Paul L. Caron
Dean




Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Where Have All The (Aspiring) Law Profs Gone?

Following up on my previous post, Law School Entry-Level Faculty Hiring Is Down 22% (59% From 2008):  The Verdict Op-Ed:  Where Have All the (Aspiring) Law Profs Gone?, by Vikram Amar (Dean, Illinois) & Jason Mazzone (Illinois):

It’s law professor hiring season again, the time of year when (most of) the nation’s 200 or so ABA-accredited law schools begin the search to add to their full-time tenured/tenure-track ranks. ... Even though the in-person recruitment conference has been scrapped since the pandemic began, candidates still fill out [Faculty Appointments Register (FAR)] forms, and hiring committees still comb through the entries in order to set up screening interviews (often virtual) to help schools decide which candidates to invite (and candidates to decide which invitations to accept) for full-blown multi-day on-campus visits that include “job talks” (formal presentations of academic works in front of the whole faculty), small-group faculty interviews, meetings with deans and perhaps other administrators, campus tours, and social events. ...

One trend is striking: the relatively small (and decreasing) number of FAR entries the last few years. Whereas a decade or so ago it was not uncommon to see between 1,000 and 2,000 FAR entries, this year the number will likely be (the tally isn’t yet final since there are a few separate installments over the August-October timeframe) between 300 and 400. ...

[I]t behooves all of us to think (and even speculate) a bit about what accounts for the decline. Here are a handful of possibilities:

  1. This is a COVID and post-COVID blip; in a few years the numbers will increase. ...
  2. The path to securing a good teaching job has seemingly become costly and risky. ...
  3. Teaching jobs pay much less than BigLaw jobs. ...
  4. Law schools, like most units within the modern academy, have become more fractious places. ...
  5. [L]aw students and other would-be legal academics think the scholarly work of law professors (which has always been the focus of top law schools and has over the past two decades increasingly become the focus of most law schools) is less valuable and less valued in the real world.

Whether some combination of these factors (or other explanations) is at work, the apparent decline in the demand among talented new legal minds for law-teaching jobs should be a topic of discussion, and in our view a subject of concern, for the entire profession and, we would argue, for the entire nation.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2022/09/where-have-all-the-aspiring-law-profs-gone.html

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