin Center at Wayne Law.  Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.
 
In its inaugural year, the Levin Center Fellowship offers $22,000 as supplemental support to allow a twelve-month, non-resident scholar – including a post-doctoral student or early career professor – to research and produce a scholarly paper related to conducting an overview of congressional oversight databases, defining and measuring effective oversight by Congress, and exploring how to score effective oversight efforts by individual members of Congress, congressional committees, or Congress as a whole.  There are no teaching obligations.
 
The Fellowship provides an outstanding opportunity for collaboration with the Levin Center team, a group of professionals based in Detroit, Michigan and Washington, D.C. with significant oversight expertise and experience conducting oversight-related activities.
 
Fellowship funding is provided by the Sunwater Institute, a nonprofit think tank dedicated to exploring fundamental ideas that advance liberty, knowledge, opportunity, and power for individuals and society. Any scoring system designed by a Levin Center Fellow could become a feature of the Sunwater platform under development to evaluate congressional performance.
 
A selection committee established by the Levin Center will review applications beginning immediately, with a goal of finalizing the selection decision by April 30, 2021.  The Fellow’s final paper must be submitted within twelve months of appointment.
 
Those interested can apply at this link.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on March 22, 2021 at 04:46 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Drake Law School - Visiting Position Fall 2021/2021-2022

Drake University Law School invites applications for a temporary appointment as Fall semester or full year Visiting Assistant/Associate/Professor of Law for academic year 2012-22.  Course assignments will include Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure - Investigation in Fall Semester 2021; Evidence/Crim Pro in Spring for full academic year visit. Currently, the Law School plans for these classes to be offered in an in-person format rather than remotely, subject to health and safety considerations, and candidates should be willing and available to teach in either format. Drake is an equal opportunity employer dedicated to workforce diversity. We strongly encourage women, people of color, and others who would enrich the diversity of our academic community to apply. For more information on the law school and its programs, see www.drake.edu/law. Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest, CV, and a list of at least three references via email to Associate Dean Andrew W. Jurs, [email protected]. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis, with a priority deadline of March 31, 2021. 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on March 16, 2021 at 03:21 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 19, 2021

VAP - Michigan State University College of Law

Michigan State University College of Law invites applications for a full-time, fixed-term Lecturer.  The position will be for one year with an option to renew for a second year.  The Law College’s curricular needs include health care law, torts law, trusts and estates, and tax law. The Law College seeks applicants with a commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarly achievement.

Successful candidates will teach two classes, one in each of the fall and spring.  The Lecturer will have ample time to pursue their own scholarship.  The Law College will provide access to library and legal resources and mentorship for teaching and scholarly work, including opportunities to present at faculty workshops and outside fora.

For more information on the position and the link to apply, please visit  https://careers.msu.edu/en-us/job/504138/lecturerfixed-term

Review of applications will begin on March 5, 2021.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 19, 2021 at 09:56 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Job Posting - Program Director - Karsh Center for Law and Democracy

The University of Virginia School of Law seeks a Program Director for the Karsh Center for Law and Democracy. The expectation is that the Program Director will pursue a career in the legal academy as a law professor. More information is available through the UVA website as well as the Inside Higher Ed posting.

This position has a fixed-term appointment of two years. The position is classified as Professional Research Staff (“Postdoctoral Research Associate”) and offers compensation of $60,000 plus benefits.

The Karsh Center is a nonpartisan legal institute at the Law School. The Karsh Center’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of the principles and practices necessary for a well- functioning, pluralistic democracy. These include civil discourse and democratic dialogue, civic engagement and citizenship, ethics and integrity in public office, and respect for the rule of law. The Center supports these essential features of our democratic life through rigorous and cutting-edge legal and interdisciplinary scholarship. Its aim is to advance the values of law and democracy within the academy and in public discourse.

As the key administrator for the Center, the Program Director will work closely with the Center’s faculty director to develop the Center’s strategic plan and implement its goals. The Program Director will lead development and implementation of the Center’s programming, such as guest lectures, research collaborations, conferences, seminars, and workshops. The Program Director will provide support for visiting scholars and fellows. The Program Director will also interact with other democracy-related programs at the University of Virginia.

The expectation is that the Program Director will pursue a career in the legal academy as a law professor. The Program Director will be expected to produce legal scholarship and participate in the academic life of the law school.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 18, 2021 at 11:41 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Tulane Forrester Fellowship 2021-2022

From Tulane Law School:

Tulane Law School invites applications for a Forrester Fellowship. Forrester Fellowships are designed for promising scholars who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions. The Fellows are full-time faculty in the law school and are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the intellectual life of the school. The law school provides significant support, both formal and informal, including faculty mentors, a professional travel budget, and opportunities to present works-in-progress in various settings.

Tulane’s Forrester Fellows teach legal writing in the first-year curriculum in a program coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing. Fellows are appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of a single one-year renewal. Applicants must have a JD from an ABA-accredited law school, outstanding academic credentials, and significant law-related practice and/or clerkship experience. Candidates should apply through Interfolio at http://apply.interfolio.com/82676. If you have any questions, please contact Erin Donelon at [email protected].

The law school aims to fill this position by March 2021. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women and members of minority communities to apply.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on January 31, 2021 at 08:14 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 26, 2020

An Entry-Level Candidate's Plea

I received the following anonymous email from "AALS Candidate." I'm not generally in the habit of posting anonymous emails to the blog, but this seemed of general interest to those on the job market and also like something that might generate a useful discussion, including thoughts from people who are directly involved in fellowship programs and hiring and who have a sense of, for example, whether fellows are actually not getting jobs this cycle (though of course it's also very early to know that).

I'm an entry-level candidate on the AALS market this year, and it's miserable. I have a strong CV. Not SCOTUS clerk + PhD strong, but in any other year I'd have at least a dozen screening interviews. So far, I've had 1 screening interview. I may get a few more since some schools are delayed, but I'm not very optimistic.

Here is why I'm writing. I've spent years planning out in excruciating detail exactly how and when I would go on the market because I have a personal situation that precludes me from going on the market more than once. I don't want to elaborate because I want to remain anonymous, but trust me. I have one (real) shot. And many years ago, I picked 2020. So, it's especially painful for this year to be the year. For candidates like myself, a member of an often-marginalized group of candidates, going on the market is usually inequitable. Even in a decent year, the stars might not align for us. But especially this year, pandemic-related hiring freezes are likely to shut a lot of quality, marginalized candidates out of the academy permanently.

My ask: if anyone reading this has any sway at your school, please push for your school to fund a new VAP or fellowship. It doesn't need to pay much; we're desperate. I read a scary comment recently that struck me as prescient: most existing VAPs and fellowships won't lose many from their ranks this cycle and schools may extend time-limited positions for an extra year, leaving new candidates on the market shut out entirely unless schools create *new* opportunities for us. Please do what you can to give us an equitable chance to succeed. Thank you.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 26, 2020 at 05:59 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (71)

Sunday, October 04, 2020

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2020-2021

On this thread, comments can be shared regarding news of appointments to VAPs or similar fellowships (for example, the Climenko and Bigelow).  Here is last year's thread.

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 4, 2020 at 02:29 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (67)

Friday, August 28, 2020

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2020-2021

I. The Spreadsheet

In the spreadsheet, you can enter information regarding whether you have received

(a) a first round interview at a school (including the subject areas the school mentioned, if any, as being of particular interest, and whether the interview offer was accepted);

(b)  a callback from a law school and/or accepted it; or

(c) an offer from a law school and/or accepted it; feel free to also leave details about the offer, including teaching load, research leave, etc. A school listed as "offer accepted" may have made more than one offer and may still have some slots open.

Law professors may also choose to provide information that is relevant to the entry-level market.  

Anyone can edit the spreadsheet; I will not be editing it or otherwise monitoring it. It is available here:

II. The Comment Thread

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, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-20162016-2017, 2017-2018, 2018-2019, and 2019-2020. In general, there's quite a cache of materials relevant to the law job market under the archive categories Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market and Entry Level Hiring Report.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 28, 2020 at 04:32 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (181)

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 | Comments (9)

Monday, July 06, 2020

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2020-2021

I am collecting information about (1) whether a particular school plans to hire in 2020-2021, and (2) if so, information about the school's hiring committee and hiring interests.

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2020-2021 law school faculty hiring season. (A spreadsheet is below. You cannot edit the spreadsheet directly.)

First:
 
(a) your school;
 
(b) whether your school is pursuing entry-level hiring in 2020-2021 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else);
 
(c) whether your school is pursuing lateral hiring in 2020-2021 (this could be yes, no, maybe, or something else).
 
If your school does plan on pursuing hiring in 2020-2021:
 
(d) the chair of your hiring committee (please note if you have different chairs for entry level and lateral candidates--we hope that this information will be useful for both entry level and lateral candidates);
 
(e) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(f) any particular subject areas in which your school is looking to hire.

Additionally, if you would like to share the following information, candidates might find it helpful to know:

(g) your committee's feeling about packets/individualized expressions of interest (affirmatively want to receive them, affirmatively don't want to receive them, or don't care one way or the other); 
 
(h) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); 
 
(i) the website, if any, that candidates should use to obtain information about the position or to apply;
 
(j) the number of available faculty positions at your school; and
 
(k) whether you are interested in hiring entry-level candidates, lateral candidates, or both.

I will gather all this information in a downloadable, sortable spreadsheet. (Click on that link to access the spreadsheet and download it; you can also scroll through the embedded version below.)

If you would like to reach me for some reason (e.g., you would prefer not to post your committee information in the comments but would rather email me directly), my email address is sarah dot lawsky (at) law dot northwestern dot edu.

Remember, you cannot edit the spreadsheet directly. The only way to add something to the spreadsheet is to put the information in the comments or email me directly, and I will edit the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 6, 2020 at 11:36 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (64)

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Loyola Chicago Hiring Announcements

From Loyola Chicago, two job listings.
 
Director of Regulatory Compliance (three-year, non-tenure track, renewable contract position)

The Director of Regulatory Compliance Studies will oversee all compliance initiatives conducted for both online and campus students.  JD degree and legal practice experience required.  This position requires a legal expert in the field of corporate, health care/life sciences, or privacy compliance. Successful candidates must have significant experience practicing law in the compliance field and possess wide industry knowledge.  Candidates must be familiar with and have relationships with organizations and individuals within the compliance industry.  

 

Director of Regulatory Compliance: https://www.careers.luc.edu/postings/13854

 

 

The MLP Maywood Post Graduate Fellow (two year faculty fellow position)

The fellow will work with Loyola University Chicago School of Law's Health Justice Project to develop a new medical-legal partnership (MLP) in Maywood, Illinois in collaboration with Loyola University Medical Center and Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine.  The ideal applicant has legal practice experience in an MLP or other public interest law setting, has experience collaborating across professions, is an excellent public speaker and writer, is licensed in Illinois (or bar eligible) and has experience in one or more of the following areas of law: public benefits, disability, housing, advance care planning, guardianship, or family law. 

 

 Maywood Faculty Fellow:  https://www.careers.luc.edu/postings/14033 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 1, 2020 at 09:18 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Hiring Announcement: City Law School (London, UK)

The City Law School (London, UK) is seeking to hire twelve new faculty members (including entry level and lateral candidates). Situated in the heart of London, The City Law School is a prominent law school with alumni that includes three former British Prime Ministers and many of London’s most illustrious barristers, solicitors, and judges. (The term ‘lecturer’ is an entry-level position broadly equivalent to Assistant Professor in North America. Lateral candidates may be more interested in the ‘senior lecturer’ and ‘professor’ positions.)

The closing date for applications is Sunday, April 5, 2020.

For more information, including the application procedure, visit: www.city.ac.uk/about/working-at-city

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 26, 2020 at 04:10 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, February 14, 2020

Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship

The Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship is a new program that is intended to provide research opportunities, faculty mentoring, and career development for promising legal scholars and teachers. Fellows will be expected to teach one course during the academic year, develop one or more major works of scholarship, and contribute to diversity, equity and inclusion goals at the College and University. While the Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship does not have a specific subject matter focus, it prioritizes applicants who seek to conduct interdisciplinary research that connects with other fields of study at the University of Iowa.

Initial Faculty Fellowship appointments are for one year and can be renewed once.  Fellows will be appointed at the rank of Visiting Assistant Professor of Law.  The salary for the 2020-21 Academic Year will be competitive with well-regarded law fellowship and VAP programs, and fellows will be provided with additional research support.  Fellows will be expected to be in full-time residence at Iowa Law during the academic year--a great opportunity to live in the quintessential college town, home of the Iowa Writer's Workshop and a major public research university.

For fullest consideration, candidates should submit applications before March 5, 2020. For more information, they can contact Adrien Wing, chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee at [email protected].

More details are available at https://law.uiowa.edu/iowa-law-faculty-fellowship

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 14, 2020 at 10:25 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Forrester Fellowship - Tulane Law School

Tulane Law School invites applications for a Forrester Fellowship. Forrester Fellowships are designed for promising scholars who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions. The Fellows are full-time faculty in the law school and are encouraged to participate in all aspects of the intellectual life of the school. The law school provides significant support, both formal and informal, including faculty mentors, a professional travel budget, and opportunities to present works-in-progress in various settings.

Tulane’s Forrester Fellows teach legal writing in the first-year curriculum in a program coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing. Fellows are appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of a single one-year renewal. Applicants must have a JD from an ABA-accredited law school, outstanding academic credentials, and significant law-related practice and/or clerkship experience. Candidates should apply through Interfolio. If you have any questions, please contact Erin Donelon at [email protected].

The law school aims to fill this position by March 2020. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women and members of minority communities to apply.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 12, 2020 at 08:41 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Final Reflections on VAP/Fellowship Interview Series

Now that my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors has ended, I wanted to reflect on the broader lessons that I learned from these interviews.  Your takeaways may differ, so I hope you chime in in the comments if you think there are different or additional takeaways that prospective candidates and/or hiring committees should have.  But I’ve been on the hiring side for a long time and there were still a number of things that surprised me when I dug into the VAP/fellowship world.

**Before I dig into these reflections, a quick note that Howard Wasserman was nice enough to create a category for VAP and fellowships to the left, so you can now find all of these interviews and posts in one place.  Please remember also that the AALS has a new site devoted to providing information about the law teaching market.  Now onto my final reflections:

1.  It is *really* hard to get many VAPs and fellowships these days, way harder than I would have guessed. I imagined these programs as a chance for candidates coming from practice to kick start their writing, and I think some programs do work like that.  But several of the top programs seem to require that their fellows have several papers before they even start the fellowship.  These programs get enough applications (75+) that they can be this picky, and my guess is that this competition in turn drives the Ph.D. + fellowship trend that we see in Sarah’s data.  It’s obviously hard to write several good papers in practice, so it’s not surprising that candidates are doing a Ph.D. program to write an initial set of papers and then doing a top fellowship to bring their scholarship back into the law world, write even more, and make additional connections.  That’s a long on-ramp though, and it likely comes at the cost of other things such as practice experience.

That said, I don't want to overstate the requirements.  Plenty of programs said that their VAPs typically only have one paper when they apply to the program, which is still a lot but obviously easier to prepare than two or three papers.  And several programs stressed that they care most about the idea for the paper you plan to write while in the VAP program, so having a really good idea for your next paper may compensate for not having a CV full of published papers when you apply. 

2.  As a hiring chair, I have often marveled at how much the law teaching market has changed/improved from when your academic pedigree was the main criteria. On the hiring side, we look at what you’ve written, not where you went to law school, and I think many academics pat themselves on the back for using this criteria.  I worry though that we’re ignoring the impact of the VAP/fellowship programs on our decision making.  Sure, maybe whether you went to Harvard/Yale/Stanford doesn’t matter much to hiring committees anymore, but I think these credentials do matter when it comes to getting a fellowship.  Writing matters a lot there too, as I note above, but when fellowship candidates don’t have many fully polished pieces, hiring decision makers in many programs will fall back on old proxies – where you went to law school, who’s recommending you, etc.  So I worry that we’ve essentially replicated the old hiring system, just earlier in the process.  Not entirely – as noted above, candidates need one or more papers to get a VAP, and the quality of those papers have a lot of weight – but when candidates are less polished and have less developed scholarly identities, it’s easy for the old criteria to creep back in.  And now they matter at a stage of the process that’s a lot less transparent.  As a hiring committee at Richmond, we can debate these issues among our whole faculty and decide how we want to address them.  Decisions on which VAPs and fellows to hire, in contrast, are made by a fairly small number of people and are not typically subject to a lot of debate by a school’s faculty. 

3.  Fellowships really vary in how well they prepare candidates for the market. On the hiring side, I think we tend to lump these programs together (“well, they did a VAP…”), instead of really looking at the details of each program.  We know candidates look different after they have (i) time to write and (ii) good mentoring, and yet the programs really differ in how much time and mentoring the VAPs/fellows get.  On the hiring side, that means we should have higher expectations for the fellows who have been blessed with lots of time and good mentoring and a bit more forgiving of fellows who have struggled to write while juggling high teaching loads and little mentoring.   On the candidate side, *please* ask questions on these points during the VAP/fellowship interview process.  I get that it’s hard to suss all that out, and you may not have a ton of options.  But you should still try to ask hard questions about what percentage of your time will be free to write (if it’s less than, say, 40% over the year, I would worry).  A teaching load of one doctrinal course per semester is different than a teaching load of two (or even one) legal writing sections per semester.  And ask current or past VAPs how many people read their draft, how many people listened to their job talk and provided feedback, and how many people discussed their research agenda with them. 

This is even more true when it comes to less formal programs.  For the most part, I interviewed the directors of established, long-standing programs.  But plenty of schools hire visitors when they have a curricular hole, and these visitors can often be people who hope to go on the teaching market someday.  My instinct is that these less formal positions likely involve a higher teaching load and far less mentoring than the more formal programs.  Really ask the hard questions here.  If you don’t have significant time to write and your goal is ultimately get a tenure-track law job, the position likely isn’t worth your time. 

4.  No matter how much support you get from your own school, a VAP or fellowship is still an entrepreneurial process. There’s a certain amount of sitting in your office and writing, but you also need to take the initiative to reach out to people in your field, go to conferences, introduce yourself to people, etc.  I talked with one program director who told me, “we're looking for go-getters, and go-getters go get.”  I want that on my tombstone—“go getters go get.”  What this person meant by that, based on the rest of the discussion, is that they want fellows who take the initiative in asking for what they need, whether it’s comments on a paper, connections to people in their field, or anything else.   Even the best fellowship won’t hand you these things, and most fellowships are not the best fellowships.  You have to be a go-getter who is going to go get—send that email to the scholar you don’t know but whose work you admire or ask a scholar to go to coffee with you at a conference.  Make the first move, even if it feels horribly awkward.  Most law professors are friendly people, and we’re happy to help new people in our field.

5.  I was surprised that basically all of the programs said that they don’t consider curricular area in selecting VAPs and fellows, at least if the VAP or fellowship itself does not have a curricular focus. I knew that a program like the Climenko or Bigelow wouldn’t have explicit curricular preferences, but I guess I expected that these programs would think more about which curricular areas are in demand on the tenure-track hiring side and give high-demand areas more of a thumb on the scale.  Having been on our hiring committee for many years, I will say that even though people talk about “the market” for law professors, there isn’t a single hiring market.  Instead, there are many mini-hiring markets in various curricular areas.  Picking on my own curricular area (I’m a corporate law person), the hiring market in corporate law looks really different than the hiring market in federal courts or con law.  Given that it can be difficult to hire a great person in corporate law or other high-demand areas, I wish fellowships sought out people in those areas more and dialed back a bit on some of the other areas where there just isn’t as much curricular demand.    But I admit my corporate law bias here, so maybe I am wrong!

6.  Finally, a caveat. My interviews were all with people who had a strong incentive to paint their program in the best light possible.  I get that.  Hiring standards might not be quite as high as the interviewees made them out to be; additional factors probably come into play even if they didn’t want to admit them publicly.  I don’t have any illusion that I got the 100% unvarnished truth about these programs.  So we should take everything in the interviews with a grain of salt.  Hopefully though they are still valuable in shedding light into this process.

For now, I’m knee deep in the hiring process on the entry-level side, but I’m open to continuing this project next summer.  Let me know what additional information about fellowships or law faculty hiring more generally might be helpful!   

 

Posted by Jessica Erickson on December 10, 2019 at 08:30 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (11)

Thursday, November 14, 2019

VAP/Fellowship Reflections: An Overview of the Different Types of Programs

Over the summer and fall, I interviewed the directors of 14 VAP/fellowship/PhD programs.  As the series comes to an end, I wanted to discuss some of the main takeaways as well as highlight some questions that these interviews raised for me.  These reflections may take a few posts, but in this first one, my goals are fairly modest.  I want to provide an overview of the different types of VAPs and fellowships out there, along with some pluses and minuses of each kind of program.  I offer this up not for those of us already in academia who think we already know all of this.  Instead, my intended audience here are people who are curious about academia and have come to learn that a VAP/fellowship/Ph.D. is a de facto requirement for entering the profession these days, even if they aren’t exactly sure how to evaluate all the different programs out there. 

By my count, there are five different types of VAPs and fellowships, plus a few law-related Ph.D. programs.  Let me know in the comments if you think I’ve missed or conflated any of these categories.

Legal Writing VAPs/Fellowships:  In these programs, the fellows teach one or more sections of 1L legal research & writing.  Of the programs I covered, Harvard, Stanford, Chicago, NYU, Columbia, and Tulane all fell into this category.  Like all programs, these have upsides and downsides.  The upside of these programs is that fellows get a lot of experience teaching an important and difficult topic.  Some of these programs also have good pedagogical training, and because schools often need many legal writing teachers, there can be a sizeable cohort of fellows.  Many of these schools also have well-developed systems for helping to connect fellows with established legal scholars, getting the fellows feedback on their work, and helping to prepare them for the job market through moot camps, mock interviews, etc.  The downside is that teaching legal writing is a very demanding teaching load.  It’s much harder to teach 30 1Ls legal writing than for me, for example, to teach 90 students in a typical Business Associations class.  Fellows are trying to grade papers, hold individual student conferences, and prep lesson plans while also trying to write and in their terminal year, fly around the country doing job talks.  That’s a lot to juggle. 

So in evaluating these types of programs, pay close attention to the exact teaching load.  Are you teaching during the entire academic year?  Are the materials and assignments already prepared?  How many students will you have?  30-35 students is a lot!  Indeed, at my institution (Richmond Law), that’s a full-time job for our legal writing faculty.  Unless the class is much shorter than the average semester, you should assume that the vast majority of your time during the academic year will be spent teaching, so you’ll have to make a lot of progress on your scholarship during academic breaks.  More than 30 students is really tough, in my view, especially when the class lasts through all/most of the academic year and involves intense feedback and individual conferences with students.  Finally, legal writing VAP/fellows can be isolated from the rest of the faculty.   Being in a cohort of 5-10 other fellows has its benefits, but it can also mean that you have to really work to make contacts out of this cohort. 

Doctrinal VAPs/Fellowships:  Some schools only hire a few fellows, and these fellows teach traditional doctrinal courses.  Of the programs I covered, those at Duke, Illinois, and Stetson, as well as the Sharswood fellowship at Penn, fell into this category.  In these programs, the fellows are more a part of the regular faculty – their offices are on the same halls and they teach the same sorts of classes they’ll be teaching later on. 

After talking to lots of program directors, I’ve become partial to these kinds of programs.  They seem like the best of both worlds.  Fellows get some teaching experience, and they are prepping courses that they’ll teach later on, which makes this prep time a decent investment timewise.  And they’re integrated into the faculty in a way that VAPs/fellows at other programs may not be.  The downside is that there may not be a sizeable cohort of other fellows, so the fellows may not have other people around them going through what they’re going through.  I imagine that can be a little isolating, so you’ll have to work hard to build your community, either among other faculty at the school or with fellows at other schools.

Center-Based VAPs/Fellowships:  Some programs hire VAPs and fellows to run an academic center.  I didn’t talk to as many of these programs as I planned, but the Center for Private Law at Yale and the center-based fellowships at Penn fall into this category and there are a lot more out there.  These fellowships tend not to have teaching responsibilities; instead, the responsibilities focus more on running a center (handling the logistics with speakers, running workshops, etc.).  That can be a plus or a minus, depending on what you want to get out of the fellowship.  On one hand, administrative responsibilities tend to take less time than teaching responsibilities, which frees up more time for writing.  On the flip side, teaching is a significant part of an academic’s job, and you don’t get to hone those skills, which will lead to a steeper learning curve when you start a tenure-track job. 

Another upside/downside is that you are working really closely with the faculty member who runs your particular center.  That’s great if they invest in you, read your work closely, help you develop your own voice, and introduce you to others in the field.  It’s not so great if they are less hands-on and leave you to figure things out on your own.  And, of course, it’s hard to suss out on the front end how much assistance you’ll receive, at least without talking to former fellows from the center. 

Writing-Based VAPs/Fellowships:  A few programs have minimal/no teaching or administrative responsibilities, with the idea that the fellow will spend nearly all of their time working on their scholarship.  The Hastie fellowship, for example, falls into this category, as does the Lewis fellowship at Harvard.  Both of these fellowships are aimed at candidates who will enhance the diversity of the profession, but there may be other fellowships out there without significant teaching or administrative responsibilities. 

The pluses and minuses here are similar to the center-based fellowships – more time to write, but less/no teaching experience.  At the Hastie, it sounds like the fellow is fairly integrated into the faculty, but that may not always be the case.  And these fellowships often come with a lower salary than other fellowships since the fellow is not teaching or performing other responsibilities for the school. 

Podium-Filler VAPs:  Plenty of schools hire VAPs and fellows as podium fillers on an ad hoc basis.  I didn’t include any of these VAPs in my interview series because these schools typically don’t have established programs, but I think these positions are really common.  My guess is that they also have far lower success rates when it comes to landing a tenure-track job.  Landing a tenure-track job requires lots of time to write, lots of mentoring, including people reading your drafts and offering feedback, and connections.  If you’re a podium-filler VAP at a school where you’re teaching a lot of classes (and with new preps, even 3 classes is a lot) and no one is really that invested in you, that can be a recipe for disaster.  A VAP at one of these schools will have to be a lot more entrepreneurial in terms of finding mentors, asking for feedback, and protecting writing time. 

The challenge is that these programs can often masquerade as another type of VAP – the doctrinal VAPs/fellowships described above where a school hires a few fellows and has them teach doctrinal courses.  The main difference is in the level of institutional support that the VAP/fellow receives , and that can be hard to figure out during the interview process where schools are trying hard to paint themselves in the best possible light.  Ask hard questions – how many VAPs/fellows has the school had in the past?, where have they landed?, how many times did they go on the market?  And talk to the prior VAPs if you can – how much time did they have to write and how much mentoring did they receive?  If the school doesn’t usually hire VAPs, , find out if they have a plan for helping you land a tenure-track job or if they just need you to cover classes.

Law Ph.D. Programs:  Finally, I also did two interviews of law-related Ph.D. programs – Berkeley’s JSP program and Yale’s Ph.D. in Law program.  These programs reminded me a little of the writing-based VAPs described above – the Ph.D. candidates do not have significant teaching responsibilities so they get more time to write, but the financial support is far less than a traditional teaching fellowship.  Of course, Ph.D. programs offer something that these fellowships do not—coursework and an opportunity for intense study.  Berkeley’s JSP program offers this study through an interdisciplinary lens, while Yale’s program is focused on law more as a standalone discipline.  


I’ll have more to say on these different paths in my next post, but I’ll end here with a thank you.  When I started this project, I wasn’t sure if any program would be willing to talk to me, but as it turned out, not a single one turned me down.  As a profession, we still have work to do to make our on-ramps as transparent as possible, but I’m grateful that so many people were willing to share the innerworkings of their individual programs.

Stay tuned for more!

 

Posted by Jessica Erickson on November 14, 2019 at 02:36 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Faculty Fellow, The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law

From the Center for Innovation Policy (CIP) at Duke Law:

The Center for Innovation Policy (CIP) at Duke Law seeks a Faculty Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year. The Center brings together technology and business leaders, government officials, legal professionals, and academic experts to promote welfare-enhancing innovation by identifying improvements in federal law and policy focused on intellectual property and technology regulation. It has partnerships with Duke University’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and the Center on Law and Technology at Duke Law. The Faculty Fellow’s duties will include working with Center co-Director Professor Arti Rai on a number of different grant-funded projects and articles involving 1) administrative lever for improving patent quality and 2) the intersection of patents and trade secrecy, particularly in the area of machine learning. The Faculty Fellow will also be able to spend considerable time on independent academic work.

The position will include invitations to all faculty workshops and support for scholarship. The Fellow will also have the option of co-teaching a class with Professor Rai. The starting date is the fall of 2020. The salary for the position will be commensurate with experience. The Faculty Fellow will also receive Duke University benefits. Initial appointment is for one year, renewable upon mutual agreement by the Faculty Fellow and the Center. Candidates should have either a J.D. or a graduate degree in a STEM discipline or quantitative social science.

Duke is an Affirmative Action / Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual’s age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status.

Apply through https://academicjobsonline.org/ajo/jobs/15290. For questions or more information, contact Balfour Smith ([email protected]).

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 31, 2019 at 08:17 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 21, 2019

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2019-2020

On this thread, comments can be shared regarding news of appointments to VAPs or similar fellowships (for example, the Climenko and Bigelow).  Here is last year's thread.

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 21, 2019 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (74)

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Interview with Stuart Benjamin from Duke Law on its Visiting Assistant Professor Program

I’m excited to announce the latest interview in my series on VAP and fellowship programs. This interview is with Stuart Benjamin, the Douglas B. Maggs Professor of Law and co-director of the Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law School. He spoke to me about Duke’s Visiting Assistant Professor Program. An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Stuart to respond to any questions in the comments. Thanks, Stuart, for participating in this series!

You can read more about the structure of these interviews and other caveats related to them here. For more information about law faculty hiring generally, check out the section of the AALS's website devoted to this topic at https://teach.aals.org/


Q.: Can you start by telling me about Duke’s VAP programs?

A.: We have one main VAP program and, by design, it is a very small program. And so we hire anywhere from zero to two VAPs a year. We keep it that small because we want to make sure that the VAPs have a great experience and can be fully part of the faculty. Ultimately, because of the small size of the program, we really can make sure that they get a lot of attention and a lot of feedback that will really benefit them.

Q.: What I’d like to do is essentially move through the VAP program, chronologically, starting with the application process and then moving through the fellowship itself and then the job market, if that works. When does the program start accepting applications typically?

A.: We accept applications on a rolling basis and applicants can send them in any time through November 15th.

Q.: And when do they open up in the fall?

A.: It is open now.

Q.: What materials do candidates need to submit?

A.: A CV, a transcript, references, copies of any articles they've written, whether published or unpublished (including a rough draft), a list of the courses they would be interested in teaching listed in order of preference, and an outline of their scholarly agenda with a particular focus on what it is they plan to complete during the VAP.

Q.: And what's the timeline once somebody submits those application materials?

A.: The law teaching committee does a fairly intensive review of all of the materials. We'll read the articles, we'll discuss the various candidates, and we will then come up with a list of candidates to interview. We tend to reach out to candidates by the end of November or early December and try to have those interviews usually in mid-December.

Q.: Those interviews, are those at Duke’s campus or by Skype?

A.: They're generally by Skype.

Q.: And is it just with the law teaching committee?

A.: Correct.

Q.: How many applications do you typically receive?

A.: In recent years we’ve had anywhere from 40 to 75.

Q.: And then when do you typically fill all of the positions, recognizing that it may vary by year?

A.: Usually we make offers by mid-January. But let me reiterate that we fill zero to two positions. We offer a VAP only when we think an applicant really would benefit from the program and have scholarly promise. In some years there may not be anybody that we think is a great fit.

Q.: Do the fellows have teaching responsibilities at Duke?

A.: We designed this program to be maximally beneficial to the fellows. So they teach only one class a year and it's usually a small seminar. It is always a class that they're interested in teaching – every VAP has taught a class they wanted to teach. We never have them teach legal writing. We don't have them teach any first-year classes. The idea really is to give them time to write, and we want them to be able to teach a class that's going to help their scholarship.

Q.: So then during the application process, how were you gauging teaching ability?

A.: That can be tricky to assess, and our main gauge is the interview itself, trying to get a feel for the person and how that person would be in the classroom. But sometimes an applicant’s teaching ability is noted in a letter of recommendation or evaluations from a TA-ship are included, and we consider all of that information as well.

Q.: Are you looking at practice experience at all and how much practice experience do you typically want or prefer?

A.: I think we're unusual among VAP programs. We have a preference, for one of the two VAP slots each year, for those with two or more years of practice experience. And the reason is we know that it can be challenging to find time to write when you're in practice and that you might not have as much writing as somebody who's been in a more writing intensive program like a PhD. We want to give people from practice a chance to come into a VAP and shine.

Q.: Let's turn to the scholarship side. How much have the typical successful applicants typically written when they apply? Are they coming in with one piece, five pieces, no pieces, typically?

A.: I wouldn’t say that there is a single, typical successful applicant. Everybody we've hired has had at least a draft, although that draft might not be something that they end up working on as a VAP. We might say to them that this draft shows you have great promise as a scholar, but actually this might not be the best way for you to spend your time, here might be some suggestions on slightly different routes to go. And we're often looking for diamonds in the rough. Some programs are essentially post docs. Ours isn't. We really want to give a person the opportunity for a higher trajectory. And so our focus is less on people who have written a significant amount and more on people who we think have enormous potential and who can benefit from coming to a program like ours.

Q.: So let me ask you a question, which is something that I've been thinking a lot about on the entry level hiring side, which is how do you find the diamonds in the rough? In other words, you're looking at people who presumably aren't fully polished yet, right? And so what are you looking for that gives you a fair level of confidence that they will become great scholars even if they're not there yet?

A.: That’s a great question. And of course there's no simple answer.

Q.: I wish there was.

A.: Especially because the same question arises for entry level hiring. Let's be honest—what is now required for a VAP was in earlier decades what was required to be an entry level hire.

Q.: That’s what I had when I was on the entry level market -- I had a draft.

A.: Right, exactly. I often think of it as looking for someone with a lively mind who has a methodology or approach that will add something to what already exists in that field. So it's somebody who looks like they can make a contribution. It's tough at the draft stage, no question. But does it look like this is a person who's really got a fire in the belly and is really ready to write interesting things? This is difficult to determine.

Q.: Right, right. I mean, it's very much the inquiry we go through on the entry level side as well. So I feel the challenge in that question. Is there any preference in the application process for candidates from particular curricular areas?

A.: No.

Q.: Not at all?

A.: Not at all.

Q.: How about preference for candidates with PhDs?

A.: No particular preference for PhDs. As I noted, in fact for one of our two slots we have an explicit preference for candidates with two or more years of practice experience. That said, we have hired a bunch of PhDs over the years because PhDs often come in showing exactly the kinds of scholarly potential that makes them really attractive.

I think other programs might be looking for people who just seem like safe bets, and that tends to favor people with lots of writing and academic experience. We don’t limit ourselves to safe bets because we're hoping to enlarge the pipeline with our program. We're hoping to give opportunities to people who otherwise might not have the opportunity to go into law teaching.

Q.: Well, let me follow up there because when I started this blog series, I had a lot of emails from people saying essentially I didn't go to one of the top 10 law schools. I didn't perhaps do an elite clerkship. How do I stand out in this process? If you're looking at 70 applications, how do those people stand out? What advice would you have for them?

A.: Given that we are looking for people who will benefit from our program, we're naturally interested in candidates who come from all backgrounds, including non-traditional backgrounds. They often can benefit the most. And as it happens, three of our last five VAPs came from law schools outside of the three schools you mentioned in your email, Harvard, Yale, and Stanford – these three came from GW, Duke, and Illinois law schools. Again, the reason is we want to cast our net as widely as possible. So the way to stand out in our process isn’t based on what law school you went to. The way to stand out is to have a draft that shows, wow, this is a person who has interesting ideas and has an interesting approach or methodology. And with the benefit of our program this person can develop into a great scholar who law schools and law professors will value. That is what we're focused on.

Q.: Do you make any special efforts through that process to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A.: Oh yes. We greatly value diversity—a value that is reflected in who has come through our VAP program. For example, over the last decade, more than half of our VAPs have been people of color. Beyond that we're interested in multiple aspects of diversity, including ideological diversity and methodological diversity. And I think we've done pretty well on all those scores.

Q.: Do you have any special ways that you try to broaden your pipelines to recruit diverse candidates into your pool?

A.: We hope that anybody who looks at the program will see that we aren't limiting ourselves to the people who've already gone to the same law schools and then gone to the same PhD programs. And so I would hope that anybody who examined our program would say to themselves, it really does look like rather than just talking about enlarging the pipeline, they're actually doing it. I don't know how to advertise that, but the proof is in the pudding.

Q.: Is there anything else that comes into the application process? Any additional criteria that I might've missed?

A.: I don't think so.

Q.: Okay. Let's turn to the fellowship itself. You mentioned that you hire anywhere between zero and two a year. How long is the fellowship?

A.:  Our program is two or three years, at the VAP’s discretion, to allow the VAP to do what they think is best for them. So the VAP gets to choose 2 versus 3 years, and they can make that choice at any point, with the understanding that they will enter the law school teaching market in the fall of their last year as a VAP. 

Q.: And so in some circumstances you were saying perhaps it's renewable if somebody needs a third year, is that possible?

A.: Right. There are some people who might think, “I need two years to write instead of instead of one year to write.” We're totally open to that. And whatever year you go on the teaching market is your terminal year.

Q.: Okay. And are you comfortable sharing how much the fellows are paid?

A.: It's 60,000 dollars plus benefits including health insurance. And then there's also a faculty account that you have as a VAP, just like the faculty account we have. It's a $5,000 account that covers travel to conferences, etc.

Q.: And is that 5,000 per year or over the course of the VAP?

A.: Per year.

Q.: Okay. And are fellows expected to live in the Durham area?

A.: Yes. And the reason is that our VAP is not about adding one more line on a CV. This is a VAP for people who will benefit from the intense experience of being a faculty colleague right alongside the rest of us -- with an office along the same corridor as us, going to all the faculty workshops, invited to all the job talks, etc. So you're going to benefit from the program if you're actually here.

Q.: Yeah, yeah, I agree. I think that's probably the most valuable part of VAP or fellowship. Do the VAPs have their own intellectual community of sorts? Do they get together on their own to workshop papers or anything else?

A.: There is a group of VAPs and fellows who get together and workshop papers. But the amazing thing about our program is, because it's so small, we don't need to have a separate program: as a VAP, you are guaranteed at least one slot to present in the general faculty workshop and you're participating in all of the workshops. So VAPS don't need to be their own cohort. My understanding is that at some law schools, there are so many VAPs and fellows that the faculty often don't often know who all of them are, and the VAPs and fellows need to be their own cohort in order to get feedback. That's just not the case here. Everybody in the faculty is going to know you and you're going to get all the feedback you could want and so you don't need to create your own route to get that feedback. VAPs aren’t part of a separate program; they are part of the faculty.

Q.: That's a great opportunity to then make those connections and get people reading your stuff. I mean is it the case that for example, the regular Duke law faculty are routinely reading the VAP’s papers, giving feedback?

A.: Absolutely. If we make an offer to a VAP, that means that not only has the Law Teaching committee been impressed but also faculty in the VAP’s areas of scholarly interest have said they are interested in working with the VAP and have committed to mentoring the VAP. So any VAP comes in with a group of faculty in their fields who are interested in helping them develop.

Q.: And are they given assistance in developing their broader research agenda, not just their job talk paper, but thinking about their scholarship more generally?

A.: Yes. Those are the main conversations that most of us have with VAPs. For most of those who are not in their field, it's difficult to give great, detailed substantive comments on a paper, but those faculty can and do give a lot of advice about how the VAP can develop a scholarly agenda.

Q.: Are they given assistance making connections with faculty in their area of interest outside of Duke in other law schools?

A.: Absolutely, and that’s easy for us, because the VAPs arrive at Duke with faculty in their field who are excited to work with them and who help them make connections with faculty in other schools.

Q.: Yeah, that's great. I'm wondering if you have any advice for candidates who come in with PhDs? Any special considerations that they should keep in mind during their fellowship to make the transition back over to legal scholarship?

A.: That's a great question. I think that the kinds of questions we ask in faculty workshops and about papers that we read are probably different from the kinds of questions that people ask in other disciplines and in legal practice. So there is a way in which, if you've gotten accustomed to certain lines of inquiry, you have to re-acclimate yourself to the way we approach things in law schools. But that's true for PhD students as well as people coming out of practice. The difference for PhD students is that they have to acclimate to a slightly different approach. For people coming out of practice, it may involve being newly exposed to academic workshops as well as acclimating more specifically to law workshops.

Q.: Yeah, I agree. I think it's one of those transitions that's easy to overlook or minimize, but it's a real one. So it's important for candidates with PhDs to keep in mind I think. Let's flip over to the teaching side again. I'm wondering if the VAP, when they're teaching that seminar every year, if they receive any training or feedback or mentoring related to their teaching.

A.: Yes, but we leave it up to the VAP’s discretion how they want to utilize what we can offer. So for instance, we offer to have people sit in on their classes. Some VAPs don't want that in a small seminar because it can change the feeling around the table if you've got eight students and then one or two faculty colleagues, so VAPs often prefer instead to get input in other ways. We can also record classes, and they are always welcome to sit in on our classes and discuss them with us afterwards. Beyond that, we have resources about how to structure a class so that it goes well, for instance with examples of syllabi and approaches that we use. We have found what works best is letting this be driven by the VAP's own sense of what would be helpful.

Q.: So we've talked about the scholarly side, we've talked about the teaching side. Do the VAPs have any other duties at the law school, any administrative duties, anything else?

A.: No. We see this program as really doing a service to the VAP. To be blunt, the program is not particularly helping us because we aren't filling important teaching needs, and as I noted we don't have them teach legal writing, first year classes, or large lecture classes. We want the program to be maximally beneficial to the VAPs, and we want their time not to get taken up with other kinds of duties. So there are no other responsibilities that VAPs have. They are in a better position than tenured and tenure-track faculty, in that they focus on scholarship and teaching with no administrative responsibilities.

Q.: And so my next question was going to be what do you think makes this VAP program stand out? But I wouldn't be surprised if you said that's what makes it stand out.

A.: Yes, and also that you are completely fully integrated into the faculty. You are right alongside us as another member of our faculty, your office is with us. You're going to all the faculty events, you're joining us. And I think that that's different from a lot of other VAP programs where frankly the VAPs can sometimes be a little bit off on their own.

Q.: And so given that close connection at Duke between the VAPs and the rest of the law school community, I'm wondering if you have any advice to fellows in terms of making the most of that opportunity?

A.: Don't be too shy to knock on people's doors. People will definitely knock on your door to offer help, but don't be shy to knock on their door. You're fully a part of the faculty and you should take full advantage of that.

Q.: Let's switch over then to the job market. What kind of mentoring do the VAPS receive related to the hiring process?

A.: A ton. We're providing support right from the outset, helping them think about what papers they want to write and what their larger research agenda is. We then give them lots of feedback on their papers, and guarantee them a workshop slot. Jumping to preparation for the teaching market, we help them understand what to emphasize in their AALS form and CV so that they can look their strongest and how to flesh out that research agenda that they're going to be sending out to law schools. And then we do mock AALS interviews and mock job talks.

Q.: Who's doing that? Is there a faculty or staff who are responsible for shepherding the candidates in some ways through that hiring process?

A.: That is the responsibility of the Law Teaching Committee, which I chair.

Q.: Yep. Okay, great. Let’s talk about the program’s success rate, so to speak. If you look back over say the last five years, 10 years, what percentage of the fellows have landed in tenure track positions at law schools?

A.: In the history of the program, all but one of the VAPs have gotten tenure track jobs.

Q.: Okay, great. And for candidates who might not get a job in a given year, you mentioned before that the year they go on the market is their terminal year, wondering what happens if somebody doesn't get a job that year?

A.: It only happened one time and the particular VAP decided that legal academia ultimately wasn't where she wanted to go. And so it was less about the market I think, and more about her own interests. So it's really not something that we've had to confront. But that's in part because we are able to choose people who really do have pretty great potential, and give them a lot of support along the way.

Q.: I'd love while I have you on the line to ask you some broader questions about the VAPs and fellowship, I'm wondering what do you think are the benefits of these programs as an entry point into legal academia and what do you think of the cost?

A.: That's a great question. I think the main benefit is that VAP programs, if they are designed to increase the pipeline, can increase the pipeline. But if VAP programs are focused only on those who've already had time to write, it may not accomplish that goal. And that's why we designed our program to look hard for those haven't had tons of time to write and who would benefit from being fully integrated into a law school.

Q.: Do you think that these programs have a greater obligation than perhaps we've seen to open up law faculty positions to candidates from diverse or non traditional backgrounds? And if so, how might we do a better job as a profession at that?

A.: Yeah, absolutely. Law schools traditionally have been very wary about taking risks in entry level hiring. In our VAP program we are willing to take risks on people who haven't yet had as extensive opportunities as others. We think it's really important that a program like ours cast its net as widely as possible. And this isn't just words, we've actually done it.

Q.: I'm sure you've heard the criticism from hiring committees that VAPs and fellows get so much help on their job task paper, on their research agenda, from the faculties, from the schools where they are, that it can be hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work is their own and how much of the ideas come from the faculty where they're employed. What do you think about that criticism?

A.: I'm not persuaded. VAPs workshop their papers with us and we give them tons of feedback just as we do for our tenure track and tenured faculty. And I don't think other schools have difficulty evaluating our tenure track and tenured faculty.

Q.: Perhaps one difference is that a tenure track faculty member is coming up for tenure in that same faculty. So the faculty knows how much help that person's gotten and is able to evaluate it appropriately. It may be harder for a VAP, right?

A.: Right. But when schools are looking at laterals and that person is pre-tenure or immediately post-tenure, they similarly have the person's papers to rely on. School X considering someone at school Y doesn’t know exactly what help the candidate got at school Y. But most of us assume that anyone on the tenure-track received a lot of help, because that's what it means to be on the faculty. That said, ultimately the papers are the author’s responsibility. I don't know why that's different when you're thinking about hiring somebody who's been a few years at another school on the tenure track as opposed to being a couple of years at another school as a VAP.

Q.: That’s a good point. On another point, let’s talk about trade-offs. Time is zero sum in so many ways, and so time spent in a fellowship is obviously not time spent, for example, in practice. I’m wondering what you think of that trade off given that law schools are in the business of educating lawyers?

A.: These days to be competitive on the entry level market, you must have already demonstrated some scholarly productivity. It's hard to do that coming straight out of practice. Part of the reason we designed our VAP program was in particular to help people who have not had time to write, so I think VAPs from active practice makes a lot of sense.

Q.: Do you think the rise of VAPs and fellowships is contributing to the small amount of practice experience we're seeing today in new hires?

A.: Perhaps, but at least with our program there is a countervailing consideration, which is that our program helps to enable those with practice experience to enter the legal academy. If there were no VAP or fellowship programs of any kind, then PhDs would have an enormous advantage over those in practice because the PhD would have had a ton of time to write. It would be very hard for somebody coming out of practice to look attractive compared to someone coming out of a PhD program. So I see VAPs, or at least a program like ours, as providing a greater opportunity for those with practice experience to enter the legal academy.

Q.: So I've asked you a lot of questions. I know we've been through a lot of different topics, but I'm wondering if there's anything else you want to share about Duke's VAP program or thoughts on the law teaching market more generally.

A.: The main feature that I like about our program is you really are a full member of our community. Moreover, it gives people who might not otherwise have a chance at becoming legal academics a real opportunity to cultivate themselves and to have time to write. In some ways I wish our program could be bigger so we could do that for more people. The problem is if it were a bigger program, then it wouldn't be the same program, then VAPs wouldn't get the kind of attention that they actually get in our program.

Q.: Great. Thank you so much Stuart. I really appreciate your time today.

A.: Thank you.

 

Posted by Jessica Erickson on October 15, 2019 at 03:24 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Interview with Dean Theodore Ruger on Penn Law's Academic Fellowships

I’m excited to announce the latest interview in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors.  We're coming to the end of this series, but I hope to have one or two more this fall.  This interview is with Theodore Ruger, the Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He spoke to me about the various fellowship programs at Penn Law, including the George Sharswood Fellowship, the Regulation Fellow, the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition (CTIC) Fellowship, the Quattrone Fellowship, and a new fellowship with the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL).  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Ted to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Ted, for participating in this series!

You can read more about the structure of these interviews and other caveats related to them here. For more information about law faculty hiring generally, check out the section of the AALS's website devoted to this topic at https://teach.aals.org/


Q. Thank you for speaking with me about Penn's fellowship programs, I appreciate it.

A. Sure, I'm happy to discuss them. We've really expanded our programs in the past several years. With multiple programs running simultaneously, it forms a great cohort of fellows, but there's not a single director, so as Dean I'm someone who has seen the growth of our fellowships and can speak to all of the different kinds.

Q. That's perfect. Sometimes in schools there are several fellowships, it can be tricky to find somebody who is familiar with all of them, so I appreciate that you were willing to talk to me about them.

Can you start by giving me a brief overview of the different programs at Penn?

A. I’m happy to. The centerpiece of our fellowships, which has been part of our intellectual community for about a dozen years now, is a generalist flagship fellowship called the Sharswood Fellowship. This fellowship that allows future academics to spend two years here researching, writing, presenting their work, and being a part of our faculty. In terms of continuous existence, that’s the most longstanding. Every year, there are as many as four Sharswood Fellows in the building on two-year fellowships, which means we often hire two every year, although sometimes we'll have three in a given year and then hire one the next year.

We've been able to recruit top scholars and place them well through this program, and I think the distinguishing feature is that we want our fellows to focus on both their own work and their collegial contributions to our intellectual and scholarly community, which means that we make a really light teaching ask of them. More to the point, we don't conflate the functions of being an emerging scholar and also doing the incredibly important job of teaching our 1Ls how to write. We've got a fabulous half-dozen professional faculty in our Legal Practice Skills department who are full-time here. They're not under the fellow model, which we think is great for our students’ development of legal practice skills. It also means that the Sharswood Fellowship is attractive for emerging scholars planning to hit the entry market because we don't load onto it that really demanding 1L teaching function.

Q. Do the Sharswoods teach any classes?

A. Yeah, they teach one class a year in the spring, which is typically a research seminar in their area of expertise. We certainly give them the opportunity in their second year spring to teach a larger class if they'd like to in order to develop their teaching experience, but again, we're not bringing them here with any kind of notion that we're going to rely on them to teach core classes. The teaching follows from their scholarly research.

Q. That does set it apart from some of the programs that you referenced earlier. We can talk more about the teaching side of it in a bit, but can you also describe the other fellowships at Penn?

A. Sure. What's grown dramatically and successfully in, say, the last four or five years has been fellows that come to us through various of our leading research centers and are more subject-area specific. These fellows come to us at a similar time in their career and with similar academic aspirations as the Sharswood Fellows. However, the application processes are separate and they are hired by the directors of a few specialized centers.

For instance, there's a successful criminal justice reform center we have called the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice, and they have hired two to four fellows every year for the last several years who come specifically to do cross-disciplinary data-driven work on criminal justice reform. It's also a two-year fellowship, which has the goal and an excellent track record of placing people in tenure track law jobs. Just last year we placed somebody in a tenure-track position in the sociology department at Stanford doing criminal justice work, and the year before sent Quattrone Fellows to George Mason’s Scalia Law School and the University of Georgia Law School.

Another center that has had a successful track record with fellows is our Penn Program on Regulation, which is run by Professor Cary Coglianese. As the name would imply, these are administrative law and regulatory scholars who come for one or two years and do both their own research and partner with some of our faculty on research. They've also placed well on the academic job market.

Then the other center which has had strong placement success in recent years has been the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Competition, which brings scholars who are working at the intersection of law and technology. Likewise, it's typically a two-year stint, and then they go on the market.

Q. Looking at the total number of fellows then who are in the building in a given year, is it around 10 to 12?

A. Yeah, that's about right. Some years a bit fewer but in most years it’s about 10 to 12 or even 15 more recently.

This may anticipate one of your questions, but partly because these fellows come to us through slightly different pathways and are maybe working on different specific subject areas, in recent years as we've gotten a bigger cohort, we've implemented some programming for the full group of fellows as a whole, including both a smaller lunch series and workshops that — in addition to the regular faculty workshops that they take part in — help them interact as a cohort as well as learn some specifics from faculty about doing a job talk paper and working in an academic setting.

Q. Great. I definitely want to circle back to that. Let’s start by moving chronologically through the fellowships, starting with the application process, then turning to the fellowship itself, and then the job market.

Starting with the application, do your various fellowship programs run on the same application timeline?

A. The precise timelines are not exactly the same, but the fellowships all begin to review applications in the fall and then operate, in most cases, on a rolling basis through the fall and winter.

In terms of precise dates and consideration, some of the center fellows are going to be on a slightly different time fame than the general fellowship, the Sharswood.

Q. I take it then that there are essentially four or five different sets of decision makers.

A. Correct.

Q. I'm not looking for particular names, but who decides? Is there a committee for each of them? Is it the head of the centers for the center ones?

A. That’s right in terms of the center-based fellowships, it’s the faculty member or members who lead the centers. There is an Academic Careers committee which is the primary decision-maker for the Sharswood Fellowships.

Q. How does that work?

A. The most proceduralized is the general fellowship, the Sharswood, where there's a committee called the Academic Careers Committee, which has two roles. One is supporting our current and former fellows as well as other Penn Law alumni who are going out on the job market. Then the other role is soliciting, managing, winnowing and then deciding among the Sharswood Fellowship candidates. Then that committee's recommended choices are also put to the full faculty for a vote. Another difference with the Sharswood Fellowship compared with our center-specific fellowships is that all of the Sharswoods who come to us receive full faculty discussion and a vote before coming here, which is not the case for the center-specific fellows.

Q. That's interesting. I haven't heard that before in my discussions with other law schools, so that's an interesting distinction. Why do you do it that way?

A. Well, I think the reason we do it that way for the Sharswoods is, for these individuals who come to us with very diverse topical and methodological backgrounds, we want to have the full faculty vested in their success. We want to introduce them to the full faculty and discuss their work in a faculty meeting before we invite them to join us, and we want them as engaged across the building as possible. I think as a de facto matter, several of our successful center fellows have, once they're here, achieved the same internal recognition throughout the building, but by design for our flagship Sharswood Fellowship program, we want to have that ex-ante with the full faculty. We know that the Sharswood fellows are going to succeed more as scholars and as candidates on the job market if they have the support of the full faculty, so we want to bake that into the process.

Q. What does that mean for the interview process? Do they interview with the entire faculty?

A. The interviews are done at the committee level, so we don't go so far as to bring the fellow candidates in for full faculty job talks or interviews. That's something the faculty is willing to delegate to the committee members. But every fellow that comes to us as a Sharswood Fellow has interviewed with the full Academic Careers Committee.

Q. Is that over Skype or in-person?

A. If at all possible, we do in-person interviews. We strongly prefer in-person discussion. I believe there may be some very rare instances where we'll do only Skype if necessary to accommodate a candidate, but we like to spend plenty of time and have an in-person visit from the candidate.

Q. Do they interview with anybody else, say you or the students?

A. The core of the interview process is with the full committee, although again, we will add individual interviews if it fits with the candidates’ schedule just to both get a better sense of their work and give them a better sense of what to expect here at Penn Law.

Q. How does the interview process for the other fellowships differ from that process?

A. The most distinctive difference is in the decision makers themselves. In the case of the center-based fellows, the call for applications, the screening of applications, and then the ultimate interviews and selection are done by the faculty who lead and participate in those individual centers. Having said that, the actual process looks fairly similar. There's a call for applications, there's submission of materials, there would be an interview, in-person if at all possible. The two big differences are the identity of the ultimate decision makers, who are more specialized in the case of the center-based fellows, and then the fact that center fellows are not put forward to the full faculty for a vote.

Q. Let's talk about the criteria that these different groups use and reviewing applications. On the scholarship side, how much scholarship do successful applicants typically have? Do they have a published paper, more than one published paper, only a draft?

A. This is a really important question and one on which I think there are good faith differences of perspective on our internal committees. Frankly, even as Dean, I'm of two minds. What I mean by that is, there's one conception of these fellowships, particularly the Sharswood Fellowship, where the original intent was that they would be an alternative pathway for really talented aspiring academics to consider rather than pursuing a JD-PhD or other post-JD academic work before going on the market. Under this view we might look for really talented people who did well in law school but then have worked at the highest levels of practice in the public sector or the private sector and haven't had as much time to write. So, some of the people who’ve come on Sharswood Fellowships have not written much more than a single paper and could really benefit from a two-year fellowship because they haven't had the time to write academic papers given their top-level work in practice.

Having said that, when we are reviewing a group of incredibly impressive applicants, it is hard not to be swayed by somebody who has already been successful at publishing articles or books. And some of our most successful Sharswoods have already completed doctoral or master’s degrees before coming into the fellowship. Having a proven track record of publication is certainly helpful. What I can say empirically from the scholars we have chosen, is a substantial proportion are scholars who have already written one or two or five published articles before they even apply for the fellowship.

I think that kind of internal tension in our selection process is to be expected and is a healthy one, and will probably always be there, so we do look for outstanding candidates from both pathways, both folks who have been doing such interesting and demanding things in practice that they haven't written much, but also scholars who — maybe due to an advanced degree or doctorate, or other experience in a scholarly setting — are further along in their scholarly career. We don’t have a single mandatory model.

Q. If you had you try to put a percentage on it, do you think most successful candidates follow the path where they have multiple published papers already?

A. We try to look for outstanding candidates on all parts of the spectrum in terms of how much they've already written. I think if you look back at the past 10 Sharswood Fellows, you'd find a substantial proportion who are kind of already quasi-academics even before they apply, but then you'd find also a number who have come out of top levels of practice. We do try to look for really talented future scholars in both cohorts.

Q. For candidates in the first bucket, clearly practice experience is very relevant. For candidates in the second bucket, who may have come out of a Ph.D. program or the likes, how much does practice experience matter for that group and how much practice experience would you typically be looking for?

A. Well, I think in law school hiring generally and in fellow hiring specifically, I would say that practice experience is no longer required in all, or even most cases. We're projecting that someone will be a topflight scholar and teacher, and although practice experience can be extraordinarily useful, if we see evidence of a top scholarly potential and teaching skill, we would take, and have taken, candidates with little or no practice experience. Every other top law school does the same. I think for a candidate coming out of a PHD program, where the bar might be slightly higher for them is that we want to see evidence of potential for further forward movement in their work. Given that this person has already been in a scholarly setting for a number of years, we would pose the sharpened question: what tangible additional benefit would they gain by working with us for another two years, above and beyond just more time to write?

We try to prioritize the candidates who we think would grow in their particular skillset and desire to work across disciplines here at Penn and Penn Law, who would particularly thrive here. That may not apply to every single candidate coming out of a PHD program.

Q. Okay, that makes sense. How about teaching ability? How do the decision makers try to gauge teaching ability in the interview process?

A. I think there, again we have the luxury of the fact that we are not relying on these fellows as teachers. We can take the long view about their teaching and their ability to interact with students, which means that we certainly look for somebody with great ideas, who is able to express themselves clearly and who has the capability to engage with colleagues, whether they be faculty or students. But we're not looking for — nor do we need to look for — a fully formed teacher or somebody who can dive right in there and work with students on day one.

Once the fellows get here, we throw them into the heart of our faculty workshops. They see a lot of ideas in action there, and we also encourage them to sit in on large classes with some of our best teachers and enhance their teaching that way. Then we ease them into teaching with a very small seminar in their first year. We view our role not as hiring fully formed teachers who will go immediately into the core classroom, but really developing their teaching at the same time that we develop their scholarship.

Q. Do you have a preference for candidates in particular practice areas? Obviously, some of the center fellowships are focused on specific areas, but for the Sharswood, is there any preference, for example, for candidates in areas that may be more in demand on the entry level market?

A. No. I think the bedrock principle of the Sharswood Fellowship is it spans all areas of legal academia and law practice. We use a so-called best available athlete model for selecting them, and I would say the only way in which subject matter area comes into our consideration with respect to the Sharswood Fellows is that we do want to make sure that there are multiple standing faculty members here at Penn Law who can work with and mentor the applicant. Because again, the whole goal is to help them develop as a scholar and a teacher. Indeed, I should mention that part of our process with the Sharswood is that during the application process, we think hard about identifying key mentors and talk with these faculty about the candidates and we want to be sure that they are in place to advise the fellows who come here.

We have a broad enough faculty that we can cover almost any area, but we do look to the subject area when it comes to thinking about the development of the fellow, were they to come to Penn Law, and we want to make sure that we have the faculty in place to support that.

Q. Do the programs make any special efforts to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A. Yes. As with all aspects of our hiring, we want to look for multiple dimensions of diversity at every stage of the process. That involves our initial outreach, that involves our screening of applications, that involves our interviews, that involves our efforts to match people with specific mentors when they come here. In some cases, it even leads us to actually add additional fellows. In the past decade more than half of our fellows have been women and about 40% have been people of color. We’re proud of the role we have played in helping launch these extremely talented individuals into the legal academy. We also benefit from getting to know these scholars and their work very well, and that helps in building the strength and diversity of our permanent faculty. Two former Sharswood Fellows – Tess Wilkinson-Ryan and Jean Galbraith – are currently on our tenured faculty, and a third, Karen Tani (now at Berkeley), will join us next year.

We also look for diversity in terms of methodological and experiential background. Our newest “graduate” of the Sharswood program, Mark Nevitt, was a Navy jet pilot and then high-level military attorney in the Pentagon before coming to Penn – he will soon join the permanent faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy teaching law and ethics and we anticipate his continued involvement here exposing his students, and ours, to the unique perspective of each other’s institution. Other fellows have come to us with doctorates but without JDs, and after two years immersed in the law school environment here have been able to land jobs on law school faculties.

Q. Do you happen to know how many applications are typically received for these programs?

A. On the center fellows, it’s a couple dozen. For the Sharswood Fellowship, it’s about a hundred.

Q. When I started talking about this interview series on prawfsblawg, I had a number of people reach out to me and essentially say, “Please ask the people who oversee these fellowships, what candidates should do if they don't have the typical markers of law professors?” Let's say they didn't go to a top 10 law school, they didn't do an elite clerkship, what advice would you have for those candidates?

A. One thing that we look at really closely for the fellow applications is the statement of scholarly agenda or trajectory. I think what's most important for any candidate, whether they come from a traditional law school background or less traditional. Every time we hired a fellow, we're making a prediction and even a bet on the future, so we really read carefully what each fellow says about his or her vision of their future work not just for the two years they would be at Penn Law, but for the next five or 10 years. I think that’s one way that candidates have impressed us no matter what their past track record, really talking about a clear vision and an impressive and even ambitious vision for what they want to accomplish moving ahead.

Another advantage we have is that, if I think about the dozens of people who have done fellowships here over the past five years, they do have different backgrounds in terms of where they went to law school. Some of them didn't have law degrees, some of them came to us with PhDs in other fields. Because there are multiple decision makers, it probably helps us get more diversity in terms of educational background because it could be that somebody who has a particular interest and expertise in one of our more focused fields and centers might come here and wow everybody in the building, even though their initial background might not have put them at the top of the overall Sharswood committee for instance.

Q. That's helpful. Let's turn away from the application process and move over to the fellowship itself. I'm going to ask a couple of nuts and bolts questions before we turn to the intellectual life part of the fellowship. You mentioned that the fellowship typically lasts two years, are they ever renewable for a third year or longer?

A. The standard model is two years and we have sometimes extended if the fellow himself or herself is able to come up with some additional funding. We can sometimes extend, but we typically only budget for funding for two years.

Q. Are you comfortable sharing how much the fellows are paid for a year?

A. Each fellowship is different, but they are competitive with comparable fellowships at other top law schools.

Q. Do the fellows receive health benefits?

A. Yes.

Q. How about access to university or subsidized housing?

A. We are fortunate in Philadelphia, for both fellows and faculty, to have a range of great neighborhoods that are relatively affordable for a coastal city our size, so we typically do not give a housing stipend. Also, so long as the fellows are spending enough time here to connect with colleagues, its possible for them to make the longer but doable commute from New York City, New Jersey, or perhaps even the DC area. This is not ideal given the travel time, but several fellows have successfully done it.

Q. Do the fellows receive any travel funding or other professional development funding?

A. We support the fellows in traveling to relevant conferences and other venues for their professional development.

Q. Can they hire research assistants?

A. Yes, we will support, up to a reasonable amount, the fellows hiring research assistants.

Q. Do the fellows have to live in Philadelphia? Obviously, I assume most of them do, but if somebody wanted to commute from New York or Chicago, could they do that?

A. Yes to the commuting point. We have no fixed residency requirement. We do want the fellow to be engaged enough in the intellectual community both to support their development as well as to contribute to our overall academic discourse, but within that rule of reason, there is no mandate about where they live. I do think commuting by train an hour or two is workable and fellows have done that, but I’m not sure that a plane commute would work.

Q. Let's turn to making the most of the fellowship years themselves. You mentioned that the school typically has between 10 and 15 fellows at a given time. Tell me about the workshop series that they have just for the fellows, the one that you mentioned earlier?

A. One of the major parts of our fellowship experience for all our fellows is the ability, and even our expectation, that they participate as full faculty colleagues in our weekly general faculty workshop series as well as a host of other specialty faculty workshops that we run every week. Among top law schools we’re relatively mid-sized, with a standing faculty of about 50, which means that our workshops are likewise medium sized, so our fellows feel that they're very much a part of that intellectual life. I think that's something that we do well and that our fellows have benefited from.

What we started to do a couple of years ago though, in addition to that, was to run a series several times a semester, supported by the law school, where the fellows got together themselves in a smaller setting across all of their different types of fellowships and took turns presenting their own work. We then folded in certain kinds of faculty advising for that process so that there are also opportunities for fellows to workshop papers either just with other fellows or with a select group of faculty, and then also listen to faculty present their own work. There are multiple tracks going on any given week or month in terms of the chance to share ideas and comment on each other's ideas. To summarize, our core vision is that the fellows are diving right into the full faculty discourse, but we also wanted to provide a space for them to trade ideas just among themselves as beginning scholars.

Q. Are the fellows matched with an assigned mentor or guided towards faculty in their area in any formal way?

A. Yes. Every fellow we bring in, we bring in with one or more faculty who are assigned to them as their primary mentors. Having said that, of course we hope and in most cases see that through their interactions with the faculty, fellows more informally develop a wide network of deep mentoring. We want to encourage both of those processes.

Q. Are they given assistance in making connections outside of Penn Law with faculty in their area at other law schools?

A. Yes. Another thing that starts almost from day one, but then picks up in earnest by the spring of their first year, is specifically targeted advice and support for going on the national job market. Part of that is talking with them and in some cases connecting them with or exposing them to the individuals who would be their recommenders and supporters at other schools. From day one, we're thinking about what that AALS form will look like.

We're looking at every aspect of the form and helping to support the fellow in making sure that they've got the right networks of support around the country.

Q. Do they have people reading their papers inside Penn and helping them with specific ideas saying, "Hey, part three needs to be developed," that sort of thing?

A. Yes, that is part of the substantial active mentorship we do. And then further on in the process, that role is also played by the Academic Careers Committee, the same committee that the year prior might have selected the fellow. We also run workshops and mock job talks and things like that in looking ahead toward the job talk paper presentation.

Q. Obviously, some of your fellows are coming in with PhDs. Do you have any special advice for those candidates in terms of making a transition over to legal scholarship or back to legal scholarship, and/or taking advantage of their interdisciplinary training?

A. First of all, we're in a wonderfully rich time in legal academia where legal scholarship is connected to other fields as never before. That certainly is true here at Penn where much of our recent hiring and over half of our current faculty holds advanced degrees in addition to their JD. For candidates with a PHD who are contemplating going on the market, I think an important feature to remember is that they're going to be more attractive to many more schools if, in addition to their methodologically sophisticated and focused scholarship, they are at the same time able to teach and speak about a range of core legal subjects. Sometimes coming straight of out of the doctoral program, that conception of breadth and a focus on core legal topics can be de-emphasized.

What we've seen our fellows do really effectively, and what I would suggest any fellow anywhere ought to do if she comes out of a PHD program, is to spend time during the law school fellowship listening to workshops and hearing colleagues talk about other areas of law, to comment on papers outside of her field, to perhaps even sit in on large introductory classes of the sort that she might teach as a first year law professor. None of that will diminish the sophistication of the core research, but it will make the candidate that much more attractive on the market as a teacher as well as a scholar.

Q. Let's turn it back over to the teaching side, we talked about the teaching responsibilities of the Sharswood Fellows, do the other fellows have teaching responsibilities and if so, how many courses do they teach?

A. I would say the baseline presumption for the center-based fellows is that they have no teaching responsibilities. That’s another reason why we don't feel it necessary to run them through full faculty approval, because it's presumed that they won't be teaching a class.

That said, we do encourage them to do shorter modules or guest lecturing or take advantage of other opportunities to present their work to students and faculty orally. We want to help them develop that skill, but we don't presume that they're going to teach a class as part of their fellowship.

Q. Do they have other administrative duties related to the centers?

A. Many of them do support the overall work of the centers in addition to doing their own research. Often this can entail presenting at conferences the center runs, and conducting research and coauthoring papers with the faculty who lead the center. There've been some really successful examples of this, and it’s a win for everybody involved because it allows all of the scholars on the paper to amplify their reach and combine their talents. A good example of that was the paper our Academic Director of the Quattrone Center, Paul Heaton, co-wrote with two then-fellows, Sandra Mayson and Megan Stevenson two year ago. They co-authored the definitive empirical article on misdemeanor bail reform, which was published in 2017 in the Stanford Law Review and has since been cited widely by courts and other journals.

Both of those fellows are now in tenure track law jobs: Mayson is at the University of Georgia Law School and Stevenson is at George Mason's Scalia Law School. The paper they wrote with Professor Heaton is a good example of the intellectual collaboration that we love to see between our fellows and the current faculty.

Q. For the fellows who are teaching, do they receive any feedback or mentoring related to teaching?

A. The short answer is yes. The longer answer is that it's much more regularized and substantial for the Sharswood Fellows because they are teaching their own class and that's a standard part of their program and mentorship. For the center fellows, many of whom have developed into excellent teachers, feedback and mentoring are somewhat more individualized based on their preferences and the structure of their relationship with the faculty running the centers.

Q. We've been talking about a lot of the details of these fellowships, let's step back for a moment. If you were talking to a candidate who perhaps had lots of options on the fellowship market, how would you sell them on Penn’s fellowships? What do you think makes Penn’s fellowships specifically stand out?

A. I think from the fellow's perspective, what makes the Penn Law fellowships stand out is a unique opportunity to focus on your own research and be supported and engaged with a collegial cross-disciplinary faculty that's situated within a research university that has many connections with the law school. Fellows are able to do all this with minimal teaching obligations, which underscores the fact that we think the role of fellowships is really to improve the research and teaching ability of the fellow. At Penn, we don't hire fellows to serve two purposes — we believe that our intellectual community is going to thrive if the fellow thrives in his or her own research, so that's what we want to support.

Q. Do you have any advice for fellows when it comes to making the most of a VAP or fellowship?

A. Sure. I think first and foremost, fellows should realize from the start that those two years are going to go really fast, particularly if the plan is to go on the market in the fall of the second year. That means they should jump in with both feet and take full advantage of the intellectual atmosphere, listen to as many new ideas as possible, make as many new scholarly connections as possible and also keep the momentum of their own work as a fellow going. It can be challenging to do all of those things at once, but it's also a really engaging and exciting atmosphere to do it.

Q. Let's talk about the job market briefly, you mentioned that the fellows have an opportunity to do a mock job talk in front of their faculty. How about a screening interview, do they have any opportunity to do a mock screening interview?

A. Yes. Through our Academic Careers Committee as well as more informal structures, we want to make sure that the candidates are as prepared as possible for the job market. Just to start, it entails lots of feedback on their written job talk paper, lots of feedback even on the nitty-gritty of their AALS form and their CV, but also the more performative aspects so lots of mock interviews and mock job talks. I think we want to be there to backstop all of our fellows to do that. There are some fellows who ask for more help than others, but we make that part of the process for all of them.

Q. Do you happen to know off the top of your head what percentage of Penn Fellows over say the last 10 years have landed in tenure track positions at law school?

A. I know that for Sharswood Fellows the placement rate into tenure-track law jobs is over 90% on both a five- and ten-year time period. The center-based fellows have also placed really well, most of them to law schools but also a significant fraction into arts and sciences departments like political science and sociology.

Q. I would love, if you don't mind, to take the last few minutes of our conversation and focus on some of the broader policy questions around VAPs and fellowships. I don't know if you saw the data, but last year 96% of the candidates who landed entry level law teaching jobs had either a Ph.D. and/or had done a VAP or a fellowship. What do you think are the benefits of this trend and what do you think are the costs?

A. There has been a clear trend over the past 10 or 20 years in requiring more evidence of scholarly achievement before making an entry-level tenure track hire than might have existed two decades or certainly three decades ago. That may have been driven in part by the appreciation of and proliferation of JD-PhDs. Even for those without a Ph.D., there's no question that the bar to entry is higher in terms of demonstrable published work.

Clearly, in that area, one purpose fellowships or VAPs serve is to give the really talented future scholar who may have been in a practice setting and unable to write as though they were in a doctoral program, time and space to develop and publish their ideas.

I do think it's interesting and perhaps counterintuitive that a substantial number of fellowships at top law schools have nonetheless gone to people who have JD-PhDs before they even entered the fellowship. As I mentioned earlier in the interview, in our own selection for the Sharswoods, we struggle with that tension because we do believe that one purpose of the fellowships is to provide a chance to do scholarship for those who have been in a practice setting. I think that the data on how prevalent VAPs or fellowships are for those who enter the law teaching market does underscore just how incredibly competitive that market is, how there are fewer positions perhaps than there were a decade ago, and how in that world law schools are demanding ever more evidence of not just scholarly potential, but demonstrated productivity before we make that initial hire.

Perhaps it becomes a predictable circumstance that those who have had more time to write are going to do better in this competitive market. From a student's perspective, leaving a JD program, even at the very top of his or her class, I can imagine how this seems to be a daunting phenomenon in that it extends the pathway into academia by at least a couple of years. I do think that's the new reality we're in across the country in terms of legal hiring.

Q. There has been a criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their papers and that therefore it's hard for hiring committees to tell how much of the work and the ideas come from the VAPs or fellows themselves and how much comes from, say, Penn Law faculty. Do you have a thought on that?

A. I think there's no question that their papers are read with care. I know that even the most senior Penn faculty, when they write papers, have them read and critiqued and commented on by their colleagues, so the dynamic of rigorous review doesn't stop with the tenure track job here or at most other good law schools. I would certainly hope and know that here, colleagues are reading their own papers as carefully as they read the fellows’.

I guess you'd say it's an argument that proves too much, because we would hope that faculty papers are workshopped and critiqued and modified through that collaborative process almost as heavily as fellows’ papers.

Q. Last question, given that life is zero sum in so many ways, time spent in a fellowship is obviously time that's not spent in practice. What do you think about that trade off, especially given that law schools are in the business of educating lawyers?

A. Given the trend we've been discussing of the increased scholarly productivity that is required even to enter the entry-level job market, I think there is a zero sum trade off where we're seeing relatively less practice experience and relatively more great candidates who've never practiced law on either the public or private side. I do think that is a cause for concern, and ought to be a cause for concern both at every law school and in the legal academy at large, in that we ought to draw great teachers and scholars from multiple different backgrounds. We know from specific hires we've made that some of the best scholars and teachers we have are those who started in a topflight practice background and then made the shift to extend the insights from their practice career into topflight, methodologically rigorous scholarship.

There's no question the phenomenon of the academization of entry level law hiring is real. It has real benefits, but there's a point at which we ought to support candidates who come out of the highest level of practice who want to enter the profession.

Q. Anything else that you want to add, either about Penn Fellowships or about the state of law, faculty hiring, or generally?

A. Well, that's a good question. I can't think of anything else. This has been a really great wide-ranging interview; you've asked a ton of great questions. I can't think of anything else that I would add now. Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you.

Q. Thanks so much, Ted.

A. Thank you, Jessica.

Posted by Jessica Erickson on September 10, 2019 at 09:36 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)