March 17, 2009
Hiring at Public vs. Private Law Schools
Posted by Andrew Lund

The front page of today's Times has an article that discusses the troubles facing public schools with large ambitions given the current economic situation.  The article focuses on Arizona State but mentions layoffs and salary freezes at Florida, UNLV and Vermont.  Having been on Pace's appointments committee, I had also heard through the grapevine that some public law schools had frozen hiring this year.

Now that the first round of Larry Solum's hiring report is out, does the data show anything interesting (other than where all of those wonderful people we met have wound up)?  To slake my thirst for hiring gossip, I did some rough, back-of-the-envelope calculations to see.  First, some caveats: we're dealing with a small sample size and a few outliers can skew the results for the entire group; some schools may be on different schedules or may not have reported yet (indeed, Larry's 3/08 list included only about 58% of the hires that were included in the 6/08 list); these calculations don't take into account lateral hiring; and some schools who haven't reported hires may have nonetheless been in the market. 

With that said, the numbers seem remarkably constant from last year.  In Larry's 3/8/09 list, I count 67 schools reporting hires of 96 people.  Of the 67, 44 (66%) are private schools, while 23 (34%) are public schools.  Of the 96 hires, 60 (63%) were hired by private schools, while 36 (37%) were hired by public schools.  Interestingly, the 96 hires as of 3/8/09 is 1 more than the 95 hires that I counted in Larry's 3/19/08 list.  Those 95 hires (64% private vs. 36% public) came from only 57 schools (68% private vs. 32% public).  By the time of the June '09 list, I count 164 hires (64% private vs. 36% public) by 91 schools (64% private vs. 36% public).

Of course, we can't make too much of this info.  However, a brave (foolish?) person might conclude that, because there are fewer shoes to drop over the next few months (67 schools have already reported compared with only 57 last year), hiring might turn out to be down this year as expected.  On the other hand, it doesn't seem like public schools are behaving any differently than private schools this season.  Maybe the lines were already established?

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