August 28, 2014
2014 Aspiring Law Professors Conference at Arizona State University
Posted by Christine Hurt

AsuIt is that time again!  Time for appointments committees, FAR forms, and the AALS hiring conference!  If you are going to be on the candidate end of those things this year, or (even better) going to be a candidate next year (or so), then you should definitely make an effort to attend the 2014 Aspiring Law Professors Conference at the Sandra Day O'Connor School of Law at Arizona State University on Saturday, September 27, 2014.

I am being completely honest in saying that this conference has to be the most useful eight hours that you will spend if you are interested in going into law teaching.  Whether you are in practice trying to decide whether to wade into academic waters or a VAP or fellow poised to pounce on the hiring conference in October, this conference is well worth your time and plane ticket.  (There is no registration fee.)  I was honored to be a speaker last year and came away believing that I had never added so much value at any conference before.

What do you get if you go?  You get a few presentations and panels, but you also get one-on-one attention in a mock interview and/or mock job talk.  Now, I know that at a lot of fellowships/VAP programs, you get mock interviews and mock job talks, but not everyone has that opportunity.  And, it's a different feeling when you are having those mock experiences with strangers -- appointments veterans and even deans of other law schools.

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August 13, 2014
University of Alabama School of Law is looking for a business law scholar
Posted by Gordon Smith

Here is the information:

The University of Alabama School of Law anticipates making at least one tenure-track appointment to its faculty, to begin in the 2015-2016 academic year. The Faculty Appointments Committee seeks applications from entry-level candidates with excellent academic records and demonstrated potential for outstanding teaching and scholarly achievement. We also welcome applications from junior-lateral candidates who possess outstanding academic credentials, including demonstrated teaching ability and a record of distinguished scholarship. Although positions are not necessarily limited by subject matter, we are particularly interested in the following academic subject areas: business law (including enterprise, finance, and/or securities); administrative regulation (including the regulatory state and/or regulated industries or activities); intellectual property (specifically trademark and copyright); and criminal law (including substantive criminal law and/or criminal procedure). Most candidates will have a J.D. degree from an accredited law school. Exceptional candidates who possess an advanced degree, such as a Ph.D., and who have scholarly interests related to the law involving interdisciplinary, jurisprudential, empirical, or social scientific work may be considered even without holding a law degree. The University of Alabama embraces and welcomes diversity in its faculty, student body, and staff; accordingly, the School of Law actively welcomes applications from persons who would add to the diversity of our academic community.

 Salary, benefits, and research support will be nationally competitive. The School of Law will treat all nominations and applications as strictly confidential, subject only to the requirements of state and federal law. Interested candidates should apply online at The positions will remain open until filled. Please refer any questions about the hiring process to Professor Julie A. Hill, Chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee for the 2014-2015 academic year (email:

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July 29, 2014
Position Announcements: Law In Business Schools in Indiana, Texas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, California, & Ohio
Posted by David Zaring

The announcements are after the jump; one of them you may have seen already, but all of them require applications outside of the AALS FAR process, and are, in my view, well worth your consideration.


Department of Business Law and Ethics

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University seeks applications for open-rank, tenure-track positions in the Department of Business Law and Ethics, effective August 2015. The candidates selected will join a well-established department of 16 full-time faculty members who teach a variety of courses on legal topics and business ethics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

To be qualified, a candidate must have a J.D. degree with an excellent academic record and must demonstrate the potential for outstanding teaching and research in law and/or ethics.

Interested candidates should review the application requirements and submit their application at Candidates should direct any questions to Jamie Darin Prenkert, Chair, Department of Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business, 1309 E 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 or   

Application materials received by October 15, 2014, will be given full consideration.

Indiana University is an equal employment and affirmative action employer and a provider of ADA services.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ethnicity, color, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or identity, national origin, disability status or protected veteran status.

Non-Tenure-Track Position(s)


Department of Business Law and Ethics

The Kelley School of Business at Indiana University seeks applications for full time, non-tenure-track lecturer or clinical faculty positions in the Department of Business Law and Ethics, effective August 2015. The candidates selected will join a well-established department of 16 full-time faculty members who teach a variety of courses on legal topics and business ethics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

To be qualified, a lecturer candidate must have a J.D. degree with an excellent academic record and must demonstrate the potential to be an outstanding teacher in business law and/or ethics courses. Ideal candidates for clinical faculty positions will meet all of the requirements of a lecturer candidate and will have had career experience in law or ethics and compliance that is significant in duration and that indicates the attainment of a substantial level of responsibility and leadership.

Interested candidates should review the application requirements and submit their application at Candidates should direct any questions to Jamie Darin Prenkert, Chair, Department of Business Law and Ethics, Kelley School of Business, 1309 E 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405 or   

Application materials received by November 15, 2014, will be given full consideration.

Indiana University is an equal employment and affirmative action employer and a provider of ADA services.  All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, ethnicity, color, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation or identity, national origin, disability status or protected veteran status.


The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania invites applications for tenured and tenure-track positions in its Department of Legal Studies and Business Ethics.  The Department has eighteen full-time faculty who teach a wide variety of business-oriented courses in law and ethics in the undergraduate, MBA, and Ph.D. programs and whose research is regularly published in leading journals.  The Wharton School has one of the largest and best-published business school faculties in the world.  In addition, the school has a global reach and perspective, as well as an interdisciplinary approach to business issues (embracing ten academic departments and over twenty research centers). 

Applicants must have either a Ph.D., J.D., or both, from an accredited institution (an expected completion date no later than July 1, 2016 is acceptable) and a demonstrated commitment to scholarship in business ethics, business law, or a combination of the two fields.  Specific areas of potential focus for hiring include corporate governance, normative ethics related to business, social impact/sustainability, securities regulation, and health law/bioethics.  The appointment is expected to begin July 1, 2015.

Please submit electronically your letter of introduction, c.v., and one selected article or writing sample in PDF format via the following website by November 1, 2014: APPLY.  Some decisions for interviews will be made before the deadline, so candidates are encouraged to apply early.

The University of Pennsylvania is an equal opportunity employer.  Minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, protected veterans are encouraged to apply.


Subject: Position opening: Business Law/Real Estate, California State University Northridge

California State University, Northridge (in the L.A. area) has an opening for a tenure track faculty member to support our expanding real estate program.  Here's a link to the application: Both Stuart Pardau and Melanie Williams will be at the Annual Conference and would be happy to talk about the position and our programs. 


The Accounting Department of the Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati invites applicants for up to two full-time Professor of Business Law, Educator track positions (nontenured, but union), with an August 2015 start date. UC has a large accounting program, with 700 undergraduate majors, a Master of Science in Accounting, a Master of Science in Taxation, and a doctoral program. Business Law is part of the Accounting Department, and offers required and elective business law courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels (including MS Accounting). The Lindner College of Business is nationally ranked in the top 100 business schools, and the MBA program was recently ranked #60 nationally by US News and World Report.

Primary responsibilities involve teaching and related service activities. High quality teaching is expected; teaching load and rank will be determined commensurate with teaching credentials, prior professional law experience, and prior research productivity. Sustained academic and professional engagement is required, and publishing in quality business law related journal is desirable.  

 Candidates must have a JD from an accredited institution approved by the US American Bar Association (ABA) and be licensed to practice law in a US jurisdiction.  

 Preferred qualifications include: an undergraduate or graduate degree in accounting or business; professional law or tax work experience; experience teaching undergraduate and graduate business law courses at a US AACSB accredited institution, with evidence of effective classroom outcomes; the ability to interact effectively and professionally with other faculty and the business community; a passion for teaching and mentoring students; the ability to build quality academic programs; and research skills and recent journal publications. Candidates must possess both written and spoken English fluency, and provide evidence of such throughout the interview process.  

 Representatives will be available at the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (ALSB) meeting in Seattle in August.  If interested in meeting with a UC representative in Seattle, please contact Ilse Hawkins at

 For additional information about the university please go to  To apply for position (214UC8724), please see  For questions, please contact Ilse Hawkins at  or the Department Head, Dr. Robert Larson at


The Department of Ethics & Business Law in the Opus College of Business at the University of St. Thomas has an opening for a one-year position as a Visiting Distinguished Service Faculty in Business Law, for the 2014-15 academic year.  This position will involve teaching three courses (including International Business Law) each semester.  To apply (and for more information about this position), visit this site:, and submit an online application (two letters of recommendation to be sent separately).  Additional questions can be directed to the search committee chair, Dale Thompson (


The College of Business Administration (COBA) at Texas A&M University--Central Texas (A&M-Central Texas) is currently looking for new faculty members in our Management and Marketing Department with a particular need for someone able to teach employment law, labor relations, and legal environment of business courses (all three in an academic year) beginning in the fall of 2015.

A&M-Central Texas was established in 2009 as an upper-level undergraduate and graduate institution within the Texas A&M University System.  Although we are young and developing, the state, the region, the U.S. Army, the Texas A&M System, and a Silicon Valley investment group are all making considerable investments in our success.  In 2010, the U.S. Army donated 600+ acres of land for our campus, and our second building on the new campus just opened this summer, with others to follow, including a building to house COBA.

A&M-Central Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges & Schools Commission on Colleges and COBA is currently ACSBP accredited. We are excited to announce that in March we formally began an exciting journey towards AACSB accreditation by becoming a member institution and have continued to work diligently on that goal over the last several months.

We are located in Killeen, TX, a city of about 120,000 (not including the 50,000+ on Fort Hood, which is the largest Army installation in the world).  Killeen is about an hour north of Austin, and just a few miles west of the I-35 corridor, which is one of the fastest trans-metropolitan regions in North America.  Killeen is part of an MSA of over 400 thousand, which grew an astonishing 30% between 2000 and 2010, and has been virtually recession-proof.  New investment and construction has continued unabated at a breakneck pace since 2009, and the State of Texas currently operates with a large budget surplus.  A&M-Central Texas also has the most diverse student body in Texas, and Killeen is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the state (owing a lot to Fort Hood).  

Furthermore, the cost of living can't be beat: the median home value in this ZIP code is around $125,000, and the cost-of-living index is only 87 (100 is average).

Our student body is non-traditional, with an average age of about 33 years, but that has been trending downward.  We have a lot of active duty and veteran military personnel, but a growing proportion of civilians.  Most of our classes are offered in the afternoon and evening, but we are moving toward more traditional morning/day classes.  In addition, because of our strong ties to serving military personnel around the world, we also offer many courses online (40%).  This is an important element of our university mission, and is not driven solely by cost considerations.  

We have excellent online course technology, technical support, and a course development support staff to help those with little or no online teaching experience get up to speed.  Depending on preferences, most full-time faculty teach anywhere from 25%-50% of their courses online. 

Faculty members would first and foremost be expected to provide excellent instruction, but a significant part of faculty evaluation includes university and professional service and scholarship.  The research and publication expectations here are modest and commensurate with our teaching mission.  There is ample flexibility and funding support to engage in scholarly activities, and many of our faculty members do it very well.  Our current faculty members have published in noteworthy journals and have served on several major editorial boards.  We are looking for people who can and want to do research, but who are equally concerned with quality teaching and having an impact on students and in the community.  Our primary concern is that you care deeply about what you write about and are bringing that excitement and knowledge into the classroom.  

Teaching at a young, growing institution is a lot of work, but it's also a unique opportunity to have the flexibility to do scholarship and service that "counts" in many different ways, and to be able to put your fingerprint on an institution that is changing lives daily, and hopefully for many years to come.  

Successful candidates must be able to demonstrate the capability to teach at a high level in both face to face and online course formats, which assumes strong technological skills and hopefully experience using learning management systems like Blackboard. This will be a tenure track appointment at the rank of either Assistant or Associate Professor and pay commensurate with one’s experience and the norms of similarly situated institutions.

Lucas Loafman who is the Chair of the A&M-Central Texas Management & Marketing Department, and a longtime ALSB member, will be in Seattle Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to speak with interested applicants. 

If you have any questions or are interested in discussing this with him in Seattle, he may be reached at

To apply visit the TAMUCT jobs site (posting to appear soon):


Babson College has an opening for a tenure track Assistant or Associate Professor of Business Law.  Would you please notify the list serve?  Carolyn Hotchkiss and I will be attending the Seattle Conference and can informally chat to anyone interested about life at Babson College.  Formal interviews will take place this Fall. 

Here is the link:

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July 25, 2014
On Being Associate Dean
Posted by Gordon Smith

For the past five years, I have served as Associate Dean of Faculty and Curriculum at the BYU Law School. Dean Jim Rasband announced today that I would be stepping down from that position to resume the life of a regular law professor. Surprisingly, reading that announcement was bittersweet for me.

No law school professor I know aspires to be an associate dean. Over the past few years, whenever I would see Bob Rasmussen, Dean of USC's Law School, he would say, "You have the worst job in legal education." A few years ago Peter Joy, then Vice Dean of Washington University School of Law, distributed to his fellow associate deans a toy fire hydrant with the label "Associate Dean" on the side. You get the idea.

Despite the difficult job description, I have been blessed to work with Dean Jim Rasband, one of the finest people I have ever known, and with Kif Augustine-Adams and Brett Scharffs, who took turns serving as the other associate dean. Working closely with these people has been a life-changing experience for me in every good way that you can imagine.

This has also been a time of great change at BYU Law School. If you are not familiar with BYU Law School, I hope you will look more closely at what we are creating. I am confident that my colleagues, including my successor in the deanery, RonNell Andersen Jones, will continue to move this institution forward, even during this time of great challenges for law schools.

With my release, I will have time to prepare for my new course (with Justice Tom Lee and Stephen Mouritsen) on Law and Corpus Linguistics, finish a few law review articles, catch up on my email inbox, and do some more law blogging. But the best news from a professional standpoint is that I will be on leave during the winter semester. I am planning to workshop a few papers relating to fiduciary law and law and entrepreneurship, and, though my schedule is filling quickly, if you have any openings in your workshop series, I would welcome the invitation.

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June 06, 2014
Is a High Grading Curve Really News?
Posted by Christine Hurt

Yesterday, ATL posted about an email attachment gone awry at a top law school so that the names/grades/ranks of students with judicial clerkships was sent to something close to the whole world by now.  (i'm pretty sure you can find it if you want to see it, so I don't feel the need to link.)  That unfortunate event seems newsworthy, though not unprecedented.  And, I do feel for the students, who have to endure the unwanted (for some) publicity.  I would think, however, that a simple post would be the beginning and end of the story, but that would mean the story would disappear after one news cycle:  Law school official makes mistake; law school apologizes.

But, ATL "mines the data" and appears shocked to find out that a 3.40 gpa puts a student in the 50% percentile.  Um, yes.  That means that the schools has a 3.4 mean, I'm guessing.  Not exactly a conspiracy here.  Here at the Glom, we've talked about grading curves before.  (here and here).    In the comments to an ATL editor's FB post, I argued that a high grading curve was not nefarious, but the response to my defense was that it certainly wasn't transparent.  I understand that "transparency" is the buzzword of the day among the scambloggers, and I'm all for transparency, but I'm not sure who the curve is supposed to be transparent to.  I guarantee you the students at the school know what the curve is.

But there seemed to be some concern that schools didn't post grading curves onto the website.  There's a great deal of difference between something being hidden and something not being on the website.  The grading policy at Illinois is on the intranet in a policy handbook, accessible by the law school community.  Just because something technologically could be on the external website doesn't mean it has to be.  Is this something prospective students should know?  I can't even imagine that students would compare schools based on the mean gpa.  (At school X, I would have a 3.4 instead of a 3.2 at school Y if I were in the 50% percentile!)  Prospective students might want to know if they were accepting a scholarship with some sort of continuing gpa requirement, but surely they could ask about that also.  Employers benefit the most from knowing what the curve is at a school if they are not savvy enough to ask about class rank.  Yes, there may be some sense that by raising your mean gpa, a school is giving an advantage to its students over others for those smaller employers who look at bare gpa's without asking about rank.  Among nontransparent behavior, this seems rather mild to me and something that I thought was common knowledge among legal educators and most legal employers.

I guess I'm getting a little prickly, but I'm a little tired of the blogosphere reporting on regular law school activities as if they were scandals.  (Professor A has detailed class rules!  Professor B re-used an exam question every student had access to!  Law School X is closing the library for a few days due to HVAC problems!)  So, my apologies to those who prefer to be more easily offended.

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May 29, 2014
Harvard Grads as Bubble Predictors
Posted by Erik Gerding

Here is an old saw: the best way to predict bubbles is to look at the industry to which Harvard MBA grads are flocking.  I used this as a laugh line when I spoke to David’s students at Wharton in October.  Now Matt O’Brien at the Washington Post Wonkblog extends the analysis to Crimson undergrads.

O’Brien’s article is the latest salvo in the analysis of what makes “Organization Kids” flock to finance.   Kevin Roose’s Young Money made a splash when it was published earlier this year.  Academics looking to understand students should consider delving into what makes students who enter finance and law with more than a dismissive lament of “kids these days.”  Indeed, the modern university seems designed specifically to create organization kids.  Think of how the bizarre gatekeeping rituals of college admissions filter down to create an achievement junky culture that begins in middle school if not earlier.  Students and parents seek to anticipate the divinations of middle aged oracles who themselves attempt to divine meaning from personal statements and lists of extracurriculars.

The Harvard MBA Indicator is a fun parlor game.  But it also suggests that in trying to understand deep questions such as why bubbles begin and how financial institutions operate, we might look at a broader set of disciplines than just economics.   Some very interesting legal scholarship on bubbles, financial markets (think Stuart Banner’s history) and financial institutions (Annelise Rile’s sociological studies of Japanese firms) serves as examples of the possibilities.  If academics lament their students being organization kids, they should have a little self-awareness and step outside their own institutional comfort zone.

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April 04, 2014
FOMO: Just Say No
Posted by Usha Rodrigues

Haskell Murray and Anne Tucker recently blogged quite engagingly about their Fear of Missing Out (FOMO).  They made me feel old--not only because of these newfangled acronyms, but also because I remember feeling that way myself.  I found particularly brave their articulation of the suspicion that they weren't "good enough" and had somehow lucked into the job.  I remember feeling that way, too, and I have a sneaking suspicion that there are 2 kinds of junior faculty members: 1) those who think they're not really as smart as everyone else, and 2) those who really aren't as smart as everyone else.  "Arrogance" is just a few letters away from "ignorance." 

But I digress.  I remember feeling this way, and I had a mentor give me excellent advice my first year:

Just say no. 

At least, your default answer should be "no."  To my chagrin, I realized something at the end of my first year of teaching: This job has infinite demands. There are 3 elements to it: teaching, scholarship, and service.  You could devote every waking moment to your teaching, and still have more you could do.  Ditto for service.  Ditto to the nth degree for scholarship: always another talk you could attend, an article you could read.  But you can't do those things and write.  At least, I can't.  You have to get used to always feeling like there's more you can do.  You'll feel guilt, but you have to make your peace with it.

I set boundaries for myself, like trying not to travel more than once a month while classes are in session.  But the best piece of advice I got was that your default answer should be "no."

P.S. Haskell, I'd love for people to think that I'm some kind of superwoman, but that was my schedule for a brief period of my life.  Baby #3 started sleeping through the night at about 6 months.  Hallelujah!

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April 01, 2014
University of Chicago Announces New Curriculum Changes
Posted by Christine Hurt

Looking to the future of legal education and the legal services industry, the University of Chicago announced today a radical new curriculum that respond to claims that law school is too expensive, too long, and irrelevant to the delivery of legal services.  These changes will go into effect beginning with the incoming class of 2014-15.

A new orientation day will replace earlier attempts at "welcome to law school" programs.  New legal careers will begin on Day One.  On this day, students will be given a type of aptitude test that will tell students in which broad legal field they may thrive in and in which they are most likely to find satisfaction.  The results of these tests are confidential and not mandatory, students will be able to choose the next day which field of study they will enter; however, this choice is irreversible.  

Chicago has announced five fields of legal study, which will be organized into "factions":  Abnegation, which will focus on public interest work and "street law;" Amity, which will focus on dispute resolution; Erudite, which will focus on the most cerebral of legal work, corporate, securities and tax law; Candor, which will focus on governmental agency work; and Dauntless, which will focus on litigation.  Each field of study will require different lengths of training.  Dauntless training will be completed in three months by zip-lining from the Sears Tower through downtown Chicago.  Erudite training will take six years and take place exclusively indoors.

However, should a student drop out or be counseled out of training, the student will be "factionless," or in other words be unable to sit for the bar unless a law school beyond the fence is willing to retrain the student. 

The law school acknowledges that some educators (and parents) believe that some students may have skills or talents that could serve them well in different factions; however, this gifted "divergent" student is more myth than reality, according to experts.

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March 05, 2014
The Bright Side of Law School-Funded Jobs
Posted by Christine Hurt

Gary Rosin has a post at Faculty Lounge with interesting statistics about law school-funded jobs to new graduates.  Of course, the reason that we care is because of the rankings.  Law schools report their employment statistics and put these jobs in the "Bar Admission Required, Full-Time, Long-Term" category according to the post.  So, if you back out these jobs, then the numbers are different for about 14% of law schools.  The differences range from 1 percentage point to 20, with a median of about 2.65 percentage points.

I agree that students would be much better off if these law school-funded jobs were reported in a separate category, and that in general, if all employement statistics were reported at a much more granular level.

However, the tone of much of the discourse about law school-funded jobs is that students would be better off if there were no law school-funded jobs.  And there I feel I must disagree.  Disclosure:  Illinois is above the median on that list.

Shenanigans designed to merely move schools up or down in the rankings generally have no positive non-ranking effects.  However, law school-funded jobs have substantial non-ranking effects.  First, a law graduate without a job now has a job, with a salary, where there was none before.  Second, the best designed law school-funded jobs convert to employer-funded jobs.  For example, a law school may ask a firm, public interest organization, or corporation to take a chance on a law graduate with a promise of salary support for a certain period of time.  At the end of that period, if all goes well, then the employer will put the law grad on the payroll.  And, next year, that same organization may be more inclined to hire a new law grad on their own.  As long as this arrangement is disclosed, it seems similar to a summer internship for credit or a graduate school post-doc.

Of course, critics will point to two things, even if disclosed.  The first is just a variation on the scamblog meme:  See, you guys can't get your graduates jobs, so you have to offer them this second-rate "opportunity."  They went to law school because you said they would get real jobs.  OK, awesome.  It would be great if every graduate had an employment offer at graduation, but when it happens that they don't, isn't this a better solution than nothing?  Second, one argument would be that the law school is funding all of this with tuition dollars, so students are subsidizing these arrangements.  Yes, students tuition pays for many things, including facilities, utilities, salaries, programs, speaker series, colloquia, clinics, and scholarships.  Some students pay more than others, and some students get "costlier" education.  So yes, students without scholarships subsidize students with scholarships.  Students that don't take colloquia or clinics subsidize those that do.  At some schools, students not on journals may subsidize students on journals that are not self-supporting.  In undergraduate colleges, students in cheaper majors may subsidize students in more expensive majors.

Anyway, if I were a prospective students, as long as these arrangements were transparently disclosed and all other employment statistics were similar to peers, I would see them as a signal that the school supported its students and thought about problems in a creative way.

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March 03, 2014
Business Law Jobs In Georgia, Louisiana, And Indiana
Posted by David Zaring

Over at the business prof blog, Haskell Murray has taken up the mantle of relaying job announcements for law professors in business schools, and he does a nice assessment of the three most recent opportunities to come over the transom.  Well worth a look, if you're looking for a job.

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February 13, 2014
Matt Bodie on the Sales Model of Legal Scholarship
Posted by Christine Hurt

Matt follows up on his posts about funding legal scholarship with a post on professor-produced publications that are sold, with the profits going (mainly) to the publisher and (in smaller quantities) to the professor-author.  Some of the questions that emanate from this model are (1) why law schools/universities don't require these works to be "work for hire" with the profits going to the law school; (2) why professors engage in this type of time-intensive writing; and (3) [my question] wouldn't a direct-to-student model be better?

Work for hire.  In my second year of teaching legal writing, my co-author and I sold a programming for teaching the Bluebook to Lexis.  I remember a tenured colleague sneering at me that the profits should go to the university.  Well, the university never called, and I never called them.  I'm now at a university that has seen faculty create some extraordinarily lucrative products without much, if any, remuneration.  I just don't think that universities are great about tech transfer or commercializing professor works, even when the profits are worth the hassle.  Some universities are better about creating structures for professors and their universities to share in profits of lucrative discoveries.  Books may just fall into a category of "not worth it on average."  If the average book royalties professors received were halved with their institution, professors may not produce them.  Because these books create some marketing/branding/prestige for their institutions, universities may be happy to let publishers pay the university employees for their production.

Incentives.  Going to the first point, the incentives are fairly "on the line" for many professor publications.  Casebook profits vary widely depending on whether its suited for a course that is widely taught and widely taken or for a niche course.  I'm sure monographs also vary widely between "purchased by a few libraries but given as complimentary copies" and trade publications that end up on the best seller list, with most toward the former.  I've heard proflific monograph authors tell me that they aren't looking for profitable sales; they just want the book on law professor shelves.  And, once upon a time, university tenure standards required books to be a full professor because that's what people write in other disciplines.  

The direct-to-student model for casebooks.  I've been thinking about this since I discovered how much a new edition of the Torts book I use cost (gasp).  So, currently, I can use my work time to write a casebook that is then sold to law students, including mine, who pay $200/ea, and I get $20/ea.  For doing my job.  (I know, others deviate from this model, including paying their own students back their royalties .)  But why not just self-publish?  I spend my summer coming up with my own materials (as many do for their own courses anyway) and make them free for my students online?  All the cases are available on the internet, and so are all the statutes/Restatement sections/etc.  The only thing missing is the commentary and the questions (which I usually skip).  This could save students $1000/semester.  I'm teaching a course for the first time this semester, BA II, and I put together my own materials -- cases, law review articles, public disclosure documents.  It takes a lot of time, but it's not crazy.  What about first-time professors?  Well, I would be happy to share my materials.  In fact, all the Torts professors here could combine forces.  Just a thought.

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February 12, 2014
In Defense of Class Rules
Posted by Christine Hurt

I was pointed to an article on ATL last weekend, and you can tell from the name of the post the substance of it:  A Law Professor's Detailed, Ridiculous, Condescending "Local Rules" for Class.  The author, Joe Patrice, has posted the course description/syllabus from a professor at Santa Clara who teaches legal analysis, research and writing.  The professor, Ray Bernstein, has designed his syllabus to read like "local rules" for his class.  He has identified writing issues that students have, like not Bluebooking, having typos, not analyzing professor feedback via Word "Track Changes" but merely clicking "accept all" to the mark up, lateness, and more.  For each of these areas of concern, the professor has created a consequence, generally having work handed back, or reduction in grade.  Apparently this is just too crazy for words.

A few rants:

1.  I taught LRW for 5 years, 4 as a director.  Many professors run their LRW classes in this way (no, not at NYU where Joe went -- maybe he had that slacker David Zaring for a professor or used a silly textbook written by me).  The idea, which doesn't seem that hard to grasp, is that students need to learn that many courts have picayune rules with draconian consequences.  I don't, however, think Prof. Bernstein's rules or consequences are unreasonable at all.  I have seen syllabi where lateness equals a zero.  Moreover, go read some local rules.  The Delaware Chancery Court even has supplemental guidelines to the rules.  Importantly, many law students have not done a lot of writing in their educational career, and most have not butted up against actual real-world rules.  I think Prof. Bernstein is doing them a service.

2.  Joe believes that students don't need this transition, this law practice boot camp.  He thinks that students can pivot between the laissez-faire world of law school and the crazy, rule-infested world of law practice without condescending professors pointing out that "the practice of law is hard."  OK, maybe.  Professionalism is rarely innate.  Some students have acquired this skill by the time they get to law school and may be able to turn it on and off depending on the arena.  I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on how widespread this is.

3.  It seems like ATL and other blogs like to rant about law schools not teaching practical courses, not preparing law students for law practice, and generally just taking in tuition and offering not much in return.  Here is a professor who is trying to provide a service and run his class like a courtroom, and we will mock him for that?  I won't.  My former Dean Nancy Rapoport doesn't seem inclined to do so, either.

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February 11, 2014
Matt Bodie on the Economic Costs and Benefits of Legal Scholarship
Posted by Christine Hurt

About four years ago, my then 10-year old daughter said to me, "Wouldn't it be great if all the really smart people who lived before could talk to the really smart people now?"  I tried not to jump up and down, but instead said calmly, "That's what we call the academic record.  That's why really smart people write their ideas and discoveries down, so future smart people can build on their work."

Matt's blog post this week on Funding Legal Scholarship doesn't focus on this aspect, so I'll take up the torch for awhile.  Matt gives us the breakdown of how scholarship is funded (salaries and summer grants to professors; law schools may fund law reviews, which defray costs by selling subscriptions; law schools and law firms purchase direct/indirect subscriptions) and then the speculation on how much an article is worth to the professor (incentive summer grants, raises, lateral moves) and to the institution (prestige).  (The creation of really pricey practitioner treatises, pricey textbooks and not-so-pricey monographs was not mentioned.) But this closed system cannot be the reason that scholarship is produced.  If so, then there is no "there" there.

In other units on this campus (and I assume yours), research is expensive.  Labs, graduate assistants, materials, animals, human subjects.  But the end result is for the public good.  Research conducted by universities creates medicine, fills in gaps in the historical record (where were dinosaur ears?), explains human and animal behavior and development, makes hardier crops, etc.  Every week I get a campus newspaper with exciting discoveries (i.e., research).  In other units, prize-winning novels, plays, music performances.  This type of scholarship has great value to science, to knowledge, to art.

Legal scholarship has to have a value beyond the value to the creators, professors and their institutions.  Our scholarship should strive to add to scholarly knowledge and directly or (mostly) indirectly move the law.  Or at least explain it better so that others can understand it.  With the decades-recent push to have more scholarship produced by professors at every institution (even traditional "teaching" institutions), we may have a glut of articles that were created not because the author had a lot to say or a passion to say it, but because that was the expectation.  

The take-away from Matt's post (and the comments) seems to be that scholarship is a luxury good that not all law schools can afford in the near future.  I don't disagree with that.  A few weeks ago something was circulating on FB that said that professors tend to send their own kids to liberal arts colleges, where the professors aren't focused on their own research and teach undergraduates.  I look forward to market differentiation.  But, high-level, quality legal scholarship is necessary so that really smart people today can continue to talk to the really smart people who haven't been born yet.

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February 07, 2014
Matt Bodie on Faculty Compensation
Posted by Christine Hurt

Over at Prawfs, Matt Bodie has a provocative post on faculty compensation.  I'm not sure I have a lot to add, but that has never stopped me before.

Apropos of many current compensation discussions (faculty buy-outs, faculty reductions, faculty salary cuts), Matt throws out an example of what an alternative compensation regime might look like.  The general theme of these discussions are that many tenured faculty are overpaid compared to their contributions, but tenure insulates them from either being fired or having their salary cut substantially.  Because law schools are losing revenues, they must cut their fixed costs; salaries are the big ticket item.  Matt's thought experiment goes something like this:  If a professor's salary is X, cut it to .6X.  Then give professors the opportunity to be granted up to .3X in discretionary amounts, maybe .1X for scholarship; .1X for service; .1X for teaching.  The comments hit on a lot of points, including the benefits of public disclosure of salaries, and here are mine.

1.     My salary is public, as are all UI salaries.  I don't know if the public nature of salaries adds much to the debate, but it does provide us with data, which is helpful.

2.    In law firms, (and I would guess in other businesses), a very easy metric has emerged for differentiating the contributions of lawyers:  billable hours and the collectibles they represent.  Associates may be paid lock-step, but their billable hours (or collectibles) may be used to award bonuses or at least remembered for purposes of partnership.  Bringing in business is also easy to quantify:  how many billable hours did you provide to the firm, in the form of your billables or other lawyers.  How many lawyers do you keep busy?  Partners' compensation varies widely and is hashed out by the whole or by a committee, with partners being awarded "shares" in the profits based on billables/collectibles/business brought in that keeps others busy.  All dollars earned for the firm are equal.  Now, there may be cases where particular partners get/retain shares based on intangibles (being President of the local bar association, which takes a lot of time, etc.), but I would guess that hard numbers are used more often than qualitative measures. 

3.    This model is hard to map on to academia (or any business model).  We don't have an easy metric like dollars.  Yes, some people bring in grant money, but in most law schools that is not widespread enough to design a compensation scheme around.  So, we would have to resort to "measuring" service, scholarship and teaching.  This will be fairly discretionary -- how do my Y number of articles compare to your Y-1 peer reviewed articles or your Y-2 articles plus monograph?  Or my Y+2 articles last year and zero this year?  Or my teaching evaluations in this class compared to yours in your other class?  Or the fact that I chaired a committee, but the Dean didn't appoint you head of any committees?

4.    Raises at many law schools are to be doled out according to Matt's metric.  Say the pool would be $3000 if applied evenly.  I would guess that most faculty are put into batches, with the variance being the lowest being $1000 and the highest being $4000.  Maybe one faculty member would get lower than $1k (if any).  There just isn't that much variance.  ( I have personal knowledge of the variance at one institution being $500).  Mostly because we don't like to distinguish on squishy factors (which is why we grade students mostly A's and B's and don't use the entire grading range) and because the amount is so small.  So, in a law firm, compensation can range from the 100Ks to the millions with many, many gradations.  But in a law school, the differences between the highest and lowest paid tenured professor is not that wide (100k?).

5.    But the regime that Matt throws out would make the gap a little wider by lowering the "guaranteed" portion of the salary.  While a merit raise scheme assures your current salary will not decrease, here a large portion would be up for grabs.  I just have doubts that your peers would be that calculating.  Would anyone really get .6X?  I would predict that if the ceiling is .9X, then most faculty would end up with .8X, .85X or .9X.  As, Bs and Cs.

6.    Incentives.  Would those who expect to always be .8X take a buyout?  Because you would want the .8X people to do so, not the .9X folks.

7.    Incentives 2.  How would professors adjust the way they do service, teaching, and scholarship?  As some of the comments suggested, you would spread out your scholarship.  You wouldn't publish a lot one year and not so much the next.  (This could be fixed by being adjudged according to a 3 year-window or something.)  Also, you might not be innovative in your teaching.  Students don't reward innovative teaching, even when it is good for them -- they tend not to give good evaluations when their are written assignments or midterms in doctrinal classes.  Innovative teaching also takes time to work out the kinks, so even if the students were eventually on board, the first couple of times would have a lot of bugs, which would show up on the evaluations.  I would personally bring a lot of food and show a lot of movies.  We just don't have a great way of evaluating teaching.  We could base this component on how many courses/hours you teach or how many students, or have that be part of it.  But then professors who teach small enrollment classes (Corporate Tax, for instance) would lose out, even though the courses aren't hobbyhorse classes.  Professors may be more inclined to take on service opportunities, but the institution would have to define "service."

8.    Morale.  At least one commenter pointed to studies that showed that salary differentiation led to bad morale.  I can definitely see that.  In a law school, the decisions would be made by a dean or probably a committee, all of whom are faculty who will be subject to the same differentiation norms that they set.  So it will be in the interest of the committee members not to make the range .6X to .9X with a flat distribution.  In corporations (and law firms), those who set salary generally don't go back in the ranks to be adjudged by those that they just assessed.

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January 20, 2014
Moneyball versus Fighting Implicit Bias: Two Views on Tenure and Evaluating Scholarship
Posted by Erik Gerding

Last week witnessed two very different views of how faculties can and should evaluate junior scholars for hiring and tenure.  Compare this academic study (with the catchy title Moneyball for Academics ) with KerryAnn O’Meara’s essay in Slate  on countering implicit bias in tenure reviews. 

Both works leave a lot of questions unanswered.  Even if the Moneyball approach one day delivers on its promise – to use network analysis of citations to predict the success of junior academics – it would also prove less than satisfying.  Scholars who start out at citation hubs and collaborate with other scholars at those hubs – may be more likely to be cited going forward.  But does that make their work more valuable?  If financial markets are marked by fads, fashions, herding, and information cascades, the “market for ideas” (whatever that means) is even more susceptible to these dynamics.  At least financial markets have arbitrageurs.  (If only Socrates was able to ride out his short sale of Athenian democracy a little bit longer.)

The Slate article lies at the opposite end of the spectrum of Moneyball.  O’Meara is critical of excessive reliance of quantitative factors –including citation counts – in evaluating scholarship.  She argues that, to address problems of implicit bias, faculties should take a broader view of what constitutes scholarly contributions than traditional measures, including the use of external  reviewers.  But what does that look like in practice?  If there is an inescapable level of subjectivity to any evaluation of scholarship, what standards should apply? 

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