Paul L. Caron

Friday, January 22, 2016

McGinnis:  Law Schools Should Give Greater Weight To Objective Data In Faculty Hiring To Combat Bias Against Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs

Following up on last week's post, Why Are There So Few Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs, Even Though They Are More Productive Scholars Than Liberal Law Profs?:  John O. McGinnis (Northwestern), Conservative and Libertarian Legal Scholars Are More Published and Cited:

In a fascinating article, James Phillips has focused on the productivity, citations, and credentials of scholars at the top sixteen law schools. His analysis suggests that conservatives and libertarians are more productive, better cited, and, with one important exception, better credentialed than other scholars. The powerful combination of these findings is thus consistent with the hypothesis that conservatives suffer discrimination in hiring, perhaps particularly in the lateral market when productivity and citation data are very visible. It is as if they are competing in a race with an extra weight on their backs. ...

[T]he normative implication that I draw is that in hiring schools should weigh more objective data, like productivity and citations counts more heavily and take less account of their faculty’s more subjective impression of scholarship. ...

Weighting more objective evidence more heavily has advantages beyond combating ideological discrimination and increasing ideological diversity. Faculties behave in some respects like social clubs. Members are happier to hire people with whom they are more comfortable. In my view, often the best predictor of a professor’s enthusiasm for a potential hire is how much he or she resembles that professor. More data driven hiring can put a break on that tendency as well. ... Schools would do much better to begin their lateral searches with public data about productivity and citations rather than the private intuitions of faculty members about the best prospective hires.

Legal Education, Scholarship | Permalink


As a new grad, I can attest to the waste of class time spend,on SJW issues and arguments that have nothing to do with the law. No wonder bar passage rates are down.

Posted by: D. Carroll | Jan 23, 2016 9:18:03 PM

Law schools shouldn't be hiring anybody. They should be laying off faculty and shutting down programs.

Posted by: Walter Sobchak | Jan 23, 2016 6:40:51 PM

I don't see how this would help conservatives. More likely it would reward self-promoters. The way to hire more conservatives--or for that matter, more anything--is to take ideas seriously rather than as an interim step to some other goal. Easy to say, hard to do.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 23, 2016 10:48:40 AM