Paul L. Caron

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Moneyball and Faculty Hiring

Bill Henderson (Indiana) has an incredibly thoughful post on Empirical Legal Studies:  Where is the Moneyball at Moneylaw?:

[T]he question is whether this elitism--akin to the scouts who recruited Billy Beane based on his build and athleticism and overlooked his inability to hit a curve ball--results in predictable over and undervaluation of talent, thus creating opportunities for arbitrage in the market for law professors. In their masterful review of Moneyball, 82 Tex. L. Rev. 1483 (2004), Paul Caron & Rafael Gely made a compelling case that appointments committees were indeed employing heuristics, such as school attended and fancy clerkships, that had no bearing scholarly productivity. But they did not lay out a systematic vision for how these lessons could be deployed to build a successful law school or law faculty....

If a law school wants to systematically identify undervalued future scholars, I am available to create the requisite dataset and run the necessary regressions--but I am expensive. What I cannot guaranteed, however, is whether a law school can parlay that talent into any meaningful measure of long term institutional success. A scholarship-first strategy is misguided, whether done through Moneyball/Moneylaw or the usual elitist folk wisdom. Not only does it shortchange students (thus disturbing our restful sleep), there are solid theoretical and empirical reasons to suggest that it just doesn't work.

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