Friday, June 14, 2019

Interview with Susannah Barton Tobin from Harvard Law School on the Climenko Fellowship Program

Here is the second interview in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors.  Thanks to Susannah Barton Tobin, the Managing Director of the Climenko Fellowship Program and Assistant Dean for Academic Career Advising at Harvard Law School, for participating in this series!  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Susannah to respond to any questions in the comments. 

You can read more about the structure of these interviews and other caveats related to them here.  The interview itself is after the break.


Q: Hi Susannah.  Can you start by telling me about your role with the Climenko program?

A: I am the managing director of the program.

Q: What does that mean?

A: I run the legal research and writing program, and I work with the fellows in order to help them get ready for the market.

Q: Great. I'm going to basically move through the fellowship program chronologically starting with the application process and then moving to the fellowship years themselves. When does the Climenko program start to accept applications for the following year?

A: September 1st -- we have a rolling application process.

Q.  What do people need to submit with their application?

A.  A cover letter, CV, research agenda, writing sample, and 2-3 letters of recommendation.

Q: When do you typically start conducting interviews?

A: Usually in October, but it varies depending on the availability of the committee members and other factors.

Q: Do you do a screening interview? How do the interviews work?

A: We have one round of interviews with the committee, which is myself and two faculty members. Right now, it's Tom Brennan and Ruth Okediji. The interview is similar to AALS-style interviews with the bulk of the questions on the candidate’s research agenda and the projects they’d like to work on during the fellowship. 

Q: How many people do you typically invite to interview?

A: I would say about 20-25.

Q: How many fellows do you ultimately select in a given year? I'm sure it varies but in general.

A: It varies but it's usually six or seven.

Q: When does that application process typically end? When would you say in the year, "Okay. We're done."

A: That varies a ton. Ideally we'd like to be done early in the new year, sometimes it stretches into the second semester.

Q: You said you typically hire six to seven a year. What does that depend on and how many years do the fellows stay?

A: There are 13 fellows, which is related to the number of sections of legal research and writing at the law school.  We have a total of fourteen sections, and I teach one.  The fellowship lasts two years, so in any given year, six or seven will be leaving. We have some flexibility in the length of the fellowship, if someone takes a leave or is coming back from a clerkship.

Q: How many applications do you typically receive for those six to seven positions?

A: About a hundred.

Q: When it comes to fellows' teaching responsibilities, how do you try to gauge their teaching ability in the application process?

A: Similar to the way it happens in the entry-level process, we assess a candidate’s ability to explain legal concepts clearly, to respond effectively to questions. If someone in their application has had prior teaching experience, we'll look at the teaching evaluations or other information from their recommenders about that teaching background.

Q: When you say you try to gauge how they answer questions, is there a job talk? What does that half day or day of interviews look like?

A: It's generally a morning interview. It varies a little bit in length, and it’s not a job talk, but there's a series of questions about whatever paper idea the candidate has proposed to work on during the course of the fellowship.

Q: Is that with the three committee members or do other people participate in that interview process?

A: It's with three committee members and then after the interview, the candidates also go for coffee with some of the current fellows, which is not a formal evaluative part of the process, but it’s an additional touch point.  The Dean gives the final approval on all offers.

Q: How much does practice experience matter in the hiring process?

A: I think it's important. Depending on whom you ask there might different answers to that question but it's both valuable for our students in the legal writing class and also valuable for the fellows in the entry-level process. 

Q: How much practice experience are you typically looking for? Is there a sweet spot?

A: I don't think there's a sweet spot. I think my observation of the market over the past decade or so is that a little bit more is better from a market perspective. I don't know if you feel this way, but I think maybe 15 years ago 1-2 years was enough. It depends on what they're doing but I think we're seeing more of 3-4 years now.

Q: I'll just offer my own perspective here.  As a hiring committee member, I'd love to see the fellows have a bit more practice experience. I think four, five, even six years. It's hard to get, but that would be great. I just throw that out there for what it's worth.

A: That’s very helpful to hear, for sure.

Q: Let's turn to the research side. The successful candidate, what do they typically have in terms of research or a paper? Do they typically have a full draft of a paper, a published paper, an idea for a paper? How far along are they?

A: It varies.  We ask applicants to submit a research agenda and a writing sample.  I think as the market has become more competitive in general, we see more people applying who have one or sometimes two prior publications, although that’s not a requirement for us.  We’re interested in the quality of the writing sample, whether that’s a draft or a student note, they're showing us their ability to do scholarly writing. We're really interested in the research agenda and the proposed project or projects that would be completed during the course of the fellowship.  Some people have a draft in progress that they’ve been working away at on nights and weekends that they want to show us. 

Q: That was going to be my next question.  The people who come in with a paper other than a student note, do you have a sense as to how they're managing to write that? Is it while they're in practice, nights and weekends, or typically are they coming in from a PhD program or another fellowship program? How are people logistically getting that writing done?

A: Yes to all of those examples. We've definitely had fellows coming from practice who tell us that they have worked nights and weekends.

Q: That was me!

A: My hat is off to you. It's just an extraordinary time management accomplishment separate and apart from the law firm work, how do you do that with no sleep? Sometimes people have worked on a long paper in law school and kept it to expand on similarly around the edges of their practice experience. 

Certainly, people who are coming out of PhDs or are working on PhDs have dissertation chapters or other projects that they've been working on.  So we see a little bit of everything.

Q: You said you're looking at their research agenda. How developed is that research agenda for people coming into a fellowship? Are these people who can tell you, several papers out, what they'll be working on? Or is it something typically more modest than that?

A: I think it can be both. We're not really looking for something that is projected out over four to five years the way, I think, an entry-level candidate would have.  We really want to see fairly detailed proposals for one or two papers accompanied by some general statement of how they view their scholarly approach and a set of ideas that they seem interested in.  But we don’t view a research agenda as a contract; we certainly don’t expect that they should be coming in with six or seven ideas.

Q: I'm sure that'll be helpful to people. Thinking about preferences that you might have through the process, do you have a preference for particular curricular areas? Is that a thumb on the scale ever? Certainly, you see people saying, "Gee, every school wants corporate" or "Every school wants criminal law." Is that something that you take into account on the hiring side?

A: We don't go in with curricular needs in mind. I think as someone who advises people on the market, I'm quite sensitive to trends but I don't think they're dispositive at all for our decision-making process. It might be after we've hired someone, if someone was thinking about a couple of different strands of scholarship, we might have a conversation about which ones might be more marketable but the point of academia, I think, as Martha Minow has said, is getting to own your own mind.  I don't really want to urge people to teach something they don’t feel excited about.

Q: Right. Then, you'll have to teach it the rest of your life.

A: Exactly.

Q: Do you have a preference for candidates with PhDs? How does that factor into the decision-making?

A: We don't have a preference for candidates with PhDs. At least one of the reasons there's been a rise in PhDs in the market as a whole is that those candidates have been at work on scholarship for a while. Their files might “pop” more but I think we are just as interested in practice experience, and mindful that the program gives people time to write which people in PhD programs have already had.

Q: Do you make a special effort to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A: We do our best to recruit a class that's diverse and excellent across all dimensions.

Q: Are there any other criteria that come into your decision-making? We've talked about practice experience, teaching experience, research agenda, other things. Is there anything I'm missing?

A: I do think that support from faculty recommenders is important to us to see because it helps us assess in areas outside our own expertise how scholars are looking at their work. It also anticipates their support on the market down the road.

Q: What role do faculty members have in the process? Do successful candidates typically have somebody at Harvard who's saying to you, "Hey, this person's good"?

A: Certainly, for the candidates who attended Harvard as law students, we take very seriously recommendations from faculty, but also, they don't need to have gone to Harvard. We take very seriously support and letters from whomever they asked to submit on their behalf.

Q: When I talk about this project on the blogs, I often hear from candidates who may not have the traditional markers of someone in law teaching. Maybe they didn't go to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, or a similar school. Maybe they don't have an elite clerkship. And they want to know what they can do to stand out in the application process.  What advice do you have for them?

A: I think it's a really important question. I do think that the market, both the entry-level market and therefore the fellowship market, is looking for people who have interesting ideas.  When I'm looking at a file, I think that the research agenda is absolutely essential.  As we’ve discussed before, it doesn’t need to be super-long, it doesn't need to have a million projects, but it has to have an articulated sense of an idea that we can then have a conversation about in the interview.

Q: You think that can make up for a lack of some of the more traditional proxies?

A: I think they can make an application stand out, yes. If you flip the script and consider someone who has checked all the traditional boxes of top law school and fancy clerkship, but doesn’t have a strong research agenda and a well-developed idea, it would be hard for them to get through the process.

Q: All right, let's switch from the application over to some of the fellowship basics, some of the terms of employment. You said, the fellowship typically lasts two years. Are there times when it last longer than that? Is the fellowship renewable? If so, under what circumstances?

A: The fellowship is typically two years. There have been circumstances where it's been extended.

Q: Are you comfortable telling me how much fellows are paid per year?

A: Yes, it's a stipend of $70,000 a year.

Q: Do fellows receive health benefits?

A: They do.

Q: How about access to university or subsidized housing?

A: Yes.

Q: That's great. Tell me more about that -- what type of housing benefits are available?

A: They have access to the Harvard real estate lottery.  Basically, you get to prioritize certain kinds of Harvard-owned apartments and potentially get a good spot near campus with Harvard as your landlord.

And the timing of the lottery allows you to go through that process before the rest of the rental market really picks up so you get two bites at the apple.  Depending on the fellows, some people are thrilled to have university housing that they don't have to worry about. Other people would rather rent in Cambridge or Somerville. 

Q: Great. I was part of that lottery many moons ago. Do your fellows receive travel funding or other professional development funding?

A: Yes. They have a budget of $1,500 a year for conference travel, and then $1,500 a year for research assistance.

Then the year that someone is going on the market, they get an additional $1,000 that goes toward market-related expenses.

Q: Is it possible to get those amounts increased, if someone says, "Hey, I was just invited to this great conference at Richmond. Can I get additional money?" Is that ever possible?

A: We do our best to support opportunities like that.  Because there are 13 fellows, sometimes people are using all their budget for research assistants but not their travel budget, so sometimes there’s some trading that goes on.  We try to do the things that are helpful to them and their work.

Q: Do fellows have to live in Cambridge or Boston? Obviously, there's the teaching responsibilities, but if somebody wanted to commute in, is that possible?

A: Yes, it is.

Q: Is that common?

A: It's not common but it happens. I would say there are at least one or two fellows a year who commute from either DC or New York.

Q: Now let's turn to the fellowship year itself and how to make the most of it. Tell me about the culture of the fellows. How often do they get together among themselves and in what capacity? Do they have a regular workshop series or anything like that?

A: They have a regular workshop series, which, depending on the time of year, is weekly or every other week, depending on how busy that section of the semester is. We call it the half-baked workshop. The idea is to have a half-baked paper topic. You can pitch it to your colleagues and get really good feedback, make sure that you’ve clarified the idea before you devote a ton of time to actually writing the piece.  And in exchange for sharing your half-baked idea, you get a fully-baked dessert. 

Q: That's great. Who participates in that workshop?

A: It's all the Climenkos, and I attend as well.

Q: How many fellows does Harvard have roughly? Obviously, you said there's 13 Climenkos. Just overall in the whole school, though, how many fellows who hope to go on the law teaching market are there at any given time?

A: That number is a little hard to pin down, but there are a number of fellowships, including the Reginald Lewis Fellowship, the Berger Howe Legal History Fellowship, the Corporate Governance Fellowship, and the Private Law Fellowship. There’s a full list here. Not all those people are going on the market at the same time in a given year, but I would say there's somewhere between 7 to 12 additional fellows not affiliated with our program in a given year.

Q: They all participate or have the option to participate in this workshop series, the half-baked?

A: The half-baked workshop is primarily for Climenkos, though if the topic relates to the work of a fellow from another program, she or he may join.

Q: Do the Climenkos participate (or how do they participate) in the broader intellectual life of the law school? Are they allowed to go to other faculty workshops?

A: Yes. They are welcome and encouraged to go to the standing faculty workshop which is weekly and then also welcomed and encouraged to attend the specialty workshops, which if you attended all of them you wouldn't have time to do anything else.  We have a Legal History workshop, a Law and Economics workshop, an International Law workshop, Public Law workshop, a Private Law workshop, and a Criminal Law and Policy workshop, among others.  So one of the things I do with the fellows when they come is sit down and say “what are the conversations you want to be joining while you are here?” and make sure they are plugged into those.

Q: Are you the fellows' direct supervisor?

A: Yes.

Q: What does that mean? What is your role day-to-day with them?

A: I work with them on teaching and I also read their work and talk with them about the logistics of the market, suggest that they go to conferences, connect them to fellows who have left the program over the years who are in their area.

Q: Are fellows matched with an assigned mentor at Harvard, or are they guided towards people in their area? In other words, how do they meet people in their area of interest at the law school?

A: We ask incoming fellows to identify faculty with whom they are interested in working, and we can match up with formal mentors who are in no way meant to be the limit of their engagement but the entry point to the rest of the faculty.  So mentors will read work and talk to fellows and also help connect them to different opportunities here and with faculty who are relevant.

Q: How about meeting faculty at other law schools? Are they given assistance with that?

A: Yes, in an informal way. I think as the fellowship program has gotten older, we have a number of alumni at schools around the country, so a lot are connected that way and then either keep those points of contact or through people that faculty here know are doing work related with fellows’ areas of interest.

Q: If a fellow is working on a particular paper, what type of feedback might they get? Obviously, they're doing the half-baked workshop, they're getting feedback from you. What else might they expect on a particular paper or idea?

A: I think our real priority is emphasizing and honing the idea before getting too far along. I think, as I'm sure you've experienced, you'll get a range of feedback when you ask for it, sometimes people will have coffee and talk about ideas. Sometimes people will read drafts and give comments. Sometimes they'll read a draft and not give comments but they say you should talk to so-and-so about this idea. It depends.

Q: Is the same true when it comes to fellows' research agendas that they plan to use on the job market? What type of feedback are they getting there?

A: It's the same. I read it. The mentors will usually read it and give feedback. I encourage the fellows to share it with colleagues at other law schools and get feedback.

Q: Do fellows get any help in terms of placing their work in the law review submission process? There is always this lore that fellows have some help there. Have you seen any of that?

A: I don't. I saw the question when you sent it along and it made me chuckle because I haven't seen that. I've seen it on the blogs, and I know it's a deeply-held myth but I haven't seen it. I will say if I had to imagine the source of it, it’s the observation that there's been an increase of top-tier law reviews publishing fellows’ papers.

I think that is not about their papers being placed by faculty but, rather, that I think the students perceive the significance of placement to people interested in the entry-level market. Law review editors might be more interested in taking fellows’ work because they feel as if they are making contributions to academic placement.

Q: That makes sense. I'm hard-pressed to imagine what that help placing would look like but, again, it showed up on the blogs enough that I thought, "I have to ask."

A: I think it's important to ask. I'm happy to say my view which is, truly, it's not happening here.

Q: Are fellows given assistance finding recommenders? This may go back to some of the connections we were talking about earlier. Just wonder if there's any other assistance if somebody comes in without a natural list of recommenders?

A: We certainly talk about that throughout the course of the fellowship, making sure that people are in conversation with scholars in their field and, if they don't have people that they're coming in with or if they're switching from a different area into a new area, connecting them with people here and also connecting them with people at other law schools. 

Q: That's great. What is the paper schedule of the fellows? You said you want them to know what they're going to be working on at the fellowship. Is the idea that they'll send something out that first spring of their first year?

A: That's our hope. Our hope is that there'll be a paper draft that goes out in the February cycle of the first year. That sometimes happens and sometimes it doesn't. I think different faculty have different views about the optimal time it takes to write an excellent paper. Sometimes people think, "It'd be great to get one paper done, and then, start on a new paper right away." That's a pretty tight turn-around.  Maybe someone comes in with something that's pretty far along and they can finish it up and then start a new paper. That might happen but more, I think, what we see is people working on a draft, hopefully getting it out in the February cycle, but continuing to hone it after that.

Q: Candidates who come in with a PhD, do you have any special advice for them, anything they should particularly keep in mind?

A: I think my first piece of advice would be to answer for yourself: why law, as opposed to the Ph.D. department from which you might be coming. That's a question that will, I think, be asked either implicitly or explicitly when you’re on the market, and to imagine the different audience for your work as you're trying to transition to legal scholarship. What is the value-add of the methodological training you received as a Ph.D. for being a legal scholar? I think that that evolution from being a Ph.D. student into being a law professor is an ongoing one but it's important to think about before going into the process.

Q: Let's switch over to teaching. What precisely are the Climenkos’ teaching responsibilities?

A: Each Climenko teaches a section of first year legal research & writing which is a class of 40 students. That's a year-long course they teach both years of the fellowship. Then they have the option in the spring of the second year of the fellowship to propose to teach an additional course, either a reading group or a seminar on a topic of their own choosing, which some fellows do and some don't. There are schools of thought, pros and cons, for what the right thing is to do. Some people are very excited to do it; other people may choose to work on their next paper.

Q: You said they have 40 students in their legal writing class?

A: That's right.

Q: What are their grading responsibilities? That's a lot of memos or briefs to grade. What does that look like during the year?

A: There are two memo assignments in the fall for which the students write a draft and a revision and conference with fellows. So four rounds of marking in the fall and two rounds of conferencing. Then in the spring semester they pair up and do the Ames appellate brief, which I’m sure you remember.

Q: I remember it! Yes.

A: For that, they do a draft and revision of the brief and one round of conferencing.

Q: If you were looking at their time, how do you think their time breaks down between teaching, spending time of their scholarship, and whatever other responsibilities they have. Do you have percentages that you try to keep in mind with the fellowship?

A: I think we try to keep everything at 50/50, although not 50/50 every day or every week. There are periods like any academic schedule, there are periods of time in the year where they're very, very focused on their research and writing, in the summer and late December, January.  Then there are really intense periods of teaching and conferencing and marking their papers during the semesters.

Q: Do you try to schedule those around job market time periods? How does the legal research class line up with the job market time line?

A: We are attentive to it but I wouldn’t say that it's possible to fully schedule around it.

Q: It's a pretty long process. It would be hard to schedule around it entirely. What about training, feedback, or mentoring related to teaching?

A: We do a teaching orientation for the new fellows when they arrive. We have teaching meetings with the group throughout the year. I review their student evaluations and talk to them about the feedback, any trends we might see in the evaluations. We’ll have faculty come in and talk with the fellows about different approaches to teaching over the course of the year.

Q: You mentioned an orientation. What does that involve?

A: They do a mock class and also give mock feedback on writing assignment and a mock conference, in addition to a lot of “Here’s how HLS works.  Here are the other courses that the students are taking and how this course fits in their schedule.” Meetings with the librarians, etc.

Q: Okay. When it comes to the assignments themselves, are the Climenkos drafting the assignments or they are given these assignments?

A: They're given a variety of assignments from which to choose, but they are also welcome to make variations, adjustments as they wish that incorporate their own interests and experiences.

Q: Is the same true, for example, about what they are going to do in class on a given Wednesday? Is there a course plan that would take them through the semester, or are they coming up with that?

A: There's a course plan that takes them through the semester.

Q.  Do Climenkos have any other responsibilities during their fellowship?

A.  I think I would say informal ones because it's the smaller class for the students, they get to know their students very well and do a great deal of academic and professional advising with their students. They also write recommendation letters, but there's no formal administrative service component to the fellowship.

Q: Let's step back for a moment. If you were talking to a candidate who perhaps had multiple options when it came to fellowships, what would you say to try to sell them on the Climenko? Why do you think this is where a new law teacher should start their career?

A: I have two answers. One is my biased answer and one is my attempt at being a little less biased.

Q: I appreciate both of those.

A: The biased answer, of course, is that we have a great program. I think that the two main advantages to it are, first, the opportunity to come to HLS and work with the phenomenal faculty which through its size and depth affords lots of opportunities to learn and grow as a scholar.  We have really outstanding scholars and teachers.  We also have terrific faculty from other departments participating in the intellectual life of the law school, and the research librarians here are unsung heroes.

Then, the size of the program allows for a real community of fellows to grow and support each other through what is undoubtedly a stressful process, but to have the group working together, reading each other's work, supporting each other through the process is, I think, really special. We see that year over year. We had a Climenko reunion in March where about 50 professors came back to Cambridge and were reminiscing about that component of the program, particularly the friendship and the collegial support that they got from each other. Those are the two things I would say as a bias.

Here’s my non-biased advice, which I give to alumni of the law school because I serve as the Assistant Dean for Academic Career Advising. I work with our alums who are considering other offers. Sometimes they don't apply to the Climenko because of geography or some other reason, and they're considering other offers. My general advice is you should choose the fellowship program that makes sense for your work and your life.

I would love it if the best option is the Climenko program but sometimes it's not, whether because there's this particular scholar you want to work with at another school or the structure of a program that works better for the way you work. Some people thrive on the balance of teaching and scholarship. Still other people would prefer to have more uninterrupted time without teaching obligations before they go on the market. Other people want to be in a small program. Some people like having a big program. I think it has to be an individual decision, really, really focused on how your approach to your academic career would be best supported.

Q: That's good advice. Same thing is true when picking a law school to eventually join long-term, I think.  Do you have any advice for fellows when it comes to really making the most of the fellowship? When you think back on fellows who have been really successful in how they've used those two years, what have they done?

A: Great. I think the main reason one would do a fellowship is to be immersed in the academic world and the conversations because it should be what is drawing you to academia, and also, allows you to be part of that conversation and understand how it works before you go on the market. So really taking advantage of the opportunity to engage with faculty, both one-on-one and in the workshops, is incredibly important to having a good experience.  It's a little bit of modeling what your life is going to be like when you're a professor. The sooner you can start doing that, the better.

The other thing is- it comes to my bias again - I think doing a teaching fellowship is incredibly valuable because that's what you're going to do as a law professor. Students are amazing and figuring out how you're going to balance teaching, scholarship, and supporting your students is something you need to do. Having the opportunity to do it in a fellowship program with a smaller class is a real privilege. I think people who have thrived in this role have thought about the fellowship as a cohesive combination of teaching and scholarship. They have been really successful.

Q: Let's turn to the job market itself and when candidates actually go on the market. Do they receive mentoring related to the hiring process and if so what type?

A: We have a market calendar, which we use to walk through the major deadlines, when ideally the fellows should have a draft research agenda, when they should have a draft of a paper to share with their recommenders.  We also talk about filling out the FAR form.

Later on in the summer, we’ll do practice AALS-style interviews, through a combination first internally with the fellows asking each other questions and then working with faculty advisers for a second round of practice interviews. We do practice job talks at the start of the fall, so it's an ongoing conversation of hitting those different benchmarks in the process.

Q: When you say that they get a chance to do their job talk, who's offering them feedback there? How many faculty members?

A: Similar to the mock AALS screening interviews, we do an internal round with just the fellows, then an external round with faculty mentors and for the faculty in the field who may not be formally assigned mentors but who have expertise related to the topic of the paper. So depending on the paper, it'll be six or seven faculty members in the room

Q: Are the other Climenkos present for that as well or just the faculty?

A: The other Climenkos are there too.

Q: Are you the person who is basically responsible for shepherding them through this process?

A: I spend a lot of time on it, but the faculty mentors also are really helpful in working with the fellows through the process. 

Q: Do fellows have the opportunity to receive feedback on their application materials from faculty and from you?

A: Yes, both.

Q.  If you wanted to look at the Climenko track record, do you happen to know off the top of your head the percentage of Climenkos over, say the last 5 or years, however far back you want to go, that has landed in tenure track positions at U.S. law schools?

A: Since the start of the program, 91% of fellows who have gone on the job market have landed tenure track positions.  All of the positions are on our website by year.

Q: Do you mind if I link to that in the transcript here?

A: Totally fine. [Here’s the link! Scroll down under the map for the full list.]

Q: Perfect and how does the program support fellows who may need to go on the teaching market more than once if they don't land somewhere in the second year of their fellowship?

A: My view is that, as a Climenko, you have the support of the program regardless of whether you make it the first time or not, but sometimes people will go back to practice or take a year to do something else.  We still support them in that process when they go on the market.

Q: The fellowship itself is not renewable for the third year, typically?

A: It's not presumptively renewable, right.

Q: All right, let's talk about some of those broader policy questions because obviously, the law teaching market has changed a lot, certainly since I was on the market. What do you think about the rise of fellowships and VAPs as an entry point into this profession? What do you think are the benefits? What do you think are the costs?

A: The benefits are ideally making another entry point. If we go way back to the classic model of law teaching 40 years ago, if you did really well at law school and you clerked, then you were called back to the mother ship. Having more entry points that are not that, I think, is incredibly important. Fellowships are one of those additional entry points that recognize the need to have time to research and write before you go on the market.  Through a fellowship, you are immersed in the academic life and the conversation about scholarship, which is just a great benefit for young scholars learning how to do the work of being a scholar.

What are the drawbacks? I think, perhaps unintentionally, the result has been that while trying to have more paths into academia, we’ve created an appearance that there is a primary path or that having a fellowship or having a PhD is effectively a prerequisite, and that may be unintentionally narrowing access. 

Q: What do you think about the fact that it's obviously hard for a lot of people to do a fellowship? To uproot their life, to move to a particular city, which may end up closing the profession to some groups of people.

A: I think that's a really serious consideration. Part of the reason why we don't have a residency requirement is a recognition of the fact that it is a hurdle for people, and of course the finances are a huge consideration as well. I think the hope is-- I guess our argument is it's hard to get into the academy full stop. Ways that we can make that easier are a help but not a full solution.

Q: Do you think that the VAP and fellowship programs have a responsibility to help open up law faculty positions to people from diverse backgrounds, non-traditional backgrounds? How do you think the Climenko program hopes to do that?

A: I think everyone involved in the legal academy has the responsibility to do precisely that, including fellowships and VAP programs. There are lots of ways we have to think about diversifying the academy.  And one of the ways is your interview series that is so helpfully providing insights to make this process more transparent.  My view--I talk to candidates all the time on the phone and over email--is I want to make it as easy as possible for people to apply and to understand exactly what a successful application looks like. I think aggregating that information for the programs can be helpful.

Q: Yes, hopefully.  That's the goal. We'll see how it works in the end.

I'm sure you've heard the criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship and that therefore, it's hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work comes from the VAP or fellow themselves and how much comes from, say, Harvard Law School faculty? How do you respond to that criticism?

A: It's a little bit analogous to our discussion of placement in law reviews.  I don't buy it. I think the entry-level process itself does an excellent job through interviews and conversations and certainly the job talks of assessing the candidates' originality and ownership of their own scholarship. To the extent that there are candidates who have been overly influenced by advisers, which I'm not convinced is a serious issue to begin with, the entry-level market is good at sussing out  candidates’ weaknesses so that it’s not an issue.

Q: Anything else you want to pass along about the state of law faculty hiring more generally?

A: Good question. I'm being redundant now but I do think more transparency in the process is better and having some of these assumptions either unsettled or at least bought up to the surface is important so that people understand on both sides what's happening.

Q.  Yes, who knows, maybe next I'll do the same type of interview series but with hiring chairs. We'll see. Thanks so much. I really appreciate it!

 

Posted by Jessica Erickson on June 14, 2019 at 09:16 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, June 07, 2019

Interview with Professor Adam Chilton from the University of Chicago Law School on the Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellowships

It’s finally time for the first posted interview in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors.  Thanks to Professor Adam Chilton, the co-director of Harry A. Bigelow Teaching Fellowship program at the University of Chicago Law School, for participating in this series!  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Adam to respond to any questions in the comments. 

You can read more about the structure of these interviews and other related caveats here


Q.:   Hi Adam.  Thanks for taking the time to speak with me.  I’d love to start by asking about your role with the Bigelow Fellowship.

A.:  I am one of the co-directors of the program. We have two people that serve as the directors of the program every year. I've done it for the last three years with a different person each year rotating onto it for one year. One part of the role of the directors is having the primary responsibility over the hiring process. So we sort through candidates and decide who to interview (but then the actual decision on who to hire is a broader faculty decision that many people are involved in).  And then the other part of the role is working with the current fellows on their teaching, their scholarship, and navigating the market.

Q.:  I'm going to try to walk through the fellowship program chronologically, starting with the application process, and then we'll talk more about the program itself. Can you tell me about the application timeline? When do you typically start accepting applications, and when do you start doing interviews?

A.:  Sure. We open up the application process on roughly August 15th.

Q.:  Okay. And then, is it a rolling application?

A.:  Yes, then it's rolling. We accept applications until we have completed the hiring process and made sure we have the right number of people for the program. So we'll typically end up accepting applications into roughly February or March. But it is much better to apply early when we still have more spots to fill.

Q.:  And when do you typically start doing interviews?

A.:  We have two separate stages of the interview process. The first stage is a screening interview. That's done over the phone and lasts between a half hour and an hour. We start those probably in September, when we first sift through the applications. We do those on a rolling basis as applications come in. Frequently, both of the co-directors of the program will separately do a screening interview of the same person before we decide to offer them a call back.

Q.:  How many applications do you typically receive?

A.:  About 75.

Q.:  Okay. So first there's a screening interview over the phone. Do you then invite people to campus?

A.:  Yes. From there, we invite people to campus. And this is one thing that I think is distinctive about our program is that we take the on-campus interview extremely seriously. We spend a lot of time on it.

The way that our on-campus interview is structured is the same format and structure that we do for our entry level candidates, with one main exception. The one exception is that instead of the job talk for lunch, the candidates go to lunch with some of the current fellows to talk about the program and get advice from them.

But everything else about the structure of the visit is the same. Which means it starts the night before the interview with a dinner with three faculty members. So there's a long dinner, the same as an entry-level interview. Starting the next morning, there's a series of office interviews with groups of faculty members (some of the current fellows are also involved at this stage of the interviewing process). So, it'll be, say, two to four people in a room that do the interviews.

And there are multiple rounds of office interviews. Then there's the lunch with current fellows. In addition, there is a one-on-one meeting with our Dean of Students, a one-on-one interview with our Deputy Dean,  and an interview then with a focus group of students.

Q.:  At the end of that day, how do you make a decision on whether to hire someone? Who are actually the decision makers there, who votes, if there’s a vote?

A.:  Well, it's not exactly a vote. But, every single person that's met with the candidate—so every faculty member, every fellow, even the students—all submit comments about their reaction to the candidate. . These written reactions are a little more qualitative than a formal vote (e.g. what they thought about the person as a potential teacher, as a colleague, as a scholar, et cetera).

The final decision is made by the dean, the deputy dean, and the two co-directors of the fellowship program, taking all those views into account.

Q.:  How many fellowships do you typically have available each year?

A.:  Three.

Q.:  And is that set, or do you have flexibility in a given year?

A.:  Our most prominent fellowship program, and our biggest fellowship program, is the Bigelow Fellowship. The Bigelow program is structured around our legal writing program. We have six sections of legal writing each year, and so we have six Bigelows at a time. There has been some variance in the number of Bigelows hired. In a handful of cases where people were hired for two years but accepted a job in the first year, then we might hire four people the next year.  But the total number of Bigelows at any time  in the building is six. 

Now on top of that, we have three or four other programs where there's occasional a fellow. So, a law and economic fellow, behavioral law and economic fellow, a public law fellow, or a Dickerson fellow (which promotes diversity in legal academia). And those fellowships do not hire on a fixed schedule. Some years they we hire for those fellowships; other years we do not. So, when there's a particularly promising candidate that has applied for the Bigelow, we will also keep them in mind for possible other fellowships.

Q.:  And how would somebody find out about one of those other fellowships?

A.:  I'm not sure if that's it is how anyone actually gets their information, but they are posted on the University of Chicago careers website. But the best thing to do is reach out and email the faculty member associated with a particular program and apply.

Q.:  So, let's talk about the criteria that you would use, or the school would use, in selecting fellows. And we can split it up into research, teaching, and other, if that works. If you're thinking about the average successful candidate, do they typically have a full paper coming in? A draft? A published article? What's the norm?

A.:  Definitely the norm is to have a paper. Not everyone has a paper, but we do require a writing sample of some kind. There have been successful candidates that submit a student note, but successful fellowship candidates now almost always have a complete draft, if not multiple publications.

Q.:  And is that typically a draft they wrote in practice, or would this be in a PhD program? Where are they finding the time to write this article?

A.:  I'd have to look at the exact numbers, but maybe half of our fellows have PhDs when they come into the fellowship program. In some cases, they're coming straight from the PhD program (in fact, they might even still be an ABD in the PhD program and working on it that way). Others are coming with a PhD, but coming from a clerkship or from practice.  And in those cases, even if they have not done research for a few years, they have written material from when they were PhD students. 

We've had fellows apply from being in a firm of from a clerkship. In some clerkships, the candidate has had more time to work on a paper.  We've had others that have taken a month off of leave from their job, and some that are just a super person that can work full time at a law firm and somehow produce a paper.

Q.:  And do they typically have, in addition to that paper, a pretty well developed research agenda?

A.:  Yes. We're in a pretty lucky position where we only hire three people a year, and we are able to get the very top fellows in the market.  And so, people typically have a pretty well-designed research profile and they know the methods that they will use, their perspective on the subjects they are studying, and have multiple projects ongoing.

Q.:  Let’s turn to the teaching side? Do you expect teaching experience, and if not, how are you gauging teaching abilities?

A.:  We take the teaching piece particularly seriously. We advertise to all the fellows that there is a trade-off coming to Chicago: you'll do more teaching and more work, but you’ll get more back in return in terms of developing your scholarship and your academic career. But that's the deal we offer.  We are really trying to identify people who will be good teachers.

The candidates have a range of different levels of prior teaching experience. Of candidates with PhDs, most of them have teaching experience. Many of them have experience in law-related classes. So for them, we're able to look at teaching evaluations. Additionally, we’ve also had a number of people that have done Teach for America, or other forms of teaching prior to law school. Finally, there's other cases where people have been to law school, clerked, and practiced, but they do not necessarily have direct teaching experience. But they have extremely good practice experience that could be useful in the classroom. 

But regardless of candidates’ prior experience, we're still trying to gauge what someone would be like in a classroom. That's partly why we do so many interviews, so we can see how people think on their feet and how well they can explain complex ideas. It's also why we have every candidate do a one-on-one interview with our dean of students and an interview with a room full of students. And they're only thinking about teaching  (they can ask the candidates about whatever they want, but their role in the process is to be specifically focused on who we would a good fit teaching our 1Ls legal writing).

Q.:  What types of things might give people a little bit of an edge in the process? So, for example, is whether someone has a PhD, is that something that you weigh heavily in the process?

A.:  I don't think we weight it in any particular direction. I think that someone who has spent time in a PhD program, probably has a well thought out views on research. And as a result, they can be successful in our interview process where we have many faculty members drill people about their research. But if someone has a PhD but their research isn't very far along or sophisticated, we might be less forgiving than we would be of a candidate that is coming straight from practice. Because if someone's coming straight from a PhD program, we would expect that it is pretty well thought through.

Q.:  How about preferences for candidates in particular curricular areas? Are you paying attention to the subject areas that seem to get a lot of play on the market?

A.:  Not really.  We have had conversations about whether or not a second candidate might be too similar to a person that we've already hired. If we've already got candidate A doing con law with a particular background, we’ll talk about if it’s a mistake to hire candidate B doing con law with a similar background. So we have that conversation.

But although we’ve had those conversations, in the end we end up hiring the people we think are the best.  For example, last year we had three law and economics candidates on the market. Two that were Bigelows, one that was the behavioral law and economics fellow. So we had the conversation to the effect of “is this too many people with an economics background?” But they were all fantastic, so we still hired them.

Q.:  How about making an effort to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A.:  Yes, this is something that we care about and prioritize. To put it immodestly, we’ve been able to hire the very best fellowship candidates on the market each year. And we’ve been lucky that, at least for the last few years, that many of the best candidates have added to the diversity of our law school. In the three years I’ve been involved in running the program, I’ve either worked with or hired thirteen Bigelow Fellows. Of those, eight have been women and five have been men. Several of them are first generation college students. Several of them are people of color. They are from all around the United States and even outside of it. So, we had a pretty diverse group. But we are always looking for ways to identify and attract exceptional candidates from diverse backgrounds.

Q.:  What else factors into your decision making?

A.:  Yes. One thing that might be slightly unique about Chicago is that we have roughly 36 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. For comparison, our peer fellowship programs are at schools with faculties that are two to three times larger. The result is that we really see our fellowship program as a way to constantly bringing new ideas and new people into the building.

Moreover, our fellows’ offices are immediately next door to faculty offices. If you're a fellow, you'll have tenure-track faculty directly on both sides of your office. And the fellows are fully integrated into the law school.  They come to every faculty workshop and every job talk. 

As a result, we are really looking for people that our tenure-track faculty is excited to interact with daily for the next two years. So, for example, we'll have a candidates who does corporate law come interview, and immediately the corporate law faculty may say “we have to have this person in the building. We're so excited about working with them, learning from them, and co-authoring with them.”

So the kind of candidates that generate excitement form our faculty is something that we really prioritize. Who would be a fun person to have around, that would be interesting and intellectually engaging?  

Q.:  So, when I posted this series of questions on prawfblawg, I got a number of people saying essentially, ask the fellowship directors about candidates from non-traditional backgrounds (i.e., people who didn't go to Chicago or Harvard or Yale, maybe didn't have an elite clerkship).  Is there a way for them to stand out in this application process? How would you advise one of those candidates?

A.:  It’s difficult for anyone to stand out when we're trying to hire two or three people from a pool of 75 exceptionally qualified people. But last year we had a fellow that was amazing that did not attend a top-14 law school, so it is possible. 

But the way that it is possible, though, is to have produced extremely impressive research. The only reason that where someone went to law school matters is as a proxy for how someone will be as a scholar and a teacher. But when we have more reliable proxies, we don't have to rely on that at all.

So, when we have candidates apply with four or five great articles that people feel today are fantastic, we don't have to guess whether or not the person will be a good scholar. We know that they are.  But that's the thing they do have to focus on.  Make that proxy of where you went to law school something you don't have to rely on at all.

Q.:  How much is practice experience valued in the selection decisions?

A:  It’s definitely valued. We have hired a few people without practice experience, but it’s a big hurdle to overcome. This is not like having a PhD, where I’m not sure what weight it plays in the process. Practice experience is something that always weighs strongly in someone’s favor.

Q.  Let's transition away from the application process into what I'm going to call the terms and conditions of employment. I have come to learn that it is really hard for fellows to find out the basics about compensation and other terms of employment for fellowships and VAPS.  How much are Bigelow fellows paid per year?

A.:  I am under the impression that we pay as much, if not more, than our peer fellowship programs. But I don’t know the specifics, and I am not sure I could disclose it if I did.

Q.:  Do fellows receive health benefits, or access to university housing or subsidized housing?

A.:  Yes to health benefits. No to subsidized housing.

Q.:  Do they receive travel funding, or other professional development funding?

A.:  Yes.  

Q.:  How about funding to hire research assistants?

A.:  Fellows receive a guaranteed amount of research funds to use at their discretion, which can be used for travel, hiring RAs, or whatever normal things people use research funds for. And then in addition to that guaranteed amount, there are various opportunities for additional internal funding that fellows may be able to take advantage of depending on the project.

Q.:  Do they receive reimbursement for market-related expenses when they go on the hiring market?

A.:  The research funding is increased in the second year with the idea that it offsets, at least some, of the costs of the market. 

Q.:  Are fellows expected to live in the same city as the law school? I know obviously, they're teaching a class. But could somebody live in New York, and then just come in and teach their class, if that's what worked better for them?

A.:  I do not think someone could be a successful fellow if they did not live in the same city as the law school. It's our norm that fellows, as well as tenure-track faculty, are in the building on work days.

Of course, people have professional and personal travel that takes them away from Chicago. And there are days people work from home. So although there is not a strict face time requirement, I don't think that a fellow could be successful if they came in two days a week, the ways I've heard of friends and colleagues doing for other fellowship programs.

Now, we have had fellows that have been in long distance relationships, and those people may take longer weekends every two weeks. Or be away from Chicago for several weeks over winter break, over spring break, or during the summer. But, the expectation is that people are in Chicago coming to work most days.

Q.:  I know the typical duration of the fellowship is two years. If for example, somebody didn't get a job in that second year, is it possible to renew the fellowship for a third year?

A.:  That has not happened yet, so we never had to cross this hurdle.  We've had 100% of our fellows land a tenure-track offer.  So we haven't ever had to set a policy on what would happen if they did not. We certainly do not have a guarantee of renewal. If it ever did happen, I think there would be an assessment about whether or not that would make sense for the candidate and whether it would make sense for the school to extend for another year.

Q.:  Let’s turn now to how someone makes the most of their fellowship years. How often do the fellows get together, and in what capacity? So, for example, do they have a regular workshop series, or another type of gathering?

A.:  We have a pretty good community of fellows. We have a minimum of six, but, more realistically, nine or ten fellows in any given year (the six Bigelows, plus as I mentioned, multiple people in some stage of the other programs I mentioned). And I think that those fellows talk constantly. Both about their research, and their teaching. 

The fellows also typically have a regular meeting that is either weekly or every two weeks, depending on the time of year, where they talk about each other’s research ideas. These meetings are not to formally research, but an informal discussion

Q.:  And that's just the fellows?

A.:  Yes. This is just the fellows. And then there's the what's called a research colloquium, which is a workshop to present at more formally. It runs during the academic year, and the people that attend are the fellows, JSD students (graduate students that are primarily foreign), and a handful of other people that are visiting scholars or particularly ambitious law students.  And the fellows have the option to present at this forum, and when they do, to invite a handful of faculty members that they're working with or that they're close with, so that they can get some kind of faculty feedback, but not in the high-pressure environment of formal feedback.

Beyond that, before the job market, every one of the fellows gives a workshop in front of our full faculty at our Works-in-Progress (“WIP”) workshop.  But before presenting to the full faculty, the fellows do a dress rehearsal in front of the people that run the fellowship program, all of the fellows, and say four or five of the other faculty. And before the full dress rehearsal, the fellows typically practice by doing a fellows-only workshop. And in some cases, fellows will do multiple rounds of practice workshops if they think they can benefit from additional feedback.

Q.:  That's a great opportunity for them.  Do they get to participate in faculty workshops where they're not the speaker? In other words, do they go to Chicago's regular faculty workshops?

A.:  Yes; they're expected to be at every WIP (once again, with the caveat that we understand people have other professional and personal commitments). But our weekly WIP is the center of our academic life. And the fellows are encouraged to ask question at it. If anything, the view from our faculty is that they should ask more questions. I have never once heard anyone take the view that fellows asked too many questions. So, the expectation is that they attend and that they will participate. 

The WIP is for internal speakers, and it runs every Thursday all year long (with the exception of three or four Thursdays that are over Thanksgiving, winter break, and maybe something like the Fourth of July). So it meets say 48 weeks a year.

During the academic year, we also have workshops for outside speakers. For instance, we have a law and economics workshop and a public law workshop that meets on alternating weeks that are highly attended by faculty. In addition, we have a number of other workshops for external speakers during the academic year: a con law workshop, a sexuality and gender workshop, a law and philosophy workshop, etc. The fellows are encourage to attend any of the workshops for external speakers that may be relevant to their research. 

At these workshops, the fellows are encouraged to be even more involved than the WIP. And also there are dinners after the workshops for external speakers. Our fellows are encouraged to sign up to go to dinner. Especially, when it's someone in their direct field, or in some way would be a valuable person to meet.

Q.:  What assistance are they given in finding mentor?  For example, are they matched with a formal mentor?

A.:  There are not formal mentors. There are the two co-directors of the fellowship program.  The assumption there is that those people will be the Bigelows’ first contact point. Certainly when you start, but also when you have your first research draft, your first need for comment, anything like that. So, they can get lower stakes feedback without having to go to some extremely prominent person in their field and show them a very rough draft.

Moreover, we typically would not hire someone if the relevant people in their field weren't excited about them. So, that sort of cures that problem of a Bigelow not having mentors because we make sure there is buy-in from the natural mentors for a candidate before the hiring ever happens.

  And when people do first start, the directors of fellowship program try to give advice about who the fellow should meet and facilitate that process. But that said, as I mentioned before, we're a faculty of less than 40 people—everyone is in the same building and everyone comes to work almost every day. And as a result, within a few weeks, everyone knows everyone anyway. So mentors are found pretty organically.

Q.:  Are they given assistance making connections outside of your law school, meeting people in their area at other schools?

A.:  One opportunity that I already mentioned is that when we have outside speakers who are connected to the fellow in some way -- same method, same subject area, similar background -- we try to make sure that the fellow does to the dinner, and we also try to have them set up a meeting with the person while they're on campus for coffee. Things like that.

We also host a lot of conferences over the course of the year.  And when the conferences are relevant, the fellows are frequently asked to be a speaker and participate, so that's another way. So, for instance, shortly after I started as a Bigelow fellow, Eric Posner and Al Sykes hosted a conference on international law, and they invited me to be a speaker, attend the dinners, and fully participate. At that event were a number of people in my area—Anu Bradford, Rachel Brewster, Katerina Linos, Mila Versteeg—that I got to spend time with and I’ve now written papers with all of them.

Additionally, we have a pretty large number of faculty members who go to conferences like the Empirical Legal Studies Conference, the American Law and Economic Conference, Law & Society, or events like this. And we try to make sure that the faculty that are going know about the fellows that are going, and that they invite the fellows to meet or come out to drinks with the faculty member’s friends from other schools. So that's one reason we try to encourage the first-year fellows and make sure they attend conferences and actively participate. 

Then finally, if a fellow is looking for an introduction to someone from another school, there is always a faculty member willing to facilitate it.

Q.:  Do fellows receive help in developing their research agenda?

A.:  Yes. Our standard advice -- although it may change depending on the specific fellows background – is that they should have a pretty good idea of what they think they're going to write first by the time they arrive during the summer to start as a Bigelow.  Since they are asked about that during the interview process, typically all of the incoming fellows do have that first project planned out.

The goal is to have the idea for the project completely crystallized by the time the academic year starts, which brings us to the end of September. And so, during that process, they will get a lot of feedback about one specific idea. Then the goal is to get it done by the end of the quarter, then get feedback on a full draft over the winter break, and be ready to submit it by roughly February for the law review submission cycle. 

We then tell fellows to switch to a second paper and have the idea crystalized by the start of the summer, and have a second paper written before the market starts.

Q.:  There is always this lore that fellowship programs help fellows, informally or formally, place their work. Is that true? Do you find that at all?

A.:  You mean like reach out to law reviews?  Well, I'll say this, I have never done that. And I’ve never heard of it happening. I don't even know how you would do that.

Q.:  I don't either. But I keep hearing it, so I figured I'd ask.

A.:  I do think that some of the law reviews like seeing themselves having a kind of kingmaker role where they pick out prominent fellows from the pile and publish their job talks. So top law reviews may be looking for the papers from the top fellows. I’ve heard of former editors claim that they tried to find a paper from one fellow for their volume, for instance.

But the idea that a faculty member would be emailing students a copy of a paper of a fellow is, I don't think, really credible.

Q.:  Yeah. I've never seen it either, but I saw enough comments about it that I thought well, I'll ask. So, let's switch over to the teaching side of the Bigelows’ job. How many students do they typically have in their legal writing section?

A.:  30 to 33.

Q.:  Is that their only teaching responsibility? Or do they have the opportunity to teach other courses as well?

A.:  In the spring of their second year, they teach a seminar on a topic of their choosing.

Q.:  What are their responsibilities in connection with the legal writing course?

A.:  They teach a course on legal writing -- going through IRAC, structure of memos, bluebook, all that kind of stuff. Also, we do new legal writing assignments each year. We never recycle the topics for memos or briefs that the students have to write about. And the Bigelows are in charge of developing three assignments for the year—a closed memo, an open memo and a brief. And the group of six Bigelows divide up the work to develop those three assignments (typically in groups of two per assignment). Additionally, they meet with the students and give feedback on their work, and they also have to grade the students’ memos and briefs. Finally, the expectation is that they are a more approachable mentor than the doctrinal faculty, so they should be available to give advice on things like studying for exams, applying for summer jobs, and navigating the rest of law school.

Q.:  What percentage of their time do you think they spend on teaching versus their research?

A.:  It ebbs and flows a lot. There are three months a year when the three main assignments are due. And those months the fellows are giving feedback, grading assignments, things like that. So there are three periods a year where the vast majority of the fellows’ time is teaching. There’s a lot of other periods throughout the year where there is little or no teaching. This happens over academic breaks and at the beginning and the end of each of our quarters (our legal writing always ends before the other courses so students can transition into studying for their exams).

Q.:  Do the fellows get training, mentoring, or other feedback related to their teaching?

A.:  Yes. Although probably this is an area where we could do better. The fellows receive student evaluations, and we review all of those evaluations and talk to the fellows about anything that comes out of those evaluations. We also meet with them to talk about the content, what they should be covering, advice on how to cover it, et cetera. But we could probably do better still here. 

Q.:  Do fellows have any other responsibilities? Any administrative responsibilities, or anything else?

A.:  No; nothing that they do not choose for themselves.

Q.:  Following up, what could they choose for themselves? Are people getting involved in student organizations, or other things?

A.:  Yes, things like that. Some fellows will give lunch talks for student groups, or play a larger role being mentors for student group. Some fellows have organized conferences. Others have been a part of outside organizations. But these are all things that the fellows are free to choose to get involved with.

Q.:  Let’s step back. If you had a candidate who was choosing between the Bigelow program and one of the other top fellowship programs out there, and you were trying to convince them to come to Chicago, what's the argument you would make? Why do you think this is the best, or one of the best, programs in the country?

A.:  I do strongly think that this is the best fellowship program in the country. But, in full disclosure, I was a Bigelow and now help run the program, so I’m likely biased. But I have reasons.

I think that the University of Chicago Law is the most intense academic environment in any American law school. We have an extremely dedicated faculty that is always at work and engaged. There is essentially no one on our faculty that is not an active and engaged scholar. So, people are engaged, inquisitive, hard at work, and the fellowship is the opportunity to fully be a part of that community for two years. Now, not everyone might want to be part of such a place long term. But for the two years before you go on the market, I can't think of a better investment for your time.  I'm sure you'll get more feedback, more mentorship, and more guidance at Chicago than any other place.

Q.:  And how would a fellow make the most of the Bigelow opportunity? What have you seen people do to really maximize the opportunity that they have over those two years?

A.:  The way to maximize the opportunity is to be extremely present and physically show up to as many things as possible. And beyond just being physically present, be outgoing. Force yourself to meet with and talk to faculty members.  I think our experience is that people on the faculty are happy to read drafts when you send them and keep giving feedback.  We'll force feed people some amount of feedback, but people who are really successful are folks that are going above and beyond to get feedback and develop their scholarship.

Q.:  The job market itself, obviously it's an intense period that all your fellows are going to go through. Do they receive specific mentoring related to the job market?

A.:  Yes. The two co-directors and Brian Leiter are pretty involved in giving feedback, and we also loop in the fellows’ other mentors. So, anyone that is a recommender for the person will give feedback on all of their specific materials. So, the CV, the research agenda, the FAR form.  So, they get multiple people giving them feedback on that. As I mentioned before, we also do a series of moot job talks. Finally, we additionally do moot interviews for everyone before AALS.

Q.:  Earlier, you mentioned that Chicago has a 100% placement rate. Is that over the entire course of the program?

A.:  The modern version of the Bigelow program started in roughly 1999. Since then, 100% of fellows have had a tenure track offer.. There were two people that had tenure track offers, but decided not to take them and to go another direction with their career. And one fellow left the program to accept a Supreme Court clerkship, but went on the market after and landed a tenure track job. But other than that, there's been 100% placement.

Q.:  And I think there's actually a list on the website. Do you mind if I link to it?

A.:  Yes, please do.  [Here’s the link!]

Q.:  A few more broader questions about VAPs and fellowships more generally.  What do you think are the benefits of the rise of fellowships and VAPs as an entry point for so many law faculty positions?  What do you think are the costs?

A.:  I think that, with very few exceptions, anyone that wants to enter into legal academia should do a fellowship.

There are several unique features of the legal academy that make fellowships especially important. For one, unlike other disciplines, law students do not have a set dissertation supervisor whose professional reputation in part dependent on getting you a job. For another, legal academy has a notoriously short tenure clock. The result is that it is extremely important to hit the ground running the day your clock starts ticking. And because most of our research is not peer reviewed and placements in law reviews can be path dependent, the initial trajectory of a legal academics career is extremely important. So it is important to get the best first job you can because you can’t rely on blind review of your articles to let you publish your way up the ladder the way you may be able to in other fields. Finally, our field has very few tenure denials. The result is that if someone is hired based on promise they never realize, they may occupy that job for the rest of their career.

Fellowships are the solution that legal academia has organically found for these problems with our profession. They allow aspiring scholars to acquire strong mentors, develop a research agenda that can carry them through tenure, ensure that they get the best possible initial job, and provide hiring committees with a huge amount of additional information (from published scholarship to teaching evaluations) which ensures that fewer hiring mistakes are made. 

Of course, there are costs. For instance, fellows may have to make an extra move to a new city and may make less money than they would in private practice. I’m sympathetic to the former point, but I’m less sympathetic to the later point. Legal fellowships pay comparably to what law clerks or public interest lawyers make, and more than twice the stipend that people earned as PhD students. Finally, doing a fellowship raises the costs of striking out on the job market, and I worry that this may deter strong candidates from ever even trying to be a law professor.

But, on balance, I think the rise of fellowships is a welcome development. If we wanted to reduce the reliance on them, schools would have to start imposing meaningful tenure standards and be willing to peer review research instead of out sourcing the work to students. I’m skeptical that either thing is likely to change soon, so fellowships are a second-best solution to help develop and identify talent that is here to stay.  

Q.:  Do you think that fellowship and VAP programs have any responsibility for helping to open up law faculty positions to people from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds?  How does your program help to do that, if at all?

A.:  I think everyone in the legal academy and the legal profession should be trying to find ways to promote inclusion and diversity. The diversity of our cohorts of fellows is something that we are all very proud of. We’ve tried to accomplish this in a few ways.   

First, we try to actually read as much of scholarship as possible. When you let the work speak for itself, instead of relying on proxies, it’s possible to find people that are creative and distinct thinkers.

Second, we try to do outreach and target candidates from diverse backgrounds and encourage them to apply. This includes trying to find people to directly email and ask to apply, but also trying to find forums to promote our programs.

Third, we have a fellowship, the Dickerson Fellowship, that is specifically for promoting diversity in legal academy. The fellows that have come through this program have been extremely successful on the market and in their academic careers. 

Fourth, one of faculty members (who himself was a former Bigelow and was a co-director of the program when I was hired), Daniel Abebe, is very active in the Culp Colloquium program run by Duke Law School. The Colloquium brings together current leading academics to help give feedback and mentorship to diverse candidates before they go on the market. We have been able to identify potential fellows from their participation in the program, had people in the Colloquiums network refer candidates to us, and several of our fellows have attended the Colloquium after starting at Chicago.

Of course, I’m sure we could do even better, and we are constantly looking for ways to improve. But those are a few of the steps we’ve taken in recent years.

Q.:  What do you think about the criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship from other faculty and that therefore it is hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and ideas comes from the VAPs or fellows themselves?

A.:  That criticism misunderstands what fellowship programs are doing. Or, at least, what we do at Chicago. Those criticisms imagine fellowship programs as giving entry level candidates an extreme amount of help writing a specific paper, but really we are training people how to be better scholars. For instance, I’ve never once given line edits on a fellows paper, but I’ve had plenty of conversations over lunch about what are the kinds of questions worth writing about. It’s being part of those conversations every day that improves the quality of fellows scholarship. We are not giving people a fish, we are teaching them to fish.

Q.:  Any thoughts you’d like to pass on to hiring committees about law faculty hiring?

A.:  Nope, I can’t think of any.  

Q.:  Thanks for participating in this interview series!

 

Posted by Jessica Erickson on June 7, 2019 at 08:41 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (25)

Thanks and Caveats for My Interview Series with VAP and Fellowship Directors

I will soon post the first interview of my interview series with VAP and fellowship directors.  My goal is to post one a week over the summer.  I have now conducted several interviews, however, and I wanted to take a few moments before the series officially starts to reflect on it more broadly.

First, a huge thank you to the faculty who have spoken with me over the past few weeks about their schools’ VAP and fellowship programs.  I have to imagine that it is a bit intimidating to sit for a lengthy interview, knowing that the transcript will be picked apart by Internet commenters.  And yet almost every school that I have contacted has agreed to participate, and no one has objected (at least much!) to my pages of questions.

Second, the interviews were long.  Like, really long.  Most lasted over an hour, and the transcripts are typically 15 or more typed pages.  This format has costs and benefits.  The costs are obvious­—it’s a lot to read!  And the transcripts reflect normal conversations­—sometimes the speaker goes off topic, sometimes they don’t answer the exact question that I asked, and sometimes they aren’t as clear as they might be if they were writing out their answers.  In other words, they talk like any of us would likely talk in these circumstances.  Indeed, this whole process has made me acutely aware of my own verbal tics.  On the flip side, it’s easier to get helpful details through a conversation.  People share more when they are talking more informally, and this format also allowed me to ask follow-up questions where appropriate.  So forgive the length of these transcripts.  I do recognize that not everyone will want to read the whole interviews, so I am working on putting together a chart that will include more stripped down information about these and other programs.

Third, full disclosure about the transcripts themselves -- these are edited transcripts, not exact transcripts.  My goal is to provide information to prospective fellows that is as helpful as possible, so if the interviewees wanted to add or edit information after our conversation, that was fine with me.  And if the details of particular programs change down the road, I have told them that I have no problem if they want to edit the transcript. 

Fourth, I want to be transparent about my goal with respect to this series.  I know there are people who think our whole system of hiring is crazy and want to burn it down (so to speak), and these people may well be frustrated that I am not using this series to more aggressively challenge the status quo.  I understand those critiques, as I have mixed feelings about the system myself.  But the fact is that this is the current on-ramp for nearly all law faculty today, and yet we have almost no systematic information about how these programs work and how people can be successful in them.  Maybe those of us already in the profession should build additional on-ramps, but in the meantime, I think we have an obligation to make the current system more transparent. 

Finally, if there is a particular program you want to learn about, let me know, either in the comments or by email!  I can’t interview faculty from every program, so I am trying to do a mix of different types of programs.  I want big name programs, as well as ones you may not have heard about.  I want programs where fellows teach in legal writing programs, programs where they teach doctrinal classes, and programs where the responsibilities relate more to running a center. So far, I have reached out to faculty connected with Harvard’s Climenko program and Reginald F. Lewis Fellowship for Law Teaching, Chicago’s Bigelow program, Stanford’s Thomas C. Grey program, Columbia’s Associates-in-Law program, NYU’s Lawyering Program, Yale’s Center for Private Law, Wisconsin’s Hastie fellowship, Tulane’s fellowship program, and a few others.  I likely have room for three or four more, and I am willing to take suggestions!

With those caveats out of the way, stay tuned for the first interview transcript soon!

Posted by Jessica Erickson on June 7, 2019 at 08:32 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Interviewing Fellowship and VAP Directors: What Do You Want to Know?

In an earlier post, I explained my plan to interview as many VAP and fellowship directors as I can this summer, with the goal of improving transparency into how these programs work and how to make the most of them.  The series itself will start in June, but first I want your input.  What do you want to know about these programs?  For those who have done a VAP or fellowship recently, what do you wish you had known before you started?  For those of you who are contemplating these programs, what are you wondering about?  I have included a draft list of questions below, but I am open to editing them or adding more.  My goal is to make this series as helpful as possible, so let me know what you want to know!  You should also feel free to reach out to me directly at [email protected] if you want to share additional questions or thoughts.

Let me also acknowledge the elephant in the room.  I know a lot of people don’t like the gatekeeping nature of VAPs and fellowships or the exclusionary nature of the law teaching market more generally.  I get it.  I have very mixed views on it myself.  Following up on Paul’s very helpful post, I have included a few questions related to the broader policy implications of VAPs and fellowships, and I also hope Paul’s post sparks a broader discussion about these programs and law faculty hiring more generally.  My series of interviews feeds into this debate, to be sure, but I also recognize that, like it or not, this is the market reality for aspiring law faculty and we are all better off if people know as much as possible about how the system works now.  It doesn’t do anyone any good to debate the system among ourselves, while keeping information about how it works now under wraps.  And I am very open to expanding this series to include law faculty who have been on hiring committees, non-traditional candidates, etc. after the original round of interviews.  So let’s get more information out there, while also working to improve things as much as we can. 

Draft Questions:

Application Process

  1. When does the program start accepting applications?
  2. What is the timeline for conducting interviews?
  3. How are the interviews structured? Are there first-round and second-round interviews?
  4. When has the fellowship typically filled all of the positions?
  5. How many fellowships are available? Is there flexibility in the number of fellows each year, and if so, how does that affect future years?
  6. How many applications are typically received?
  7. Who selects the fellows? Is there a committee? Is there a chair?
  8. If the fellows have teaching responsibilities, how does the application process gauge their teaching ability?
  9. What additional criteria is used to select the fellows? What helps an applicant stand out in the application process?
  10. Which of the following do successful applicants typically have when they apply­— A research agenda? A draft of a paper?  One or more published papers (other than a student note)?
  11. Does the program have a preference for candidates in particular curricular areas?
  12. Does the program have a preference for candidates with PhDs?
  13. Do you make any special effort to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

Fellowship Basics

  1. How long does the fellowship last?
  2. Is the fellowship renewable? If so, under what circumstances?
  3. How much are fellows paid per year?
  4. Do fellows receive health benefits?
  5. Do fellows receive access to university or university-subsidized housing?
  6. Do fellows receive travel funding and/or other professional development funding?
  7. Do fellows receive funding to hire research assistants?
  8. Do fellows receive reimbursement for any law teaching market-related expenses?
  9. Are fellows expected to live in the same city as the law school?

Making the Most of a Fellowship

  1. Approximately how many fellows are at the law school in a given year?
  2. How often do the fellows get together and in what capacity (i.e., a regular workshop series)?
  3. Do fellows participate in the broader intellectual life of the law school (i.e., faculty workshops), and if so, how?
  4. Who supervises the fellows?
  5. Are fellows matched with an assigned mentor or guided towards faculty in their area of interest at the law school, and if so, how?
  6. Are fellows given assistance in making connections with law faculty in their area of interest at other law schools, and if so, how?
  7. Are fellows given other support related to their research?
  8. Are fellows given assistance in developing a research agenda?
  9. What role do fellowship directors or faculty at the school play in helping VAPs or fellows place their work?
  10. Are fellows given assistance in finding recommenders?
  11. Do you have any special advice for candidates with PhDs doing a VAP or fellowship? Are there special considerations they should keep in mind?
  12. Does the fellow have teaching responsibilities?
  13. If so, what courses do they teach? Do they have any input in what courses they teach?  Do they have the opportunity to teach one or more courses in their area of interest?
  14. What percentage of time should they expect to spend on teaching vs. scholarship vs. other administrative responsibilities?
  15. What training and/or mentoring do fellows receive related to their teaching?
  16. What other duties do the fellows have?
  17. What other advice do you have for fellows when it comes to making the most of the VAP or fellowship?

The Job Market

  1. What type of mentoring do fellows receive related to the hiring process?
  2. Do you have faculty or staff who are responsible for shepherding fellows through the market?
  3. Do fellows have an opportunity to do a mock screening interview?
  4. Do fellows have an opportunity to moot their job talk in front of faculty and/or other fellows?
  5. Does the school run a moot camp for fellows and alums?
  6. Do fellows have the opportunity to receive feedback on their application materials from faculty or others at the school?
  7. What percentage of your fellows over the past 5 or 10 years have landed in tenure-track positions at law schools? Is there a list of these fellows and their positions available online?
  8. Do you support fellows who need to go on the teaching market more than once? If so, how? Is the fellowship renewable for another year?

Broader Questions

  1. What do you think are the benefits of the rise of fellowships and VAPs as an entry point for so many law faculty positions? What do you think are the costs?
  2. Do you think that fellowship and VAP programs have any responsibility for helping to open up law faculty positions to people from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds? How does your program help to do that, if at all?
  3. How do you respond to the criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship from you or others on the faculty and that therefore it is hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and ideas comes from the VAPs or fellows themselves?
  4. What do you want hiring committees to know about your fellowship? Any other thoughts you’d like to pass on to them about the state of law faculty hiring?

Posted by Jessica Erickson on May 20, 2019 at 04:12 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, May 17, 2019

New Summer Series: Interviewing Fellowship and VAP Directors

Thanks, Howard, for introducing this new series!  As Howard mentioned, I am the Chair of the AALS Committee on Becoming a Law Teacher.  The Committee’s goal is to improve the available resources regarding how to become a law professor.  There is information out there already, to be sure, but it is pretty scattered and if you were new to the law professor world and didn’t have many connections, it could feel pretty puzzling.  What is a job talk anyway?  And how about a research agenda?  And why is everyone terrified about the Wardman Park Hotel?  Our goal is to demystify the process as much as we can.

That’s the big project, but we are partnering with prawfsblawg on one specific part of it.  As we started to dig into the data, it become clear to us that VAPs and fellowships are the de facto gateway into the profession.  We all know that to some extent, but the stats that Sarah Lawsky has put together are even more striking than we would have guessed. Almost everyone (literally, almost everyone!) who is hired for a tenure-track law professor job today has either done a fellowship or VAP or has gotten a PhD.  And yet, while there is some information available on the tenure-track market, there is surprisingly little information about these programs.  How do you get a fellowship?  How does one fellowship differ from another in terms of mentoring, teaching and research time, and basic employment terms?  And how can you make the best use of your fellowship time to prepare for the entry-level market?  If you have stayed in touch with your law school professors or have friends who have done VAPs or fellowships, they might be able to give you some information about specific programs.  Otherwise, though, you are on your own. 

Our hope is to change that.  Over the summer, I will interview the directors of as many VAPs and fellowships as I can.  I will ask them all of the questions I would have had when I was new on the market, along with additional questions I crowdsource here from all of you.  Then I will post edited transcripts of the interviews here on prawfsblawg and on AALS’s website.  My goal is to post one interview per week starting in June and continuing through most of the summer.  I will also maintain a spreadsheet of basic information about each program for easy comparison. 

I’ll be back in a few days with a draft list of questions for the interviews, and I would love your feedback!

Posted by Jessica Erickson on May 17, 2019 at 09:53 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (24)

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tulane Law School Fellowships

Posted for Tulane Law School:

Tulane Law School invites applications for three positions: a Forrester Fellowship, a visiting assistant professorship, and a Yongxiong Fellowship.

All three positions are designed for promising scholars who plan to apply for tenure-track law school positions. All three 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, 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 25 to 30 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/59403. If you have any questions, please contact Erin Donelon at [email protected].

Tulane’s visiting assistant professor (VAP), a two-year position, is supported by the Murphy Institute at Tulane (http://murphy.tulane.edu), 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 entails teaching a law school course or seminar in three of the four semesters of the professorship (presumably the last three semesters). It 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). In addition to participating in the intellectual life of the law school, the VAP will be expected to participate in scholarly activities at the Murphy Institute. Candidates should apply through Interfolio, at http://apply.interfolio.com/59420, providing a CV identifying at least three references, post-graduate transcripts, electronic copies of any scholarship completed or in-progress, and a letter explaining their teaching interests and their research agenda. If you have any questions, please contact Adam Feibelman at [email protected].

Tulane’s Yongxiong Fellow will teach a required course in U.S. legal research and writing to a cohort of LLM students at Tulane Law School under the auspices of the Yongxiong-Tulane Center for International Credit Law. The Fellow will also teach one upper-level course in a topic relating to financial markets, banking or credit law. The Fellow will be appointed to a two-year term with the possibility of renewal. Applicants must have a JD or graduate degree in law from an ABA-accredited law school, outstanding academic credentials, excellent research and writing skills, and scholarly interests related to financial regulation. Applicants proficient in Mandarin Chinese are especially encouraged to apply, although there is no language requirement for the position. Candidates should apply through Interfolio, at http://apply.interfolio.com/59521, providing a CV identifying at least three references, post-graduate transcripts, electronic copies of any scholarship completed or in-progress, and a letter explaining their teaching interests and their research agenda. If you have any questions, please contact Adam Feibelman at [email protected].

The law school aims to fill all three positions by March 2019. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women and members of minority communities to apply.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 12, 2019 at 10:40 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance Post-Graduate Academic Fellows

Posted for the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance:

The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance invites applications for Post-Graduate Academic Fellows in the areas of corporate governance and law & finance. Qualified candidates who are interested in working with the Program as Post-Graduate Academic Fellows may apply at any time and the start date is flexible.

Candidates should be interested in spending two to three years at Harvard Law School (longer periods may be possible). Candidates should have a J.D., LL.M., or S.J.D. from a U.S. law school, or a Ph.D. in economics, finance, or related areas by the time they commence their fellowship. Candidates still pursuing an S.J.D. or Ph.D. are eligible so long as they will have completed their program’s coursework requirements by the time they start. During the term of their appointment, Post-Graduate Academic Fellows work on research and corporate governance activities of the Program, depending on their skills, interests, and Program needs. Fellows may also work on their own research and publishing in preparation for a career in academia or policy research. Former Fellows of the Program now teach in leading law schools in the U.S. and abroad.

Interested candidates should submit a CV, transcripts, writing sample, list of references, and cover letter to the coordinator of the Program, Ms. Jordan Figueroa, at [email protected]. The cover letter should describe the candidate’s experience, reasons for seeking the position, career plans, and the kinds of projects and activities in which he or she would like to be involved at the Program. The position includes Harvard University benefits and a competitive fellowship salary.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 12, 2019 at 10:38 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hastie Fellowship Call for Applications

From the University of Wisconsin Law School:

The University of Wisconsin Law School seeks applications for the William H. Hastie Fellowship. The application deadline is February 1, 2019.  
 
For over forty years, the Hastie Fellowship has helped aspiring scholars from underrepresented communities in the legal academy prepare for a career in law teaching. Hastie Fellows devote the majority of their time to their own research agenda, researching and writing scholarly articles with support from a faculty advisor and the Hastie Fellowship Committee. During their residence, Hastie Fellows become part of the rich intellectual community at the University of Wisconsin, participating in workshops, symposia, and colloquia at the law school and broader campus community. Hastie Fellows participate in the entry-level law teaching market during the fellowship’s second year, and receive support and mentoring from the faculty. Most fellows also elect to teach or co-teach a course in an area of their interest during their second year in residence. Upon the successful completion of their work, typically involving the preparation of two publishable articles, fellows may elect to receive an LL.M.
 
Since the program was founded in 1973, over thirty Hastie Fellows have completed the program and secured academic appointments. They are a distinguished presence across American legal education, and three have gone on to serve as law school deans. The Hastie Fellowship continues to play a remarkable role in encouraging and developing scholars from underrepresented communities and in preparing them to succeed in the legal academic market and in the academy. 
 
For more information about the program and the application process, please visit https://law.wisc.edu/grad/fellow_hastie.html.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 14, 2018 at 02:16 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 29, 2018

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2018-2019

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 29, 2018 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (197)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Federal Judicial Center Job Posting

From Timothy Lau at the Federal Judicial Center:

For those who are on the law faculty market with both a J.D. and a Ph.D., you may be interested to know that the Research Division of the Federal Judicial Center is currently seeking a Research Associate. The Federal Judicial Center is the research and education agency of the United States federal courts, and, unlike chamber law clerks, the research associates provide research for the federal courts on a systemic level. The research work is similar to that of law professors, and, while the position does not require any teaching, there may be opportunities to participate in education of federal as well as foreign judges. In addition, the research of the Federal Judicial Center can have real impact. Projects are often developed around specific requests of the policy-makers within the federal courts, including its Advisory Committees on Federal Rules, and are sometimes based on Congressional statutory mandate. The pay is competitive with starting law faculty salaries. The precise job listing can be found at:

https://www.usajobs.gov/GetJob/ViewDetails/513414400

It should be noted that, notwithstanding the language of the job announcement, any Ph.D. will be considered. Interested persons can contact me with questions at tlau at fjc dot gov.



Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 11, 2018 at 11:42 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 03, 2018

A Personal Law Review Article Submission Narrative

0dc3c821-583e-4983-87ce-a89c1b7bef6b-originalBefore the end of the month, I mentioned to Howard the possibility I would have one more thing to say about what has become a theme this summer: the folkways of career advancement in legal academia and, in particular, the angst around law review submissions.  I recognize that my circumstances may not match anybody else's - I have a job, tenure, and I'm too old and sedentary to be thinking about lateral moves.  But, for what it's worth and with the consent of the editor of the journal in which I've just agreed to publish an article, I'm going to offer here a narrative about the submission process. 

My project this summer was a thought experiment that looked at the current embodiments of "smart contracts" - crypto-currencies as well as systems of legal documentation that can operate on blockchain technology - and considered what it would take for a traditionally negotiated complex and bespoke agreement to be "smart" in the same way.  (The title is a clue to the conclusion:  The Persistence of "Dumb" Contracts.).  I finished it to the point of public consumption and posted it on SSRN on June 25.  All things considered, it did pretty well there.  It's up to 222 downloads as of this morning, and made a bunch of the SSRN "Top Ten" lists.

In terms of hiring or tenure, it doesn't matter where I publish. I am pretty sophisticated about what is meaningful and what is not in a linear ranking like the US News list. But I'm as susceptible as the next person to the allure of glitzy branding, even if for no reason other than pure ego.  I am not on the faculty at a school whose letterhead sends student law review editors into spasms of fawning sycophancy.  Nor do I think my stuff is easy for student law review editors to assess.  (Dan Markel, of blessed memory, once told me I am "orthogonal" to most debates, something I took as a compliment even though I'm quite sure he didn't mean it that way. I think of it as "anything you can do, I can do meta.") Indeed, I've already noted that I've been asked to "peer review" articles for multiple super-elite flagship law reviews.  Each time I've done it, bitching all the while to my contact articles editors about the fact that my own submissions to their journals don't make it out of the submission inbox.

So, after the break, a short narrative about Persistence's submission odyssey.

As of June 25, I was suffering from the usual self-delusions, sitting on a completed 25,000 word article and thinking that it really did deserve to appear in a very "top" law review (see above).  I knew that submission season didn't begin until August 1 and that the peak for submissions would be roughly mid-August.

I had acted as a peer reviewer for an article in the flagship journal of a very highly ranked law school in the spring (the "XLR").  I contacted directly the XLR senior articles editor with whom I had dealt.  The editor encouraged me to submit when the journal opened on August 1, and said that if I gave a two week exclusive, the journal would guarantee a read of the piece.  That seemed to me a no-lose proposition because it would still allow me to submit in the Scholastica shotgun as of August 15 (by which date, I knew in those brief moments of being tethered to some fashion of cognitive lucidity, XLR would have rejected it).  

In early July, Northwestern announced an early submission period for those willing to give exclusives between July 15 and the end of the month.  Again, that struck me as a no-lose proposition, as upon its inevitable rejection at Northwestern, I could submit it to XLR as of August 1.  The inevitable Northwestern rejection came (a day early), and the piece duly went off to the XLR.  I related the story of its sojourn at the XLR here.  Suffice it to say that, as of the evening of August 14, I was ready to do the Scholastica thing.

Off it went in the wee hours of August 15 with a CV and a cover letter (including the classic sentences: "Let me put this bluntly.  Please put aside the usual heuristics based upon the letterhead of the submitting author.").  As I've noted, my peeve is submitting to journals and not being prepared to accept offers if they are the only ones you get.  On the first pass, I decided to do flagship journals of USNWR top 50 schools and two "specialties," the Columbia Business Law Review and the NYU Journal of Law & Business.  When I woke up in the morning, I had a few minutes of post-Nespresso clarity, after which I added submissions to the flagship journals of top 100 USNWR schools. I also decided, since I had submitted to specialty journals at Columbia and NYU, I'd submit to one "elite school" specialty journal that I had never seen before but which seemed appropriate for my topic: the Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law and Policy.  

That was it for the next couple weeks, except that I decided to submit directly to a couple flagships (you know who they are) that don't do the full Scholastica shotgun thing.  One of them (for whom I had done a peer review several years ago) rejected the piece within a couple days, but were thoughtful enough to look forward to my next submission.  Other than that, I lurked on the angsting post and contributed to the betterment of the world by recording my rejections on Sarah Lawsky's spreadsheet.  Based on what I was seeing in the comments, and knowing how little any of the tea leaves meant, I wrote something about my view of the realities of article placement.

I then experienced what I thought, at the time, was the corollary to my pet peeve about submissions, which I sometimes characterize as another one of Lipshaw's Laws.  It goes like this:  "If you submit only to law reviews you are prepared to accept, you can be sure that your only offer will come from the very last review you decided you were willing to put on the list."  As sure as the earth orbits the sun in an ellipse, I received a message last week through Scholastica from the very last review I had decided I was willing to put on the list, the Stanford Journal of Blockchain Law & Policy, that my article had received a favorable "peer review" and would be coming up for a vote of the board of editors.

What I am about to say may well be the epitome of rationalization or cognitive dissonance.  I did something I probably should have done at the outset, which is that I went to the SJBLP website.  There I discovered that the journal is not student-edited, that articles (i.e. pieces over 10,000 words) are sent out for peer review, and that the journal is affiliated with the MIT Media Lab and Stanford's Code-X (its Legal Informatics program).   Many people who are prominent in the "artificial intelligence and the law" community are affiliated with Code-X.

So we go back to the issue of substance, on one hand, versus heuristics and ego, on the other.  My piece got very granular about the nature of computer code and its relation to logic.  I said a lot of things about how computers work.  Even though I'm pretty good at math, I'm not a computer expert.  To have the piece accepted by a peer-reviewed journal in the academic "law and computation" community was, to me, a significant professional validation.  At that point, I realized that I would rather have it published there than in almost any other journal.  I say almost any other because the allure of publishing in a T14 or T17 journal, particularly when it is so rare on my faculty, was still strong.

Yesterday, the SJBLP accepted the piece with a short deadline.  Last night, I withdrew it from all but nine journals, and expedited the rest.  This morning, again with the benefit of Nespresso clarity, I decided (a) it was highly unlikely any of the nine would abide the short expedite deadline; (b) it was highly unlikely that any of the nine would make an offer, but (c) most importantly, I really did come to believe the best home for the piece was where it was likely to be read by people who care about and understand the issues.  Ego and heuristics be damned!  Shortly thereafter, I clicked the "accept" button on Scholastica and withdrew it from the remaining journals.

Were I "on the market" would I have thought this through in the same way?  I don't know.  Fortunately, I don't have to test my self-honesty against that counter-factual.  I am quite sure, however, that, as someone who is obliged to consider scholarship by hiring and tenure candidates, this narrative would make sense to me if offered up by one of them.  Here, I'm simply putting it out to the community as one datum, for whatever it's worth.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on September 3, 2018 at 02:07 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Law Review Review, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw | Permalink | Comments (6)

Sunday, August 26, 2018

A Guide for the Perplexed - Law Professor Careers Edition

220px-Guide_for_the_Perplexed_by_MaimonidesWith sincere apologies to Maimonides, and having been a guest blogger through this year's fall article submission season, it seems like an opportune time for a short update to those classics, Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach" and "Retire and Teach" Six Years On.  I wrote the former piece after getting a tenure-track law teaching job at the ripe old age of 52, reflecting on the idiosyncrasies of the hiring process, particularly for the superannuated aspirant, after having experienced the real world for most of a career. I wrote the latter piece shortly after I got tenure, reflecting mostly on what it really meant to do scholarship and teaching well.  

I now have the further experience of having participated on various career-related committees and the faculty meetings in which hiring and other career decisions get made.  (Disclaimer:  what follows are my views alone and do not represent views of my employer, any committee on which I sit, or any other member of our faculty.)  So, below the break, and for what it's worth, here are some random and personal thoughts about the role of scholarship in academic law careers and careerism, particularly for pre-tenured folks, from my particular perch at a respectable but certainly not an "elite" school.

  • Why are you writing?  Presumably it's because you like doing it and see it as a way of making a difference in the world.  But from a career advancement standpoint, you do it for one of three reasons:  to get hired, to get tenure, or to move laterally.  What I'm about to say is based on intuitions about data because the data is not readily available.  The first and the last of those career objectives are difficult; the middle one, at all but a handful of institutions, is relatively easy.  My suspicion is that the lateral market is far less important as a factor in career advancement than it might otherwise seem - again the availability heuristic at work.  The AALS reports that there are over 10,000 full-time tenured or tenure-track law professors (makes sense - about 200 schools at an average of 50 faculty members).  Maybe there are 100 lateral moves a year?  A very well-known senior law professor/scholar told me years ago not to expect to move laterally - this person had spent 17 years at a lower top 100 school before making a series of significant jumps up the food chain.  My intuition (which I could test if I didn't think it was undue navel-gazing) is that the farther you go down the rankings, the higher the percentage of faculty that have spent their entire career at the school.
  • CVs provide a gestalt.  My own experience is that I take it in as a whole and don't react to any particular item unless there is something truly exceptional about it.  For my money, the angst and mental energy I see reflected on this blog with respect to article placement is barely worth the effort.  The names of law reviews in which you've published are visceral heuristics that, in my experience, matter only when one is flipping through hundreds of FAR submissions.  Even then, it matters only to an extent and not at the level of granularity that people seem to think makes a difference.  Per the lumping of peer reputation scores I've highlighted before, if you've published in the elites it would cause me to notice, and it would probably cause me to notice if you published nowhere but specialty journals in the unranked USNWR category of law schools, but little else matters viscerally.  I don't keep a US News or Washington & Lee ranking in my head, and couldn't tell you where Tulane ranks in relation to Colorado to Temple.  And even noticing isn't the same thing as making an informed judgment that involves the subject matter of the writing, the apparent sophistication of the work (if one can tell from the title), or its originality, even if I make the judgment quickly.
  • Once you get past the visceral, here's what I think really happens.  As Paul Caron wrote in an article over ten years ago, legal scholarship has an exceedingly long tail.  Paul relied on research done by Tom Smith at San Diego.  The top half percent of articles get 18% of all citations, the top 5.2% get 50% of all citations, and the tail gets truncated quickly as 40% of all articles never get cited.  I'm assuming that there is a relationship between citation and articles even getting read.  The times you can be sure some or all of your work will be read is when you've made it through the callbacks and are into the final several people being considered for the spot, when you are being reviewed for promotion or tenure, and if and when you were ever in the final stages of the lateral process.  Generally speaking, people doing that reading aren't idiots, and know exactly how the system works.  If the piece sucks, but somehow you managed to get it through the editorial board at take-your-pick top 50 flagship, very few people who know the area in which you are writing are going to think to themselves, "Hmm, this person missed the really important work on this subject and skated over the hardest responses to the argument, but my gosh it was placed in the Big Ten Other Than Michigan Law Review, so it must be good."
  • While being perceived as a competent scholar is a but-for in the hiring, tenuring, and lateraling milieus, the make-or-break consideration is being perceived as a productive scholar.  If there is anything I find meaningful in visceral impressions, again it is the gestalt of a CV with a healthy list of publications the dates of which show consistency, all appropriately adjusted for the length of one's career.
  • In creating the gestalt, aim for one traditional law review behemoth a year.  But don’t overlook short pieces - reactions, brief essays, and so on.  The online supplements are nice for this, as are the "essay" sections of traditional law reviews.  You read a piece and have 3,000 to 5,000 words (or fewer) to say about it.  Do it!
  • With the shorter pieces, take a shot at a peer reviewed journal.  I really like the courage it shows. (Most peer reviewed journals have a word limit - usually no more than 10,000.).  It takes longer to place them, but it really is a professional affirmation.  And since it's likely that they don't count as "tenure pieces" under many schools' tenure standards, the wait doesn't matter so much.  Steel yourself, however, for what academics in other disciplines experience:  evil reviewer #2 who hates your piece, your school, and you, "revise and resubmit," and Chicago Manual of Style footnotes. 
  • My thoughts on the substance of what gets written and the relationship of that substance to career advancement - issues of cross-disciplinarity, normativity, conformity, etc. - are at pages 71-80 of Retire and Teach: Six Years On, and I won't repeat them here.
  • Network in your area.  If you read somebody’s article and like it, send the person a note with this in the subject line “Loved your piece....”.  Be a commenter on others’ work.
  • Blog.  PrawfsBlawg was founded as a forum for new (i.e. “raw”) professors.   Again, it’s a two-edged sword.  If your stuff is good, it helps.  If not, it doesn’t.  When I was unsure of a blog post, I would send it to a friend first.
  • Finally, a pet peeve. When you submit, you certainly can play the expedite game, but my personal view is that it’s inappropriate to submit to law reviews for which you would not accept an offer if it were the only one you got.  If somebody at my school were to tell me they were doing that, I would probably raise my eyebrows and look askance.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 26, 2018 at 10:42 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2018-2019

In a radical departure from past practice, this year the Hiring Spreadsheet post and the Clearinghouse for Questions post will live together in one post (quel scandale! cats and dogs! etc.). This very post, to be specific. (Last year, there were zero comments on the Hiring Thread post, because everyone just put the information in the spreadsheet. So I figured, let's combine them in one action-packed post! Spreadsheet and comments! Woohoo!)

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. and 2017-2018. 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.

Update: Comments have been changed to appear in order of newest to oldest. So the most recent comments are on the first page.

Update, 1/15/19: Some people have requested a "soft open" for the placement information. If you would like information to be added to the spreadsheet, please send me the information or post it in the comments below, and I will add it to the spreadsheet (which I will post once I have a few entries). You cannot add the information yourself. I will publicize this spreadsheet in early March, as I usually do. 

The relevant information to send is, as always,

Basic Information: Name, Hiring School, JD Institution, JD Year of Graduation

Other Degrees: Type of Degree, Degree Granting Institution, Degree Subject

Fellowship, VAP, or Visiting Professorship: Institution and Type (e.g., VAP, name of fellowship, etc.)

Clerkship: Court (e.g., 9th Circuit, Texas Supreme Court, etc.)

Areas of Specialty (up to four) (if you are a clinical or LRW hire, please list this as your first Area of Specialty)

Type of Position: Tenure Track or Non-Tenure Track (if you are clinical or LRW and also tenure-track, please indicate this)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 23, 2018 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (831)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2018

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.20180816

(All information obtained from various blog posts, blog comments, 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 16, 2018.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 16, 2018 at 12:30 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (28)

More Angsting about Angsting

So ... I entered a piece in the law review submission free-for-all.  It has caused me to reflect further on this system that generally causes academic jaws to drop in every other discipline when you describe it. Being at this stage of my career (see Further Reflections on the End of Ambition) where placements tend to be a matter of bucket list check-off and pure ego, my heart really does go out to those whose angst is related to getting or retaining a job. I thought "ctr" (the Appointments Chair at a T50 school) offered some wise counsel in the comments, consistent with the data, about not getting too hung up on the relative rankings of the schools in which you place your pieces.

I do not discount the angst.  I recently went through the five stages of law review submission grief.

Denial:  [Imagine thought balloon if this were a cartoon] "Oh wow, I've been called now by the fourth different Very Highly Ranked Flagship Law Review that Has Never Published Anything Written by Anybody Who Has Ever Been on Our Faculty to do a peer review of a submission.  I must be thought of as having scholarly chops well above the station otherwise indicated by the faculty letterhead on which I am obliged to submit my own work."

Bargaining:  "Dear Senior Articles Editor for Very Highly Ranked Flagship Law Review that Has Never Published Anything Written by Anybody Who Has Ever Been on Our Faculty:  I was flattered when you asked me several months ago to be an unpaid peer reviewer for the article submitted by [deleted] and was happy to turn around thoughtful comments in fewer than 24 hours because you were on an expedite deadline.  I did point out at the time the irony of your calling me for a review when all of my submissions to your journal have been rejected within hours, if not minutes, of their submission. Nevertheless, I did do it for you in the appointed time.  As you may recall, you commented on my comments as 'fascinating,' 'insightful,' and 'extremely helpful to our board's consideration.'  I now have a new piece ready for submission, and am willing to give it to you for an exclusive review for two weeks."

Depression:  "Dear Professor:  Thank you for submitting your article to the Very Highly Ranked Flagship Law Review.  Even though I found it fascinating and insightful, I am afraid that we will not be able to consider it for inclusion.  We wish you the best of luck in your placement of the article.  We hope, however, that you consider the Very Highly Ranked Flagship Law Review for future submissions."

Anger:  "Ungrateful little shits."

Acceptance:  American Samoa Journal of Bible Studies and Blockchain Technology.

[I promise more serious advice in a future post.]

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 16, 2018 at 10:45 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Submission Angsting and the Availability Heuristic

Slide1I have not participated in the bi-annual feeding frenzy known as the student-edited law review submission season in several years.  I may this year, plus I'm blogging, so it's hard not to read the comments on "submission angsting" post (NB: autocorrect kept changing it to "submission ingesting" which I think is clever.)

This is a curmudgeonly but data-based contribution in aid of the reduction of angst. I vaguely recall posting something like this eleven or twelve years ago, no doubt when many young law professors or aspiring law professors were still in high school.  I direct it to those of you readers angsting significantly between, say, placements in law reviews at school ranked 65 versus school ranked 75.  Or some such similar consideration.

Paul Caron over at Tax Prof Blog does us the community service every year of re-ranking the schools by their "peer assessment" number, which ranges from 1.1 at the low end to 4.8 at the top.  I am assuming for this exercise that the peer assessment is meaningful even though I have my doubts.

My doubts stem largely from the likelihood that so much of this is determined by the availability heuristic, the term coined by Tversky and Kahneman for a mental strategy in which people make judgments about probability, frequency, or extremity based on the ease with which and the amount of information that can be brought to mind.  Hence, we bias our judgments based on available information.

Having said that, here goes.  One of the most available pieces of information is the linear ranking in US News.  It's really available.  It's available to the people who send in their votes for peer ranking and it's available to authors trying to place their articles.  What is not so available (thank you Paul) because you have to pay to get it isn't just the re-ranking by peer assessment but the actual peer score.

The histogram above shows the peer assessment scores from the 2019 US News law school ranking by the number of schools at each peer score from 1.1 to 4.8.  You can draw your own conclusions, but I think trying to thin-slice differences between scores close to each other is kind of silly.  It's pretty clear that whatever peer assessment means, the top 17 are in their own world.  As between 18 and 50, yeah, maybe there's difference between 18 and 50, but I wouldn't get too worked about about the difference between 30 and 40.  That effect is even more dramatic in the 50-100 range.  The point is that the rankings are linear, but the actual data sits on a curve.  So the differences between linear rankings mean different things at different levels.  (I'm pretty sure re-grouping the data in other significant categories like entering LSAT score would yield similar results.)

It's why I find it, what?, sad? odd? unthoughtful? when schools get lauded or dinged for moving eight or ten places one way or another between about 50 and 125.  Yes, the data are meaningful when you jump from 105 to 18 or vice versa.  But not when you "sank" from 50 to 62.

Okay, that's it.  Back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

UPDATE:  I'm going to close the comments here.  If this merits any discussion, it probably ought to occur at the angsting post.  

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 13, 2018 at 03:12 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Life of Law Schools, Lipshaw | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 10, 2018

Reminder: Hiring Committees

A reminder that you can announce information regarding your hiring committee either in the comments to the hiring committee post, or by sending me an email directly, at sarah *dot* lawsky *at* law *dot* northwestern *dot* edu. The FAR forms have just been submitted and will be available to committees next week, so this is a good time to contribute information about your hiring committee.

Additionally, I've made two small tweaks on the spreadsheet.

First, there's now a column with links to websites that announce positions or websites that candidates must use to apply. (Enough posts were including this information that it made sense to include this on the spreadsheet as well.)

Second, there are now separate columns indicating whether committees are looking for entry-level candidates or lateral candidates. Providing the information in separate columns makes it easier for a candidate to focus on schools relevant to that particular candidate. Not all schools apply this information, but enough do that it makes sense to include it.

(I've closed comments on this post to drive comments to the hiring committee post.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 10, 2018 at 11:17 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Suffolk Hiring Announcement

SuffolkFrom my Appointments Committee colleagues:

Suffolk University Law School in Boston invites applications for up to three tenured or tenure-track faculty positions at the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor of law starting in the 2019-2020 academic year.  Candidates should have a strong academic background, a record or promise of significant scholarship, and a demonstrated commitment to excellence in teaching. Our primary curricular needs are Criminal Law and Contracts. We hope to hire candidates with combined expertise in one of those first-year subjects and one or more of our upper-level areas of need, which include Constitutional Criminal Procedure, Evidence, business law (especially Business Organizations, Securities Regulation, and Banking Law), Alternative Dispute Resolution, Health Law, and courses on race, gender, sexual orientation and the law. Consideration will be given to relevant practice experience.

Interested candidates should include in their application a resume or curriculum vitae and a cover letter addressed to Professors Joseph Glannon and Lorie Graham, Co-chairs of the Appointments Committee.  All materials must be uploaded to the Suffolk University website.

Suffolk Law is an equal opportunity employer and will give careful consideration to all qualified applicants regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, genetic information, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.  Suffolk Law is committed to a diverse faculty and strongly encourages applicants from historically under-represented groups. For more information on Suffolk Law’s commitment to diversity, please see this.  

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on July 31, 2018 at 01:19 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Lipshaw | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Hiring Committees 2018-2019

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2018-2019 law school faculty hiring season:

(a) your school;
 
(b) 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);
 
(c) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(d) 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:

(e) 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); 
 
(f) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); 
 
(g) the website, if any, that candidates should use to obtain information about the position or to apply;
 
(h) the number of available faculty positions at your school; and
 
(i) 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.

Originally posted July 11, 2018; updated August 10, 2018, to reflect that the spreadsheet now includes (1) website links and (2) whether the committee is interested in entry level candidates, lateral candidates, or both. 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 11, 2018 at 10:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (66)

Monday, July 02, 2018

Hiring Posts - Schedule

An approximate schedule of law school hiring posts follows, based off the dates of the release of the first FAR distribution and the AALS conference . Because the dates of the FAR distribution and AALS conference are approximately three weeks earlier than last year, all the below dates are similarly earlier. 

Wednesday, July 11: Hiring committee post. (Last year's post here.)

Thursday, August 16: FAR distribution 1 released.

Thursday, August 23: Law School Hiring post (reporting interviews and callbacks; last year's post here). (Because all the information is collected on a single spreadsheet, we don't need separate posts for interviews and callbacks, as in the olden days.) This year, the spreadsheet post will be combined with the Clearinghouse for Questions (last year's post here) in one post.

Thursday, August 23: Clearinghouse for Questions (last year's post here). 

Thursday, October 11, through Saturday, October 13: Hiring Conference.

Monday, October 29: VAP post (last year's post here).

Late February/early March: Begin entry level hiring report data collection.

Originally published on July 2, 2018; modifed August 16, 2018, to reflect that the Law School Hiring post and the Clearinghouse for Questions post will be combined into one post. 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 2, 2018 at 01:00 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance Fellowship Announcement

From the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation: 

The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation is pleased to announce the availability of positions of Post-Graduate Academic Fellows in the areas of corporate governance and law and finance. Qualified candidates who are interested in working with the Program as Post-Graduate Academic Fellows may apply at any time and the start date is flexible.

Candidates should be interested in spending two to three years at Harvard Law School (longer periods may be possible). Candidates should have a J.D., LL.M., or S.J.D. from a U.S. law school, or a Ph.D. in economics, finance, or related areas by the time they commence their fellowship. Candidates still pursuing an S.J.D. or Ph.D. are eligible so long as they will have completed their program’s coursework requirements by the time they start. During the term of their appointment, Post-Graduate Academic Fellows work on research and corporate governance activities of the Program, depending on their skills, interests, and Program needs. Fellows may also work on their own research and publishing in preparation for a career in academia or policy research. Former Fellows of the Program now teach in leading law schools in the U.S. and abroad.

Interested candidates should submit a CV, transcripts, writing sample, list of references, and cover letter to the coordinator of the Program, Ms. Jordan Figueroa, at [email protected]harvard.edu. The cover letter should describe the candidate’s experience, reasons for seeking the position, career plans, and the kinds of projects and activities in which he or she would like to be involved at the Program. The position includes Harvard University benefits and a competitive fellowship salary.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on April 12, 2018 at 06:56 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Want this job? Move five times in eight years

As usual, Professor Sarah Lawsky's tireless diligence here at Prawfs has yielded a treasure trove of information regarding entry-level hiring. Browsing this year's report, I can't help but notice the serial credentials that these impressive hires have: a fellowship (maybe two), an advanced degree (maybe two), a clerkship (maybe two), not to mention law firm, government, corporate, or public interest jobs wedged in between. (Most have some non-clerkship legal experience, and many have five or more years' experience.)

But, as I look at the litany of jobs, I can't help but wonder about a major barrier to entry into the legal academy: the flexibility to move several times in a short period of time early in one's career. Few of these hires stacked all their experiences in a single city. Many moved time after time after time for one- or two-year jobs, before heading off to grab the next credential.

I think about my own experience: South Bend to Saint Louis to Chicago to State College to Malibu (and it easily could have been more), one- and two-year stints along the way. Four children born in four different states. And others have far more experiences than I had. I was very fortunate to have an extraordinarily flexible spouse and the financial ability to handle these transitions (at least for as long as I needed to do so).

But it's also made me reflect that many do not have this flexibility. Those who secure a concentration of experiences in a single (usually very large) city; those who postpone family life; those with socioeconomic means to take low-paying clerkships and fellowships, and to move repeatedly; those with a mobile spouse or children not yet enmeshed in a social group--these are just a few of the groups that can enjoy what one might (uncharitably) call a kind of hazing: "Want this job? Move five times in eight years."

Candidly, I understand that there's a kind of arms race out there among schools and prospective law professors. The candidates get still more glowing credentials, and it becomes very easy to rely on those proxies (e.g., clerkships, advanced degrees, and fellowships). The market has grown ever tighter over the last decade, and with fewer openings comes tougher expectations. Candidates remain on the market for longer periods and cycle through additional fellowships. And that leads to candidates with ever-longer publication records, which in turn requires future prospective candidates to take the time (and a move or two) to improve their own publication records. (Indeed, some come to the market with tenure-worthy track records!)

I don't really have easy answers to this. Maybe today's entry-level law professors are simply better than they were a decade ago because of these many accomplishments. Maybe we can't de-escalate the arms race of credentials--and maybe the backlog of prospective law professors is not going away anytime soon. Maybe these proxies are simply a better way of measuring future quality (then again, maybe a clerkship is just a job). And existing publication records are, I think, better than guesses about future scholarly ability.

All the same, I wonder if the pendulum has swung too far to often demanding far too much of too many would-be law professors. And while I'm not sure what the right result is, or whether it's something law schools can even control, I do think we underestimate how much the present system may be shaping the market of prospective law professors, and perhaps in ways that are not only unanticipated but perhaps even undesirable. If that's the case, I hope it's something law schools (and hiring committees in particular) can begin thinking how to address.

Posted by Derek Muller on April 12, 2018 at 09:12 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (24)

Monday, March 19, 2018

Tulane Forrester Fellowship

From Tulane Law School:

Tulane Law School invites applicants for the Forrester Fellowship. Forrester Fellows are promising legal academics who teach in the first-year legal writing program. Fellows teach legal writing to two sections of 25 to 30 first-year law students in a program coordinated by the Director of Legal Writing. Fellows are invited to participate in all aspects of the intellectual life of the law school. Fellows are encouraged to present their work at faculty workshops and “brown bags,” and members of the full-time faculty serve as mentors to fellows. Fellows receive a stipend to support travel and research.

Fellows are appointed to a one-year term with the possibility of a single one-year renewal and are expected to enter the law-teaching market.

Applicants must have an outstanding record of academic and professional achievement, a J.D. from an ABA-accredited law school, and at least three years of law-related practice and/or clerkship experience. Tulane is an equal opportunity employer and encourages women and members of minority communities to apply.

Please apply at this link by April 2 and direct any queries to Erin Donelon, director of Tulane Law School’s legal research and writing program.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on March 19, 2018 at 05:20 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

2018 Research Scholar Position, Columbia Law and Economics of Capital Markets Program

The Columbia Law School/Columbia Business School Program in the Law and Economics of Capital Markets is seeking a full time Capital Markets Research Fellow. The appointment will run from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2020.

This position is intended for a person who expects to begin a law school teaching career at the start of the 2020-21 academic year and who desires an interim position that would help the person prepare for such a career by offering the time and facilities needed to do serious research and to develop further expertise.

More information is available here.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on February 20, 2018 at 07:16 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 17, 2017

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2017-2018

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.

Originally posted November 17, 2017.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 17, 2017 at 12:23 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (137)

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance Fellowship Announcement

From the Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation: 

The Harvard Law School Program on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation is pleased to announce the availability of positions of Post-Graduate Academic Fellows in the areas of corporate governance and law and finance. Qualified candidates who are interested in working with the Program as Post-Graduate Academic Fellows may apply at any time and the start date is flexible.

Candidates should be interested in spending two to three years at Harvard Law School (longer periods may be possible). Candidates should have a J.D., LL.M., or S.J.D. from a U.S. law school, or a Ph.D. in economics, finance, or related areas by the time they commence their fellowship. Candidates still pursuing an S.J.D. or Ph.D. are eligible so long as they will have completed their program’s coursework requirements by the time they start. During the term of their appointment, Post-Graduate Academic Fellows work on research and corporate governance activities of the Program, depending on their skills, interests, and Program needs. Fellows may also work on their own research and publishing in preparation for a career in academia or policy research. Former Fellows of the Program now teach in leading law schools in the U.S. and abroad.

Interested candidates should submit a CV, transcripts, writing sample, list of references, and cover letter to the coordinator of the Program, Ms. Jordan Figueroa, at [email protected]harvard.edu. The cover letter should describe the candidate’s experience, reasons for seeking the position, career plans, and the kinds of projects and activities in which he or she would like to be involved at the Program. The position includes Harvard University benefits and a competitive fellowship salary.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 7, 2017 at 10:46 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 06, 2017

Law School Hiring, 2017-2018, Reminder

Recall that you can post information about interviews, callbacks, etc. on the spreadsheet.

For general questions, comments, or discussion about the teaching market, see A Clearinghouse for Questions. Here is a link to a late-ish page of comments on that thread. (I can't put a link that auto-refers to the last page of comments--the trick I was using no longer works. If you know a way to do this, please email me.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 6, 2017 at 10:43 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity University of North Carolina School of Law

The University of North Carolina School of Law strongly encourages individuals interested in becoming law professors to apply for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity. This is a university-wide program aimed at helping scholars from underrepresented groups prepare for and secure tenure-track appointments. The University places postdoctoral fellows across departments at UNC-Chapel Hill. The School of Law seeks to participate in this program by hosting and mentoring a postdoctoral fellow who is interested in becoming a tenure-track law professor.

Interested applicants must have completed their JD and/or PhD degree no later than July 1, 2018 and no earlier than July 1, 2013. Fellows will be appointed for a period of two years, and they are expected to be in residence for both years. A fellow placed at the School of Law would be engaged full-time in research and would teach one course per year. The course to be taught would be determined based on the fellow’s interests as well as the needs of the school. The School of Law would provide mentorship to prepare the fellow for the tenure-track job market. The fellow would fully participate in faculty scholarship workshops and all other aspects of the school’s intellectual life. During the second year of the program, the fellow would be expected to apply for tenure-track positions through the Association of American Law Schools’ annual faculty recruitment process. Depending on the hiring needs of the law school, the fellow might also be considered as a possible tenure-track candidate at the UNC School of Law.

The stipend for fellows is $47,476 per calendar year. Additional funds are available for research expenses, including travel. Candidates must submit their application to the University’s Office of Postdoctoral Affairs via the website provided below. The Office of Postdoctoral Affairs will ask the School of Law to review materials submitted by applicants who express interest in spending their fellowship at the School of Law. Based on the submitted materials and interviews with candidates, the School of Law will nominate a candidate for further review. (The School of Law may also decline to nominate someone if no suitable applicant is identified). A selection committee, consisting of staff and faculty from different UNC-Chapel Hill units, will then review all materials associated with department nominations and make fellowship offers.

The primary criterion for selection is evidence of scholarship potentially competitive for tenure-track appointments at the University of North Carolina and other research universities. Preference will be given to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The University strongly encourages applications from African American, Native American and Hispanic/Latinx American scholars. 

Interested applicants should apply online at https://apps.research.unc.edu/postdoc_fd/.

Directions for the electronic submission are provided at the application site.  For additional information, please visit the program website at http://research.unc.edu/carolina-postdocs/index.htm. Questions may be directed to Program Coordinator Jennifer Pruitt in the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs at [email protected]. Questions about the School of Law may be directed to Holning Lau, Associate Dean for Faculty Development, at [email protected].

The application deadline is 5:00PM EST Tuesday, November 15, 2017, including three letters of recommendations due by November 15, 2017.

 

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an equal opportunity and affirmative action employer.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, race, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or status as a protected veteran.

Posted by Carissa Byrne Hessick on September 28, 2017 at 10:58 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Law School Hiring, 2017-2018, Thread One

Those on the market are invited to leave comments on this thread regarding whether they 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.  

Four miscellaneous things:

1. If you don't want your contact information displayed, enter [email protected] or something like that as an email address.

2. There is a separate thread, "A Clearinghouse for Questions," for general questions or comments about the teaching market. Please do not use the thread below for general questions or comments. (Such comments will be deleted, not out of hostility or in a judgy way, just to keep this thread focused.)

3. 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.

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

 

Originally posted September 14, 2017.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 14, 2017 at 01:56 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2017

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.20170907

(All information obtained from various blog posts, blog comments, 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 September 7, 2017.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 7, 2017 at 12:22 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 01, 2017

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2017-2018

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.

After the AALS hiring conference, there will be a different thread in which candidates or professors can report callbacks, offers, and acceptances. That thread should be used only for information relevant to hiring, not for questions or comments on the process. This is the thread for questions.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-20152015-2016, and 2016-2017.

Update, January 2, 2018: I am unable to add a link to the last page of comments. Typepad has killed the trick for adding "last page" links. Here is the last page of comments as of January 2, 2018; this will not remain the last page of comments, but at least you will be able to click through fewer pages.

Another approach: here is a link to the last page of comments as of January 2, 2018: 

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2017/09/a-clearinghouse-for-questions-2017-2018/comments/page/19/#comments

Substitute a higher number for the "19" and you will be taken to a later page of comments. If you guess too high, you will be taken to the first page of comments.

Originally posted September 1, 2017. 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on September 1, 2017 at 12:31 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (1144)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Hiring Committees 2017-2018

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2017-2018 law school faculty hiring season:

(a) your school;
 
(b) 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);
 
(c) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(d) 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:

(e) 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); 
 
(f) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); and/or
 
(g) 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.)

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 21, 2017 at 02:35 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (64)

Saturday, November 05, 2016

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2016-2017

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.

Originally posted November 5, 2016.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 5, 2016 at 05:21 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (21)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Law School Hiring, 2016-2017, Thread Two

Please leave comments on this thread regarding whether you have received:

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

(b) 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.

Five miscellaneous things:

1. If you don't want your contact information displayed, enter [email protected] or something like that as an email address.

2. There is a  separate thread, "A Clearinghouse for Questions," for general questions or comments about the teaching market. Please do not use the thread below for general questions or comments.

3. 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.

4. The year's first hiring thread is here. Comments to that thread are now closed.

5. If you would like to enter the information on a spreadsheet, the spreadsheet is available here

You can also add your information to the spreadsheet via this Google form, which was created by someone on the market this year.

Here is a link to the last page of comments.

Originally posted October 17, 2016.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 17, 2016 at 11:08 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (238)

Friday, October 14, 2016

Number of Schools at FRC Over Time - 2016

In 2012, there were 142 AALS member or approved schools at the FRC.

In 2013, 94 schools.

In 2014, 81 schools.

In 2015, 89 schools.

In 2016, 86 U.S. law schools (the list provided by AALS was categorized differently this year but this is roughly equivalent to AALS member or approved schools).

Schools at FRC.20161014

(Say +/- 2 for each year due to vagaries of counting.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 14, 2016 at 08:13 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Follow Up on Academic Vitas

Just because of the comments and interest the original post elicited, a few more thoughts.

I’m grateful for the comments, which helped me understand both the problem and also at least one way in which I was unclear.

I’d begin though by expressing my heartfelt sympathy for how frustrating the market is.  I spent much of my earlier career on hiring committees, but most of my last decade and a half helping prepare academic candidates for the market.  I know just how maddening it can be, and how difficult it has become with the relative scarcity of jobs.  As I assist candidates, year after year, I feel the pain.

I will say there is no magic.  As opaque as it can appear, committees and faculties want good minds and folks who will be good colleagues and teachers.  I get frustrated with many of the purveyors of advice who are looking for a silver bullet, some clever new tactic, when it is primarily about hard work and preparation and putting your best foot forward in logical ways.  (I also have many thoughts about the way the market has moved, and its preferences, maybe for another day.)

But on this subject of vitas, I was partly understood and partly misunderstood – my bad of course, I should have been clearer.

I don’t actually think it matters hugely what order the blocks on the vita come in, i.e. whether professional positions come before publications come before education.  I agree with our stellar director of academic careers that there is no one right answer.  I suppose if I had my preference – but it is just that and little more – it would be education, professional positions, publications, courses, references.  Maybe with presentations tossed in toward the end.  (For what it is worth that is how my vita still is, though I’ve wondered if I should just toss education down below – does anyone care anymore?)

What I and others have noticed this year – and I agree there has been gradual creep – is the profusion of subcategories (academic positions, professional positions, clerkships; academic writings, professional writing; other).  Even this would be fine; but what really gets my goat is how categories that are logically-grouped (all jobs together; all publications together) are on some vitas divided up and scattered throughout the vita. I see why it is happening – folks want to shove any conceivable academic aspects up top – but I still think it is a bad idea.

What anyone reading your vita wants to be able to do is understand the arc of your career.  How you were trained, what positions you have held and experience you have had, and what you have been writing.  It is important for a reader to get that.  To get you.  And when the various aspects of a vita are subdivided and scattered in an effort to get anything academic-y up top, it gets difficult to get a grasp on the whole person.

That’s my only point.  The rest is preference and reasonable strategy.

With that, good luck.

Posted by Barry Friedman on September 27, 2016 at 06:33 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, September 26, 2016

What’s Happened With Academic Job Market Vitas?

            What is up with the CVs that academic job market candidates are circulating this year?  Something seems seriously off the rails, and I hope folks will take note and consider fixing it for the future.

            This year’s job market CVs are a weird mash-up in which job market candidates are shoving to the front anything that seems to them relevant to an academic job, and then pushing down below a variety of other information including most of a person’s professional career.  Work experience, publications, presentations, all are broken into strange, small, and often unfathomable categories.

            Although the intention seems to be to put one’s qualifications for an academic job up top, the real effect is to make it extremely difficult (and in some cases impossible) to piece together the candidate’s professional career.

            Take note:  I’m not the only person thinking this is bizarre.  Our entire hiring committee is scratching its head, and I’ve yet to talk with any hiring committee member who believes it makes any sense.  (I’m confident a contrarian will surface here in the comments, blogging being what it is, but still, market candidates, take note.)

            I’m not sure who started this trend, or who is promoting it as the right thing to do.  But here’s a pro tip:  it is not helping you, and folks should stop it.  Indeed, my free legal advice is to think about getting to schools that are seeing you an old-fashioned vita, the kind that actually tells people how your career has proceeded.

            That’s what a CV is.  A summary of your professional life.  It’s designed to let readers know what you have done. It is fine to rework the CV to emphasize aspects of your career that favor the particular job for which you are applying.  But it is quite another thing to design it in a way that hides essential information.

            Schools want to know what you have done professionally.  They want to be able to make logical sense of your career and education to date.  They very much want to know if you have professional experience, including practicing law.  Indeed, I do not know one school where having actually worked in some practice setting is a negative.  It is almost always a positive.  It is true that we are hiring PhDs without this experience.  (And we are even hiring non-PhDs without this experience, though I for one am dubious of candidates who neither have PhDs nor some serious practice experience, even if only for a couple of years.)

            When I look at a CV I want to know about someone’s education, about their professional positions, and about their publications.  Divided into those three categories and those three alone, not subdivided into tiny pieces, so that I can make sense of it.  I don’t want clerkhips in one place, practice in another, and random teaching gigs yet somewhere else.  I want publications to all fall in one place on the CV.   And sure, I’m happy to learn about presentations – though I don’t care that much – or about other things that may be worthy of mention.  But if I can’t get the basics, I’m frustrated and not likely to be impressed.

            And, again, I don’t think I’m alone in this.

            So I’d suggest we let go of the latest trend, and go back to the old-fashioned way with CVs.  I’m all for innovation, but not when it is a step backward.

Posted by Barry Friedman on September 26, 2016 at 07:14 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Life of Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (27)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Blinding and Bias in Law Hiring

As some of you may know, I inadvertently started a heated debate over what students should call professors, see here, and here, (Eugene Volokh’s take here) and here (Orin Kerr’s take).

This debate has turned into a larger one about trying to improve respect and even reduce bias in the classroom and has led to some really interesting conversations.  Without fail, my male colleagues are shocked when I tell them that I routinely introduce myself as Professor Baughman and am in turn called “Shima.” They could never imagine a student not thinking their first name was professor even when they first started teaching. Even Volokh’s post acknowledges that though he asks students to call him Eugene, they don’t take him up on this offer. Could this possibly be because he's a white male (and also really famous)?

I actually remember wishing early on in teaching that I was white, much older, and a man.  I still wish this sometimes when I speak at certain events.  Obviously, I can’t do anything about that in teaching and presenting and luckily it has not presented a big obstacle in my career.  But part of that is because at least some of what helps us achieve our success is done in a blind manner. 

We receive our grades in law school blindly.  The bar is graded blindly. And even now as a professor, my articles are submitted and judged (at least to some law reviews) presumably blindly (I say presumably because there is always a lot of doubt that the schools that claim blind judging of law review articles are truly doing this (fully) in a blind manner. I’m not entering that fray today).

But still a lot of what we do as lawyers and law professors is not done in a blind manner. I’ve written about this blinding issue with Sunita Sah and Chris Robertson in the context of prosecutors. We believe prosecutors should be blinded to the race of victims and defendants at the initial charging decision (before they actually meet defendant). Blinding has caught on in other fields.  Just a few examples in our article: doctors blind the race of patients because that has biased their treatment in clinical experiments. Musicians often audition behind a screen so they are solely judged by their music and not their appearance—or gender or race. And so on. In our article we discuss the fact that in some tech job searches, companies have blinded the resumes from the reviewer to try to avoid any implicit bias in hiring.  Why go through this trouble? Well, studies have demonstrated that we all have bias and even being aware of, or trained against this bias, does not help (and can in some contexts actually make it worse).  I would argue, that whenever possible, we should at least consider blinding in decisionmaking.

Recently I spoke at a diversity panel hosted by a large law firm in Salt Lake City.  The discussion centered around how we could create more diversity and reduce bias in hiring at big firms.  But it is a live issue in legal academia, which is something more present on my mind since I am on the Appointments Committee at Utah. Obviously there is a lot that can be done on this front. One suggestion I brought up that I haven’t heard discussed is—what about blinding the initial screening committee at a firm or among an appointments committee to the names of the individuals applying (or other information that indicates their race or gender)? Could that possibly reduce bias?  Could it avoid the famous resume bias documented in studies or even bias documented in hiring research assistants (where women and minorities with similar resumes received less offers? Or could it backfire because at least at some law schools (like ours) or firms, they are hoping for gender and racial diversity and look for these cues on resumes (Black Student Union, Women’s Law Forum, or simple race indicators on FAR forms.)?  Is there any way to use blinding in legal hiring that would help decrease bias and increase diversity?

Posted by Shima Baradaran Baughman on August 30, 2016 at 01:29 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (7)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Clearinghouse for Questions, 2016-2017

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.

We have a different thread in which candidates or professors can report callbacks, offers, and acceptances. That thread should be used only for information relevant to hiring, not for questions or comments on the process. This is the thread for questions.

You may want to take a look at the many questions and answers in the threads from 2014-2015 and 2015-2016.

Here is a link to the last page of comments.

Originally posted August 25, 2016.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 25, 2016 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (196)

Law School Hiring, 2016-2017, Thread One

Those on the market are invited to leave comments on this thread regarding whether they 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.  

Four miscellaneous things:

1. If you don't want your contact information displayed, enter [email protected] or something like that as an email address.

2. There is a  separate thread, "A Clearinghouse for Questions," for general questions or comments about the teaching market. Please do not use the thread below for general questions or comments. (Such comments will be deleted, not out of hostility or in a judgy way, just to keep this thread focused.)

3. 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.

4. Finally, in each of the previous years, someone who is on the market has volunteered to aggregate the information on a spreadsheet. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me directly at sarah *dot* lawsky *at* law *dot* northwestern *dot* edu, and I will get you set up.

Update: No aggregator this year; instead, anyone can edit the spreadsheet. It is available here:

 Here is a link to the last page of comments.

Update: You can also add your information via this Google form, which was created by someone on the market this year.

Originally posted August 25, 2016; updated September 1, 2016, to add spreadsheet, and September 16, 2016, to add the link to the Google form.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 25, 2016 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (397)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2016

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.20160818

(All information obtained from various blog posts, blog comments, 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.)

Edited 8/18/16, 10:06p, to correct number to 382 forms.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 18, 2016 at 01:09 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (22)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Hiring Committees 2016-2017

Please share in the comments the following information related to the 2016-2017 law school faculty hiring season:

(a) your school;
 
(b) 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);
 
(c) other members of your hiring committee (again, please note if there is a distinction between entry level and lateral committees); and
 
(d) 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:

(e) 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); 
 
(f) your committee's preferred way to be contacted (email, snail-mail, or phone); and/or
 
(g) 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.)

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.

Update: to clarify, 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 13, 2016 at 10:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (49)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

AALS Recruitment - An International Perspective

I received the following correspondence from Professor Dennis J. Baker, head of the School of Law at the University of Surrey. This may be of interest to some on the job market.

I thought I would bring the international perspective to your attention. This year, I attended AALS and made 10 offers....Seven of ten candidates accepted my offers and will start at the University of Surrey Law School from June to September 2016. I also recruited several people from the UK, but found the oversupply of incredible talent at AALS very useful for building up our Law School. We will attend again this year looking again to make several appointments.

Out of the 3 candidates who declined our offers, two decided to chance VAPs in the USA....However, one young star who declined our offer instead took a post in the Economics Department at at the University of Warwick in the UK.

Some of those we hired are listed on our Philosophy and Public Affairs Institute page.

 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on April 13, 2016 at 01:16 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Job Market Didn't Work Out This Year. What Now?

On the Clearinghouse for Questions thread, someone posted: "here is a request: a blog post discussing what to do after you have struck out on the market. What do you do next? Especially if you're committed to legal academia? After all, most of candidates will be facing this question."

Please share your thoughts about this question in the comments to this post.

Originally posted November 9, 2015.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 9, 2015 at 10:25 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (13)

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2015-2016

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.

(If someone wants to aggregate this information, email me, slawsky *at* law *dot* uci *dot* edu, and I will set you up with an embedded spreadsheet.)

Originally posted November 9, 2015.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on November 9, 2015 at 10:07 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (27)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Law School Hiring, 2015-2016, Thread Two

For the most recent comments, go here.

Please leave comments on this thread regarding whether you have received:

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

(b) 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.

Five miscellaneous things:

1. If you don't want your contact information displayed, enter [email protected] or something like that as an email address.

2. There is a  separate thread, "A Clearinghouse for Questions," for general questions or comments about the teaching market. Please do not use the thread below for general questions or comments. (Such comments will be deleted, not out of hostility or in a judgy way, just to keep this thread focused.)

3. 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.

4. The year's first hiring thread is here. Comments to that thread are now closed.

5. In each of the last five years, someone who is on the market has volunteered to aggregate the information on a spreadsheet. If you would like to volunteer, please contact me directly at slawsky *at* law *dot* uci *dot* edu, and I will get you set up.

Update: We once again have an aggregator! Below is the spreadsheet, which you can view and download here.

All information should come in through the comments. Our aggregator will use the spreadsheet to aggregate the information.  Only the aggregator will be able to edit the spreadsheet, but when the aggregator edits the spreadsheet, those changes will be reflected in the embedded, downloadable version below.

The aggregator will update the spreadsheet approximately once a week.

You can reach the aggregator at aalsaggregator (at) gmail (dot) com.

Originally posted October 18, 2015; edited October 22, 2015, to add aggregator information.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 18, 2015 at 07:35 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (252)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Number of Schools at FRC Over Time - 2015

Schools at FRC.20151016

In 2012, there were 142 AALS member or approved schools at the FRC.

In 2013, 94 schools.

In 2014, 81 schools.

In 2015, 89 schools.

(Say +/- 2 for each year due to vagaries of counting.)

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 16, 2015 at 08:40 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (7)

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Job Talk Advice - From the Archives

This post excavates two "job talk advice" posts that aren't tagged with "Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market" and so might escape notice. These posts are old (in Internet time) but not dated.

Orin Kerr on "Getting a Teaching Job: The Job Talk" (July 9, 2005).

Daniel Solove on "More Job Talk Advice" (July 9, 2005).

I've closed comments on this post to try to minimize proliferation of comment threads; if you have thoughts or comments on these posts, please share them over at  this year's Clearinghouse for Questions.

Edited 10/19/15 to add: 

Another post by Orin, this one candidates' choosing whether and how to specialize in a particular area of law--the comment thread is also very good.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 13, 2015 at 05:39 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Podcast on Entry-Level Hiring Market

I've recorded a podcast on entry-level hiring as part of UCI Law's podcast series.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on October 7, 2015 at 05:26 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hiring Season Posts - Reminder

The hiring committee thread is here. It includes a spreadsheet that lists, among other items, names of the members of hiring committees as well as particular areas of interests a school might have. If your school and its committee is not yet listed, please consider either emailing me or posting the information in the comments to that post, and I will make sure it gets on the spreadsheet.

At the Clearinghouse for Questions, available here, people may post general questions and information about the job market.

The informational thread is here. People may choose to share information about interview requests they have received or issued.

 

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 31, 2015 at 12:15 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (0)