Thursday, September 22, 2022

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

From the University of Virginia School of Law:

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

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

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

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


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

To apply, visit, search for Requisition R0040373, complete an application online, and upload a cover letter, curriculum vitae, academic agenda, and contact information for three references.

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

Saturday, September 10, 2022

The Other "Other Legal Academy" - Scholarship

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 05, 2022

Iowa Law VAP and Fellowship - 2023-2024

From the University of Iowa College of Law:

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

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

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

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

Thursday, August 25, 2022

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

I. The Spreadsheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Comment Thread

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors or others can weigh in.

Both questions and answers can be anonymous, but I will delete pure nastiness, irrelevance, and misinformation. If you see something that you know to be wrong, please feel free to let me know via email, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

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


Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 25, 2022 at 08:36 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (165)

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2022

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


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

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

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

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Law School Entry-Level Hiring Posting Schedule 2022-2023

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 18, 2022

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2022-2023

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on July 18, 2022 at 01:21 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (84)

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

Tulane Forrester Fellowship - 2022

From Tulane Law School:

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

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

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

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

Friday, March 11, 2022

Teaching Positions - Northwestern MSL Program

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship - 2022-2023

From the University of Iowa College of Law:

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

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

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

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

To apply for the Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship program, an applicant should submit the following through [email protected], at (refer to requisition #74372):

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

Required qualifications:

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

Desired qualifications:

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Drexel University VAP Positions

From Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law:

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

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

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

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

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

Apply online via Drexel’s HR portal:

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

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

VAPs and Fellowships 2021-2022

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

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

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

Monday, October 04, 2021

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Faculty Hiring

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 28, 2021

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

I. The Spreadsheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Comment Thread

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors or others can weigh in.

Both questions and answers can be anonymous, but I will delete pure nastiness, irrelevance, and misinformation. If you see something that you know to be wrong, please feel free to let me know via email, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

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

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2021

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

FAR Forms Over Time.20210819

Far Forms Chart.20210818

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

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

First posted August 18, 2021.

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Law School Entry-Level Hiring Posting Schedule 2021-2022

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2021-2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 28, 2021

Faculty Hiring Announcement - Gonzaga

From Gonzaga University School of Law:

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

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

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

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

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Tulane VAP 2021-2022 - Murphy Institute

From Tulane Law School:

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

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

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Westerfield Fellowship - Loyola New Orleans College of Law - 2021

From Loyola University New Orleans:

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

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

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

Link to full ad:

Faculty Employment Opportunities | Finance + Administration | Loyola University New Orleans (

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

Monday, March 22, 2021

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

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

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

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

Friday, February 19, 2021

VAP - Michigan State University College of Law

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

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

For more information on the position and the link to apply, please visit

Review of applications will begin on March 5, 2021.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Tulane Forrester Fellowship 2021-2022

From Tulane Law School:

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 26, 2020

An Entry-Level Candidate's Plea

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 04, 2020

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2020-2021

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

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

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

Friday, August 28, 2020

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

I. The Spreadsheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Comment Thread

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors or others can weigh in.

Both questions and answers can be anonymous, but I will delete pure nastiness, irrelevance, and misinformation. If you see something that you know to be wrong, please feel free to let me know via email, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

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

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

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2020

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

FAR Forms Over Time.20200820

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

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

First posted August 20, 2020.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 20, 2020 at 11:12 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (9)

Monday, July 06, 2020

Hiring Plans and Hiring Committees 2020-2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

Loyola Chicago Hiring Announcements

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

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


Director of Regulatory Compliance:



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

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


 Maywood Faculty Fellow: 

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Hiring Announcement: City Law School (London, UK)

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

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

For more information, including the application procedure, visit:

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

Iowa Law Faculty Fellowship

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

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

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

More details are available at

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Forrester Fellowship - Tulane Law School

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Final Reflections on VAP/Fellowship Interview Series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thursday, November 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more!


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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Faculty Fellow, The Center for Innovation Policy at Duke Law

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

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

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

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

Apply through For questions or more information, contact Balfour Smith ([email protected]).

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

Monday, October 21, 2019

VAPs and Fellowships: Open Thread, 2019-2020

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

You may also add information to the spreadsheet.

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

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.: It is open now.

Q.: What materials do candidates need to submit?

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

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

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

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

A.: They're generally by Skype.

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

A.: Correct.

Q.: How many applications do you typically receive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q.: I wish there was.

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

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

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

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

A.: No.

Q.: Not at all?

A.: Not at all.

Q.: How about preference for candidates with PhDs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.: I don't think so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.: Per year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A.: Thank you.


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

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Do the Sharswoods teach any classes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A. Correct.

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

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

Q. How does that work?

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Is that over Skype or in-person?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Do the fellows receive health benefits?

A. Yes.

Q. How about access to university or subsidized housing?

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

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

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

Q. Can they hire research assistants?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Q. Thanks so much, Ted.

A. Thank you, Jessica.

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

Friday, August 23, 2019

Interview with Candace Zierdt about the Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor Program at Stetson University College of Law

Next up in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors is Candace Zierdt, a Professor at the Stetson University College of Law.  For the past decade, she has served as the Director of the Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor Program at Stetson.  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Candace to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Candace, for participating in this series!

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

Q. Can you start by telling me your role with Stetson's VAP program?

A. Yes, my role right now is that I am the director/coordinator of the program, and I have been that since its inception about 10 years ago. In August a colleague of mine is going to take it over, Professor Marco Jimenez. We'll be looking for a new VAP this year, and although I'll still be working with Marco, I wanted to cycle out because I have a lot of other things on my plate. After 10 years, I thought this would be a good time for me to get somebody else to help with it, and Marco has been intimately involved with the program since its inception as well because we have a cadre of faculty who always help our VAPs.

Q. That's great, and can you tell me just a little bit about the VAP program itself? How many VAPs do you typically have? How long do they stay?

A. Sure. We started out 10 years ago hiring two VAPs, and then we decided to go to one. Really, I think that decision was partially motivated by what was happening in legal education. The number of available jobs were becoming much smaller. Legal education had all these issues in the last five or six years when the number of law students started decreasing. We decided we didn’t want to hire any more VAPs than we could actually market and place in a tenure-track position.

So, we thought it would be a better idea to hire one VAP a year. Now, occasionally we'll have one that overlaps. Last year we did not hire a VAP, so, this year we'll be starting with a VAP who doesn’t overlap. We try to have one a year and have them overlap, so hopefully we'll be able to start back in that process again.

The program that we've designed is for two years. Generally, we try to start new VAPS the first of July, so that they can have time to prep their classes, get used to being at Stetson, and do whatever they need to do to get ready for the job. The first year, a VAP’s only responsibilities are to teach one class in the fall and one class in the spring. In the second year, the responsibilities include teaching one class in the fall, and then two in the spring. Generally, in the spring the VAP will teach a course that they really want to teach.

For example, two past VAPs designed wonderful seminars. They were basically about looking at documents, and looking at it in the business perspective, either from the UCC perspective, or because one VAP was an expert in blockchain, she brought some blockchain in, so that's in their second year. The only other responsibility they have is that we require our VAPs to produce a paper of publishable quality by the time they go on the market the second year and, honestly, every single person who has been in our VAP program has done more than one.

Part of the reason for that, I think, is because the responsibilities only require teaching one class a semester, and we really encourage VAPs to block out a few days where they work on a paper. Then, in the summer between the first year and the second year, we give VAPs a small research grant that helps them in terms of completing their paper. We want them to have a paper ready when they go back on the market, so they can use it for their job talk.

We do have a possibility to extend the position by a year if, for example, somebody was not able to get a job. However, no VAPs can stay at Stetson. They always have to leave as part of their contracts. One reason for that is we always fall in love with our VAPs, and we want them to stay. That would defeat the program because we can't keep them all.

We've never had to use the third-year extension because all of our VAPs have gotten jobs. We're actually at 100% placement.

Q. That's great. What I'd love to do is essentially move through the program chronologically starting with the application process, and then going through the fellowship itself, and then the job market. When will you start accepting applications this year?

A. We start accepting them in August. In reality, the committee starts looking at them and working on them probably at the end of August. This year our classes don't start till August 25th, so it may be the end of August or the very beginning of September.

Our VAPS are usually teaching either bread and butter advanced courses or first-year courses. They've taught contracts, property, civil procedure, criminal law, professional responsibility, UCC courses, business entities, and just a whole array of courses.

Because we have our VAPs teaching those substantive courses, we actually hire our VAPs the exact same way we would hire any faculty member, although we know that they don't have the same experience, generally, and skills, and publications as a person who we would hire right off the bat. So, our process has us looking at applications starting the end of August and September, and we go through all of the FAR forms.

The committee reviews the whole FAR book and, I believe, almost every one of our VAPs have actually come from the FAR, instead of through the direct app process, I think we have a particularly good eye for looking at people who we think have great potential, but may not be able to quite make that leap into the market. So, we write them, tell them about our program, and see if they want to be considered for our program. We have two ways to get applications direct applications, and through AALS hiring conference.

There certainly have been some times when people have been in the FAR book and also sent us an application, but it's interesting that a number of our VAPs actually didn't apply directly until we reached out to them. We then interview all of our VAP candidates just as we would a faculty candidate.

If they're going to be at the AALS conference, we interview them there. If they're not, we'll have a 30-minute Skype interview, just as we would do if we were at the AALS conference. After we do those interviews, we then invite our top VAPs candidates to campus for a regular faculty visit. We bring them in the night before to go out for dinner with some faculty.

The next day they meet faculty and do a job talk. The job talk is really important to us because, and I know this is one of your questions, that's one of the ways that we gauge their ability to teach, if they don't have a lot of teaching experience. After we've brought everybody in, the full faculty votes on the VAPs.

The full faculty is involved because, as I said, we have our VAPs teach the same courses that any faculty member would teach. Not a lot of programs do that, so it's really important to us that the whole faculty be able to see that person before they're teaching classes. After the faculty vote, we make an offer. One of the things that we have done so far, and I'm actually very proud of this, is we have waited sometimes five or six weeks to see whether or not the person we've made an offer will get a job offer in a regular tenure-track position. If they do, they don't need us, and I wouldn't want them to have to come to Stetson. So, we are able to wait and give the candidates plenty of time to see how they would fare on the market.

Q. I'm intrigued when you say that you find a lot of the candidates through the FAR process, and I know there are other fellowships that do this as well. Tell me, when you go through the FAR forms, what are you looking for?

A. I'm looking for people that have mostly practice experience and usually have a small number of publications. It's important to us that they have something published or a good work in progress other than something they may have written as a law student. We're looking for people that have some practice experience. Sometimes we receive applications from people who look great, but they only have one or two years of practice experience, and, in my mind, that's not sufficient to really be a good teacher most of the time. If we're trying to teach our students about how to practice law, it helps if our faculty actually have practiced law.

We also consider marketability, where the person went to school and/or how well they did in school. That includes what kind of honors they received in school and that sort of thing.

Q. Let's talk about the scholarly piece. You say that you want somebody who has ideally published something or have a draft. Do you know, and I've been asking this question a lot, how do they find the time in practice to write a scholarly article?

A. I always say to some of our VAP candidates, "Wow. I don't know how you did that." But honestly, they always do, and to be truthful those are the people who are most motivated to get in academia, and I think they are the ones that are going to be the most successful.

We've had candidates and VAPs who have come to us who have families, small children, husbands, wives, some who are single parents, and they always find time to get something written. So, that also tells me that this is somebody who is really motivated and is going to continue to publish. I think that is something that law schools will look for when considering potential hires. We want to make sure that they get a job on the market.

Q. And how do you gauge their teaching abilities? You mentioned the job talk. Are there other ways?

A. The job talk is one. If they have taught, and many of our VAP candidates have taught either as an adjunct or in some other area, we get all of their student evaluations. When we check their references, we ask about teaching abilities, but, just like with any faculty member you're hiring, some of the main ways you can see whether they will be able to communicate with students and maybe build a rapport is by watching how they communicate at the job talk.

Of course, with VAPs, we're looking at VAP candidates who usually don't have the same kind of experience as a person interviewing for a regular tenure-track position. In fact, we've had people interview for a tenure-track position, where the faculty didn't vote to hire them for a tenure-track position, but they asked us to consider them for our VAP program.

Q. You mentioned on the practice experience side, that two years may not be enough. How many years are you typically looking for? What's the minimum that you would consider, and then what do you find is the norm?

A. First off, this is a committee decision, right? So, different people on the committee might think differently. I would think most of us would expect at least two to three years in practice. Now, in my mind, it should be a little bit longer. Of course, I practiced for 12 or 13 years before I started teaching, so that's probably where my mindset is. I think some of my colleague are fine with just a couple of years. It really varies on who is on the committee.

Q. And do you have any preference for candidates in particular curricular areas?

A. We do. When we first started this 10 years ago, we didn't. We just looked for the best person, but now we always have needs at the law school depending upon people who are on sabbatical, or areas of practice we're trying to develop. Generally, it's a pretty wide array of classes. It might be business law, the UCC and commercial law, civil procedure, or criminal law.

It seems like in the last two years, our needs have been more in the business and commercial law area, and so we've been looking at those. I'm not involved in the process for this year, and we have a new dean, so I'm not sure what we will need, but generally we put in our ad the areas of expertise that we're searching.

Q. Oh, interesting. Okay, and is there any preference for candidates with PhDs? How does having a PhD factor into your process?

A. There's certainly not a preference. I suppose sometimes I even think, well, people with PhDs might already have a little bit more experience, so they might not need a VAP program as much. It wouldn't hinder or help you.

Q. Do you make any special efforts to hire candidates from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds?

A. We do. We do that for a variety of reasons, and I suppose one of them is because we think there's a need for a lot more diversity in legal education.

Q. We've talked about a variety of things that might come into the decision making. Is there anything that comes into your process that I haven't asked about?

A. Those are really the areas that we look for teaching and publications. I'm trying to think if there's anything else. We look at publications. We look at honors. One of the things you had actually asked in a question that I had thought about, is that we also consider research agendas and why they want to teach.

Q. What are you looking for in that research agenda? How many projects out do you expect them to have planned?

A. I'm happy if they've planned out one really good one.

Q. As I've talked about this series on the blog is I've heard from candidates who perhaps didn't go to Harvard, Yale, or Stanford. They didn't do an elite clerkship, and they're wondering how they can stand out in the application process. What advice would you have for those candidates?

A. Honestly, a lot of the Harvard, Yale, Stanford candidates, in my mind, are going to get jobs on the market, so I don't look at them quite as seriously unless they apply directly to us. I will, but that's not high on my list for a VAP candidate. I guess what I'm really looking at, if they're not from a top five, or six, or seven school is really looking at their ability to publish and when, or where, or what type of articles they've published in addition to how well they did in law school. That will help them stand out.

Q. How many applications do you typically receive for one of your positions?

A. We don’t receive that many, maybe 50 or 60.

Q. How many people do you tend to interview in the screening interviews, and then on the call-backs?

A. We do not have a set number ... I know we've had days in DC where we've interviewed 10 candidates, or over 15. Occasionally we have had one room for VAPs and one room for tenure-track faculty in DC.

Q. Let's turn over to some of the nuts and bolts of the fellowship itself. Just to make sure I understand how it works, the fellows are there for two years, and you tend to hire every year? So, you have two in the building at a time typically?

A. I would say our goal would be to hire every year. Now, as I said, we have a new dean who came in this month. So, part of that will depend on her. There have been occasions where we had a VAP for two years who was here alone without another VAP, but we were trying to hire every year. If we can do that, that's great for the VAPs because the ability to have another person who has gone through the program a year ahead of them is enormously helpful. They tend to become a tight group, and get to know each other really well.
Actually, two of our former VAPs who overlapped like that are writing a business book, a textbook right now.

Q. I know them both, and I'm excited to see it.

A. Me too.

Q. Yeah, and are you comfortable sharing how much the VAPs are paid?

A. Yeah. I know it's not a lot, but it's certainly competitive with other VAP programs. We also pay complete benefits, and we give them housing. The housing is a really big deal because that adds quite a bit that they don't have to worry about. One huge advantage of Stetson is that we own an apartment building, and 20 or more houses right around the law school.

So, every VAP has received housing and that just makes it so easy because you don't have to worry about anything. If you need furniture, most of the times we're able to give you something that has furniture in it. We have housing for dogs, cats, children, husbands, wives, and so it's a pretty wide array of housing. To me, that's probably one of the best perks that we have.

Q. Oh, that's a great perk.

A. And they get paid, TIAA-CREF, health benefits, and a small travel budget. We expect them to go to the AALS in January for the meeting. We pay, generally, for them to go to the SEALS Conference, and we'll send them to one other conference that will help them in their professional capacity. Then when they go on the market the following year, we pay for all of that.

Q. Wow. Those are very generous benefits, I can say now having talked to more than a dozen of these programs.

A. Oh, I know.

Q. Do they receive funding if they wanted to hire research assistants?

A. Yes. They get research assistants, just like any faculty member.

Q. Okay, and are they expected to live near Stetson? Obviously, they have their teaching responsibilities, but could somebody live in Miami, or in New York, and commute?

A. No. I don't see how that would work; we want them integrated into the faculty and it is a full-time job. We sit in on their classes. We talk to them about teaching. We have, like I said, a whole cadre of people who will read papers, and help with advice. I think part of what's really important, to be honest, is to be part of the academic life, and get a taste for what that's like, so that when they enter into academia, it's not such a big, huge difference in terms of their previous job. Certainly, you could live in Tampa, but Miami or somewhere like that, just wouldn't work.

Q. Let’s switch over to how to make the most of the fellowship. Does Stetson have a regular colloquy series or speaker series that the VAPs attend?

A. Yes. We generally have a series of faculty exchanges with other schools that our VAPs attend. I think on one or two occasions we've sent VAPs, although I don't prefer that because I don't like them to go to other schools until they're really ready to give job talks. We also have several national speakers that all faculty are invited to attend.

Q. Who actually supervises the fellows?

A. It's been me, and this year it will switch over to Marco. I generally sit in on most of their classes during the first year and we spend time discussing teaching.

Q. That's amazing. Can I just follow up there and just say I almost don't know what to ask? Literally, you're in the room for every one of their classes in that first year? That's amazing.

A. Yes, and I will say the first semester, I try to do every single class. The second semester, if things are going well, I might not sit in on every single class. By the second year, it's more selective unless people are having issues, but again, it's one of the ways that I think our faculty feels comfortable with the idea that our VAPs are teaching any class that any other regular faculty member would teach.

It's good because we can talk about teaching. We also invite them to sit in on other classes. We have a number of different faculty who teach in a number of different styles, and they're welcomed into their classrooms. I always tell our VAPS, "What you can do in your two years here is develop your own style of teaching, so look at how other people teach. Sometimes it'll work for you. Sometimes it won't. Sometimes little pieces will."

But I think that's one other thing that's particularly helpful to them, and sometimes we'll have other faculty sit in on their classes, if they are going to be references for them when they go back on the market.

Q. Wow, and what type of feedback are you offering them? Is it after every class?

A. No. I would say it depends on them, unless there was a problem in class ... We had one person who didn't have a great class about the second week and was really upset. We talked the next day and I said, "We all have a bad class."

She turned into a fantastic teacher, but people need that confidence as well. I always try to explain, even if you've taught as an adjunct, it seems harder sometimes when you're teaching these classes full time and not always in your comfort zone. We’ve all had a bad class. Who hasn't had a class where you thought, "Oh, God. I wish that I could redo that one"?

So, it really depends on the VAP, but I've always tried to do it regularly, maybe every couple of weeks, unless they want to talk more. There have been occasions where we have talked more at the beginning while people are getting used to teaching in this environment.

Q. What assistance are you hoping to provide? What types of feedback specifically do you think is the most helpful in those early years?

A. In terms of teaching, or scholarship, or both?

Q. Teaching. When you sit in on the classes.

A. I'm looking to figure out ways to help them to impart information in ways that can be engaging, and also proactive in terms of not just sitting there and reading your notes, right? I have seen faculty members who will just literally read their notes in front of a class, and that might have worked 30 years ago. But I hope not. When, I started teaching 30 years ago it didn't work for me because I would have been bored out of my head. I think it's important to have an engaged class.

For example, one of my pet things is that, and this was something I had to learn, teachers need to learn to use the whiteboard, or blackboard, or whatever you have. If you're a person who uses PowerPoint, that's fine. If you're not, that's fine, but we get students who are a lot of different learners. There are visual learners. There are learners who will learn mainly from hearing. And some learners need both of those things. So, I try to help them think of ways that they can actually reach all of those students to the extent they can. Almost all of the VAPs who have come to us, at the beginning I've always harped on them using the board.

By the end, they usually say, "I can't imagine I ever wasn't using the board for something, or asking those sorts of questions." Trying to get them to see that it's perfectly okay to follow up, and it's also okay to say, "I'm not sure what the answer to that is. Let me think about that." A lot of times when you first start teaching, you think you can't say that, but I think you can, and I think it's important in how you do it, and students will respect you for it.

Q. I'll say I'm almost embarrassed to ask this question, but I'll say after 12 years of teaching, I still get a little nervous and self-conscious when somebody sits in on my classes. Do you find that the VAPs are self-conscious having you there? Do you think that that influences their teaching?

A. That's a good question. I suppose you would have to ask them because I don't really think they are. I sit off in a corner unobtrusively, as unobtrusive as I can be. I mean, I know what you're asking because I was in an LL.M. program 30-some years ago, and not only did they sit in on my class, they taped my class. They critiqued my class, and that was grueling.

Because I spend a lot of time getting to know our VAPs before I observe their classes, I hope they know that I'm only there to be helpful. It's just to try and help them think about ways to improve their teaching. I'm sure to some extent that's got to make you a little nervous.

Q. And I will say having asked that question, I think it's a tremendous resource and gift that this offers to the VAPs.

A. Well, the other thing, I tell VAPs is to, "Think about the two years here. You can make little mistakes that you don't want to make in your first permanent job, and we can fix them, and because somebody's observing, we can talk about it and say, 'Okay. Let's go back and think of a way to fix that.' And I'm not going to be writing a tenure report on you." I think that's a huge boon to be able to use that as a resource.

Q. Beyond the classroom visits, is there other assistance that the VAPs are given on their teaching?

A. Beyond the classroom?

Q. That's a big thing, but I wanted to make sure I caught anything else that might be out there.

A. I mean, we've helped them with picking books and that sort of thing, depending upon what they're teaching. There have certainly been times where we've had VAPs come in, and we've given assistance on different books, and pros and cons of different books. I'm trying to think of what else we could do and that I would have time to do.

Q. How are the courses that they're teaching selected? In other words, how does it come that they're teaching contracts or civil procedure or anything else?

A. We are generally looking for somebody who is teaching in a specific area. Recently has been in business law and commercial law. In the past we've had a need for contracts, crim law, civil procedure and business entities. We've tried to match our VAPS to their expertise and our needs before we’ve ever interviewed or hired them. They know when we make the offer what their classes are generally going to be.

Q. Let's turn over to the scholarly side. Are the fellows matched with a mentor, a scholarly mentor when they arrive?

A. We have a small group of faculty who always help mentor our VAPs. Let me think. Maybe about six or seven people that I can count on, and they're in every area you can imagine. We will read their scholarship and work with them. So, if somebody is in, say, the criminal law area, I'm going to ask Professor Ellen Podgor, who has worked tirelessly on this program and is a national criminal law scholar.

Additionally, we have faculty in almost all of the other areas. We also try to do more than have one person read scholarship because I think it's important to have people who aren't in your area read your work as well. Recently, it's been pretty easy because we've had a number of UCC-type people, and that's my area.

We also have helped talk through some topics for scholarships. I actually steered somebody away from one area of scholarship to a different area for them, because of the topic. I believe certain topics are more appealing to law review editors. It worked out really well because she got a great placement. Because of the wide range of people that we have that are intimately involved with the program, we've never really had a problem not having somebody who is in a VAPs general area.

Q. And what type of assistance would those mentors or other professors provide? You mentioned the feedback on the topic itself. What else are these people doing?

A. Not everybody will read every draft, but some people will read every draft and give feedback on that. We always will be able to find a few people who will read most every draft and give feedback. Plus, when VAPs go on the market, I require that they do a minimum of three to four job talks in front of faculty. After the job talks we all discuss what went well and what might improve the presentations.

A. I try to get different faculty to listen to the talks so that they can have people who don't know anything about the area, people who have never read their papers, and people who have read their papers. That way they get a wide range of feedback on their scholarship.

Q. Are they given any assistance in making connections outside of Stetson with people in their area of interest?

A. Yes. I think this is one of the things we are particularly good about. We expect them to go to the annual meeting of the AALS and SEALS, and we're good about taking them around and introducing them to people. Another thing that we do, that I don’t think a lot of VAP programs do, is that we send them to the AALS new law professors faculty conference in July before they start teaching. I think everybody has made lasting friendships from that meeting and lasting contacts.

Q. That's a great meeting. Yeah. We've talked through a lot of the details of the program. I'd love to step back for a moment. Imagining you had a candidate who had options who was deciding between Stetson's program and perhaps some of the other VAP or fellowship programs out there. What would you say to them about Stetson's program? What do you think makes it stand apart?

A. I think what makes us stand apart is we have 100% placement of every one of our VAPs. I don't think a lot of places can say that. I've had people here who had offers for a VAP or fellowship in legal writing. I tell them "If you want to do legal writing, that's actually what you should do," because although there has been a push sometimes for us to think about including legal writing, I have been very reluctant to do so. That is because I want to have as many tenure-track job possibilities as possible to place them in. There are fewer opportunities like that in legal writing.

Q. Let’s turn back to the job market. You mentioned that the candidates have the opportunity to give multiple job talks, which is fabulous.

A. And mock interviews, too. We generally do, again, a minimum of three. I try to do four to five.

Q. And are you coordinating this? Is there a committee?

A. No. It is just me coordinating it. This is part of the job of the person who runs the program to make sure all those cogs are happening. So, I coordinate all the job talks and all the mock interviews. Again, what I'm trying to do is consistently get different people because different people will have different questions, and different things that are important to them. I sit in on every job talk and every mock interview so that I can see them. Then I can say, "Look how much progress you've made here in terms of being able to answer different kinds of questions, either about your scholarship, or why you came into academia." I think it helps them. It can also let them see how they're doing better, or if somebody asks them something off the wall, I can say, "Don't worry about that. You're always going to have one of those people."

Q. They will. They will. I'm just curious, institutionally. Maybe I ask this question as an associate dean. These responsibilities that you've taken on sound like they must be an immense amount of time.

A. They are.

Q. How does this fit for you with all the other things that you must have on your plate?

A. It's something I'm committed to doing, and I get a course reduction in the spring, so they do give me certain benefits for being the person in charge of the program that have been very good. I feel like the administration has always taken that into account and been very supportive.

Q. Okay. Good. That was part of my question. I just thought, "Wow. It's a lot to take on." You mentioned that 100% of your fellows or your VAPs have placed in tenure-track positions. Were those all at U.S. law schools?

A. One person, when the legal education market was at its lowest, went to a tenure-track business school, and then after a few years moved over to a law school. So, they're all in tenure-track law school positions, yes, in the U.S. now.

Q. And do you happen to have a list of those people online, so if someone was trying to see that track record for themselves, they could look at it?

A. I don't, but if they asked me, I would get it. They always seem to find it. I always have candidates who have said, "Wow. I talked to so-and-so or so-and-so and I really want to do this program now." So, they always seem to find it.

Which is curious, now that I think about it, because they do. A candidate last year found one of our very first VAPs and spoke with him. Another reason I also really like to have a VAP overlap is so the person who is coming to interview for the VAP position can talk to our current VAP. That way they can just talk to the current VAP alone without us around, and get the real scoop on what they're thinking about the position.

Q. That's great.

A. I just don't happen to have a list of former VAPs online. I have it in my head, which is probably not a good place for it. So, maybe we can add that to our website

Q. While I have you on the line, I’d love to talk about some of the broader questions related to the rise of VAP and fellowship programs. As we know, it's basically a de facto requirement these days to have either done a VAP, fellowship, or a PhD. What do you think about that trend? With do you think are the benefits and what do you think are the costs?

A. I think the benefit for a law school is that they're getting people generally with some sort of experience and often it is inexpensive labor compared to a tenure-track faculty member. I think the cons, the things I worry about, is that I don't think all the VAP programs support their VAPs as much as we do. I think some of the VAP programs over the years had developed these programs as cheap labor.

Those really, really bother me because one of the things I will always tell a VAP if they have other possibilities in a VAP program or a fellowship is to talk to other people and find out what kind of support they are going to get. Maybe it would be a good program for you. If it is closer to your family or whatever, but make sure you're going to get the support.

If they are not going to get the support they need and they spend two years of their lives earning much less money only to find out they didn't get the support they needed, or a job that would be very unfortunate. So, I think what bothers me the most about them is worrying whether or not schools are using those programs for cheap labor or they're using them to really support new people and help them try to get into academia.

I was in the Temple LL.M. program 30 years ago. It was one of the few around, and that was instrumental in enabling me to make the move into academia, which is probably part of the reason our VAP program has been so important to me, I have tried to take all the good parts of the LL.M. program that I was in, and use those. But when I did it 30 years ago, I think literally there were a handful of these programs.

Now it seems like everybody wants to have a VAP or Fellowship, and some schools are doing them right. Don't get me wrong. They really are doing a great job. I've had a number of schools call me and ask what we do because they've heard about our program. And they try to establish programs that give a lot of support, but my biggest worry is that we're bringing people in with high hopes not knowing how hard it is to get a job in the academy right now.
I don't want to give people false hopes.

Q. What is the responsibility of these programs to try to open up law faculty positions to people from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds? Do you think these programs have a responsibility to do that, and how do you think they're doing if we judge them on that metric?

A. Yes. I think everybody has that responsibility, not just VAP programs. I think law schools have that responsibility because it makes a huge difference. I taught at another school where the diversity that we really needed were Native American faculty. When we finally hired a Native American faculty member, it made such a huge difference to our students. It's enormous to have those sorts of role models for our students. I can't really say how other VAP program are doing because I don't really pay much attention to them. I hope that they're thinking about it, but I really don't know.

Q. Yeah. Yeah. I don't know if you're heard this criticism, but you'll often see it on the blog. It's the concern that the VAPs or fellows may get so much help on their scholarship, that's obviously one of the benefits of these programs, but they may get so much help on their scholarship that it's then hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and the ideas come from the VAPs or fellows themselves.

A. I think that's silly.

Q. In what way?

A. I think that's ridiculous, and I will tell you why. We give our VAPs the same help that we do any other faculty member. So, they give us a complete paper and we say, "Have you thought about this or that?" That's not any different than any other faculty member who is sending out articles for comments. I mostly write books now, but when I was writing articles, I sent them out to people and said, "Give me a sniff here. How is this looking? Do you have any other ideas?"

I hope any new faculty member, or even a senior faculty member, would try to get ideas about things they might do better. It's not like you're sitting there writing the paper for them. Nobody would have time or want to do that, certainly at this school.

Q. Last question for you. Given that life is zero-sum, in so many ways time spent in a VAP program is not, for example, time spent in practice. What do you think about that trade off, especially given that law schools are in the business of educating lawyers?

A. In terms of the trade-off for law schools, I think it's great for law schools who have VAPs. When I went from practice to teaching, it was such a different mindset, and trying to learn to even handle that different way of working was difficult for me at first. I kept staring at my phone waiting for it to ring and it rarely did. So, I think the trade-off for law schools is great because they get people who know what academia is like and what to expect. They know that you have to be a self-motivator, and be on your own in terms of making sure you sit down, write, prep for classes and those sorts of things.

I think for the person in a VAP or fellowship that it is a difficult decision because they are spending two years of their life without a certain job at the end. They came from practice, so they are earning a lot less money. They're doing work that's very different, and if for some reason, at the end of the day, they don't get that job they want they've lost two years and they have to go back into practice.

Now, I've never had a VAP who had to do that, but I've often thought about that, and thought how hard that would be for the person. So, for the person coming into the program, I think she has to be very, very motivated, really want to get into academia, and realize that nobody can guarantee a job at the end. Part of it is being in the right place at the right time, where the schools have the right need.
And you can't predict that.

Q. Well, is there anything else that you want hiring committees or perspective candidates to know about Stetson's VAP program, or about the state of law faculty hiring more generally?

A. We've covered so much of it. I think the main thing is that I really hope that people who are either going into VAP programs or running VAP programs are doing it for the right reasons in terms of really trying to help people get into legal education. That's really important to me. When we first started this program, just between you and me, I argued against it.

Q. Oh, that's funny.

A. I was worried that we would wind up being one of those cheap labor schools, but as it turned out, our faculty and our administration have been incredibly supportive. I don't think any schools give more support than we do financially, even, in terms of where we send people. There may be a school that does these things, but I don’t know about it.

I also hope that schools realize that there are some really good people out there that can't afford, because of families or whatever, to move. They're having to move themselves, and possibly a family usually to a different place for one to two years in the hopes that they get this job. Some folks cannot do that twice—once for a VAP program and again for a permanent job.

I thought the vast majority of people that were being hired either had PhDs, or had been in VAPs or fellowships and it doesn't surprise me, but it worries me that we discount those that haven't had that experience, and I think we're probably missing some good people that way.

Q. Yeah. Yeah. I agree. Well, thank you so much, Candace. I really appreciate you taking the time to talk with me today.

Posted by Jessica Erickson on August 23, 2019 at 07:51 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 16, 2019

Interview with Gordon Silverstein about Yale Law School's Ph.D. in Law Program

For those of you who have been following my interview series, you know that it generally focuses on VAP and fellowship directors.  This interview, like my earlier interview about Berkeley’s JSP program, focuses on a related, but slightly different, trend in law faculty hiring—the increase in the number of entry-level hires with Ph.D.’s. I interviewed Gordon Silverstein, the Assistant Dean for Graduate Programs at Yale Law School, about Yale’s Ph.D. in Law Program.   An edited transcript of my conversation with Gordon is below, and I have invited him to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Gordon, for participating in this series!

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

Q. Can you start by giving me a brief overview of Yale's Ph.D. in Law program?

A. I think it emerged from a few concerns – One was that with a growing number of students interested in law teaching were doing PhDs and other degree programs in addition to their JD, too often student would become great economists, or political scientists and sort of flip the script – instead of being legal scholars who used economics or political science, they became economists who used legal material. This may seem a subtle point, but it’s not: Consider normativity. You won’t get far in legal scholarship without serious normative concerns. But an economics PhD committee will strip the normativity out of your work. Some students can move back and forth, writing very differently for the different fields, but others end up stuck in the middle and satisfying neither.

The PhD in law also was meant to engage a conversation about the issue of disciplinarity itself. Is law a discipline like Economics or Chemistry with clear and agreed upon methods? Or more of a field like political science, bound together by the subject under study, the question rather than a uniform method. What does it mean to study the law and how should we go about doing that?

And it was designed to bring greater rigor to the process of training people to become professional students of the law. There would be specific course work, exams, writing requirements and the supervision of a three-member faculty committee among others.

Q. Is the idea that basically everybody who goes through the Ph.D. in Law program will then go on the legal academic job market?

A. Yes. The program is aimed directly at academic law. We expect some students may well end up in public policy arenas, or pursuing other related interests, but the objective is to prepare students for a life of legal scholarship.

Q. And what is your role with the program?

A. I am responsible for the program administratively. There is a faculty committee that oversees the program and a faculty member who serves as the Director of Graduate Studies – a role mandated by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences which is the unit at Yale that is exclusively authorized to grant the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Our students receive their degree from the Graduate School and for purposes of this program we function much as would any other PhD-granting department. Being a part of the Graduate School is a big plus for our students, who can take courses anywhere on the campus in any program, division or school, and they are welcome to teach in Yale College and across the campus. While this is not an explicitly interdisciplinary program such as the Berkeley JSP, we welcome students looking to the other departments and schools to supplement their studies in the law school.

Q. Okay. What I'd love to do is essentially move through the Ph.D. program chronologically, starting with the application process, then moving to the Ph.D. coursework and dissertation themselves, and then the job market. Can you tell me when the Ph.D. program starts to accept applications?

A. Applications open on August 15, and the deadline to submit an application is December 15. Though we don’t formally offer a rolling admission, we can provide an earlier decision for those facing hard deadlines with other programs.

Q. And what materials do applicants need to submit?

A. Candidates are asked to submit a personal statement about their motivations and qualifications, plans and interests. They are asked to submit a research proposal for their dissertation – which can take the form of a traditional monograph, or three related law review style articles. We ask for a writing sample – which might be a published article, an article in preparation, or perhaps an article they wrote in law school. In addition we ask for a CV, undergraduate and law school transcripts and letters of recommendation.

Q. And do you conduct interviews of applicants?

A. Not as a routine matter. There have been instances where the faculty admissions committee wanted to get more information and has conducted some interviews, but it's not a regular part of the process.

Q. Okay. How many applications do you typically receive in a given year?

A. It has varied from about 30 to about 90.

Q. And how many people do you admit and then enroll?

A. We have a limit of no more than five students in each cohort, and some years we have accepted fewer than five. We have had the good fortune to have enrolled every student we have admitted, giving us a perfect “yield” to date – but the numbers are small so I don’t want to over emphasize that point!

Q. I'll admit, I don't know a lot about the financial side of Ph.D.'s, so I'm going to ask an open-ended question which is, how does that work? Is there financial aid? What are the stipends?

A. This is a fully funded program – students pay no tuition and are provided with a living stipend, and full health coverage. The living stipend – set by the Graduate School – currently is about $32,000 a year (which I have to say goes a good deal further in New Haven then it might in some cities to the north or west. Students should complete the PhD without any additional debt. We also provide them with research funding from the Law School, and access to a number of very generous research support programs across the campus.

Q. And is that stipend for teaching?

A. No. They do have a requirement of two teaching experiences, but these are quite explicitly meant to help them learn pedagogy and classroom technique. They can fulfil this requirement in a number of ways – but their stipend, which they can receive for three and sometimes four years, is not connected to the teaching.

Q. Okay. So let's go back to the application process. Who actually decides on the applications? Is that a committee?

A. Yes. I do an initial read and sorting of applications, and send along the most promising files to the faculty committee. Yale is still a remarkably hands-on faculty governed institution and the final admissions decisions rest with the faculty committee.

Q. And what is the committee and you looking for in this process?

A. It's a highly qualitative kind of an evaluation. We're looking for people who both have an original and creative cast of mind, as well as the quality of mind that we believe will thrive in an academic environment and allow them to make real contributions to important academic and public debates. We are looking for evidence of their capacity to write, to engage in serious analysis and make real contributions. We look to the writing sample and research statement to provide evidence for of these qualities, and the letters of recommendation to help us see the qualities of mind that we are after.

Q. So let's talk about that research statement a little bit. What are you looking for there to try to judge the quality of somebody's thinking and their promise as a scholar?

A. One could turn the question around and say when you finish a book or an important article, "Well, that was a really good piece." There are a lot of things that might go into that final evaluation. Was the question they tackled important? Did they understand the foundations under the work they were doing? Was it surprising in some way? Or, not at all surprising, but definitive, and compelling treatment of long and difficult problems? Was it convincing? Was it compelling? We don’t expect them to have the answers at this point, but we do hope we have enough to get a sense of their insight, their creativity, their cast of mind. It isn’t easy. You are making a guess about where someone can and likely will reach in 10, 20, 30 years. But do you see the spark? Is there evidence to justify taking a risk?

I think any of us who've been in a classroom, you know, have been struck time to time by a student question or comment. They help us to see something fresh and different than we have seen so often. We know a fresh perspective. We can spot (or we like to think we can spot) potential and raw talent. We wold love to see those students in our program and help them bring out and refine these raw qualities. Each case is quite independent of the others. And because it is a small program we have the luxury to take the time and really read deeply into their materials and the letters of recommendation.

Q. For the candidates to come to that level of knowledge that they can be asking these types of good questions and be familiar with the literature, where are they finding the time to do that? Where do they acquire that knowledge?

A. That varies a great deal as well. Some candidates come to us directly from a J.D.. Some from clerkships and/or private practice. Some from government or public policy. Where they found the time to do the writing they present is sometimes a mystery. For some the writing sample might be a law school paper, or perhaps an article written just after law school.
Some might have skimped a bit on their billable hours. Others just burned the midnight oil. And some are coming from VAPs or other fellowships where they were able to write.

But again, as I said it's not so much that we're looking for a finished piece by any means. It's just that we're really trying to get a sense of, how are they approaching this? Do they have a sense of the kinds of things they need to know, even if they don't know them yet? And as far as the literature mastery, no, I mean, there's no expectation of that.
That’s part of what they are coming to do in our program.

Q. How much does practice experience matter in the application process?

A. We have had some very successful PhD students who came to us from practice, but I’m not sure that practice has played a particularly central role for our candidates, though I suspect some have drawn on their experience to improve their questions and deepen their appreciation for the complexity of a number of important issues.

Q. Do you have any preference for applicants in particular curricular areas? And let me say I ask this question because obviously when it comes to the entry level job market there's more demand in certain curricular areas than others. Is that something you're taking into account?

A. No, not really. Yale has long subscribed to the objective of finding “the best horse in the field.” In part because we are making guesses about the market 3 or 4 years out. What was hot last year may be in the doldrums five years later. We do emphasize that our students should be comfortable and competent in teaching the basic courses, but in the end we can them to truly excel in their research and writing and that is hard to do if you are working on a paper in a field far from your own interest and commitment.

Q. Do you make any special efforts to recruit and admit candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A. We have been extremely fortunate and have discovered that the PhD program has been a real asset for students from diverse backgrounds. The traditional route to law teaching very much favored those with deep personal and family experience in elite education. For first-generation law students, the profession of legal academe may be unknown. By the time they realize the importance of personal recommendations, the utility of working with faculty on their research, and have gained a vague understanding of the process, they are well into their second or third year of law school. The PhD in law actually was particularly well placed for these students. Having discovered their interest late in law school, they could learn the professional ropes in a program that would give them structure, form and support. Our program gives them a chance to engage with their peers on a level playing field. And our program has attracted and very successfully placed a number of first generation law students, as well as other under-represented groups. It was not an explicit goal for the program originally, but it has been a very pleasant discovery.

Q. So how would you advise somebody who may not have gone to Yale Law School, or one of the equivalent schools, who didn't have an elite clerkship? How would you advise them to try to stand out in the application process?

A. It's the writing. Write, read, and try to get published. And it doesn’t have to be a giant law review article. Show us what you’ve got – maybe it’s a book review. Maybe it’s a law school paper. The advice is the same as we all give to all aspiring law professors – write, write, and write some more. Then take some of that writing back to your law school professors. Ask them to read – even if it’s just an abstract. Engage them. Get them excited about the work. And if you don’t have that sort of relationship with a faculty person at your own law school, you can even try to blindly engage faculty elsewhere. Read what they write. engage them on their own ground with questions, comments. Once you have their attention, ask if you could send an abstract. If that goes well – they will ask for the paper, or you can offer it. And you might just be off to the races.

Q. The successful candidates, how much writing do they typically have when they apply? Do they have a published article? Do they have more than one published article?

A. That varies a lot. Some have published articles – either as JDs or in the years since. Some have unpublished articles. And some present a set of shorter pieces. I think as a general rule the more writing the better.

Q. How many Ph.D. students in law are in residence in a given year?

A. Also variable. Course work is mostly in the first year in the program, and we have had students taking leave to take up a clerkship – making the PhD program flexible to adapt to the long lead time many students have with clerkships. And our cohorts are small. But I’d estimate that we have between 5 and 12 on campus.

Q. And how many at a given time are in the Ph.D. program total?

A. I would say about 10 to 12.

Q. Can you tell me what the Ph.D. program involves? In other words, you said there was one year of coursework. What courses do they take during that year?

A. The only course that's mandatory for all of the PhDs is a two-semester course on “Foundations of Legal Scholarship.” Beyond that, they are welcome to identify courses in the law school, or in any school or program at Yale University that will provide important foundations for their work. The number of courses and the specific choices are left to student to work out with their three-member faculty advisory committee. The ‘Foundations’ course is often led by two faculty members to provide two perspectives on some of the major works in legal scholarship. The first semester is focused on intensive reading across the literature of what you'd expect any credible legal academic should have grappled with, the materials that help define the enterprise of legal scholarship. The second semester is effectively a writing workshop where the students work with each other and the faculty instructors to build and workshop their first paper.

Q. Are they taking any other classes? You said only the foundation class is required, but are they taking other classes in the law schools or elsewhere?

A. Yes, and this will vary a great deal as I noted. For some they will look to the social sciences for methods training, others to History or Political Science, Philosophy or Sociology, the School of Management, Forestry and Environment, perhaps the School of Public health or even (though it hasn’t been done yet) the Yale Drama School. These choices are developed in conjunction with their committee. Each student has a three-faculty-member committee, a chair and two other members of the committee, and so they'll sit down with them and talk about what would be logical courses. And mostly, it has been courses in the Law School. So there is an expectation that they will take a total of four courses – some may take more, some may take less, as they work out with their committee. (It is important to note that all PhD in Law students must have a JD before matriculating to our program, so in effect they already have three years of law courses under their belts..

Q. How many years do they typically take to complete the Ph.D. program?

A. To date nearly all our students have completed the program in three years – though we are open to consider (and have granted) a fourth year in appropriate cases – to support research travel time, archival work, or specialized methods training. So it is set up as a three-year program with some flexibility. But that’s a misleading since, as I noted, all of our students have a JD in hand before starting the PhD – and we consider that part of the fundamental training that they must have in this profession. So you could see our program as something between three and six or seven years, though the time in the PhD program itself is three and sometimes four years.

Q. So the first year is primarily focused on coursework and getting their writing in that seminar off the ground.

A. Right, and we're kind of following the modern social science approach, which is to say that they can choose (in consultation with the their advisors) to complete a traditional monograph, a book-length piece, or three related law review-style articles. And I think all of them so far have chosen the three article approach, which probably makes sense given the market for law faculty and what hiring and then promotion committees will expect in the early years in their career.

Q. Is writing those articles the primary focus of the last two years of the Ph.D. program?

A. Yes. Writing, workshopping, in many cases presenting work at conferences and invited talks. They do have a teaching requirement to help them prepare for their future career, but this can be fulfilled in a number of ways – as a T.A. in law courses or in courses in Yale College or the other professional schools. We also have an arrangement with the Quinnipiac Law School that allows some of our students to go up and teach an independent course at Quinnipiac. They also have access to Yale’s programs and support for teaching which is offered to faculty and students involved in course teaching. This can range from informal workshops to a far more formal certificate program in which a few of our students have participated.

Q. Just focusing on that teaching side, can they teach an independent course at Yale Law School?

A. No. The faculty, I think to its credit, tries very hard to make sure that the vast bulk of the curriculum is taught by tenure-track faculty. Our students can co-teach a course with a faculty member and there are some informal courses they can lead, but if they want to teach a fully independent course they would either do that through Yale’s residential colleges which offer about 28 students a year the chance to develop and teach an independent course or pursue the opportunities we have arranged with Quinnipiac, where they also are video-taped and mentored by experienced faculty.

Q. And what do most, what's the norm? It sounds like there's lots of different options. What do most of the Ph.D. students do?

A. You know, I think it spreads right across the range a few have taught independent courses at Quinnipiac, others have taught in history and other cognate fields in the College and some have TA’d or co-taught at YLS.

Q. Okay, that's helpful. One of the conversations that we’ve been having right now on prawfsblawg is how much time Ph.D. students have to devote to their scholarship. I’m wondering if you were to try to break it out percentage-wise, of those last two years, how much of their time are they spending on writing and how much do they spend on teaching or other things?

A. I would say 60-75% on their scholarship.

Q. That's a lot. That's great.

A. This is one of the real differences between our program and some of the long-established Fellowships like Climenko and Bigelow which divide their Fellow’s time between teaching legal writing and working on their scholarship. I think it is great that there are a number of pathways to the legal academy, and the legal writing fellowships are superb opportunities that are perfect for many candidates. We think the PhD is just an alternative model.

So the idea is to put the maximum effort on their own scholarship, with direct support for them to develop as teachers as well as academic professionals. And the two – teaching and scholarship – often support each other. My own case is a good illustration – I had the opportunity to teach my own course as an undergraduate seminar during my PhD program. That course grew into my dissertation, which became my first published book. And I went on to teach that course off and on for about 20 years. So teaching can have a direct pipeline into the scholarship. But that aside, it is overwhelmingly scholarship, that's the focus of their time.

Q. And what does that mean in terms of where the students are actually located those last two years? I imagine they have to be in New Haven for the first year but do they tend to stay in New Haven for the last two years or do they spend some of it elsewhere?

A. Most of our students have been in New Haven for the full three years, but we have a couple of commuters and a couple who took up tenure-track positions in their second or third year, and are continuing their PhD writing from those campuses. While it would be wonderful to have everyone here for three years, this is a slightly older population than the typical PhD (because they already have three years of post-graduate education in their JD, and many have had clerkships and/or been in practice for a year or two. So some have spousal employment considerations and other reasons why they need to commute. Tele-conferencing has really helped make this work, and we have fully equipped seminar rooms that can bring all of our students together for workshops or presentations.

Q. Okay. Let's talk then about the workshop culture for the Ph.D. students since most of them are around to take advantage of it. Do the Ph.D. in law students get together professionally? Do they have their own workshop series, their own student organizations, something like that?

A. Well student organizations, I mean again it's just too small, to warrant separate organizations. But they are welcome to join – and have actively participated in – programs in the Law School and indeed, one of our PhD candidates actually launched a very successful new student organization that involved a number of JD candidates as well as JSD, LLM and PhD students. The second semester of the foundations seminar is effectively a workshop of their own work, and that's with other Ph.D. students and sometimes with some of our JSD students who join in, as well as students from related fields who might join from time to time. Our students – since they are students of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences – also participate in graduate student organizations and participate in the intellectual life of related fields.

Q. Can they go to the Yale faculty workshop?

A. Yes. In fact we strongly encourage them to attend the Faculty workshop in their first semester and beyond. In addition they are urged to participate in other long-standing workshop programs at the Law School, such as the Legal Theory Workshop, Law and Economics, and Legal History. We encourage them to participate in these, as well as workshops in the ISP (Information Society Project) and other centers. It is a delicate balance – these workshops and the myriad of events at Yale Law School and in the University are wonderful, but can easily eat up enormous amount of time, so they have to balance these opportunities with their primary task of research and writing. But the workshops are an important opportunity for professionalization in the world of legal academe.

Q. You mentioned that each student has their own committee. How is that committee formed and what assistance does it provide over the three years?

A. Right. This was actually one of the dilemmas for those who built the original program: There is a logic in students seeking out their own committee – but this would be far more difficult for applicants who did not do their JD at Yale. We wanted to open the program both to Yale JDs and to others. And so what we came up with, which I think has worked very well, is that when the Committee has agreed to admit a student, the Committee approaches faculty members and builds an initial committee for each admitted student. Unless we can secure an enthusiastic committee for each student, we won’t admit them. Once they're here, they're welcome to change that committee as their project develops and they get to know the Yale faculty. But we actually put together the initial committee.

The committee is there to advise them on their coursework, it's there to provide feedback on their writing, it's there to advise them professionally in terms of preparing for the job market. As with any committee, the chair is going to carry the bulk of that but the other two are there to provide some alternate perspective as well. In addition the Committee administers the student’s oral exam – this is a traditional PhD with exams and other required benchmarks. And one role the committee plays is to put together a reading list with the student which becomes the basis for their oral exam in the fall of their second year.

Q. Are they then talking with their committee over summer between the first and second year about their reading list or are they just on their own there?

A. They build a list in conjunction with a committee and so that will vary. Some committees will say to the student, "you put together the initial list and we'll edit it," or they'll work collaboratively on building a list. it varies from faculty member to faculty member. And then it's a traditional Ph.D. oral exam. It's a 90-minute exam with the three committee members and the student. You know, and in an ideal world those just become terrific intellectual conversations and it's really an opportunity to sort of begin to knit together these different pieces that you've been preparing in the first year. And you know, it's certainly not an exam where we expect people to fail and it's certainly not designed to do that all, it's designed to actually give them an opportunity to begin to put things together and synthesize what they've been studying.

Q. We’ve been talking a lot about the scholarly side. Coming back to the teaching side for just a moment, is there any training or mentoring related to teaching specifically in the Ph.D. program?

A. There is. We observe them in the classroom, we tape them and review the tapes. And there is an extensive new center at Yale to help anyone in the classroom from TAs to Senior Faculty. They offer workshops and even a certificate program in teaching. This is not required but some of our PhDs have taken the certificate course and were very enthusiastic about it.

Q. Let’s step back and compare the Ph.D. in Law program with some of the other options that applicants might be considering. I imagine somebody applying to the Ph.D. in Law program is probably trying to decide between this program and perhaps a disciplinary Ph.D. program, Berkeley’s JSP program or a law school fellowship. What would you say to candidates who are weighing Yale's program against these other options?

A. That's a really good question. I think that these are all valid and effective pathways to law teaching, and different candidates will benefit more or less from different programs. But it is important to recognize that they are very different. I think the legal writing fellowships offer the most distinct contrast. These programs provide great support and access to academy, but those do come with an obligation to spend 50 percent of your time teaching legal writing. This is an incredibly important thing for law students to learn, but the odds are it is the one course these fellows will never teach again. So there is a sharp learning curve with a limited long-term benefit. That still leaves a lot of time and support for writing and research but it is a significantly different allocation of time. The PhD has a teaching requirement, but for most of our students, they can make use of that prep in the future.

There is an upside tradeoff which is that right now the leading fellowships do provide higher compensation than the Graduate level stipend we provide. But then again, half the Fellow’s time really is more like a job (a wonderful job, but a job) and that’s not the case with the PhD

Turning to the other PhD programs, particularly JSP at Berkeley. JSP is really unique. It's the quintessential (and successful) instance of interdisciplinarity and is, I think, the best at what it does. The faculty are comprised of sociologists and historians, philosophers and political science professors. It grows from and between these disciplinary traditionsl The PhD in Law at Yale is not designed to be an interdisciplinary program – though we welcome interdisciplinary work. It is otherwise structures quite similarly to our program – exams, committees, dissertations. I think the great difference there as I said is that (and I would say this about disciplinary Ph.D.s also) is that you're an economist who uses law as your subject matter. You are a historian who is informed by law or studying the history of law rather than a legal scholar who uses history or economics or statistics.That sounds subtle, but I think it's actually a little bit more profound. I think that a lot of what JSP does and a lot of what cogante disciplinary Ph.D.s do, is of course to train you in the method and standards of that particular discipline. So, as in the economics example, they will spend six years beating you in the head to stop any normativity from leaking out. Then you'll finish that. You'll get your great job in law and then you'll come over and people will say, "Well, what's your normative bite on this?"

Some people can do that. Some people can move between those two worlds. They can function in the hard social science world and then flip over and function in the more normative legal world. But, it's hard to do that. It's really hard to do that. And I do worry that people can flounder when they try to do that. You know, I think that as between a disciplinary Ph.D. and ours, what's been lacking all these years and what our program I think begins to address, is that starts with a very self-conscious question. What is it that we are doing as legal academics? Are we really training people to be practicing attorneys while we do a little theorizing on the side, or are we genuinely an academic discipline in our own right? I think that answer is clear. We are and have been academics for at least 60 or 70 years. But, unlike every other discipline, we haven't done any of that kind of self-inspection or retrospection on who we are and what we do and why we do it.

So, these great methodological debates that go on in other disciplines really don't happen in law. Many will look to other disciplines to set their standards, and still others write wihout a great deal of attention to method. And there are those who come from practice for whom these grand debates hold little interest.

I cannot imagine ever that law will be like the other disciplines, where everybody would have to have a Ph.D. in Law in order to be on the faculty. Law Schools will also be a mix of professional and academic and that is how it should be. So I can’t imagine that it would make sense for every faculty member to have a PhD in Law. But I can imagine a time when every law school would want to have one, or two or three faculty members who have a PhD in Law – to ask these questions and spark a real conversation about law. I think that would be a very, very valuable thing.

Q. Let’s switch over to the job market and the mentoring that the Ph.D. in law students receive as they head into the job market. Basically, everyone who goes through the program, is anticipating going onto the law teaching market. Is that right?

A. Yes

Q. And what type of mentoring generally do they receive?

A. Well, I think they're getting a lot. They're kind of getting a double bonus from Yale. Yale is already so small that they can’t help but have frequent contact with their Committee, but also with a wide range of faculty who may not be directly in their field, but offer real insight and useful challenges. It sometimes took me six months to get an appointment with one of my own PhD Committee members but here you're going to run into these people every day. I mean we're the size of a small high school. So, I think that that's a big factor. Beyond that though, we have a pretty extensive and well-developed program to help students, JDs, JSDs and Ph.D.s alike, who are interested in academic jobs and moving into the academy. It includes an extensive law teaching seminar series, including speakers from recent graduates and faculty. We offer mock interviews, mock job talks and expose them to the art of workshopping.

When they are ready to go on the market, we have a faculty committee that will help them from AALS strategy , to job talks to contract negotiations. We will help them polish abstracts and critique cv’s. The Ph.D.s are sharing in what is available to any Yale graduate. But beyond that, they're also getting, I think, the much bigger bang for their buck, because they work closely with a faculty team, not only on their exams, but on their papers.

What we all know is, it's not enough to have a letter of recommendation. It's got to say something. And to say something, it's got to be a faculty member who really knows your work and can actually comment on it. That's a useful recommendation to other committees. And I think this is one of the hardest things for students to understand, is that having a two line letter recommendation from Bill Clinton is not nearly as useful as a four page letter from an assistant professor who knows your work upside down. And can really help the committee to understand what it is that you do and what your contribution is. So, the fact that they've got this committee built in that they've been working with them, these are people that really can comment on the quality of their minds, the quality of their arguments, the quality of their writing and all the rest of that.

Q. So, thinking about that and how it's actually played out over the last couple of years, how long has the Ph.D. in Law program been in existence?

A. The first cohort got here in 2013 and graduated in 2016.

Q. Of the students who have graduated, do you know what percentage has landed in tenure track law jobs?

A. 96% of the PhD in Law students who went on the market have gotten tenure-track law jobs. One person didn't go on the market, and one person went on the market, but then decided to get some real world experience. I except that person to return to the market and to place well.

Q. Is there a list of the graduates online somewhere that I might be able to link to?

A. We have profiles of all the current candidates. [Here’s the link.]

Q. Does the program support candidates who may have to go on the teaching market more than once?

A. You know, the year this program was conceived and approved by the faculty, that was the high point of academic hiring. By the unofficial count first maintained by Larry Solum and now by Sarah Lawsky, there were 166 tenure track jobs in the market that year. The year that that first cohort graduated (2016), I think that was the year that we had 69 new jobs in the market.

So we are in a totally new world in law teaching. In 2009, 2010, if you didn't get a job, then there must be something wrong with you. In 2016 if you DID get a job, there must be something wrong with you.

Q. So, does that mean that students can stay on for, let's say, a fourth year if they need to, to go on the market a second time?

A. We are open to the possibility of fourth year. But, so far we haven’t needed that because people didn’t place, instead we’ve offered it for student’s whose research and writing proved more complicated, or perhaps there was a personal health issue or family issue. Would we consider a fourth year for someone who didn’t land a job their first time out? We certainly would consider it but, as I said, we have been fortunate in not having to face that decision.

Q. That’s a nice problem to not have faced.

A. Agreed. As I said, we’ve placed 96% so far … but this is a very small program. And it is a program that helps them produce the coins of the realm – original compelling research and writing, Our student fo on the market with two or three well placed articles and a third one well underway, which would be their job talk paper, possibly even already accepted.

They can really hit the ground running. They come out with extensive experience presenting to faculty and to peers. Some of them have coauthored with faculty. I think it's been refreshing that, we have both Yale JDs, but also people from other schools, which brings some fresh insight into the building. I think that's very useful.

I think it's really more a question of people making choices about what it is they want to spend their time doing. I think that there are people that will be very successful law professors that don't necessarily have that kind of deep, deep intellectual, passionate curiosity. And that's fine. But, as I said before, I think that you want both. You want people in a law school that are doing and training people for practice, for public policy, for every possible career out there, including legal academics.

Q. That’s actually a perfect transition into some of the broader questions.

A. Sure.

Q. I'd love to get your thought on about the rise of Ph.D. programs and VAPs and fellowships. What do you think are the benefits of the rise of these programs as an entry point into legal academia and what do you think of the cost?

A. I would put Ph.D.s and advanced degrees in a separate category from the VAPs and fellowships. I think the real leg up of the PhD and other advanced degrees is just the time and resources to write. Some of the fellowships do that as well. I think it can be enormously helpful intellectually, but it can also have the unintended consequence of leaving you in no-man’s-land between a cognate discipline and the field of law. But I think students who pursue a PhD now for purely instrumental reasons will be disappointed. The credential alone is no longer so unusual, and it is a long hard road to get a PhD and that’s an investment you have to want deeply in your soul and not just as a surface, instrumental factor.

On the demand side, I think in the go-go years before the great crash of 2008, there was a growing interest in interdisciplinarity, and a desire to build law schools on an ever-more academic and theoretical foundation. Schools were growing and a PhD was a luxury they were eager to obtain. But with the slashing of new jobs, the emphasis is really on what you have and can produce. If I PhD helps you produce, that’s great – but it’s not clear to me that a hiring committee much cares whether your productivity was due to the time and support you had as a PhD, or just your hyper efficiency in your down time. What matters is what you’ve produced which is also thought to be evidence of what you are likely to produce in the future.

Back to the supply side, I think more and more students who have the deep academic instincts began have a real hunger to read, to study to answer (and pose) hard questions. More and more people headed for an academic career were hungry for what a PhD had to offer. So it's unclear to me whether committees are saying we want somebody with a Ph.D. or it's just more people who are interested in academic law get themselves a Ph.D.. and they constitute a growing segment of the pool.

Q. Do you think there are costs to this approach? It’s obviously stretching out the timeline to try to become an entry level law professor.

A. Right. Here I would put in another pitch for our program. How much the PhD stretches out the timeline, I think, turns on how closely related the PhD is (and the writing in the dissertation) to law and to what a Law Faculty is looking to hire. If you wrote about some deeply interesting topic in Economics or Physics for that matter, can you immediately translate that into legal publications? If you can, the time line isn’t stretched at all. If it is a long hard connection to establish between your two halves, then you have the stretching you mention perhaps. If you're a legal historian, then going off and writing a legal history book as a Ph.D. program, is perfectly keeping you on track in a sense. And if you are doing a Ph.D. in Near Eastern languages and your academic work is in contract law, I'm not sure that there's an instrumental connection there. Though of course there may well be an intellectual connection.

So, I think if students are getting the message that gee, my odds are better if I have a Ph.D., so I'm now going to go off and invest five years in a Ph.D., I think that would be a very, very bad outcome. That's just not the reason to go and do a Ph.D. That's a reason to do a one year program. It's not any reason to do a five or six year program.

So, if students are misinterpreting that, I think that would be a real cost. As far as the institutions are concerned, I think you always have to be a little bit careful that there's always a little bit of a risk that what you really have is somebody who really wanted to be a philosophy professor, but there were more jobs in law, so they went off and became a law professor. That can work out, but it can also lead to frustration and a lot of other less attractive outcomes. And you can’t really sustain a five- or six-year PhD program on purely instrument motives. If you don’t love the material or have some burning need to be there, it’s going to be a pretty rough time

Q. Do you think that these Ph.D. programs have a responsibility to try to open up law faculty positions to people from diverse or nontraditional backgrounds?

A. I think all of our programs have that responsibility – from JD admissions to clerkships, from JSD and PhD programs and fellowships alike. Although our program wasn’t explicitly designed with that in mind it has worked out remarkably well on that score. Here is a new pathway to law teaching which well serves those who have planned this career their whole life, and those who never even imagined it as a possibility in the 1L or 2L year. It levels the field and makes the process turn on the quality of argument and idea and not simply hitting the marks of the traditional route – top grades in 1L, law review, RA for famous professor, clerkship, write your “tenure” piece and disappear for 50 years which tied so much to knowing how and who and went to push the right buttons.

The PhD in Law can help those students of course, but it can also help the student who needs some structure – they have a three person faculty committee, they are invited to participate in workshops, they take additional courses, they write, they teach all in an incredibly supportive environment. It makes sense that we have attracted some outstanding First Generation and traditionally underrepresented minorities as well as top-notch more traditional students.

Q. I don't know if you've heard this criticism, but there's a lot of fear out there among hiring committees that it can be hard when you have candidates who are working so closely with mentors, either in Ph.D. programs or fellowship programs, to tell how much of the work and ideas come from the candidates themselves and how much come from their committee or other mentors.

A. This is true in all fields. And one thing we definitely advise all the students, JDs and Ph.D.s alike is, that they've got to be very careful, particularly about co-authoring with a big-name faculty member, because, of course the assumption tends to be, "Well, the famous professor did the big idea and and you did the footnotes."

Q. Right.

A. So, there's a couple of things that you can do with that. I mean, what we recommend is, for one thing if you do co-author, make sure the big name professor writes an explicit letter that specifically states what was your contribution and what was hers. “Sections two and three are mine and sections one and three are the students.”
That's one way to deal with it. But, we have made it very clear to people that they've got to have something in their file that is not coauthored. I mean this is becoming a bigger problem particularly in the more empirical areas of law where co-authorship and multiple authors are common. As you said, you've got to have something where the committee can feel this really is the voice of the candidate and not their advisor.

Q. How about stuff that isn't coauthored? In other words, I'm just trying to write a dissertation and I sit down and talk with my advisor and the advisor over several meetings says, "Whoa, Whoa, your direction isn’t the right one? How about this other direction?" Then it’s hard for hiring committees to know how good the candidate is.

A. That is a perennial problem, but far from limited to a PhD … it would be as true for a JD co-authoring with (or serving as an RA to, or writing a paper under the supervision of a big-name professor. The only way to truly end any debate is to write a piece that confronts, challenges or disproves the Big Professor’s central thesis. But then again, many of us study with someone precisely because we are excited by the research path they have blazed. In that case you might write on a clearly distinct application of the famous thesis in a new place or new way. In short, you need to demonstrate your own independent capacity even if you are building along the same lines, or using the same theory in your foundation. And again. you might encourage the big name to write a clear letter as part of your file which is explicit about how or why teh student is not just the big name’s ‘mini-me’

In the end, having at least one paper that is unequivocally distinct and original would be the best way to confront this problem. Ultimately, the student who merely tills the field that was plowed by another is going to show very poorly. This might have generated a good paper that was well published, but when it comes time for Q&A at the job talk, they are very vulnerable. I was teaching at the University of Minnesota years ago and a student of a big, big name faculty member at Stanford came and gave a talk and the talk was fine. It was very impressive. Then the questions came and this person just couldn't answer anything that was even 3 degrees off the particulars of the paper. It was just obvious that, you know, they have no original idea, they are merely a workhorse for the big name. (Needless to say this candidate did not get the job).

Q. Last question for you.

A. Sure.

Q. Given that life is zero sum in so many ways, time spent in a Ph.D. program is obviously time not spent in practice. What do you think about that trade off given that we're in the business of educating lawyers?

A. Well, you know, I think as with many things, it's not just those two things, right? So I think that law schools are still in the business, of training practicing lawyers, but also training public policy people and nonprofit people and consultants and business people and so much more. Toss a rubber ball in the U.S> Senate and you can’t avoid hitting a few JDs A PhD is a big commitment, and opening that door may close some others. Law has the advantage that it is thought to be great preparation for a huge number of careers. In this sense all of our students, JD and PhD alike, have so many options at ever point in their careers, that almost none of the PhDs in cognate fields have. So choices are choices. Do we need PhDs training the next generation of lawyers? Again – we don’t need them to be trained exclusively by PhDs, but I do think every law school would benefit from having a few on their faculty. As to tradeoffs, this just gives me a chance to repeat – if you are doing a PhD for purely instrumental reasons, I'm not sure that's the best idea.

If you have a passion for the kinds of questions. If you want to dig into those kinds of things, whether it's in a traditional discipline or in law itself, then by all means. Because, you will build a storehouse of questions and ideas and insights that you'll draw on for the rest of your career. And that's a pretty valuable thing. Also, I mean at this point, in a buyer's market, having published pieces of work that can demonstrate that you can and will be productive and a real contributor, is a huge asset on the market. And so, you know, if the way you can get those papers written, is because you're doing a fellowship, great. And if the way you can get those papers written, is by being in a Ph.D. program, that's great.

Writing is the coin of the realm in doctrinal teaching positions. As far as the practice goes, you know, I think again, it's going to really vary law school by law school. I see no reason why advanced degrees and practice need to be unrelated. The ideas, theories and arguments made in academic work can and does translate to inventive (and effective) theories of a case … or open doors to new contracts, new models of remedy and relief.

But the key is to find the means best suited to you that will allow you to think, and write and engage in original research. That writing will get you the job. It will get you the promotion. And, if this career is right for you, it will give you the satisfaction and the opportunity to make a difference.

Q. Yeah, I agree. I don't think the credential itself matters as much. Right? I think what matters is the quality of the papers when you come on the market.

A. Yep.

Q. Anything else you want to add either for the benefit of hiring committees or potential applicants about the Ph.D. in Law program?

A. Well, I think, as I said, two things. One is, I think that legal academia could profit from a richer debate about what it means to study the law. And I think that that's been lacking. And I think that the Ph.D. program is one route to trying to do that. There's a depth and a richness of work that needs to be seasoned and I think a Ph.D. program provides that seasoning and that time and that support. So, I think that's another big plus about it. I think that you want people that can engage deeply and across a wide range and so, thinking not just about their own sub specialty, but also thinking about how it relates into a bigger story of writing and thinking about and researching law and law's impact on society.

Q. Yeah. Thank you so much, Gordon. I really appreciate your time today.

A. Happy to do it.

Posted by Jessica Erickson on August 16, 2019 at 01:04 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (22)

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Law School Hiring Spreadsheet and Clearinghouse for Questions, 2019-2020

I. The Spreadsheet

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

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

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

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

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

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

II. The Comment Thread

In this comment thread to this post, you can ask questions about the law teaching market, and professors or others can weigh in.

Both questions and answers can be anonymous, but I will delete pure nastiness, irrelevance, and misinformation. If you see something that you know to be wrong, please feel free to let me know via email, sarah*dot*lawsky*at*law*dot*northwestern*dot*edu.

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

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 15, 2019 at 09:00 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (883)

Friday, August 09, 2019

Interview with Adam Feibelman about the Academic Fellowships at Tulane Law School

I’m excited to announce the next latest interview in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors.  This interview is with Adam Feibelman, the Sumter Davis Marks Professor of Law at Tulane Law School and Director of the Program in Regulation and Coordination at Tulane’s Murphy Institute.  Adam has historically helped manage Tulane’s academic fellowships, although he is quick to note that Kristin Johnson, Tulane’s incoming Associate Dean for Faculty Research, will have a significant role with these fellowships going forward.  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Adam to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Adam, for participating in this series!

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

Q:  Can you tell me about the different fellowship programs at Tulane?

A:  Until this year we've had two programs. One is the Forrester fellowship, which is a long-standing part of our legal research and writing program.  A  few years ago, we created a visiting assistant professorship, which is funded by the Murphy Institute’s program in regulation but dedicated to the law school.  This year, we created a Yongxiong fellowship, which is a component of our new Yongxiong-Tulane Center for International Credit Law, a partnership with Xiangtan University in Hunan Province, China.

Q:  You mentioned that the Forrester fellow teaches in the legal research and writing program.  Can I ask you to briefly describe the other two fellowships, starting with the VAP with the Murphy Institute.  Does the VAP have teaching responsibilities?

A:  Yes, it's designed to be a two year position but it's formally structured as one year position with renewal. The person in that position teaches three of their four semesters in residence and has one semester off, which is generally their first semester that they're here.  That's how we envision it, and what we advise, and what people have done, but it's not technically a requirement.  People can pick which three semesters they teach while here.

Q:  What do those VAPs teach?

A: What they teach is determined through discussion between that person, the vice dean, and whoever is advising the VAP. That has tended to be me, both in my capacity as (outgoing) associate dean for faculty research and as the director of the Murphy program.

Q:  Tell me about the new fellowship -- the Yongxiong Fellowship.

A:  That's a very exciting new position. It’s a hybrid of those two others, so the fellow will teach in our LLM legal research and writing program in the fall semester, and then in the spring they'll teach a substantive course that is associated with our new center on international law and finance.

We're going to be relying on our initial fellows in the program to participate in discussions about developing this center, our partnership with Xiangtan University and a new related LLM.  I think the first few of these fellows will have a very interesting window into these institutional developments, which are increasingly common around the country as lots of U.S. schools are partnering abroad with other institutions.

Q:  Let's take these three programs and essentially move through them chronologically, starting with the application process and moving to the fellowship itself. When do these programs start accepting applications?

A:  This tends to be a little bit different each year, but generally we have posted the positions sometime in mid to late December or early January.  We generally wait to begin reviewing them for about a month, a month and a half.  There's a committee for each of these positions that then reviews applications and schedules interviews, generally Skype Interviews.   And we tend to make our offers in mid to late spring.

Q:  What materials do candidates need to submit to apply to these positions?

A:  We generally request a cv, a list of at least three references, post-graduate transcripts, copies of any scholarship completed or in-progress, and a letter explaining their teaching interests and their research agenda.

Q:  I should've clarified this earlier, but obviously there's one Murphy Institute fellow at a time, one for the new fellowship program, how many Forrester fellows are there at a time?

A:  We have two at a time, and we have tried to stagger them.

Q:  How many applications do you typically receive in a given year?

A:  That fluctuates, but I would say between 20 and 30 in recent years.

Q:  Who selects the fellows?

A:  Yep, so we have a committee assigned by the dean for each position.  Each committee generally includes three or four people, has a chair, and functions roughly like an appointment committee.

Q:  If you're looking at teaching at the teaching side of a fellows responsibilities, how do you gauge teaching ability during the interview process?

A:  That's tricky. In some cases candidates will have had teaching experience, especially people who are coming from PhD programs.  Other candidates will have done some adjunct teaching during their time in practice. Those are obviously the easiest cases to evaluate someone's potential as a classroom teacher. We'll have student evaluations. We'll have evaluations or comments in reference letters that talk about their teaching.

When people don't have teaching experience, we rely fairly heavily on their recommenders’ estimations about their capacity and potential as classroom teachers.  And then, in any event, trying to assess teaching ability is an important component of our interviews.  I think the things that are most important in an interview for this purpose are someone's ability to communicate their teaching and research interests very clearly and succinctly, especially the substance of their past and current research and their research agendas.

Q:  Let’s turn to scholarship.  Do successful candidates tend to have a published paper when they're applying, a draft of a paper, more than one published paper? What's the norm for candidates who are successful?

A:  I'd say that, increasingly, candidates will have published work, but that is definitely not a requirement. I know that we've hired a few people who have had work in progress that had not yet been published, like a draft article or a dissertation. Whether we are considering work in progress or something published or something that is on an agenda, our committees focus on evaluating the work or the ideas as an indication of someone's scholarly potential.

Q:  How about their research agenda? How fully developed do you expect that to be?

A:  That's also a hard question to answer generally.  I think it's important to us that someone has a research agenda and an idea of work that they would do with the time and resources allowed to them in a fellowship or VAP.  But I've found that many people adjust their actual research agendas in the course of their fellowship or VAP, so that really it's not so much that we're looking at this as an actual roadmap for what they're going to do, but as an indication that they have an idea of what kinds of things would be interesting and valuable contributions to make in their fields of inquiry.   

Q:  How about practice experience? How much does practice experience matter in the hiring process? And how much practice experience are you looking for?

A:  That is something that differs across the positions. With the Forrester, we’ll really only consider applicants who have at least two or three years of practice, including clerkship experience.  We've made the institutional decision that we want people who are part of the first-year legal writing and research program to be able to draw upon some meaningful experience in the practice of law as a baseline requirement.

For the VAP, experience in the practice law is a factor that we weigh with others, and many of the people who've had that position have had substantial experience. I don't think we've discussed a policy in that regard with respect to the new fellowship, but I’m confident that, at the least, experience in the practice of law will be weighed heavily in assessing candidates for that position.

Q:  Do you give a preference for candidates from particular curricular areas or candidates with a PhD?

A:  Definitely not for the Forrester fellowship.  The new Yongxiong fellowship is designed to fill some curricular needs within the broad category of law and finance.  The VAP is again, part of our program on regulation, which defines the scope of the position and the kinds of research and teaching interests that we are drawn to, but we've historically defined regulation very broadly for this purpose.

Q:  As I've announced this interview series, I've gotten a number of comments asking, essentially, what if a candidate does not have the traditional markers that you might think of for prospective law faculty— they didn't graduate from one of the top 5 or 10 law schools, they didn't do an elite clerkship. What advice would you have for them in terms of standing out in the application process?

A:  First of all, I would strongly encourage people in that position to apply.  We look at every application on its merits and some of our strongest candidates have been people who fall outside of the conventional checklists of credentials in one or more ways.

With that in mind, the first thing I would encourage people to do is contact law faculty members who they know -- perhaps who were their professors in law school or who they may have gotten to know in other contexts -- to get advice about the process but also to get a sense of whether they might be advocates for them. Even the briefest note from a faculty member here or at another law school encouraging us to look at an application weighs very heavily in our process.

Q:  Do you make any special efforts to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A:  Yes and in a number of ways, both through formal and informal networks.  That has been a deliberate part of every search here I can recall.

Q:  Let’s move more into the terms and conditions of employment.  Are each of the fellowships one year and then renewable for a second year?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Are you comfortable sharing how much the fellows are paid per year?

A:  No, sorry.

Q:  Do you fellows receive health insurance?

A:  Yes.

Q:  How about access to university or subsidized housing?

A:  No.

Q:  Do you fellows receive travel funding or other professional development funding?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Do you mind sharing that amount?

A:  No, but in any event, when the amount is exhausted it can be supplemented upon request for particular opportunities.

Q:  Do they receive funding to hire research assistants?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Do they receive reimbursement for market related expenses when they're on the job market?

A:  Yes, up to a certain amount, generally to reimburse expenses related to attending the AALS faculty recruitment conference.

Q:  Are fellows expected to live in New Orleans? Obviously there are teaching obligations, but could somebody live in Miami or New York and commute?

A:  Well, to begin with, as with other faculty, we certainly expect that the fellows and VAPs need to be in residence at least enough to satisfy their responsibilities as faculty, which generally entails being in town during the week during the terms.  But we’ve had people in these positions who, like other colleagues, have traveled regularly over the weekends and who have spent a good deal of holidays and summers with family or partners elsewhere.  We definitely have tried to be as accommodating and supportive in that regard as possible while making our baseline expectations clear, that we think the value of these positions ultimately derives from being a full and present member of our academic community.

Q:  Let's talk about how to make the most of the fellowship and the extent to which fellows are incorporated into the intellectual life of the school. How often do the fellows themselves get together? Do they have their own workshop series, anything like that?

A:  The degree of interaction among the fellows and VAPs has differed a bit over time and is somewhat a function of the people who are in these positions, their substantive interests, and their schedules.  But they have all consistently been very much included in the intellectual life of the school and, generally, treated as faculty alongside everyone else.  The fellows and VAPs participate along with all the faculty in our regular faculty workshops, including as presenters.  We also have another workshop series that is part of our Murphy program that is a bit smaller and designed in large part to be a node of interaction among the fellows and VAPs as well as students and alums who are interested in the possibility of an academic career.  I'd say that these workshops are the main formal opportunities for the fellows and VAPs to interact with each other and with other faculty, but there are countless other informal opportunities as well, both professional and social.

Q:  Are all the fellows invited to the Murphy Institute Workshop Series?

A:  Oh yes, and they are encouraged to participate in programming the series as well by recommending people to invite.

Q:  Who actually supervises the fellows?

A:  That’s been something our associate dean for faculty research has coordinated, and there’s a core handful of tenured and tenure track faculty who are heavily involved in mentoring and supporting the fellows and VAPs.

Q:  Okay, and does that include people necessarily in their area of interest or are they given help in connecting with faculty in their area of interest?

A:  Both.

Q:  Are they given assistance in connecting with faculty outside of Tulane?

A:  Yeah, that's something that we spend a good deal of time doing. We try to do that in part through involving them in programming our faculty workshops, both the main series and our Murphy series.  We also try to help people get to know people in their own fields in other ways as well, especially by sending out drafts and attending conferences and similar events.

Q:  We’ve now talked about the workshop series and mentoring opportunities. What other assistance are fellows given related to their research?

A:  In addition to the development fund and research assistants that they get along with other faculty, I'd say the main thing that we do to help our fellows and VAPs is engage with them as they do their research and writing.  If people are at the stage where they're trying to decide what to write or shape an agenda, we have had lots of conversations, say over lunch or coffee, to help them decide among projects and help them frame their research queries or projects.  This also involves reading works in progress, something that our group of faculty here take very seriously, and identifying people in the building and outside the building to read their drafts.  Then I'm fairly certain that everyone who's been through as a fellow or VAPs has had the opportunity to present their work in one of our workshops, in addition to any moot talks they’ve done in preparing for the faculty recruitment process.

Q:  I want to ask a question that keeps coming up on the blogs.  People have wondered if VAPs or fellows receive assistance placing their work. In other words, is there any assistance with the actual placements itself?

A:  The assistance that we provide in that regard is the same assistance that we provide each other as colleagues, which is just advice on how to try to navigate the confusing system that we have for submitting articles to journals.  But beyond that, I don't know what people may have in mind.

Q:  I think they think we call up law reviews and say you should really accept X and Y piece.

A:  No, the extent of the help that we give is just the general advice that we provide on strategic aspects of submitting work to journals.

Q:  Let's turn over to the teaching side.  What training, feedback, or mentoring do fellows receive related to their teaching?

A:  We do a variety of things in that regard, much of it informal.  And most of what we've done has been, frankly, is the same kind of advice and help that we give to our incoming  tenure track faculty. To begin with, we provide a good deal of help and feedback at the preliminary stage when people are preparing to teach a course for the first time and, especially, when they are designing substantive courses. They get help with things like preparing a syllabus, selecting a casebook or materials, and thinking about what kind of teaching style or various teaching approaches they may want to take.

Then we attend classes that the fellows and VAPs are teaching, and provide feedback and assistance as we think might be useful, and certainly in response to any questions that arise.

Some people who've come through have also sought advice from people we've identified to them as especially successful classroom teachers, and we generally advise everyone to sit in on other classes taught by other permanent faculty who are successful in different approaches.

Q:  Let’s talk more specifically about the teaching responsibilities in the three fellowship programs. The Forrester Fellows, do they just teach in the legal writing program? Do they have the opportunity to teach outside of that program?

A:  Yes, they teach exclusively in that program.

Q:  How many students do they tend to have in their section?

A:  They have approximately 25 students in two different sections.

Q:  Just to clarify, 25 in each section?

A:  That’s right. We’re aiming to reduce the number of students or sections per fellow when we have resources to do so.

Q:  Okay, so a total of say 40 to 60? 

A.: Yes. That number is higher than we’d like ideally and we hope to reduce it over time when resources allow.  But our experience is also that our Forrester Fellows have been successful in managing the teaching responsibilities and launching successfully onto the tenure-track market.

Q:  How do they manage the grading and the teaching for those two sections along with trying to develop their own research agenda and manage their writing?

A:  As with most legal research and writing programs, there's a predictable schedule of spikes in the work in both the fall and spring semesters, as opposed to other courses where the work is spread more evenly across the term. We help the fellows plan their research and writing activities in between the spikes in grading and having student meetings, and we encourage all of the fellows and VAPs to have enough of a running start towards the end of summer so that, over the course of the term, it's easier for them to pick up where they left off.

Q:  Are the Forrester fellows coming up with the assignments and curriculum?

A:  No, that's a key feature of the program that is very important for the fellows. The most time-consuming aspects of substance of the course are consistent across the sections, so the fellows are not coming up with the topics for the memos and so forth.

Q:  How about the VAP program? You mentioned that they teach in three semesters, how many courses do they teach in each semester?

A: They teach one course in each of three semesters.

Q:  Do they repeat at all? How many total preps?

A:  We have encouraged, and I think it has consistently been the case, that the VAPs tend to repeat one of their courses. So they'll generally teach a new prep their first spring, then another prep the next fall, and then teach the course they taught the previous spring a second time.

Q:  You mentioned that the fellow in the new Yongxiong fellowship will be teaching two courses. Is that, like the Murphy fellowship, one course a semester?

A:  Yes, the course in the fall will be the legal research and writing course with LLMs and then a substantive course in the spring.

Q:  Do the fellows have any other responsibilities? We've talked about the teaching side, the scholarly side, is there anything else that's on their plate?

A:  No.

Q:  Stepping back, if you were talking to a candidate with multiple options between different fellowship programs, what do you think makes Tulane programs stand out?

A:  I think the thing that makes us stand out is that we have a critical mass of faculty in the building who are very invested in helping our fellows and VAPs be successful while here and in landing tenure-track positions.  Over the years, I think our fellows and VAPs have really benefitted from a lot of hands on advice and counsel.

As an institution, I think we have fully appreciated that the successes of the program and the benefits that we get from having fellows and VAPs is largely a function of their success, both while here but especially in obtaining tenure track position.  So, pretty much every decision that we've made institutionally regarding those positions has been designed to do whatever we can to help with both goals.

Q:  Do you happen to know off the top of your head, what percentage of the fellows over the last say 5 or 10 years have landed?

A: We're at roughly 90%, and that’s been mostly during a difficult period for law faculty hiring.

Q:  Yeah, and what types of mentoring do they receive related to the hiring process?

A:  Very hands on. Different people have different appetites for input, but basically we provide as much as people can take, and at every stage of the process. This start with strategizing in the first year on things like their job-talks and reaching out to faculty at other schools in their fields to try to build a group of formal and informal recommenders. And then, in the run-up to actual process itself, we spend a ton of time with people on their FAR forms.

Q:  Who are the people who are doing this? Who are the faculty, not necessarily by name but in terms of position, who are responsible for helping with this type of mentoring?

A:  There's tended to be a core group that includes our associate dean for faculty research and often our own recent tenure track hires, who are very eager to share all of the advice and counsel they got along the way. We also have a number of other colleagues who are very active mentors to whom we steer people for advice on all sorts of questions, and who generally participate in moots for interviews and job talks.  Many of those colleagues are people who have served on our appointments committees over the years and who have lots of good experience and insights that they're able and willing to share with our fellows and VAPs.

Q:  Do fellows have the opportunity to do a new job talk or a new screening interview in front of the faculty?

A:  Yes.

Q:  Does the school support fellows who may need to go on the teaching market more than once? Is the fellowship renewable ever for a third year?

A:  Well, in any event, we are committed to continuing to provide support for our fellows and VAPs until they get tenure-track offers.  But we’re pretty firm in our expectation that these positions are for two years.  We have made a rare exceptions to this once or twice over the years, but frankly, that has been because of particular needs we’ve had or in benefits to us in extending the position. 

Q:  Let’s step back and look at the rise of fellowships and VAPs 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:  Yeah, that's an interesting question. I definitely think there are benefits for the people who are in these positions and for the schools. It's very difficult to get a sense of what is expected of a candidate for a faculty position unless you've observed what faculty do, and you really can't do that as a student, not in any meaningful way, I don't think. So, it's very valuable to have that sustained exposure to a law faculty from the inside, and then extremely valuable to get all of the insights from people within the school about how to prepare to be a candidate and then how to navigate the system. And the opportunity to get a lot of feedback on one’s scholarship and on one’s research agenda and one’s teaching is, I think, quite valuable for fellows and VAPs who are at programs where they get that kind of feedback.

From the school's perspective, our fellows and VAPs tend to be in some of the most dynamic faculty in the building at any given point in time. They tend to be extremely focused and driven and haven't been part of a faculty long enough to get a little jaded.  I think schools really, really benefit from having people in the building who are fresh to the profession and very focused and driven and ambitious.

Q:  What about the costs?

A:  I think the main costs is that it may create a divide between and among candidates who do these positions and those who do not.  But I have to say that, over the years, I've definitely participated in appointment committees that have identified very strong candidates who did not come up through this process although as your data indicates, maybe that's increasingly less common.

Q:  There's always the outliers, right?

A:  Yeah.

Q:  Do you think that the fellowship or VAP programs have any responsibility to try to open up law teaching positions to people from diverse or nontraditional background?

A:  Absolutely, yes. I think that especially as they’ve become a more common pathway into the profession, the responsibility that law schools have in that regard in general is now shifting heavily to these positions.

Q:  You may have heard the concern that VAPs and fellows receive so much help on their papers and developing their ideas when they're in the fellowship programs, that it can be hard for hiring committees to know how many of the ideas comes from the fellows themselves.  What do you think about this concern?

A:  Yes, that's interesting. I saw that as one of the questions in your preview and I really don't recall any one having articulated that before.

Q:  Interesting.

A:  Yeah. Sometimes it's come up where a candidate, for a fellow, or a VAP, or a tenure track position has a good deal of coauthored work, and sometimes there’s been a question about what the candidate’s contribution to the work has been, but there are ways to delve into that and get a pretty good idea.  You’re asking about something slightly different, about whether work attributable to a candidate is really their own.

At least in my experience, fellows and VAPs get essentially the same kind of advice and feedback on their research and scholarship that many entry level of tenure track colleagues do, if perhaps a bit more of it at an earlier stage.  In general, I think a significant part of the scholarly project is collaborative, and oftentimes good ideas emerge out of conversations or interactions that you have with faculty colleagues or, if you're in practice, with partners, or with your judge if you're clerking.  And those influences inevitably help shape one’s scholarship.

I certainly always felt that the core ideas and analysis in our fellows and VAPs work were entirely their own.  Beyond that, I think that the input they get on their work is a main part of the benefit of the program and hopefully has contributed to their development as scholars.

Q:  Last question.  Given that life is zero sum, obviously years that people spend in a fellowship are years that people are not spending, for example in practice. What do you think about that trade off, especially given that law schools are in the business of educating lawyers?

A:  Well, on a personal level, having done a fellowship myself and having known a lot of people who've done them, I've found that there's a great deal of heterogeneity in how people do these trade-offs, so I find it hard to generalize. The one thing that I feel confident about, at least at this stage, after all of the time that I've spent both as a fellow and with the other fellows, is that these positions, if they are well designed and well-functioning and involve meaningful faculty participation, do provide a benefit and are generally very enjoyable professional experiences.

Q:  But to the extent that we have an increasing number of people who have done a Ph.D. or a fellowship or both, that may well mean that people don't have as much practice experience when they start an entry-level position.  Do you think that is a concern?

A:  My sense of the way our profession is developing is that there's a strong interest in having faculty members, not necessarily every single faculty members, but in general, having faculty members who have significant experience in the practice of law, and I don't think that's ever going to change.

My sense is that the market for tenure and tenure track positions in going to, at least to some significant extent, expect or demand that candidates by and large have some experience in the practice of law. Again, not necessarily every candidate, and but my assumption is that it is going to continue to be an important component in the factors that many or most schools will assess. And so, I think that people who are interested in getting into teaching are going to have a motivation, in addition to their own interest in practicing law, to gain that experience.

I guess I'm not worried that the proliferation of these positions is going to reduce the overall amount of practical experience among law faculties in general.

Q:  Anything else you want to add? Obviously you've been in the trenches on the fellowship side for a while, anything you want to pass along to the hiring committees about the state of law faculty hiring? Or about the fellowships at Tulane?

A: I guess one thing I would re-emphasize is that people who don't have all of the conventional credentials should not be deterred from thinking of this as a potential career path. I think that faculty hiring committees are getting better at evaluating the quality of a candidate’s work, the promise of future work, and their capacity for effective instruction.  So, increasingly, candidates’ actual scholarly work and promise and their professional experience after law school can outweigh credentials or lack thereof.

There is one very specific and practical piece of advice that I've found myself giving people who I think could be strong candidates for a tenure track position, which is to avoid a rush to publish articles in preparation for applying for academic jobs.  I think this strikes some people as rather counter-intuitive, since they’ve heard that they need some scholarly work to land a job, which is largely true.  I’ve found, though, that some people are very eager to publish as much as they can right out of school, so they’ll beef up seminar papers or write up things that emerge from their experience in practice and get them published.  Sometimes that's valuable, but it has its own perils, especially if they're not getting much feedback on the work their doing from scholars in the relevant field for example or even from other colleagues or scholars in other fields.  Once they are being considered by hiring committees, their recent work will get read very carefully and assessed in ways that they may not yet appreciate; it will likely be their calling card when they go on the market for academic positions.

So, my advice to someone who is thinking about an academic job and who is thinking about publishing something they have in progress is to be sure, as much as possible, to reach out to people, ideally to scholars in the field, and get as much feedback as possible.  And they should particularly seek feedback about whether their work is best publishable in its current form or something they might want to develop over a longer period of time to make a stronger impression when they candidates for academic jobs.

Q:  I could not agree with that last part more. I think the focus should be quality over quantity every day of the week.

A:  Yeah, now there are so many journals and there are so many opportunities for publishing, which I happen to think is a good thing, but it makes it a bit dangerous for people who have something that is solid and publishable, but not necessarily what they would want as their calling card as a candidate for a fellowship or VAP or a tenure track position.

Q:  I completely agree. Thank you so much Adam I know this one has been a long, but we had the three programs to talk about so, I appreciate that you took the extra time with me today.


Posted by Jessica Erickson on August 9, 2019 at 06:39 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Number of FAR Forms in First Distribution Over Time - 2019

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.20190808
(All information obtained from various blog posts, blog comments, Tweets, and Facebook postings over the years and not independently verified. If you have more accurate information, please post it in the comments and I will update accordingly.)

First posted August 8, 2019.

Posted by Sarah Lawsky on August 8, 2019 at 02:09 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market | Permalink | Comments (8)

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Hiring Announcement: Suffolk University Law School Transactional Clinic Director

My school is undertaking a search for an entry level assistant clinical professor to launch and direct a Transactional Law Clinic.  From the job description: 

We seek candidates with strong academic records and a commitment to excellence in teaching and scholarship. Prior experience in clinical education is preferred, and at least three years of transactional law experience is required. Applicants must be admitted or eligible for admission to the Massachusetts bar.
The Transactional Law Clinic will provide students with the hands-on, practical experience they need to navigate the rapidly evolving field of transactional law. At a minimum, the Clinic will provide free legal services to underserved clients on transactional issues and collaborate with several existing clinics at the Law School on transaction-related issues.
The ideal candidate will be a self-motivated individual who can launch and grow the Clinic by developing relationships within the greater Boston community, the University community, and the academy and Bar.
In addition to directing the Clinic, the faculty member will be expected to teach one non-clinical course in a related field, contribute to the Law School and community, and produce scholarship.
The Transactional Law Clinic, once launched, will be one of Suffolk’s 12 in-house clinics, adding depth and breadth to Suffolk Law’s nationally regarded Clinical Programs. Suffolk Law’s Clinics have been ranked among the top 20 such programs in U.S. News & World Report for more than a decade. The Clinic also will be a part of Suffolk Law’s successful Business and Financial Services concentration.
Applicants should submit a curriculum vitae, a list of references, and a cover letter addressed to Professor Sarah Boonin, Co-Chair of the Clinical Committee, Suffolk University Law School.

I can add that we have a "unified" tenure track that includes clinical and legal practice skills professors.

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw on August 6, 2019 at 03:10 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, Teaching Law | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, August 02, 2019

Interview with Calvin Morrill about the Jurisprudence & Social Policy Ph.D. Program at Berkeley Law

For those of you who have been following my interview series, you know that it generally focuses on VAPs and fellowship.  This interview, however, focuses on a related, but slightly different, trend in law faculty hiring—the increase in the number of entry-level hires with Ph.D.’s.  I spoke with Professor Calvin Morrill, who is the Stefan A. Riesenfeld Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology at UC Berkeley, about Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) Ph.D. Program.  Cal has served as the Associate Dean for the JSP Program, although he is rotating out of that position this summer.  Thanks, Cal, for participating in this series!  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited him 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.

Q. Can you give me a brief overview of the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program at Berkeley?

A. Sure. JSP is a multi-disciplinary, interdisciplinary Ph.D. program that's focused on the study of law and legal institutions. It’s housed within Berkeley Law, but is a relatively autonomous unit like a department. The program has about 60 Ph.D. students and 17 core faculty members, all of whom hold primary appointments in Berkeley Law, and also typically hold a secondary appointment in a disciplinary department at Berkeley. The goal of our program is to train academics for positions in law schools, interdisciplinary programs, and disciplinary programs. Students come to JSP either with only a BA, or with a JD, an MA or an equivalent graduate degree, and they spend about five to six years studying toward the Ph.D.

Rather than organize the program by traditional law school curricular areas such as torts, or contracts, or intellectual property, for example, JSP is organized by research disciplines and their intersections. Our hubs of organization within JSP are law and society/sociology of law, criminology and punishment in society, law and economics, law and political economy, legal history, law and political science/public law, law and political theory/philosophy, and law and psychology. Multiple members of our core and affiliated faculty also draw on critical perspectives of law, including feminist theory and critical race theory. Our faculty embraces methodological pluralism that ranges from advanced quantitative methods to advanced qualitative, historical, and critical methodologies.

Let me also note that JSP is responsible for an undergraduate major, Legal Studies, which is an interdisciplinary liberal arts program housed in Berkeley Law, but officially a part of the Berkeley College of Letters and Science.

This year, we’re especially excited about two new faculty members we hired at JSP as part of a spectacular faculty recruiting class of nine new hires at Berkeley Law. One is David Grewal, who was Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale Law. He studies law and political economy, international law, law and political theory, and social inequality. A second is Rebecca Goldstein, who just received her Ph.D. in Government (political science) from Harvard, and studies the politics of criminal justice and inequality (especially policing) using advanced quantitative and mixed-methods.

Q. I had no idea the program was that large. When you said 60 students, that surprised me. How many of those students hope to become academics at law school some day?

A. About 80% of our students go into academia. It used to be about one-third of our students who go into academia teach in law schools, but over the past decade or, approximately two-thirds ultimately teach in law schools. Parallel to this pattern, about two-thirds of our graduates also ultimately earn both JD’s and PhD’s. So they're joining an increasing hiring trend, especially in top-14 law schools, but even beyond the top-14, to hire JD/PhD’s.

The vast range of dissertation topics that JSP students pursue underscore and help shape the diversity of scholarly interests in the program, including works on law and social inequality, immigration law, business law, law and markets, human rights and comparative law, policing, mass incarceration, law and bioethics, law and religion, law and education, law and technology and intellectual property.

Q. What's your role with the program?

A. I’m the Associate Dean for JSP and the undergraduate Legal Studies program. Together with a small administrative staff, I'm responsible for the day-to-day management of the program plus strategic planning, faculty and student recruitment, budgeting, etc. I should mention that after six years – I've served two consecutive terms as associate dean – I’ll be rotating out of the role, as planned, and back to the faculty as a civilian, so to speak. My JSP colleague, Professor Taeku Lee, will be rotating in as Associate Dean this summer. He's the former chair of Berkeley Political Science and a specialist in law and racial and ethnic politics, as well as survey methodology.

Q. I’d love to move through the Ph.D. program chronologically. Starting with the application process, moving to the Ph.D. itself, and then the hiring market.

A. Great.

Q. When does the program start accepting application for the following academic year?

A. December 15th is our deadline for applications each year, and students apply through what's called the graduate portal at the UC Berkeley Graduate Division. Information on applying is available on our website at Berkeley Law where we have an information page.
There's also information available through the main UC Berkeley website as well. People interested in applying can also contact JSP directly through [email protected] or at 510-642-3771.

Q. What materials does a candidate need to submit as part of that process?

A. Applicants need to have official transcripts sent from all previous undergraduate and graduate institutions where they've been enrolled. They need to take the GRE, but they do not need to take the LSAT. If they have taken the LSAT that's great, but it is not required. They need three letters of recommendations. There are two short essays as part of the application. One is called the “statement of purpose” in which applicants should lay out their goals for graduate study and beyond, why they want to be at JSP, what they hope to get out of our Ph.D. program. The second essay is the “personal statement,” which is a brief biographical essay about how the applicant’s experiences have led them to be interested in applying and pursuing a doctoral degree with JSP.

A. And then, finally, applicants can also submit samples of their written work from coursework or publications that they have. Publications are not necessary, but a sample of written academic work is.

Q. What's the typical educational background of a successful applicant to the program? Did I hear you say earlier, that two thirds of the students in the program have JDs?

A. Most students don't come into JSP with JDs. About one-fifth or a bit more who enter the program already have a JD, an MA or an LLM. About a third of our students come right from a bachelor's program into the Ph.D. program. Another third of our entering students don’t have degrees beyond their undergraduate degree, but have work experience of some sort before entering graduate school. So there are a lot of different pathways into JSP. Many of the students who do not have a JD when they enter JSP will earn one either at Berkeley Law or at another law school while they're completing their Ph.D. Ultimately about two-thirds of our graduates have a JD along with their Ph.D.

A. JSP graduates who don’t earn a JD are typically interested in going into an interdisciplinary or disciplinary program for which a JD is not necessary. But, just to underscore, a JD is not necessary to apply for the JSP program.

Q. Does JSP interview applicants?

A. No. There are no interviews to be admitted to JSP, although prospective applicants can visit Berkeley, and we're happy to set up meetings with faculty and students, if they like. Once students are admitted to JSP, we do have an admit day for JSP admits in March each year. And we provide travel and lodging support for each admit to come to Berkeley, to check out the program, to check out their cohort, to meet other students and faculty, and so on.

Q. How many applications does JSP typically receive?

A. We receive between 80 and 110 applications per year, and our admit rate is somewhere between 8 and 12%, depending upon the number of applications we get. We're looking for cohorts between 8 and 10 each year, and our yield rate is about 70 to 80% of those admitted. So, if people get into JSP, they generally come.

Q. Let's talk about what you're looking for, then, to select that cohort. What matters the most? If you were to look at somebody's application materials, what do you go to first?

A. We do a holistic review of each application, but what we're really looking for are clues about the applicant’s promise of being an outstanding academic, whether as a faculty member in a law school, or in an interdisciplinary or disciplinary program. An applicant’s grades and the kinds of courses that they’ve taken in their previous academic programs matter. A JD or an MA may help signal an applicant’s promise, but it's not determinative in terms of the admissions process. More important are how an applicant signals they are interested in committing themselves to the theoretical, substantive, and methodological training offered at JSP that will enable them to do cutting-edge research and teach at the highest levels of academia.

We gather clues about a student’s promise from different parts of the application. The statement of purpose, for example, can tell us how students frame what they're interested in, what they're committed to. They don't have to have a fully developed research agenda.
They don't have to have their dissertation plan all worked out. That's what they're going to figure out while they're in the Ph.D. program. Letters of recommendation can tell us how others view the applicant. And samples of academic writing tell us how students actually set up scholarly questions they're interested in and the way they try to answer them given their prior levels of training.

We also try to gauge how their background experiences, whether it’s in law or another field, inform their professional goals. We have a number of students who come to us with professional experience, but a number who don't. Whatever an applicant’s background experiences, we’re interested in how that has shaped an applicant’s orientation, and their excitement and promise for doing exciting graduate work at JSP.

Q. And you said they don't have to have their dissertation topic picked out when they apply?

A. Not at all. In fact, we actually prefer that they don't. Going through a Ph.D. program is importantly about learning how to ask significant research questions that are important theoretically and, especially in JSP, are relevant to policy and law in the deepest possible ways. Almost every dissertation out of JSP seeks to push underneath the assumptions that inform a law, a policy, or a popular conception about law, policy, or social problems. What students learn at JSP is how to answer research questions regarding law, policy, and society in a cutting-edge way, in an innovative and illuminating way, and in a manner that might matter for social and institutional change.

A. This is an important value-added aspect of coming to JSP. This is what we help and facilitate students to form -- a research agenda and to gain research tools in order to execute that agenda.

Q. And, how do you gauge their ability to do that type of high level research? I'm just thinking about your yield rate. Obviously, you're only taking a small percentage of the total applicants. You mentioned the statement of purpose, you mentioned the letters of recommendations. Just wondering, what types of things are you looking for to say to you, "This is the extraordinary candidate, who will thrive in this program."

A. It’s a tall order to gauge an applicant’s promise. We use everything in the application – the academic record to date, the letters of rec, statement of purpose and personal statement, any sample academic work they provide, the test scores. Again, it’s a holistic assessment. We don't do interviews, although sometimes students do visit us, and we do get to know them. Based on all the evidence we have through the application, we try to put together a picture. A sense of who the student is right now, and who they might become. The admissions committee is looking for certain clues that their experience tells them will translate into success in the JSP program and importantly beyond the program in a career.

We’re constantly asking questions about the applicants, as represented in their application materials. One of the important questions is how do people write? How do they express themselves? Even though they may not have an advanced degree, how sophisticated are they given where they're at in their personal and academic development? How have they negotiated the academic experiences they have had? How do they frame the issues that they're interested in?

The other thing that we look for are applicants who are quite committed to an academic experience. Again, we're looking for applicants’ promise in terms of how they put together the kinds of issues and questions they're interested in. How they write, how they express themselves. The kinds of academic experiences they've had. The letters of recommendation are really important because we're looking for recommenders who can actually comment on an applicant’s academic promise. One of the things that I always tell potential applicants is, "It may be better to get a letter of recommendation from somebody who really knows your academic potential, with whom you’ve had meaningful professional engagement, and has really seen your academic performances, rather than going for the most famous person who may not you as well."

Sometimes a prospective applicant will say to me, "I know an important judge on the federal bench." Or, "I know a Supreme Court Justice. Could I get a letter of recommendation from them?" My answer is, "That would be wonderful to receive a letter from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but does she really know your academic record? Does she really know what you've done in your academic career thus far? And, can she really comment in a substantive way about your promise as an academic? If she can, awesome! But don’t get the letter unless that super high-status can write a meaningful letter about you.”

Q. On the academic/scholarly side, how much do the successful candidates tend to have already when they come in? Are these candidates who have already been doing academic writing? And, I'm thinking here beyond what they wrote in their college classes, obviously. Have they done really sophisticated legal writing already?

A. Some applicants have and some haven't. I would say most have not. We do get some applicants who have already published a paper or two in a law review, but I would say the vast majority, 80%, 90% of our students have really not yet done that kind of work. So, in that regard this is very different from a fellowship program where people might be returning to academia from practice having perhaps published something in a law journal or another academic venue.

Speaking of practicing law, we do have applicants who have considerable experience as attorneys, but they generally haven't done high-level scholarly research prior to applying to JSP. This is why they're coming to a Ph.D. program, to get that training and to get immersed into that world. Now you might say, "Well, how do they know if they want to commit to academia?" How does anyone truly know about committing to a career until one is in the middle of it? It's tough to know. And again, this is where we try to discern clues from the application materials, such as letters of recommendation, where the recommenders speak to evidence of applicants’ commitment and interest in coming to JSP and academia.

I also think that applicants who have been out of school for a while, who have had practical experience, be it in law or another field, have had a chance to reflect on what their strengths are, what their sustained interests are, what their passions are. They may be better able to express those kinds of aspects of their identity than younger students. Although, again, we have a mix of students, as I said before, students coming right out of undergraduate programs, students coming in with JDs, students coming in with practice experience. This is another interesting and exciting part of the program. All these kinds of students meet and exchange their experiences and their interests within and across their cohorts.

Q. Does the program have a preference for applicants in particular curricular or research areas?

A. No, we're interested in all the areas of inquiry we have represented on the faculty. As much as possible, the JSP Graduate Admissions Committee tries to balance the areas that we accept students in. I think this is also one of the strengths of JSP. When you enter the program, you’re going to encounter peers in your cohort, in other cohorts, who are interested in law and philosophy, legal history, law and economics, sociology of law, law and politics, critical perspectives, and more. They're interested in qualitative and quantitative empirical work. They're interested in work that is not empirical in nature.

That's one of the strengths of JSP – having this all under one roof. It also can be a bit unsettling, I think, for first year students to experience that kind of intellectual diversity. But over time this is what we think makes our program unique. JSP students learn to move and work across various boundaries and to think about how to ask research questions that might connect or address puzzles that span multiple areas of inquiry.

This aspect of JSP connects to another thing that we're looking for in applicants – students who are willing to experiment in their thinking. To not be confined and siloed in particular research areas, or particular fields, or particular areas of law. We're interested in students who are willing to try out different ways of looking at legal questions, legal problems, social issues, and social problems.

Q. Does work experience matter in the application process?

A. It really doesn't, except that sometimes students come in with background experiences that can help them with their research. If somebody, for example, has worked in international human rights and in their statement of purpose writes that they're interested in doing research in that area, that experience may help them in forming interesting questions. Background experiences can also help sometimes with access to particular settings if a student wants to do research, for example, in that field. Otherwise, what one has done in their background simply signals how an applicant has navigated the world.

Q. Do you make any special efforts to recruit applicants from diverse or non-traditional backgrounds?

A. Yes we do. We direct market JSP to about a thousand colleges, including historically black colleges and universities in the United States, and universities in Canada, Europe, and other regions. We reach out to scholars who are well positioned to identify and recommend diverse applicants to JSP. We make efforts to link diverse students with relevant affinity groups, both within the JSP student body, and Berkeley Law, and on the Berkeley campus more generally. We have a standing JSP Diversity Committee that is chaired by the Chair of the Graduate Admissions Committee, and has a number of faculty and students on it. That committee is charged with working with the JSP Graduate Admissions Committee, as well as working with Berkeley Law, more generally, to recruit and retain diverse students.

Our efforts along these lines have paid off. Just taking the last five years, for example, we've admitted the most diverse cohorts in the 40-year history of JSP. Over these five years, the cohorts are over 50% women, and 40% self-identified, under-represented minorities. We also have a very low attrition rate from the program. Ultimately, we believe our efforts will lead to the placement of an ever more diverse set of JSP graduates into academia and increasingly into legal academia.

Q. Is that committee that you just referenced, is that the same committee that actually selects the Ph.D. candidates?

A. No, it's a different committee. The committee that selects applicants into JSP is the JSP Graduate Admissions committee. The faculty member who’s chaired that committee most recently is Professor Catherine Albiston, and she's rotating out of this position as well this year, after two consecutive two-year terms. Professor Rachel Stern will Chair the committee for 2019-2021. I addition to the Chair (who also acts as the Head Graduate Advisor), the JSP Admissions Committee comprises three other faculty members, plus a JSP graduate student representative -- an advanced student who is selected by their student peers to sit on the Committee. The Graduate Student Affairs Officer (GSAO), Margo Rodriguez, provides administrative support. She is our chief liaison between JSP, the Berkeley Graduate Division, and the Berkeley Law Registrar.

Q. Let’s transition over to the financial aspect of a JSP PhD. This program is obviously very different from a VAP or fellowship program. Tell me how it works – tuition, stipends, etc.

A. Right. All JSP students are guaranteed a multi-year funding package in the same way that any of our usual Ph.D. program competitors might offer. Typically, we're competing for Ph.D. students with other top doctoral programs in political science/political theory, sociology, history, economics, and psychology at a lot of top universities, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Chicago, UCLA, Michigan, Yale, Columbia, Wisconsin, and Northwestern.

The JSP multi-year base funding package includes graduate tuition, health insurance, a living stipend, an annual travel allocation, and two years of summer funding. The initial package is five years, although students often times can get more than that, but the base package is five years. If they're studying for the JD/PhD, there's also some funding support for the JD, and Berkeley Law – with full support of our dean, Dean Erwin Chemerinsky – is committed to increasing the level of support for JD tuition and the funding support in the JSP Ph.D. program.

JSP students are also quite successful at applying for extramural sources of support for their dissertation research. They routinely receive grants from places such as the National Science Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and other private foundations.
So, funding is, I think, improving at JSP to support graduate education. It certainly could be better, given the cost of living here in the Bay Area, but it is improving.

Q. When you say JSP students receive a stipend, are you comfortable sharing the amount of that stipend, generally?

A. Our stipends for the incoming JSP cohort are in the lower thirty-thousand range plus additional stipends during the first two summers. Health insurance is included. It's very expensive to live in the Bay Area, as I mentioned, and we’re committed to increasing the stipends of every student in the program to keep up the cost of living. But it’s difficult to do so. In addition to the stipend, JSP students also receive graduate tuition support, and if they are in the Berkeley Law JD program, there is some additional support available for JD tuition.

Q. You mentioned that they get health insurance.

A. Yes.

Q. How about access to any subsidized or university housing?

A. All Berkeley graduate students have access to university housing. It is not subsidized, although it is less expensive than the market rate for this area. There is some priority given to students with families, and the housing is good. There's not enough of it, but we have many students who live in that housing, and I know they find it to be good.

Q. You mentioned travel funding, what's the amount of that funding?

A. It's $1,000 per year for the amount of time that you're in the JSP program. This amount allows students to go to at least one academic conference per year which is really important for professional development. And, there are other sources of funding on the Berkeley campus for academic travel funding, especially for international conferences.

Q. Let’s turn to the quid pro quo side of receiving this money. Are JSP students teaching while they're completing their PhD’s?

A. Yes they teaching, which is also part of professional development, but they typically don’t start until their second year in the PhD program. During the first year, JSP students are on fellowship because we consider that year a transition year into the Ph.D. program. In the second, third, and part of their fourth years, JSP student funding comes through a graduate student instructor (GSI) appointment, which are teaching assistantships in our undergraduate Legal Studies program. The summer funding for the first two summers is through a research apprenticeship in which students select from a number of potential projects to work with a JSP faculty member.

Towards the end of their careers, students also have other opportunities for campus fellowships so they don’t have to be teaching at all or as much while they're conducting research for or writing their dissertations.

Q. So, I should have followed up earlier on the summer stipend amount. How much is that amount? And, when you say that they're working on particular research projects with professors over the summers, does that mean that they can't work on their own projects related to their PhD?

A. The summer stipend for the first two summers is three thousand per summer. After their first summer, some students combine the apprenticeship with teaching, another GSI or other work. What we found is that at least in the early parts of the program, students are really interested in getting involved in research with a faculty member. And one of the best ways to do this is to work with a professor on a project that the professor's got going. There are also publication opportunities there, depending upon the type of project it is and where the project is in terms of its development.

We put students with professors through matching process in which professors supply an abstract of the project they’re working on, their project goals for the summer, and the expected activities for the research apprentice. Students see the array of abstracts and rank their top two or three choices. Almost every student gets matched up with their first or second choices unless we have a shortage of projects compared to the number of students in the first or second-year cohorts. If that happens, sometimes we have multiple students working for the same professor.

Q. Let's go back to the teaching side. How many courses are they typically teaching?

A. As a GSI, a student will be attached to one lecture course per semester, teaching two smaller break-out sections of that course. They’re also obligated to attend the larger lecture, hold office hours, and participate in the grading of assignments and exams. There may be periodic meetings with the faculty member teaching the course. This is what we call a 50% appointment, which means that total number of hours that the GSI works is not more than 20 hours per week, which includes all the activities I mentioned and any prep time for the sections.

Q. Okay, and do they ever have the opportunity during their Ph.D. program to be the primary instructor for a course?

A. Yes, there are some opportunities. For more advanced students, there are smaller, writing-intensive freshman/sophomore seminars that they can teach. In the past, we've sometimes had opportunities for students who already have their JDs to teach some sort of JD seminar and we’re looking to see if we can make that a more general opportunity for JSP students with JD’s, although we’re not sure whether this can be done or not.

More generally, there are University of California policies that limit the opportunities that Ph.D. students have to teach standalone courses.

Even so, there are some unique GSI possibilities in JSP beyond teaching at the undergraduate level. Our introductory Ph.D. statistics course and our doctoral pedagogy course have GSIs assigned to them. Students who are interested in teaching statistics at the graduate level are often interested in being the GSI for the stat course.
The pedagogy course is really interesting. Every graduate student at Berkeley, before they teach, is required to take a semester-long pedagogy seminar in their home or another program on campus. We offer a pedagogy seminar in JSP and the course is really co-taught seminar by the GSI and a JSP faculty member.

Q. What topics are covered in the pedagogy seminar?

A. The course is geared to help a graduate student prepare to lead break-out discussion sections of larger lecture courses. But it covers all the foundational aspects of teaching, from how to structure a course, to how to lead course discussion, to questions of inclusions and diversity. The course covers evaluation and grading, formulating assignments, developing syllabi. Giving lectures, handling questions, troubleshooting in classes. Working with folks who require special accommodations. All of it. The JSP student who is selected to co-teach the course is generally an advanced JSP student who’s won a campus-level teaching award for their work as a GSI in Legal Studies courses. JSP always has a superb group of GSIs and every year we have two or three doctoral students win teaching awards.

In addition to discussions and presentations led by the instructors, the course is also organized around a series of panels for which we bring in advanced doctoral students who have been teaching for a while to talk about their experiences. We bring in undergraduates to talk about their experiences, as well. We also have a small panel with other faculty and doctoral students on work-life balance as it relates to professional careers and teaching in academia. That panel covers questions like how can one best managing commitments across teaching, across research, and across all the other responsibilities that adults have outside of the workplace.

The pedagogy seminar also sometimes has panels with award-winning instructors from the JD faculty who come and talk about best practices for teaching a 1L course. They also discuss the more general challenges of teaching JD courses in law schools and how they manage those challenges.

Q. I wish more law faculty had the opportunity to take a course like that. That sounds great.

A. Well, actually, the reason why Berkeley implemented this requirement at the Ph.D. level is because traditionally there was no training for doctoral students who were going to go out and spend a good portion of their academic careers teaching. They received a world-class education and experience in research, but training and education in teaching was hit and miss at best. I would think that almost every American university or college has programs that support teaching of some sort, but I still think that systematic training to teach at the doctoral level is relatively uncommon. And courses that teach law professors how to teach might be even rarer. Having a semester-long course on pedagogy and a requirement that students take it before they teach is really an advance along these lines.

Q. It feels like it should be more mainstream. I'm glad it is at Berkeley.

A. Yeah. That we have the requirement is a testament to folks at Berkeley wanting to take college teaching more seriously than in previous generations.

Q. It's not our norm for sure.

A. Yeah.

Q. Let’s skip over to the intellectual community in the JSP program. You mentioned that there's about 60 JSP students at Berkeley at a time. How do those students get together professionally, intellectually? Do they have, for example, a workshop series where they present their work to each other? Is there anything like that?

A. In any given year, there about 45 JSP students in residence with the rest perhaps out collecting data for their dissertations or on a fellowship somewhere else. In addition to a lot of social events, JSP students get together at all kinds of professional events.
There are student-led events that students organize through the JSP Law and Society Graduate Students Association (LSGSA). Even though the title of the organization contains the words, “law and society,” the association is more inclusive intellectually than that title might suggest. Through the LSGSA, students organize what they call the Friday Forum at which they present research to each other. The LSGSA also organizes what students call the Gateway Conference for first-year JSP students, which provides a chance for the first-year students to present their work and receive feedback from more advanced JSP students and faculty.

JSP funds and supports all these events. The annual conference travel funds provided to JSP students also means that they're getting out really early in their careers to present and learn about research at other schools, and they're developing professional networks.
They're also connecting to the global network of JSP students. There are about 150 graduates from the program, and they're on the faculties at law schools, interdisciplinary programs, and disciplinary departments throughout the U.S. and more than two-dozen countries around the world.

There are also many other ways that JSP students can participate in the intellectual life of JSP, Berkeley Law, and the Berkeley campus more broadly. There are multiple ongoing workshops at which students can fully participate, including the speaker series at the Center for the Study of Law and Society; the Law and Economics Workshop; the Law, Philosophy and Political Theory Workshop; and the Law and History Workshop. There are also vibrant topical workshop groups that include JSP faculty and students, and faculty and students from other programs at Berkeley. These include the Carceral Studies Group that focuses on research about punishment and society, criminal justice, and mass incarceration; the Berkeley Immigration and Migration Initiative (BIMI); or the Law, Text and Machine Learning Workshop. And then there are the countless speaker series that Berkeley disciplinary departments and other units hold on a regular basis that are all open to students. There are always opportunities to not only hear the presentations, but also meet the presenters in small groups or one-on-one, over a meal or coffee, or in other gatherings. Students also can receive academic credit for going to the first set of workshops I mentioned.

There’s also the Berkeley Empirical Legal Studies (BELS) Fellowship, which is run through the Center for the Study of Law and Society, that JSP students can apply to. BELS is a competitively-awarded research fellowship that brings together Berkeley doctoral students conducting quantitative and/or qualitative empirical projects on law and legal institutions into a year-long workshop. Each cohort typically has about ten students, representing multiple programs around campus (including JSP). The BELS Fellowship comes with research money, as well, but not graduate tuition.

Berkeley, in general, is kind of an intellectual interdisciplinary cornucopia of talks and conferences, and they're all open to JSP students. JSP faculty and faculty in other programs are always interested to help JSP students connect with these talks and conferences. So, there's a lot of opportunity there.

Q. So, would that include, for example, the Berkeley Law faculty's regular colloquium or speaker series?

A. Yes, there is a regular Berkeley Law workshop, which I don’t believe is open to students and is organized by the JD faculty in the law school. However, JSP students and JD students are welcome to attend any of the faculty job talks that are given throughout the year as part of the Berkeley Law faculty workshop. Going to these talks is an interesting and valuable experience for students. As I mentioned earlier, this year we hired nine new faculty members to the Berkeley Law faculty, including two specifically in JSP. There were probably 25 or so job talks throughout the year in order to successfully pull off that scale of recruitment. I would say that there was a good half a dozen JSP students at every single job talk, and they weren't always the same students. Who attended depended upon the topic and student availability, but there were a lot of students at each of the talks and, of course, a lot of faculty members.

Q. Let’s talk about advising in the JSP program. As students are moving through the program, choosing dissertation topics, starting their own research agenda, what type of advising are they receiving through that process?

A. Every first-year JSP student is assigned a temporary advisor based on the student’s interests. We call these advisors temporary because we want to make sure that when students come in to the program they have at least one faculty member they can begin talking with about getting settled in the program academically and to begin thinking through their trajectory in the program. But we don't expect temporary advisors will necessarily be permanent advisors. I would say that in about half the cases the temporary advisor becomes the permanent advisor while in half the student's interests change, or what have you, and student shifts advisors.

In addition to temporary advisors, the Chair of the JSP Admissions Committee also acts as a general advisor to Ph.D. students. And then there are several milestones through a JSP student’s movement through the program at which they receive professional advice. There's a review at the end of the second year, for example, with two faculty members. This is not an opportunity to weed students out of the program. This is simply a chance to take stock of where the students have gone, what courses they've taken, what things they've done thus far, and how they might want to plan out their next few years in the program might look as they begin looking toward a dissertation or even toward eventual job markets that might be attractive to them.

In the second and third years, students also work closely with faculty members and peers to prepare for two written doctoral exams. One of those is in a discipline, such as law and economics, or legal history, or sociology of law. And then, one is in an interdisciplinary field which is chosen and formulated by the student. That disciplinary field is generally a topic that will be aligned with the dissertation topic, ultimately.

In the third and fourth years in the program the students select their primary dissertation advisor, and they form a Ph.D. dissertation committee that will have a core of JSP faculty members, but may often include a member from the JD program at Berkeley Law. And then, by Berkeley graduate division requirement, it also must have a so-called “external” member, who is a member of the Berkeley faculty, but not appointed on the Berkeley law faculty.

The composition of the doctoral dissertation committee tells you a little something about Berkeley. Berkeley, in general, is an interdisciplinary campus at every level, but especially with regard to Ph.D. education. The requirement of having someone on the dissertation committee outside one’s own program is over and above the interdisciplinarity within JSP, and adds yet another layer of interdisciplinarity to our program. And then, finally, in the fourth and fifth years, students write the dissertation.

So, at multiple points in the program, there are multiple mechanisms and sources of advising that students get. Temporary advisor, graduate studies admissions chair, second-year review, doctoral dissertation chair. You might think that such a structure would be a recipe for a lot of conflict or at least conflicting advice. Sometimes that’s the case. But mostly, it means that students are able to hear and try out ideas with multiple scholars, which we think strengthens students training. It also means that students have to find their own voice and who to rely on for what kind of advice. Mostly though, I find that advising in the JSP program is a collective effort. I find that students can always go to faculty members in the program who aren't on their committees, or who aren't helping them with their written exams, and get advice. This is a very open and advice-friendly kind of place. It doesn't always work perfectly, to be sure, and it doesn't work smoothly for every student, but in general, we strive to offer multiple kinds of mentoring and advice for students.

Q. What type of feedback is the Ph.D. advisor, or the Ph.D. advising committee providing on drafts of the dissertation throughout this process?

A. There’s multiple types of feedback. First of all, there's the substantive advice that students receive leading up to and during what we call the “qualifying exam” or simply the, QE. In JSP, the QE is really a 2-3 hour face-to-face discussion of the dissertation prospectus among the student and their committee. The dissertation prospectus is a proposal that advances the key research questions or research hypotheses that the student expects to address in their dissertation research. The prospectus lays out a plan for answering those questions, or for testing those hypotheses. The dissertation committee, by the time the student is formulating that prospectus, will have read multiple drafts, and given feedback, both oral and written, on that prospectus. They’ll provide feedback on the research questions/hypotheses themselves and the significance of it all to relevant literatures, theories, events in the world, and law or policy. They’ll provide a great deal of feedback on the methods used, whatever they might be. Another important aspect of the QE is to make sure that everyone involved – the student and their committee – is aligned in terms of the expectations for the dissertation. This doesn’t mean that the dissertation might not change as the student works on it. They almost always do in some way. The key thing is that the student comes out of the QE meeting with a clear path forward for doing their dissertation research and if they do change paths, they know where they’ve been so that they can chart a new path forward in communication with their committee.

For JSP students, the QE can and should be an exciting discussion to facilitate students setting sail, if you will, on the dissertation journey in best shape possible. Depending upon what the student and the dissertation committee agree to, the student might produce a dissertation that consists of three publishable articles or more like a research monograph, like a book. What form the dissertation takes depends upon the disciplinary audiences to which the student is trying to speak.

Students and dissertation committees will have different preferences on form and timing of feedback as the student writes the dissertation. Some dissertation committees want to see each paper or chapter as it's completed. Other dissertation committees will want the primary advisor to look at each paper or chapter as it's completed, approve it, and then look at an entire draft of the dissertation down the line to provide feedback. Different dissertation committees will work differently, but there's always an iterative process of feedback and advice, oral and written for the student, along the way.

Of course, the primary dissertation advisor is a key person in this process. They're the person who ultimately is responsible for facilitating the student writing the best dissertation they can. But they and the entire committee will be

A second kind of feedback that the student receives is more strategic about how to position their work for the various job markets their interested in entering or as a piece of scholarship in what the relevant field or audiences might be. Students receive this kind of advice throughout the program, but it’s especially intensive and important as they produce their dissertation, which is or should be their signature research up to that point in their career.

Q. And what types of formal training do JSP students receive in these interdisciplinary areas. So, to the extent that somebody wants to go into law and economics, or law and history, what type of methodological training are they receiving in these different areas?

A. There are courses and training in both social science methodology and in the substantive fields represented in the JSP program. In terms of methods, JSP students are required to take an introductory doctorate level statistics class. For some JSP students, this course may be more about gaining what you could call statistical literacy. For those students who are interested in doing advanced quantitative work, they will generally regard the intro course we offer as a foundation or gateway to more advanced courses. We also offer a more advanced statistics course that covers causal inference with special application to the study of law and legal institutions

Some JSP students are especially interested in learning quantitative methods in the context of particular disciplines to which they want their research to speak. These students may take the econometrics sequence in the Department of Economics, for example, or they may take advanced statistics courses in the Department of Political Science or in the Sociology Department. Some of our students take their quantitative training even further by earning a MA in Demography or Biostatistics. In terms of methods, however, it is not only quantitatively-oriented students who take additional methods courses in departments on campus. The Department of History, for example, now offers a course in historical methods and JSP students have taken that course. And Berkeley is renowned for the variety of qualitative field methods courses offered across multiple departments, including the qualitative field methods course offered in JSP that is jointly taught with the Department of Sociology.

Within JSP, we also offer an introductory-level research design course. This is not another statistics course. It's a course that teaches students how to formulate research questions and pair them to appropriate kinds of methodologies, be they quantitative, qualitative, or otherwise. This course helps students begin thinking about how to make the transition from being a student to being a scholar, and about how to ultimately formulate a dissertation topic and research questions.

In addition to the methods training, JSP has a number of distribution requirements in what we call foundations areas that represent the areas of inquiry that we cover in the program. You have to take courses in at least three foundations areas, such as in law and economics, sociology of law, legal history, or law and philosophy. And then, students build on those foundations courses by either taking additional courses in JSP in those areas, or taking additional courses in other departments.

We advise students to take courses in the disciplines that they're interested in and virtually every JSP students takes some proportion of their coursework in other disciplinary programs on the Berkeley campus. And, of course, JSP students can take courses in the JD program with many students earning their JD’s at Berkeley Law. What this all means is that in addition to the unique courses students take in JSP, they are taking courses in our excellent JD program and can take courses in any of the world-class Ph.D. programs that we have on the Berkeley campus. If a student is going to specialize in law and economics, for example, we urge them to take economics courses in Economics Department, the Goldman School (of Public Policy), the Haas School of Business, or other units on campus that offer courses in aspects of economics. And, the same thing with history, sociology, political science, psychology, etc. And if students are studying a particular topical area, such as punishment and society, they might knit together a series of courses in the topic that cuts across JSP, Berkeley Law, and multiple programs on the Berkeley campus, which happens to be really strong in this area.

So, students are taking courses in JSP, and they're taking courses in the JD program, and they're taking courses in other Berkeley doctoral programs.

Q. Would it be right, as I listen to you talk about this, is it right to say that students have a tremendous amount of flexibility in choosing their specific course work within the JSP program?

A. Yes, absolutely. Unlike a program that has a unit minimum or maximum, JSP has distribution requirements. Students must take three foundations courses in different fields; then two additional seminars, one of which can be outside the program, and then can take additional seminars on top of all of that.

In a doctoral program, there is always debate about what the right amount of coursework is, about whether there’s too much or not enough and which courses are absolutely necessary. Doctoral programs go through cycles that lead to them review and change their requirements about every decade or so to introduce more or less “structure” or more or less “flexibility.” Some of these changes are informed by cycles in styles of research that wax and wane, some of this results from broader fads and fashions in graduate education, and some of this results from changes in the world that demand attention or new methodologies and technologies. Think about how much changes in computing technology has changed education and research over the past few decades. I think in JSP we’re in a good position to take advantage of all these changes, to keep at the vanguard of graduate training in the interdisciplinary study of law and legal institutions.

One thing I should also mention, too, is that the JSP program offers financial support for students to take additional offsite methods training, such as at the Institute for Social Research at Michigan or the Institute for Qualitative and Multimethod Research at Syracuse.
We also provide support for additional training for students pursuing work oriented toward the humanities, such as special training in languages or other research tools. So, students might go to a summer language institute, statistics workshops, or data science workshops offsite.

Q. In terms of the number of years, how many years does the JSP program typically take, and how many of those years are course work, and how many are exclusively working on their dissertation?

A. It's generally six years to finish the Ph.D. or seven if a student earns their JD at Berkeley Law with the JSP PhD. JSP courses are law courses and can double count for both the Ph.D. and JD programs. If a student does their JD at another law school – taking a leave from JSP to do so – it may add 2-3 years on to the total time to early the JD/Ph.D., depending upon how and whether that other law school counts any of the coursework completed at JSP. Focusing just on the JSP Ph.D. program, it's about two and half years of coursework, about a year of independent and small group study related to the written disciplinary and the topical exams, and two and half years or more devoted to the dissertation.

Q. We've gone through a lot of the details of the program. Let's step back. What do you think makes JSP standout from other law-related Ph.D. degree programs, or interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs, or even law school fellowships around the country?

A. JSP is unique in providing the rigor of a top-flight Ph.D. training, but in an elite law school setting, all embedded in one of the world's great academic research institutions. There isn't another interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in law and legal institutions like JSP in the world. There are pieces of our program all over the world, partly because of our graduates start and lead different graduate programs at the universities where they work. In terms of being in a top-flight law school, being at a top-flight research university, and then being a well-structured and successful Ph.D. program, JSP is unique.

I think a second issue is that, because we're in a law school, JSP students receive training that's more integrated with law, rather than siloed in a discipline. So, if you think about JSP versus a disciplinary Ph.D. program, what typically happens is that you get your Ph.D. in the discipline where you put on your disciplinary hat. Then you go over to do your JD and you put on your law school hat. It's up to the student, basically, to figure out how to bridge the two fields in their research and teaching. In JSP we're structured to try to bridge the two. We provide training in the disciplines and we provide training to integrate, and to be interdisciplinary. And then we're housed in a law school, so we're very, very close to the law.

This means that JSP students learn different ways of formulating and answering research questions about law and legal institutions, and importantly learn how to navigate across law school, disciplinary, and interdisciplinary fields of research. We like to say that people learn how to “speak law,” they learn how to “speak JSP,” and how to “speak discipline.” Their ability to speak these different languages enables them to navigate across and thrive in different academic worlds, and understand the perspectives of diverse scholars and students.

Q. So, once they've received this training, obviously the goal for most of them, I assume is to get an academic position. Focusing on those students who want to get an academic position in a law school, what type of mentoring do they receive related to the job market?
JSP students receive both one-on-one mentorship from their advisors and through ongoing professional development workshops. JSP holds workshops that cover such topics as the job market, publishing, getting the most out of one’s advising relationships and so on. We urge students to begin attending these workshops in their second or third years, and to begin thinking ahead about job markets rather than waiting until the last moment. In addition to these sources of information and mentoring, there is also the Berkeley Law placement committee that is responsible for facilitating Berkeley JD student success on the academic law market, and the chair of that committee coordinates closely with the chair of the JSP Graduate Admissions Committee, and the chairs of individual JSP dissertation committees in positioning students on the market.

Not to be too clichéd, but it’s true, in addition to excellent credentials and potential as a scholar and teacher, it takes a village and active networks to get someone a job in academia. The real advice is that students after their first couple of years need to begin to think proactively and look forward at the market that's coming up. They need to be attending conferences and meeting relevant scholars in their field; they need to be begin thinking strategically about Berkeley faculty with whom they’ve taken classes and who might interested in being on their dissertation committee and who might eventually write letters of rec or call someone on a hiring committee on their behalf. Students can't wait until you're getting ready to go on the market to position themselves for it if they want to be successful.

Q. Do the students have an opportunity to do a mock job talk?

A. Yes, they do. They can do multiple talks if necessary. Those talks are generally attended by members of the student’s dissertation committee and JSP student peers. There may be other faculty present who are on the dissertation committee, but have been deemed by the student or the dissertation advisor to be really important to be in the room so that they can replicate some of the questions that the student may receive in a job talk setting.

Mock job talks are really interesting in that in addition to the formal presentation by the student they typically have two kinds of Q&A sessions. The first replicates the front stage questions that the student may receive wherever they’re going to interview and the second goes backstage to presentation and Q&A response styles and strategies or the visuals, if any, that are used.

Different academic job markets, as you might suspect, have different norms in terms of job talks. They also require really different kinds of framings for one’s research, and somewhat different presentational styles. To begin with, in political science or in sociology, the job talk is typically 40 to 45 minutes, plus about 30 minutes of questions. Whereas in law, the job talk may be 15 to 20 minutes plus 55 minutes of Q and A. So, that difference in and of itself requires a very different way of framing one’s research in order to be successful in communicating what is interesting and important about one’s research. The key thing we try to communicate to JSP students is that in whatever market one is trying to get a job, it’s important, in addition to doing excellent research, to signal what one’s valued-added is as a JSP graduate. What does one bring to the table as a graduate of an interdisciplinary doctoral program focused on law and legal institutions?

Q. Do the JSP students receive feedback on the application materials themselves?

A. Absolutely. Again, they’ll receive multiple layers of advice from their dissertation advisor, from the members of their dissertation committee, and the Berkeley Law placement committee, and other JSP and Berkeley Law faculty. JSP faculty members may be differently positioned in different academic markets. Some may be more familiar with the history market, or the political science market, or the sociology market, whatever it may be. This is where it's really important for the primary academic advisor and the student to strategize about who they need to connect with in order to get their application materials to the appropriate framing, and in the right hands.

This is where peers can play important roles, as well. Especially peers who have just been on the market. The network of JSP alumni also can play a role. They’re not only important in perhaps getting a hiring committee to take a look at a JSP student’s application materials, but also and perhaps even more importantly in giving feedback on a student’s application materials.

Q. If you had to look back on the JSP students who wanted to go into a tenure-track, law teaching job, what percentage of those students do you think succeeded in landing in one of those jobs?

A. Well, over the 40 years of the program, we’ve graduated over 150 students, and about three quarters have gone into academia. Of those students, about three quarters have tenured or tenure track positions. So, JSP is a good bet if you want to go into legal academia or a law-related area in an interdisciplinary or disciplinary program.

Let me be more specific. Over the past five years, JSP has graduated 30 students, and 17 or 57% currently hold tenure-track positions, seven have postdoctoral or VAP positions, and six are not working in academia. Of the JSP graduates in academia, both those in tenure-track and those in temporary positions, 16 are in law schools. By contrast, in the most current survey of Berkeley doctoral alumni over the past five years, about 44% of Berkeley doctoral graduates hold tenure track positions. So, we're doing well in terms of placement even when compared to other world-class doctoral programs at Berkeley, most of which are ranked at number one or at least in the top 5 in their respective fields. We also do well comparatively in terms of being one of the top sources for law faculty in the country. We had an especially robust placement record this year, including a student who accepted a tenure-track position at Stanford Law, another student who accepted a tenure-track position at the London School of Economics, and another who accepted a prestigious UC Presidents postdoc at UCLA Law. We had still another JSP graduate accept a clerkship with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (with great support and thanks to the very effective Berkeley Law Faculty Clerkship Committee).

Overall, it’s important to keep in mind that all of these placement statistics should be calibrated in light of the fiscal recession in 2008-09, which really constrained academic hiring and especially law school hiring for several years, and I think continues to reverberate even to the present.

Q. Let's turn to just a few broader policy questions.

A. Sure.

Q. Increasingly today, candidates on the law teaching market have Ph.D.’s, and often many of them also have completed VAPs or fellowships.

A. Right.

Q. Focusing just on those with Ph.D.’s, I'm wondering what you think are the benefits of the rise of Ph.D.’s on the law teaching market, and what do you think are the costs?

A. A benefit to law schools is that you can hire an entry-level faculty member who has a more defined research agenda than a candidate who did not go through a Ph.D. program. What you get of a Ph.D. program is the ability to formulate a research agenda and to pursue it – the research tools, the theory, and all that it takes to do that. It’s not that entry-level law school candidates with Ph.D.’s are smarter than those without a Ph.D. It’s that they are further along in developing their research agendas and how to pursue their agendas.

One cost is at the level of the candidate. It takes a lot longer to secure a law professorship. It used to be that a Ph.D. might substitute for some other experience, but what we're seeing now are JD/Ph.D.’s who have been a VAP, who have had a fellowship, who have clerked, and who may have practice experience of some kind. Securing a law faculty position is beginning to look like getting a faculty position at a medical school. In the medical school context, one might not secure an entry-level position at an elite institution until one is their mid-30s because of all of the internships and externships that one has to complete prior to becoming a full member of a medical faculty. The process through which has to go and the milestones that one has to achieve is prolonged in legal academia as it has been for decades in the field of academic medicine.

Another cost is institutional. There has been a sea change in law school hiring over the past several years with more JD/Ph.D.’s than ever being hired into top law schools, especially, but increasingly in non-elite many law schools. These hiring changes have led to a growing tension on law school faculties between hiring candidates with and without Ph.D.’s. Some law faculties frame these two trajectories as a trade-off. These arguments go something like this. Those who have PhD’s will not have practice or clerkship experience, and these experiential differences create differences not only in how legal research is conducted or defined, but how law is taught. There are trade-offs. JD/Ph.D.’s, so the argument goes, teach law courses in less practical ways. Yet the currency of a Ph.D. becomes more valuable as law schools, especially at the elite levels, want to up their research capacities. So there’s a tension between having entry-level folks come in with Ph.D.’s who have better developed research agendas than entry-level folks without Ph.D.’s.
As I said earlier, having a Ph.D. doesn’t make you smarter, but it may enable you to hit the ground running faster and perhaps to look more polished as you come through the door.

Does a Ph.D. trained law professor approach their 1L courses differently, for example, than a non-Ph.D. trained faculty member? Perhaps. I know that I can certainly see some differences here on the Berkeley Law faculty among my colleagues with and without Ph.D.’s who teach in our 1L curriculum. But the differences don’t always play out as one might expect. Faculty members sometimes compartmentalize how they're teaching a 1L contracts course, for example, or a 1L crim law course, compared to how they approach their research. They also shift how they teach a more advanced seminar where they might bring in work from law and society, or criminology, or sociology, or whatever it might be, or economics, to look at that topic. On the other hand, some of my colleagues who have it all – a Ph.D., a JD, and practice experience – and who teach in the 1L curriculum are some of the best instructors we have precisely because they offer practical perspectives and stretch the boundaries of conventional legal teaching to offer insights from their research or other interdisciplinary sources.

Q. I want to circle back to the discussion about practice experience, because one of the things that's interesting about a Ph.D. program versus a VAP or fellowship, is that at least for students who aren't entering the JSP program with a JD, it's impossible for them to have practice experience as a lawyer before they enter the program.

A. Right, sure.

Q. So, what does that mean for them when they go onto the job market? Does that mean that typically the student coming out of the JSP program does not have any practice experience?

A. There are trade-offs, as I just noted. I would say that if anything's going to drop off for a JSP student it's probably the practice experience. But we have a number of students who come into the program with JD’s and have substantial prior practice experience. We also have students, for example, who have earned their JD, but haven't finished their JSP Ph.D., and take time off to practice law. They then come back to finish their Ph.D. and go on the academic law market. For students who interrupt their Ph.D. to practice law, one always wonders if they’ll return to finish their Ph.D. But we have multiple examples where that has occurred and the students have succeeded quite well on the academic law market.

More typical would be students who finish both the JD and the JSP Ph.D., and then go into a clerkship or a VAP. That’s not practice experience, but it is experience apart from their Ph.D. program prior to going on the academic law job market. Again, I'm seeing more and more candidates who seem to have it all, which means that they've gained practice experience either prior to coming to JSP or interrupted their doctoral studies to practice.

Q. So, obviously for the students who have checked all the boxes, they would probably be very attractive candidates on the law faculty hiring market.

A. Sure.

Q. As for the candidate who, perhaps, has just completed the JSP program straight through, who doesn't have that practice experience, what do you think about that trade off, given that law schools are in the business of educating lawyers?

A. Well, law schools are in the business of educating lawyers. But as I said, especially for many law schools, they're trying to up their research game. I also don’t think that practice experience guarantees hiring a dynamic instructor or an instructor who can quite capably prepare a law student for legal practice. My sense is that law schools need to think about their faculties not as monolithic, but, as an integrated team on which different faculty members with different backgrounds bring different strengths. So, it may be that some faculty members will have JD/PhD’s and less practice experience, and they bring that formal research training with them. Other faculty members who may not have PhD’s or who may have Ph.D.’s, but also have practice experience, bring that experience with them. It’s also unclear to me how having Ph.D. influences the long-term research career that one has. Having a Ph.D. can certainly alter one’s style of research or where one wants to publish – only in law journals, for example, or in both law and peer-reviewed journals. Again, background is not always destiny. I have colleagues at Berkeley Law who have Ph.D.’s and who publish almost exclusively in law journals. There are colleagues with JD’s without Ph.D.’s who publish in peer-reviewed and law journals. Maybe it’s just situation at Berkeley Law, but it’s not clear how these changes in the academic preparation of law faculty will shake out in terms of where the field is going. It will be interesting to see!

I hope that one of the things that our interdisciplinary training in JSP does for our students is facilitate them being more conscious and sensitive to these changes and tensions, and to be respectful of future colleagues with very different backgrounds from their own.

Q. Last question for you, Cal.

A. Sounds good.

Q. So, as there's been this rise in PhD’s, VAPs, and fellowships on the law faculty hiring market, I think a lot of hiring committees have struggled when it comes to evaluating candidates’ work, because it's hard to tell how much of the work and ideas come from the candidates themselves, and how much comes from their mentors, advisors, and faculty at the school where they were fellows or Ph.D. students. How should we be thinking about that criticism?

A. This issue can be a challenge in any academic field. In any Ph.D. program, there's a lot of mentoring. Questions can be raised about whether the ideas that one sees from an entry-level candidate are the candidate’s or the mentor’s. I think that one of the key things that we teach students in JSP is to signal what are their signature ideas. Students have to stand and deliver, so to speak, in the job interview situation and in their application materials. In those contexts, it is important for candidates to compellingly signal their own potential for sustaining the level of research accomplishment they've demonstrated in their Ph.D. program. If a student can’t do this effectively, they’ll have a difficult time being hired.

Q. Any last comments on either the JSP program, or the state of law hiring more generally?

A. JSP offers law schools incredible opportunities in terms of its graduates. Students who graduate from JSP come with world-class research training, training in teaching, and well-formulated research agendas. They can move across the boundaries of legal and disciplinary scholarship. They can teach traditional law school courses, such as in the 1L curriculum, and more advanced or interdisciplinary seminars. We've also found over time that a JSP education also equips our graduates for successful, longer-term careers. As law schools become more interdisciplinary in their research aspirations, my sense is that JSP graduates will become even more attractive on the law school market than they have in the past – and they’ve done quite well in the past.


Posted by Jessica Erickson on August 2, 2019 at 07:09 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 27, 2019

New AALS Website on Becoming a Law Professor

Hopefully by now, many of you have seen the AALS’s new website for individuals interested in law faculty positions.  The vast majority of the work developing this site was done by the AALS staff (including Sean Scott, the former Associate Director of the AALS), but I served on the AALS Committee on Becoming a Law Teacher, which worked on the project as well, so I wanted to take a few moments to highlight the site and a few of its unique features.

First, I want to recognize that this site builds on the amazing work by Prawfsblawg’s own Sarah Lawsky over the past several years collecting data on entry-level law faculty hires.  The site relies on this data in various places, and it now does a better job of acknowledging her contribution to the site and the profession more broadly.  Thanks, Sarah, for all of your work over the years spearheading this data project!

Second, the site includes a wealth of information about the realities of the law teaching market.  Many of us have probably received phone calls from alumni of our schools or local lawyers expressing interest in law teaching, and it is difficult to convey just how hard it is to land a law faculty position while also explaining the necessary steps and the relevant processes.  This site lays out all of this information in a single place, with the goal of making this process more transparent.  We definitely didn’t want to sugarcoat the process, but we also want to make sure that people who are committed to this path know what they have to do to have the best chances to succeed.

Most interestingly, from my perspective at least, the site includes a mock video of a job talk, a video discussion about how to make the most of a fellowship, as well as sample CVs, research agendas, FAR forms, and teaching statements.  The goal was to make these steps in the process a little more familiar for people trying to break into the profession.  For longtime professors, it feels obvious what a good job talk or FAR form looks like, but for candidates new to the process, these steps can feel pretty foreign.   A huge thank you to the professors who agreed to let us post their materials for others to learn from, as well as to Kate Weisburd for giving a mock job talk and Aman Gebru for sharing his thoughts on the fellowship process!

My favorite part of the site is the personal narratives from three newly hired professors.  Hiba Hafiz at Boston College, Andrew Winden at the University of Florida, and Richmond Law’s own Rebecca Crootof all wrote amazingly heartfelt narratives about their own journeys into the profession.  We were inspired to include these narratives after we read Brad Areheart’s story on the University of Texas’s website, and his experience and advice is also valuable for prospective candidates to read.  Data and facts are helpful, but there’s something special about reading first-hand accounts of people’s journeys. 

And the site includes all of my interviews with fellowship and VAP directors.  There are more interviews to come,  and it will soon also include interviews about the Ph.D. in Law program at Yale and the Jurisprudence and Social Policy (JSP) PhD program at Berkeley Law.  These interviews were sparked by Sarah’s data showing that nearly all tenure-track hires today have done either a VAP or fellowship program or received a Ph.D.  Despite this reality, there was very little information out there about how these programs work and how to successfully land a position in them.  I am grateful that prawfsblawg was receptive to allowing me to publish the interviews on their blog, and I will continue to post them here.  If you are looking for all of the interviews in a single place though, you can find them on the AALS website. 

Finally, as I understand it, this site is just the beginning.  The AALS plans to develop similar materials for other types of law teaching, including clinical and legal writing positions, so stay tuned for even more information.  In the end, our goal is to demystify the process of becoming a law professor so that it doesn’t feel like a secret society that only some people can access.  With that goal in mind, if there is more information you think we should include, let me know!

Posted by Jessica Erickson on July 27, 2019 at 06:52 PM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 26, 2019

Interview with Miriam Seifter on the William H. Hastie Fellowship Program at the University of Wisconsin Law School

Next up in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors is Miriam Seifter, an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.  For the past two years, she has chaired the committee that oversees the William H. Hastie Fellowship Program at Wisconsin.  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Miriam to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Miriam, for participating in this series!

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

Q. Tell me a little bit about the Hastie Fellowship Program, including its history.

A. The Hastie Fellowship is an academic fellowship program aimed to help prepare candidates for the law teaching market. The program is named in honor of William H. Hastie, who was a renowned lawyer, teacher, judge, and civil rights advocate who, among other things, championed the value of legal education. The Fellowship was founded in large part by Professor James E. Jones, who was a labor law expert and one of our celebrated professors here at Wisconsin. The program has been around for over 40 years, and it reflects a commitment to foster diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Q. That's great. Tell me your role with the program.

A. I have been on the Hastie Fellowship Committee for the past three years and was the chair of it for two years, although I am not on the committee this coming year.

Q. I'd love to move chronologically through the fellowship starting with the application process and moving to the fellowship itself and then the job market. Turning first to the application process, when does the committee start to accept applications?

A. We accept applications beginning October 1st each year, and the deadline is February 1st. I should note that we are currently hiring every other year and just hired a new fellow, so we will next open applications in October 2020.

Q. Are you reviewing those applications on a rolling basis?

A. We take a look periodically, but we do not make any decisions until the deadline actually passes.

Q. What materials does a candidate who wants to apply need to submit?

A. This information is on our website. It is a personal statement, a resume or CV, a research proposal, two or three letters of reference, and official transcripts from relevant higher education institutions.

Q. Can I just follow up, you said a personal statement?

A. Yes.

Q. Yes. Tell me, what do you want from that personal statement? What's the purpose of that?

A. We ask candidates to explain their interest in the legal academic field and legal scholarship and law teaching. We also ask them to explain how their involvement would contribute to the program's goal of increasing diversity and inclusion in the legal academy.

Q. What's the timeline for interviews? How many interviews do you typically conduct, and when do they start?

A. We don't have a set number of interviews that we conduct. We aim to conduct those interviews sometime around March, depending on the volume of applications.

Q. Is there only one set of interview, or are there first-round interviews and then second-round interviews?

A. Typically there is just one round.

Q. And are those done over Skype, or do the candidates come to the University of Wisconsin?

A. We have done them by Skype. If someone was local, we would be happy to speak to them in person, but we don’t ask applicants to incur the cost of a trip to Madison; Skype is perfectly adequate.

Q. By when has the fellowship typically filled all of the positions?

A. We generally hope to have responses out by March-April, depending again on volume and how the interview process goes.

Q. Is it one fellow per year?

A. We currently have one fellow per year. For many years we had two. I'm not sure whether the number will be one or two in the future.

Q. How long is the fellowship?

A. The fellowship is two years.

Q. How many applications do you typically receive in a given year?

A. This has varied over the years, but last year we received 23 applications for the one fellow position.

Q. Who actually selects the fellows? Is it that committee that you mentioned earlier?

A. Yes. We have a committee of faculty members and staff who review the applications and make the decisions. The committee sometimes consults with subject matter experts on our faculty if the research proposal is not in the field of the committee members.

Q. Does the Hastie Fellow have teaching responsibilities?

A. The Hastie Fellow has teaching opportunities, but not responsibilities. We really want to allow the fellow to focus on their research agenda and their scholarship, and for that reason they do not have ongoing teaching obligations. That gives them protected time to research and write.

We do offer the opportunity to teach, typically in the second semester of the second year, when hopefully the market process is mostly wrapped up. We offer that as an opportunity to get practice teaching before they start a teaching job. We invite the fellow to pick what they teach, which might be an existing course of ours or a seminar they design. We're not hiring them to fill a curricular need.

Q. Are you trying to gauge teaching ability during the application process? Is that one of the factors that you're looking at?

A. Not really. I think if there were red flags in the application or in the interview, we would take those seriously because we want our fellows to be contributing members of the legal academy. But we do not, for example, require the submission of teaching evaluations, primarily because most of our candidates have not taught before.

Q. How about practice experience, is that something that you're looking for? If so, how many years of practice experience do you typically look for?

A. We do not require practice experience and do not have any set number of years of practice or other experience that would be useful. Generally speaking, the program is looking for academic promise and a strong research agenda. Some of our fellows have helped establish that through years in practice that gave them great ideas for things they wanted to write about. But people could apply to the program with no practice experience and still be very successful.

Q. Let's turn then to the academic promise, the scholarly side of the fellowship. The successful candidate, how much scholarship do they typically have before they start? Is it one paper, a draft, more than one published paper? What's typical, recognizing that of course it varies?

A. We have had a very wide range. We have had people who are in the midst of or have completed a PhD program and have done extensive writing, though often not in legal publications. We have had people who have been in practice and have published maybe one article on the side while they were in practice plus a student publication, if they had one. We do not have a set number of publications that we require, and we definitely do not require people to be basically tenure-able at the time that they apply. We focus more on trying to help people develop their scholarly work.

Q. How do you compare a candidate who maybe has a PhD or is pretty far along in the PhD process and therefore has a pretty significant body of scholarly work with a candidate who's coming out of practice who may not have had that opportunity? It's not an apples-to-apples comparison, so I'm just wondering how as a committee you try to sort through that?

A. Other features of the application can help to shed some light on these dilemmas. The research proposal in particular can be very helpful. If that research proposal sounds interesting and novel and doable in the time that they have as a fellow, then that can work strongly in their favor even if they don't have a lot of existing publications.

We also consider letters of reference to get a sense of how diligent and productive and resourceful someone is likely to be. We consider the personal statement. We consider other things on their resume. We look at their transcripts. We try to the best of our ability to get a full picture of the candidate's academic potential, even though, as you said, it's never an apples-to-apples comparison.

Q. Sure. Let's circle back around to PhDs. Does the program have any preference for candidates with PhDs, or how do you weigh that in the application process?

A. We do not have a preference. I think it's just one of the possible markers of showing someone's academic interests and potential to generate scholarly work.

Q. Does the candidate's curricular area ever come into the mix on the hiring side? For example, are you saying, well gee, this is a candidate who's in a curricular area that's heavily in demand on the entry-level market; this candidate not so much?

A. We do pay some attention to curricular area in making sure that we can provide good mentorship and support for the fellow. It’s a plus factor if we have faculty members who will be knowledgeable about and engaged with the candidate's areas of interest. Curricular area might, at the margins, also distinguish a research agenda, if the area appears to be under-written.

Q. On the Hastie Fellowship website, it says that the fellowship reflects a commitment to diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, and I'm wondering how you interpret that in the hiring process and the role that diversity and inclusion specifically plays in the hiring process?

A. Sure. The program is aimed at giving an opportunity to people who are underrepresented in the legal academy. A desire to create a more inclusive legal profession was important when our program was started, and we think it’s still crucial today. We invite people to explain in their personal statements why they would contribute to greater diversity and inclusion in the profession. We let people tell us why it is that they would advance those aims rather than imposing our own pre-set definitions. A list of our past fellows is available on our program website.

Q. As I've talked about this interview series on prawfsblawg, I've had many people reach out to me and say, "Can you ask, what about candidates from more nontraditional backgrounds?" In other words, candidates who may not have the traditional markers that law professors have often had. Maybe they didn't go to Harvard, Yale or Stanford. They didn't do an elite clerkship. What advice would you have for those candidates?

A. I'm glad you're hearing from those candidates. Our fellowship is targeted in part at candidates like that; part of what we hope to do is to provide a platform for people who have not already had a chance to prepare themselves for the law teaching market.

In terms of how to stand out if you are looking for ways to distinguish your application, we place a lot of emphasis on the research agenda because the timeline for a two-year fellowship is actually pretty tight. Particularly if you're trying to produce two works of scholarship, that requires you to come in and pretty much know what you're going to be doing from day one. Seeing a really coherent, well-thought-out research agenda and having the confidence that that candidate is going to be able to start and on their first day really dive in is part of what helps distinguish a successful application from one that isn't going to work.

Q. We’ve talked about scholarly potential, the research agenda, practice experience, and the personal statement. Is there any additional criteria that the committee uses to select the fellow? Anything else that might help an applicant stand out in the application process?

A. I think we discussed this, but we also ask for letters of reference.

Q. Okay, perfect. Let's turn to some of the nuts and bolts of the fellowship itself. You mentioned that it lasts two years. Does that mean essentially you're hiring every two years in general?

A. As I said, right now that's what we're doing. Having one fellow at a time has allowed us to really pour the institution's resources into one individual, which I think has its benefits. We just hired a new fellow, so we expect to hire again in 2020-21.

Q. Is that fellowship ever renewable for a third year?

A. I don't believe so.

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

A. Sure. I believe this is on our website, but the current stipend is $40,000 a year. We do say that it's increased from time to time to reflect the local cost of living, and there's a research support fund that the fellow gets, which is currently 4,000 per year for each year of the fellowship.

Q. Is that research fund meant to pay for both travel and research assistants?

A. Exactly.

Q. How about benefits? Do the fellows receive health benefits?

A. Yes. They are eligible for health benefits, including medical insurance, dental care and life insurance.

Q. Do they receive access to university or subsidized housing? This may be less of an issue in Madison, but I'm asking everybody.

A. Yes. We connect them with our extensive housing resources. Because they are technically enrolling as an LL.M. student, they are eligible for university housing, although many of them choose to live in grad student neighborhoods, which are not part of that program. Madison does boast very affordable housing compared to many other cities.

Q. Do the fellows receive any additional reimbursement for market-related expenses, for example, the costs of the AALS registration fee and attending the AALS bar conference, or does that come out of the $4,000?

A. I believe that that comes out of the $4,000 per year allotment, though fellows can apply for additional funds if they run out.

Q. Are they required to live in Madison? Or could somebody live in Chicago or New York and commute?

A. We ask them to reside primarily in Madison. We have had people who have spouses elsewhere and have done some traveling, but it's really helpful and important for the person to be part of the life and community of the law school.

Q. Let's turn to how somebody might make the most of the fellowship year. Are the fellows integrated into the intellectual life of the law school? Do they, for example, attend the faculty workshop series?

A. Absolutely. We think that that is really helpful to the fellows. They are invited to basically all law school events. They come to faculty workshops. They come to symposia and colloquia to the extent that they're available for those. They participate in an event we have that's called Big Ideas Café where people present often early-stage ideas of what they think they might work on next, and they're invited to workshop their own work at a faculty workshop whenever they are ready to do so.

Q. Do the fellows have any connections with other fellows at the University of Wisconsin? They are the only fellow at the law school, is that right?

A. Wisconsin is a great place for making connections across the university, if the fellow is interested in doing so. Recent fellows have participated in our Institute for Legal Studies Law and Society Graduate Fellows Program, which provides a community of fellows and graduate students who meet regularly, workshop their papers, receive mentoring on topics of interest, and host presentations by professors.

Q. You mentioned earlier that the fellows receive an LL.M. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? What do they have to do to get that LL.M., and what is it an LL.M. in?

A. Good question. It’s a general LLM (Master of Laws), not subject-specific, and the work product they would ordinarily do as part of the fellowship is typically sufficient for conferral of the degree, subject to approval by faculty members. The details are all in the LLM/SJD handbook on our Graduate Programs website – I can send you the link.

Q. Who actually supervises the fellows? Is it the committee? Is it the dean? Who's in charge of their overall experience at the law school?

A. The way that we envision it working in a typical year is that the committee provides general purpose mentorship, legal market support, and logistical guidance (like when articles should be submitted, when first drafts should ideally be done, etc.), and can provide another set of eyes on drafts. We also involve a subject matter advisor, someone who is knowledgeable about the fellow's area of work, who provides more substantive feedback on drafts.

Q. The subject matter expert, is that an assigned mentor, or is that a relationship that tends to develop more informally?

A. It's an assigned mentor. We ask someone to do that at the same time that we are making final decisions about the application process.

Q. Are they given any assistance in making connections with law faculty in their area of interest outside of the Wisconsin Law School?

A. Absolutely. That's one of the things that their subject matter advisor can help with, but it's also something that the committee or our faculty colleagues can help with. All of us feel a commitment to helping this person get their start in academia, and so to the extent that we know people who are working on things that are of interest to them, we'll try to make those connections.

Q. I assume that they have multiple faculty members sitting down with them reading their drafts, giving them feedback on their articles?

A. Yes.

Q. I know some fellowships differ on this, but I’d love to get your thoughts on the expectations around the scholarly timeline during the fellowship. You said that it is a tight timeline, those two-year fellowships. How do you recommend to your fellows that they use that timeline? In other words, are they coming in with a draft that they're trying to polish? Are they typically starting from scratch in that first summer? What's the norm and how do the two years work scholarship-wise?

A. I think it really depends on the candidate. I apologize for saying that over and over, but it is true. If someone is coming with an early stage draft, then of course that candidate is going to come in and pull out that draft and start to develop it. If someone’s research agenda said, "I've been in practice and I haven't had time to implement this, but here's my inquiry and here's how I want to pursue it," then they would begin doing that. Either way, it's really important that they be ready to get started on the first day of the fellowship and to adhere as best they can to the goals in terms of drafting that we set for them.

Q. Are they given any other support related to their research agenda? Obviously people are looking at their drafts, but how about on the overall research agenda?

A. We talk about with the research agenda from the beginning of the fellowship. We encourage the fellow to reflect on what they envision their scholarly profile looking like, and how they think their papers fit together. That conversation continues and evolves as the year goes on..

Q. Do you have any specific advice for fellows who come in with PhDs in terms of transitioning from their PhD program back to the norms of legal scholarship?

A. If fellows have or are completing a PhD, we connect with members of our faculty who have made that same transition. They can provide the best advice on how to make that transition, how to reach different publication outlets, how to change gears a little bit, and how to build on what they've already done.

Q. Let's go back to the teaching opportunity that you mentioned earlier. Is that something that most fellows take advantage of? Do most fellows teach a class in the spring of their second year?

A. Yes.

Q. How is the determination made of what course they might teach?

A. We let the fellow choose, though we are happy to provide input. Some fellows have wanted to teach an existing class that we offer, and others, like our most recent fellow, have wanted to create a seminar in their area of research. We're flexible on that choice.
The teaching opportunity is meant to provide the fellow with useful and relevant teaching experience rather than to serve a particular need that we have.

Q. Do they receive training or feedback on their teaching during that spring semester?

A. We welcome them to sit in, if they would like to, on other people's classes to get ideas, and we as a committee talk with them about teaching. We would be happy to provide additional feedback if the fellow wants it.

Q. Does the fellow have any other responsibilities other than their scholarship and teaching that course if they decide to do so?

A. No.

Q. We’ve now gone through a lot of the details of the program, but stepping back for a minute, imagine that you had a candidate who had several different fellowship options and they were trying to decide between them. What do you think makes the Hastie Fellowship particularly valuable, and how would you try to sell the candidate on that program?

A. I think that we are distinctly attractive in our commitment to allowing the fellow to focus on their scholarship and supporting them as they do so. We don't give them institutional responsibilities, and we provide extensive support as they prepare for the job market. We also have a really warm and welcoming community here at the law school. And Madison is a glorious place to work and live, so I think most of our fellows find it to be a really pleasant two years.

Q. That's great. What other advice do you have more broadly for fellows when it comes to making the most of a VAP or a fellowship? It could be the Hastie Fellowship or another one, just in terms of thinking about successful candidates and what they've done?

A. There are so many ways to succeed that it's sort of hard to answer that question, but I think that a willingness to share work early with lots of different people is a really useful practice for people who are in VAPs or in early stages of breaking into legal academia. It's so tempting to want to hang on to that draft until you think it's perfect, but talking about ideas at an early stage will help you figure out what you want to say while also giving you practice framing and conveying arguments.

Q. I could not agree with that more. I think the more people can share ideas early, the better. It was certainly transformational in my early years here at Richmond, so I always tell people, "Share as much as you can."

A. Yep.

Q. Let's turn to the job market. What type of mentoring does the Hastie Fellow receive related to the hiring process?

A. The first thing that we do early on in the fellowship is just describe that process to them--because again, many of our fellows are not on a legal academic track that gives them inside knowledge about the process. We describe the AALS conference, the timing of applications, and so on. We talk to them about the market documents, what does a FAR form look like, what does a research agenda look like.

As the market gets a bit closer, we have a variety of people give feedback on their application materials. Then as the market gets even closer, we do mock hiring conference interviews and mock job talks for them.

Q. Who's actually responsible for providing this advice and doing these mock interviews?

A. The core responsibility is with the Hastie Fellowship Committee, but for the interviews we involve broader members of our faculty, who are usually happy to volunteer.

Q. Do you happen to know the percentage of fellows, let's say, over the last 10 years who have received a tenure-track job offer at a US law school?

A. We have been at 100% in the three years I have been participating, and I know we’ve had a lot of success in prior years. I am not sure we have kept consistently formal records to allow for long-term percentage calculations, but a list of many past fellows is on our website, and you can see where they are now. It’s a very distinguished group.

Q. I'd love to link to that if you don't mind. [Here’s the link. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the list.]

A. Oh, absolutely.

Q. Perfect. What about fellows who may not get a job in that second year of the fellowship, how do you support those fellows?

A. That is not a situation that I've encountered.

Q. I'd love now to turn to VAPs and fellowships more generally and just get your thoughts on them if you're willing to share them.

A. Sure.

Q. I'm wondering what you think are the benefits of the rise of fellowship and VAP programs as an entry point into law teaching, and what do you think are the costs?

A. I don’t really have a long enough memory and experience in the academy to give an answer to that because I don't have direct experience with the pre-VAP world. Certainly a downside of the reliance on VAPs and fellowships is that it requires people to press on for years without job security or any certainty whether academia will work out for them. I can’t speak from experience about whether the alternative, prior system was truly easier or more of an equal playing field, or whether it actually had its own costs.

I do think that to the extent that the VAPs are selecting only people who are already totally ready for the market, then the status quo is insufficiently open and inclusive to people who actually would be wonderful law professors. I think that that's a gap that we hope to fill by hiring people who do not have traditional legal academic backgrounds but who have great academic promise.

Q. On a slightly different note, one of the criticisms that you often hear if you hang around with hiring committees a lot is a concern that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship from the schools where they are serving as a VAP and that therefore it's hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and ideas come from the VAPs and fellows themselves. Have you heard this criticism, and what do you think about it?

A. I haven't heard that criticism. That's interesting. There's a sense in which all legal scholarship is a collective enterprise. If you do 10 workshops, you're always going to be drawing on some ideas that didn't start with you. Certainly we as a fellowship program and the market generally want to make sure that it's the candidate who's driving the train, and I think we do that.

Again, just to come back to something I've emphasized, one of the ways we do that is by taking a really close look at the research agenda at the outset and making sure that the candidate has a set of ideas that they want to pursue that are theirs. Once that is in place, to the extent that we can help with polishing, workshopping, and network building, I think those are all to the good.

Q. Anything else you want to add either about the Hastie Fellowship specifically or any messages to pass along to hiring committees about the state of law faculty hiring more generally?

A. You've been really thorough in your questions, so I don't think I have anything to add, but I'll let you know if I think of anything.

Q. Great. Thanks so much, Miriam. Take care.

Posted by Jessica Erickson on July 26, 2019 at 08:18 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (3)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Interview with Andrew Williams from NYU Law on NYU's Lawyering Program

Next up in my series interviewing VAP and fellowship directors is Andrew Williams, who is the Director of the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law.  An edited transcript of our conversation is below, and I have invited Andy to respond to any questions in the comments.  Thanks, Andy, for participating in this series!

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

Q. Can you tell me your role with the NYU Lawyering Program?

A. I am the director of the program.

Q. I’d love to take the fellowship program chronologically, starting with the application and then moving into the fellowship process itself and then the job market. When does the program start accepting applications?

A. We accept on a rolling basis. Our website job announcement says candidates are strongly encouraged to apply before October 1st. We actually have two different avenues.

First, we accept direct applications through our website, through Interfolio. Our website lays it out: the applications have to have a resume, a transcript, a writing sample, references, a cover letter. A research agenda is suggested but not required. Those applications come in directly, and again, we recommend them coming in before October 1st, but we accept applications after that depending on our hiring needs and how our interview process is going.

Second, we interview through AALS. We reach out to some people for applications based on FAR forms, so we go down to AALS every fall and do interviews there as well.
Those are the two ways that folks get in the door.

Q. I’d love to follow up on the AALS path. Are these candidates who are also simultaneously applying for entry-level positions? Or are these candidates who were in the AALS process solely or perhaps primarily to apply for a fellowship program?

A. Both. And I would say historically, we would often be interviewing people at AALS who were primarily not applying to other fellowships, but they weren't necessarily ready for the full teaching market yet.

Q. Do you reach out to them? Have they reached out to you? Obviously they applied through AALS, but have they also reached out to you directly?

A. Again, both. We go through the FAR forms and reach out to folks who may not know about our program and encourage them to submit materials, and then we review those materials and do interviews at AALS. Some applicants know about us and apply but through the AALS process. More and more, folks are aware of fellowships and the various opportunities, so I would say the number of people that we interview that are primarily looking for tenure-track positions at AALS has probably decreased. But we're still interviewing people who are applying for a range of positions.

Q. How are the interviews structured? Are there first round interviews? Second round interviews?

A. If we interview someone at AALS, that is a first round interview. It tends to be more informal. We're usually not doing a “summarize your job talk” interview. We're asking them why they're interested in the program, we're talking about what we do in Lawyering, we're asking them about their practice experience and teaching experience, and we ask questions about their scholarly work.

Then some of those applications from AALS join the direct applications, and a committee reviews all of those materials. The committee decides who's coming onto campus for an on-campus interview.

Our on-campus interviews typically last half of a day, and it's a series of interviews with two or three people in each interview. The interviewers are made up of the hiring committee, current Lawyering faculty, and students. Those interviews sort of take on the personality of the interviewers. Some interviews are more about scholarship, some are about experience teaching, and some are about practice. It depends on the makeup of any one of those particular interviews. But over the course of the time, candidates will need to be able to speak to all of those things.

Q. There's not a job talk as part of that, is there?

A. Not a formal job talk, no. It’s a half-day of short interviews. So we're generally looking for three things. Teaching experience and or potential as a teacher, which often means can you speak to working with junior attorneys or other mentoring experiences or actual teaching? We're looking at practice. Can you speak thoughtfully about practice? Do you have some rich practice experience? And scholarship, or potential for using this experience to build to something new, either specifically academic scholarship or it could be something else. And I can talk more about that later.

And so if a person comes in for a series of interviews in the morning, one of those interviews will be someone asking a series of questions about a scholarly piece. That's going to feel more like a job talk, but it's not going to be a formal job talk.

Q. Okay. Great. Let's take each one of those three things that you talked about one at a time, starting with teaching. What are you looking for on the teaching side? How are you gauging somebody's teaching ability?

A. I mean, that's the hardest of the three, frankly. But we're asking questions about work in a teaching/supervisory capacity. And so some folks do have some experience teaching, and that comes in a range of forms. Some people can really speak to the type of feedback or mentorship they gave in practice to more junior attorneys. Others can speak to the types of things that interest them about teaching and can articulate what they want to do but haven't had the opportunity to do before. So we ask questions in that world, and there's no one thing that we're looking for. There's a wide range of answers that people can give.

Q. How about on the practice side? How much practice experience are you looking for? I'm sure it varies, but in general.

A. Historically, we have a minimum of two years plus clerkship or three years. Our course is a simulation-based course. It's pretty teaching intensive, and it really is about thinking about practice and teaching the students to think about what it means to be a lawyer. And so we want to hire people who can talk about not just how do you write a brief, but also why does one write a brief this way, and what are you trying to achieve and what are your client's goals? We want someone who can talk about working with clients, and who can talk about those dynamics.

And we want someone who can speak to what it was like, what the pros and cons of being a lawyer were, what were the great things and the hard things? Someone who really shows some self-reflection about practice experience. Not everyone we hire will have done all of the things that we teach, but we want people who can really be thoughtful about what it means to actually be a lawyer.

Q. On the scholarly side, if we were to step back and think about your successful candidates, the candidates who make it into the Lawyering Program, how much scholarship do they tend to have before they start in the Lawyering Program? Do they have a published paper, more than published paper, just a draft? What's the norm, if there is one?

A. I don't know that there is a norm. If you can tell, we try to look pretty holistically at our candidates. Sometimes it has to do with where are they coming from and what is it that they want to do. And so it really is a wide range. We want folks who come in to be able to articulate what their interest is and what they're going to do with their time here. And often, that means, “I wrote a piece while in practice and I'm working on this other piece, and I've got this research agenda.” Sometimes it means, “I really just started thinking about what it means to do scholarship relatively recently. I want to do clinical teaching, and I've done some strong practice-oriented writing, but law review articles are new to me.”

Certainly, for any of those three things that we're looking at, the more the person can put forward, the better they're going to be as a candidate. But we've hired folks with a number of published pieces of scholarship, and we've hired people with no scholarship at all coming in.

Q. And do you have a preference for candidates with Ph.Ds.? How do you think about Ph.Ds. in the hiring process?

A. Again, it's going to be part of a package, right? Does the person have a Ph.D. but also have pretty rich practice experience? If they've been able to do both, that's a really strong candidate. But if they have a Ph.D. but they don't have any practice experience, then that's not someone that we're going to be in a position to hire. It's a good thing for a candidate to have, and we've hired plenty of people with Ph.D.s, but we've certainly hired significantly more without them.

Q. Does the program have any preferences for candidates in particular curricular areas? I've been a hiring chair for a long time. People often say that candidates in the corporate area or the criminal law area are in demand on the entry-level market. Do you take that into account when you're selecting candidates?

A. No. We do like to have a faculty with a range of practice experiences. We work as a faculty a lot. It's a very collegial faculty generally, but we also work together on curricular development. And so the more different areas of practice experience we have, the better. But I'm not sure I would say that necessarily plays a role in why any particular candidate gets hired.

Q. Okay. And do you make any special efforts to hire candidates from diverse backgrounds?

A. Absolutely.

Q. In what way?

A. We try to do as much outreach as we can. We reach out through listservs and organizations and alumni organizations. One of the reasons that we go through FAR forms and interview at AALS is to find candidates that might not know about us as a program, and who come from a wide range of backgrounds. Those are probably the two primary ways, but it’s definitely a priority for us.

Q. As I talk about this interview series on the blogs, one of the questions I keep getting is from candidates who say, "What if I don't have the traditional markers of being a law professor? Maybe I didn't go to Harvard, Yale, NYU, et cetera. I didn't do an elite clerkship. How can I stand out in the application process?" What advice would you have for those candidates?

A. We have absolutely hired from a range of experiences and a range of law schools. We're certainly looking for people who bring something, who are going to bring a richness to our program. And so if someone has some really interesting ideas and has done some really interesting practice, that is going to weigh really heavily for us. It’s not the most helpful advice, but I want to say that the way you stand out is by standing out, by having something about you that is interesting and compelling. That could come from any number of places. We certainly have hired candidates who haven't necessarily followed the most traditional path to academia, and we've then placed those candidates well on the other side. But to try to articulate what's the one thing or two things someone can do, that's a little bit harder.

Q. So we've talked about a variety of criteria that you and your committee use. Is there anything else? Any other criteria that candidates should keep in mind as they're submitting an application?

A. I think narrative matters. The committee wants a strong sense of who this person is, why this is what they want to do, and where they want to go from here, and a story that makes sense. It's a temporary position. It's a position that's practice-focused and teaching-intensive. And so someone who is able to articulate, this is what I've done and this is where I'm headed, and this is how this program really fits in that journey for me. I think that matters to our committee.

Q. Let's go back to some of the nuts and bolts. How many applications do you typically receive and how many candidates do you typically bring to campus to interview?

A. After reviewing the FAR forms and receiving materials for AALS, we usually end up doing initial interviews with about 8-10 people there. And then we receive, generally, 100-150 direct applications each year. We ultimately interview probably around 15 people on campus each year.

Q. How many fellowships are available total, and how many positions are available each year?

A. So it varies. We have 15 positions, 15 members of Lawyering faculty. And they stay two to three years, with a maximum of three years. So we hire roughly five every year. But it varies. We’ve had years where we've hired two and years where we've hired seven.

Q. And by when in the calendar year do you typically fill the positions? When would you say you're done?

A. We try to be done at the start of the spring semester. The reality is that, again, because we're a transitional program, we try to be flexible with our faculty as things come up. So if I have someone who is in the second year of the program and it's February and the perfect clinical job opens up, then we may end up with an opening that we didn't expect.
Typically we try to be finished hiring at the start of the spring, but we don't always get there.

Q. When you said that the fellowship lasts two to three years, what does that depend on? Is that at the fellow's discretion?

A. I've never had to make it not at the fellow's discretion. It's a series of up to three one-year contracts. I have not yet had to be in the position to not offer a contract for another year, so it has been at the fellow's discretion.

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

A. It’s $66,000 in the first year. And each renewal historically includes an annual merit increase, so a small percentage increase each year after the first full year.

Q. And do they receive health benefits?

A. Yes. They are eligible for the standard benefits of the law school, including health benefits.

Q. How about access to university or subsidized housing?

A. No. Occasionally we get lucky and an apartment opens up, but it's certainly not a guaranteed.

Q. How about travel funding or other professional development funding?

A. Yes. Conference funding. We try to fund as many conferences as we can.

Q. Is there a standard budget that they have for that?

A. Yes and no. The first conference for everyone is no questions. And then after that we look at how our collective conference budget is working and whether someone is presenting at the conference. That said, ultimately I think we are able to accommodate all conference requests. We try to make sure folks can go to any conferences they need to.

Q. And are they allowed to hire research assistants?

A. Yes. They are encouraged to.

Q. Obviously we know that going on the market is expensive. Are they reimbursed for AALS-related expenses?

A. Absolutely. AALS is treated like a conference. So it would be like going to any other conference.

Q. Okay. Now that was a lot of the nuts and bolts. Now let's turn to how to make the most of a fellowship year. How often do the fellows themselves get together, and in what capacity? Do they have their own workshop series or something like that?

A. So I'll start in June, because the position starts June 1st every year. We do a couple of weeks of introduction and curricular training and other workshops. The first week would be just the new people, and we go through the curriculum, and the second week, adding in the returning people. And then throughout the year, starting in mid-August and then as we approach each simulation throughout the year, we have Lawyering faculty meetings to talk about issues in the classroom, pedagogy, curricular decisions for the next unit, walking through it, different approaches different people have taken in the past, et cetera.

So that's sort of on the teaching side. During our June workshops, we also have sessions on making the most of your time in Lawyering: producing scholarship, getting to publication, and navigating the job market process. We also have a weekly Lawyering Scholarship Colloquium that happens all year. We invite other fellows from around the law school to participate in that as well, and the scholarship colloquium can be anything from “Hi, I'm brand new and I've got three ideas that I've got in abstract form and I want to talk them through with some people” to “I've got a job talk next week.” Most sessions fall somewhere in between, with a fellow circulating a draft or detailed outline before the session and getting detailed feedback during the session.

We also all work together in a Lawyering suite. It's a collaborative and collegial environment, so there's a lot of interaction. Stopping by each other's offices with questions and ideas for class or “I'm working on this paper, can I draw something out on the whiteboard and you let me know what you're thinking?”

Q. Do the other fellows from NYU participate in that scholarly workshop?

A. They do.

Q. Do the fellows participate in the broader intellectual life of the school? For example, NYU's broader faculty workshop?

A. Yes. So everything that is happening at the law school is open to Lawyering faculty, as with anywhere else. Informal faculty lunches and faculty workshops happen every week, and Lawyering faculty members are encouraged to attend. And, for example, the criminal law community here has the Goldstock Seminar every Tuesday and the Hoffinger Criminal Justice colloquium, and our faculty members are always really well integrated into that process.
How many different activities our folks are involved with in terms of the intellectual life of the law school sort of depends on how active that particular part of the life of the law school is. But everything is available, and it’s a very active place.

Q. Who actually supervises the fellows? Are you their direct supervisor? Is there a committee, someone else?

A. I am.

Q. Are they matched with a mentor or otherwise guided towards faculty in their area of interest? And if so, how? How does that matching happen?

A. There's not a formal mentorship. The guiding happens in a few ways, either through me and making connections with people in their practice area, or the practice area group itself if it's a particularly active one, or it could be a member of our hiring committee connecting them up with someone that they know. So we try to find different ways to connect people up to people here who will be helpful contacts for them to develop organic relationships with, but how that connection gets made sort of varies from person to person on both sides.

Q. And are they also given assistance making connections outside of the law school with faculty in their area?

A. For people who were not students at NYU Law, of course they are able to go back and reach out to the people from their former institutions. We also have an active network of former Lawyering faculty. I try to bring former Lawyering faculty in for our general workshops or during the year or set up opportunities at conferences.

Q. Okay. And how about assistance with their specific papers? You talked about the workshops where they can present their papers. Do they have people who will sit down, read their drafts, give them comments?

A. Yeah. And I think a lot of that does come through relationships developed here over time. Some of it is through these connections that we talked about, whether with former Lawyering folks or people here on the faculty. And then also our Academic Careers Program here at the law school has a number of different events that vary every year, including at least two opportunities each year specifically dedicated to being paired with a faculty member for detailed draft feedback.

Q. Let's transition over to the teaching side. You mention that they teach in the legal writing program. Tell me about those teaching responsibilities. How many students do they have? How many hours does that class meet?

A. It’s a yearlong course. It's 28 students, the same 28 students all year. And it's built around a series of simulations. So it starts with drafting an argument, and then interviewing a witness and drafting an affidavit, and then interviewing a client, doing the research memo for the client and counseling that client, often with a small mediation component. In the spring there is a transactional negotiation and then the traditional brief and oral argument. So there are a lot of writing components to it but also a number of non-writing components, other experiential components.

The course meets typically three times a week. There are certain times of year when we have, for example, student conferences on the writing, and we provide detailed feedback trying to get the students to reflect on their writing choices on both initial and revised submissions. So, especially in the fall, there may be conferences stacked up at different times of the day as well. We teach from essentially mid-August to just before Thanksgiving, and then we teach from mid-January until mid-April. There's no final exam. It's a for-credit class, not for a grade. And so when our work is done for the semester, we're done.
But certainly at the beginning of the fall, it's a pretty teaching intensive course, which is why we try to spend a lot of time thinking and talking about teaching.

Q. And are they the ones coming up with the assignments or the curriculum for those classes? Or are there other resources that they draw on for that?

A. It's a mix. We have a pretty hefty set of materials, both in the global sense of “These are the large simulations” and also “Here are some ideas of what you might want to do in your classes leading up to the simulations.” It is a course that you could come in and teach entirely from pre-existing materials.

That said, we have a lot of flexibility for coming up with new approaches and new ideas. It could be someone coming to one of our faculty meetings and saying, "I really don't love this third class that a lot of us do on how to counsel a client, and I've come up with this new idea.” Or it could be like today we were discussing as a group how to revamp our negotiation exercise and maybe come up with something new. So there is an expectation of civic participation, but also I try not to put the expectation on our folks that they're going to have to be doing a lot of curricular development on their own. I want them to be a part of the conversation, but I don't want that to become the focus of their time. Between the scholarship and the teaching, there are enough other responsibilities.

Q. Yeah. Do people ever sit in on their classes and give them feedback on their teaching?

A. I do. And we do informal, prose-based feedback from students in the fall that's not really meant to be a course evaluation, but more a series of questions that professor wants to ask their student about the semester. I go over those with our folks at the end of the fall, and then at the spring, at the end of our actual formal course evaluations, I sit down with folks and talk through those evaluations as well. And unless our schedules conflict, I try to sit in and observe the teaching, usually folks who are on the market first, so that I can get a last snapshot of their teaching before they go on the market, and then new folks, and then folks in the middle.

Q. And are they ever allowed to teach a class outside of the legal writing program? A course, for example, in their doctrinal area of specialty?

A. It happens. It's not a guarantee. But a range of opportunities along those lines have occurred, from supervising a team of students within a clinic or teaching a unit in a clinical course, to co-teaching an externship with a member of our faculty, to co-teaching a doctrinal law course with a member of the faculty. So yes, there are a range of opportunities that have come up, and as with any new opportunity, I always try to stay open to how we can make those things work, but there's not a formal process in play for making it happen.

Q. Do you have a sense of the percentage of time that they should spend, or they tend to spend on their scholarship versus their teaching versus any other responsibilities that they have?

A. I don't. And in part because I think it varies a great deal. It varies a great deal based on the interest of the person. It varies from year to year. It varies based on time of year. We have some people who every Tuesday is the day that they really focus on scholarship all year long, and other folks who make it a point to do it a little bit every day, and some folks who say all I'm going to do this summer and over winter break is write, but during the heart of the semester I'm going to focus on teaching. It does vary from year to year as well, where they are in the program. So yeah, it's a tough thing to figure out how to average out. Over the course of the year, however, Lawyering faculty have almost 4 months in the summer and another 7-8 weeks between semesters when they aren’t teaching at all; so that gives folks a lot of independent time as well.

Q. I've noticed a couple times you've talked about clinical faculty teaching the program. What's the breakdown between Lawyering professors who are interested in the doctrinal path and those interested in the clinical path?

A. So historically, I would say probably 40% doctrinal, 40% clinical, and 20% a wide range of other choices, which might mean shifting from being a public defender to doing criminal justice policy, or going into working in law school administration or legal research and writing or going back to practice. So it's probably 40, 40, 20, sounds about right.

Q. We’ve gone through a lot of the details of the program. Let's step back for a moment. What do you think makes the NYU Lawyering Program stand out from other VAPs or fellowship programs? Imagine you were talking to a candidate with lots of fellowship options, how would you try to sell the Lawyering Program?

A. Our community is really outstanding. I think we've done a really nice job of hiring over the years. The result of that is, I think, it's a really strong group of people, and it's a pretty large group of people because we have 15 folks at any time who are here full-time. And they really are an incredible resource for each other. Again, whether that's an issue in the classroom or a thought about teaching or scholarship or the market or how do I pitch this piece to journals, or whatever it is. Once folks have left to go on to tenure-track positions and go elsewhere, they usually miss the colleagues the most. I think is one of the biggest strengths that we have.

I think the second is really teaching. For folks who really are focused on being in a place where there's a conversation about what actually works in a classroom and how do we teach, and how do we think about pedagogy, and really want that experience of doing a lot of teaching in the classroom, I think it's a really great opportunity.

Q. And do you have any other advice for fellows when it comes to making the most of their time in a fellowship or a VAP? What have you seen the people who have been really successful on the entry-level market do?

A. I mean there's just so many ... and I know I keep coming back to this, but there's just so many different journeys. Obviously putting in the time and doing the scholarship matters a lot. Being engaged and having an entrepreneurial spirit and really doing the outreach to get to know people in your area, and frankly people outside of your area, to just talk about ideas for scholarship helps a great deal. But other than that, I really do think there are a lot of ways to do this well and do it in an interesting way. And we've placed people who have taken a lot of different approaches. And it's been really interesting, frankly, to see how that plays out, that there isn't necessarily only one right or one best way.

Q. That provides a good transition over to the job market process. What type of mentoring do the fellows receive related to the hiring process?

A. I think it's drawn from the sources that we've talked about. It's going to be a mix of people here and at the institution you came from if you were somewhere before, the Academic Careers Program, current faculty, and Lawyering alum. ACP pairs people going on the market with people who were recently on the market. During our Lawyering workshops this last week, we brought in former Lawyering folks, some who have been on hiring committees or are on hiring committees at different schools to talk about their experiences and the process and what they've learned since then. We send candidate materials out to our former Lawyering faculty. So it's going to be drawing from all of those different resources.

Q. And are they given an opportunity to moot their job talk? You talked about an opportunity within the fellows workshop. How about in front of faculty or others?

A. Absolutely. And that's all arranged through our academic careers program. ACP puts on a Job Camp in early fall where Lawyering fellows going on the market that year do a mock job talk, they have faculty member specifically assigned to them to moot the job talk and give them feedback, and often there are other fellows and sometimes other faculty in the room participating as well.

Q. Okay. And does that include opportunities to do moot mock screening interviews as well?

A. Yes, ACP arranges mock screening interviews with a faculty member as part of Job Camp.

Q. Do they receive feedback on their application materials, on their FAR form, etc.?

A. Absolutely.

Q. Yeah. Do you happen to know the percentage of Lawyering fellows, let's say over the last 10 years, who have ended up in entry-level tenure track positions?

A. We’ve been lucky, and as the market has changed we’ve continued to be able to place well. Almost all, and maybe all, of our people that have gone on the market have ended up in either tenure-track or long-term contract positions, (given that a particular school may not have, say, tenure-track clinical positions.) For example, in 2016 we hired an unusually large group. After two years, two took teaching positions and a third found a great appellate practice opportunity. This year, three more went on the market and took full-time faculty positions while one chose to apply for (and received) a more specialized fellowship. Every year looks a little bit different because we encourage people to find the right opportunities for them, but looking back over the 50 or so people who have come through over last ten years, we’ve placed roughly 20 doctrinal faculty, 20 clinical faculty, and then a handful of people who have chosen to continue on with skills positions, move into law school administration, or return to practice. Whatever path they choose, we’ve been very fortunate that our people are able to use their time here to transition into the next step they want.

Q. I would love, if you're willing, to ask a couple of questions related more broadly to the rise of VAPs and fellowship. I don't know if you saw the data from this past hiring year, but 96% of people hired for entry level doctrinal positions have either a VAP, a fellowship, a Ph.D. What do you think are the benefits of this process, and what do you think are the costs?

A. It's interesting. I don't know if I've thought of it in terms of benefits and costs as much as the fact of watching it happen. I think there's a real benefit to having some space and time to work on scholarship and on teaching. The legal profession, when done right, and especially because we're hiring people from practice, takes an incredible amount of work. I mean, to do the job well, it can be consuming. And so having, at least on this fellowship side, having these transitional programs makes a lot of sense to me for people to reflect on and reframe how they're thinking about things.

I feel like the Ph.D. question is a different question. One of the really interesting things about legal hiring right now is that law schools seem to be hiring for a range of positions that require a range of backgrounds and skillsets. And so I think it makes sense to have people who are taking a number of different paths and taking the time to develop expertise in a range of areas. So you would have clinical fellowships, Lawyering, Ph.Ds., a combination, et cetera. It makes sense to me.

Q. Have you heard the criticism that VAPs and fellows may get too much help on their scholarship from people on the faculty wherever they're doing their VAP or fellowship, and therefore it's hard for hiring committees to know how much of the work and ideas come from the VAPs or fellows themselves?

A. I have not heard that before.

Q. Okay. So it's one of the things you often hear when you're on the hiring side, is people wondering, essentially, how much of these ideas really come from the fellow, and how much of this is being fed to them from the faculty at the school where they are? Do you have a sense on that?

A. I mean, I may be speaking naively here, but I don't know. I would be surprised. I guess I can put it this way. When we're interviewing folks, whether directly or through AALS, we tend to see people who don't just have interesting ideas, but who are also really invested in those ideas. They're pursuing these scholarly interests that they've often had for quite some time and have been working on. And the pieces of scholarship that those ideas develop into, that become their published pieces and the things they take on the market, tend to follow ... obviously there are tweaks and developments and people change course, but they tend to follow who we thought they were. In a good way. So I don't know. I would say that has not been my experience.

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

A. I mean, because I am specifically in a program that is all about thinking about practice, and we really hire for folks who we feel like can be thoughtful about practice … my bias is toward hiring people who can be thoughtful about practice in order to educate people on how to be lawyers. That said, as is probably not surprising from the rest of this conversation, I do think there are any number of approaches. I don't think it's a terrible trade-off that some folks are going to have more practice than others, and people are going to approach legal education and legal theory and legal practice in different ways. I think that is part of what makes a law school really interesting, the mix of ways of approaching the ideas, some that are more practice-oriented and some that are more theory-oriented. I think that's part of the genius of law school. I think one of the real benefits of the Lawyering program is in encouraging people to really emphasize pedagogy and becoming thoughtful, skilled teachers as well as understand their own scholarship and the scholarly community generally. So that when the Lawyering faculty members go on to permanent academic positions they are prepared to incorporate both.

Q. Anything else that you want people to know about the NYU Lawyering Program or about the state of law faculty hiring more generally?

A. I don't think so, but anyone thinking about applying or who wants to know more should feel free to reach out to me. I’m always happy to answer any questions that come up.

Q. Okay, that's great. Thanks, Andy. Take care.

Posted by Jessica Erickson on July 19, 2019 at 06:39 AM in Getting a Job on the Law Teaching Market, VAPS & Fellowships | Permalink | Comments (2)