Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

A Member of the Law Professor Blogs Network

Friday, November 21, 2014

More new lawyer jobs than grads in 2016?

Ted Seto (Loyola/LA) looks at the new BLS projections.

November 21, 2014 in Legal Profession, Student Advice | Permalink

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

What do you need to find out now that you've gotten a tenure-track offer?


With luck (and luck will help more than usual in what is a very tight year on the academic job market), some of you seeking law teaching jobs will get offers of tenure-track positions in the next couple of months.  What then?  Here's roughly what I tell my Texas and Chicago advisees they need to find out, and in the interest of having it written down in one place and for the benefit of others too, here it is (not in order of importance):

1.  You will want to get (in writing eventually) the basic salary information, obviously, and the nature of summer research support and the criteria for its award (is it automatic for junior faculty?  contingent on prior publication [if so, how much?]?  awarded competitively (if so, based on what criteria/process)?).   You should also find out how salary raises are determined.  Are they, for example, lock-step for junior faculty?  Fixed by union contract?  (Rutgers faculty, for example, are unionized, a huge advantage and why they are among the best-paid faculty, not just in law, in the country.)  Is it a 'merit' system, and if so is it decanal discretion or is their a faculty committee that reviews your teaching and work each year?

2.  You should ask for a copy of the school's tenure standards and get clear about the expectations and the timeline.  Does any work you have already published count towards meeting the tenure standard?

3.  What research leave policy, if any, does the school have?  A term off after every three full years of teaching is a very good leave policy; some schools have even better policies, most have less generous leave policies.  (If there is a norm, it is a term off after every six years.)  Many schools have a special leave policy for junior faculty, designed to give them some time off prior to the tenure decision.  Find out if the school has such a policy.

4.  One of the most important things to be clear about is not just your teaching load, but what courses you will be teaching precisely.  You should ask whether the school can guarantee a stable set of courses until after the tenure decision.  Preparing new courses is hugely time-consuming, and you also get better at teaching the course the more times you do it.  As a tenure-track faculty member, having a stable package of, say, three courses (plus a seminar) will make a huge difference in terms of your ability to conduct research and write.   In my experience, most schools will commit in writing to a set of courses for the tenure-track years (and do ask for this in writing), but some schools either won't or can't.   In my view, it's a good reason to prefer one school to another that one will give you the courses you want and promise them that they're yours, while another won't--a consideration that overrides lots of other factors, including salary. 

5.  You should ask for the school's materials on benefits:  retirement, life insurance, disability insurance, health insurance, and so on.  The biggest, and certainly the most easily discernible differences, are often in the retirement and life insurance categories (sometimes longterm disability insurance too, though unlike life insurance, you're hopefully less likely to utilize this!).  What is the university's contribution to retirement?  At the low end are schools contributing only 5-6% of your base salary to retirement; the more competitive schools will be in the 8% range, and some will be higher.  The big issue on life insurance concerns the amount you are guaranteed irrespective of your health history.  500-600K increasingly seem to be the norm.  And, of course, if your health is perfect, this doesn't matter, but I've worked with plenty of candidates where this was a serious issue.  (Life insurance companies have no incentives to insure faculty beyond the base amount they have to provide, so even health matters that strike you as trivial may disqualify you from more coverage.)  A final benefits issue concerns education/tuition benefits for children.  State schools don't offer these; the wealthier private schools do, and if you have kids or expect to have kids, this is worth looking into.  At the high end is Chicago, which pays up to 75% of Chicago tuition anywhere for each child.  Most of the wealthier private schools will pay 30-50% of the home school tuition for faculty children, wherever they go.  Some will offer a larger benefit if your kids go to that school.  But there are differences, and they don't track your ordinary expectations about prestige (e.g., last time I looked, the Wash U/St. Louis benefit was much better than the benefit at Penn or Cornell).  In any case, get the information.  But remember, university-wide benefits are rarely a subject for negotiation--the law school can't give you a higher benefit.  Of course, if you have a competitive offer, they may be able to compensate for a significant benefits differential.

6.  Finally, once you have an offer, this is a good time to raise issues about the employment prospects for a spouse or partner.  Sometimes you may just want help:  can the Dean help the significant other make relevant professional contacts in the area?  Sometimes you may be hoping for more:  e.g., a position in the law school, or in another university department, for the significant other.  It is certainly fair to explain the situation and ask.  Schools vary in their ability to response effectively to these situations, but many have formal universities policies pertaining at least to spouses who are academics.  Raise the issue, and see if the school can help.  But realize that the school made you the offer, and they may be able to hire you, and that's that.

The last point relates to a more general issue.  If you don't have other offers, you are not in a position to bargain.  Period.  You may certainly ask about things, raise concerns, etc.  But unless you're going to walk away from a tenure-track offer (not a wise thing to do in this market), don't make demands.  And even then, a collegial discussion about issues of concern is far better than demands.  Even if you have other offers, this advice applies:  proceed with caution and respect for the institution.  You can report that School Y is offering you a salary 20K higher, and ask whether the Dean of School X, to whom your talking, has any flexibility on this front.  But remember:  you may end up at School X (because of location, or colleagues in your field, or a better teaching load etc.) and living with that Dean and the other faculty for many years to come.  Don't poison the well by displaying a sense of entitlement and self-importance before you even get through the door.  Remember:  no matter how good you are, you're quite dispensable--in almost every instance, you need the job more than the school needs you.  Approach any 'bargaining' or discussion of the package in that spirit.  A good school has every reason to want you to succeed and to try to help fashion a package of professional duties and support in that spirit.  A good school doesn't need a prima donna.

I invite signed comments from faculty or deans on these issues.  A comment without a full name and e-mail address won't appear.  Post your comment only once; comments are moderated and may take awhile to appear.

Good luck to all job seekers!

November 19, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Lateral hires with tenure, 2014-15


These are appointments with tenure that will begin in 2015; I will move this to the front at various intervals during the year:

*Joshua Cohen (political philosophy) from Stanford University (where he teaches in Law, Philosophy & Political Science) to Apple University.

*Elizabeth Garrett (legislation, administrative law) from the University of Southern California to Cornell University (to become President).

*Gillian Lester (employment law) from the University of California, Berkeley to Columbia University (as Dean in January 2015).

*Andrei Marmor (legal philosophy) from the University of Southern California to Cornell University.

*Dylan Penningroth (legal history) from Northwestern University (History Dept.) and American Bar Foundation to the University of California, Berkeley.

*Eric Talley (corporate law, law & economics) from the University of California, Berkeley to Columbia University (in July 2015).

November 18, 2014 in Faculty News | Permalink

Monday, November 17, 2014

A sober and impartial analysis of the recent ranking of the "top 50" law faculties...

Friday, November 14, 2014

"The Paradoxes of Public Philosophy"

This is a lightly revised version of a paper I gave last week at a very enjoyable conference with philosophers and lawyers on "Philosophy in the Public Sphere" at the Jindal Global University in Sonipta, India, near Delhi; the abstract:

The idea of “public philosophy”—that is, philosophy as contributing to questions of moral and political urgency in the community in which it is located—is paradoxical for two reasons.   The first is that normative philosophy has no well-established substantive conclusions about the right and the good.  Thus, philosophers enter into moral and political debate purporting to offer some kind of expertise, but the expertise they offer can not consist in any credible claim to know what is good, right, valuable, or any other substantive normative proposition that might be decisive in practical affairs.  But philosophers—at least those in the broadly Socratic traditions--do bring to debate a method or way of thinking about contested normative questions:  they are good at parsing arguments, clarifying the concepts at play in a debate, teasing out the dialectical entailments of suppositions and claims, and so on:  Socratic philosophers are, in short, purveyors of what I call “discursive hygiene.”  This brings us to the second paradox:  although philosophers can contribute no substantive knowledge about the good and the right, they can contribute discursive hygiene.  But discursive hygiene plays almost no role in public life, and an only erratic, and highly contingent, role in how people form beliefs about matters of moral and political urgency.  I call attention to the role of two factors in moral judgment:  non-rational emotional responses and “Tribalism,” the tendency to favor members of one “tribe” at the expense of others.  The prevalence of emotional responses, especially tribalist ones, undermines the efficacy of discursive hygiene in public life.  
I conclude that the role for public philosophy is quite circumscribed, though public philosophers should learn from their cousins, the lawyers, who appreciate the role that rhetoric, beyond discursive hygiene, plays in changing moral attitudes and affecting action.  Along the way, I discuss Stevenson’s emotivism, what we can learn from Peter Singer’s schizophrenic role as a public philosopher (lauded for his defense of animal rights, pilloried for his defense of killing defective humans), evolutionary explanations of tribalism, the lessons of American Legal Realism for the possible relevance of discursive hygiene, and Marx and Nietzsche as "public" philosophers.

November 14, 2014 in Jurisprudence | Permalink

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Class of 2014 LSAT scores did not predict the drop in MBE scores

Derek Muller (Pepperdine) looks at the data.

November 12, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top 50 law faculties, 2014 edition

With 355 votes, we now know the truth; note that some ordinal gaps reflect very small vote differentials (e.g., Michigan and Penn, Cornell and UCLA), while others reflect larger ones (e.g., NYU and Berkeley, UCLA and Texas).  You can get a sense of the attempt at strategic voting by noting, especially further down the list, how many rated their school better than Yale.  2013 results are here.  Irvine has noticeably solidified its position in the interim.  U.S. News continues to influence evaluators, but results for Irvine, Florida State, Illinois and others show that its influence is more limited among readers of this blog.

1. Yale University  (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
2. Harvard University  loses to Yale University by 142–140
3. Stanford University  loses to Yale University by 237–47, loses to Harvard University by 225–62
4. University of Chicago  loses to Yale University by 238–46, loses to Stanford University by 165–109
5. Columbia University  loses to Yale University by 256–33, loses to University of Chicago by 166–108
6. New York University  loses to Yale University by 256–35, loses to Columbia University by 143–129
7. University of California, Berkeley  loses to Yale University by 270–18, loses to New York University by 213–61
8. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor  loses to Yale University by 274–21, loses to University of California, Berkeley by 170–95
9. University of Pennsylvania  loses to Yale University by 281–8, loses to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor by 133–128
10. University of Virginia  loses to Yale University by 280–8, loses to University of Pennsylvania by 148–99
11. Duke University  loses to Yale University by 280–9, loses to University of Virginia by 163–93
12. Georgetown University  loses to Yale University by 283–9, loses to Duke University by 146–113
13. Northwestern University  loses to Yale University by 281–10, loses to Georgetown University by 151–99
14. Cornell University  loses to Yale University by 283–8, loses to Northwestern University by 134–114
15. University of California, Los Angeles  loses to Yale University by 280–11, loses to Cornell University by 128–122
16. University of Texas, Austin  loses to Yale University by 287–2, loses to University of California, Los Angeles by 156–89
17. Vanderbilt University  loses to Yale University by 277–4, loses to University of Texas, Austin by 162–62
18. University of Southern California  loses to Yale University by 282–3, loses to Vanderbilt University by 117–98
19. University of California, Irvine  loses to Yale University by 278–8, loses to University of Southern California by 127–102
20. George Washington University  loses to Yale University by 280–5, loses to University of California, Irvine by 137–82
21. Washington University, St. Louis  loses to Yale University by 281–2, loses to George Washington University by 114–97
22. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  loses to Yale University by 279–3, loses to Washington University, St. Louis by 105–103
23. Boston University  loses to Yale University by 273–10, loses to University of Minnesota, Twin Cities by 110–102
24. Emory University  loses to Yale University by 277–3, loses to Boston University by 127–78
25. University of Notre Dame  loses to Yale University by 271–4, loses to Emory University by 116–80
26. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign  loses to Yale University by 276–3, loses to University of Notre Dame by 99–91
27. Fordham University  loses to Yale University by 278–4, loses to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign by 103–90
28. University of California, Davis  loses to Yale University by 271–5, loses to Fordham University by 108–91
29. Boston College  loses to Yale University by 274–6, loses to University of California, Davis by 102–87
30. University of Iowa  loses to Yale University by 276–6, loses to Boston College by 103–93
31. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  loses to Yale University by 275–2, loses to University of Iowa by 101–88
32. University of Wisconsin, Madison  loses to Yale University by 272–2, loses to University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill by 98–87
33. College of William & Mary  loses to Yale University by 268–2, loses to University of Wisconsin, Madison by 99–84
34. Indiana University, Bloomington  loses to Yale University by 273–3, loses to College of William & Mary by 94–81
35. Florida State University  loses to Yale University by 259–12, loses to Indiana University, Bloomington by 90–80
36. University of Alabama  loses to Yale University by 257–7, loses to Florida State University by 94–83
37. University of California, Hastings  loses to Yale University by 271–7, loses to University of Alabama by 92–87
38. University of Arizona  loses to Yale University by 267–4, loses to University of California, Hastings by 93–85
39. Ohio State University  loses to Yale University by 270–3, loses to University of Arizona by 94–81
40. Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University  loses to Yale University by 259–4, loses to Ohio State University by 85–77
41. University of San Diego  loses to Yale University by 266–3, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 81–71
42. University of Colorado, Boulder  loses to Yale University by 266–3, loses to University of San Diego by 83–78
43. Arizona State University  loses to Yale University by 263–6, loses to University of Colorado, Boulder by 79–78
44. Tied: George Mason University  loses to Yale University by 271–2, loses to Arizona State University by 87–82 University of Georgia  loses to Yale University by 264–3, loses to Arizona State University by 93–63
46. University of Washington, Seattle  loses to Yale University by 268–2, loses to George Mason University by 95–79
47. Washington & Lee University  loses to Yale University by 268–1, loses to University of Washington, Seattle by 82–71
48. American University  loses to Yale University by 264–7, loses to Washington & Lee University by 94–77

49. Tied: Brooklyn Law School  loses to Yale University by 260–5

University of Florida, Gainesville  loses to Yale University by 252–3, loses to Cardozo Law School/Yeshiva University by 71–70

November 11, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

Monday, November 10, 2014

Paul Campos admits he is a fraud

I'd forgotten he wrote this (perhaps the only honest thing he ever wrote), but a colleague recently called it to my attention.  It's surprising Colorado hasn't put him out to pasture given this confession (and the other evidence).

November 10, 2014 in Faculty News | Permalink

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Not much new until next week

I'm giving a keynote address at a conference in India; more next week.

November 6, 2014 | Permalink

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

50 best law school faculties, 2014 edition

Here's a list of 84 faculties that might have some claim on having one of the 50 strongest law faculties in terms of scholarly distinction (with apologies to any wrongly omitted).  Have fun!  Detailed ballott reporting will make attempts at strategic voting obvious, so don't!

ADDENDUM:  Remember, this is about the scholarly distinction of the faculties, if all you know is the U.S. News rank, don't complete the survey, or choose "no opinion" for those schools!  Note that Cardozo appears twice in the list--rank the Cardozo that appears first please (unfortunately, I can't fix it once the survey starts).

November 4, 2014 in Rankings | Permalink

Monday, November 3, 2014

Simkovic & McIntyre's "The Economic Value of a Law Degree"...

...appears in print in the Journal of Legal Studies.  Despite being derided and dismissed last year by intellectual heavyweights like Paul Campos, Matt Leichter, and Elie Mystal, it somehow survived peer review.  Imagine that.  (You can read Prof. Simkovic's response to some of the Dunning-Kruger Effect crowd here.)

November 3, 2014 in Guest Blogger: Michael Simkovic, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Student Advice | Permalink

Friday, October 31, 2014

More details on Thomas Jefferson's restructuring deal with bondholders

MBE posts largest drop in scores in its history

What explains it?  Too many ill-prepared students being admitted to law school?  If that was the case with the just-graduated class, then we would expect further drops to come.

October 31, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Thomas Jefferson Law School reaches restructuring agreement with majority of its bondholders

TJLS news release is here (via Blog Emperor Caron).

October 29, 2014 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Monday, October 27, 2014

Signs of the times at "the top 25": can we make you teach more without paying you more?

A law colleague at Washington University, St. Louis forwards the following "internal audit" memo sent to the faculty "as a sign of how things are changing even at higher-ranked law schools.  I am particularly concerned that the questionnaire is silent about scholarship even though it was sent to all tenured and tenure-track faculty.  Many of my colleagues are also referring to the questions as 'interrogatories.'"  The auditors' questionnaire: 




1. What is your understanding of your current and future required teaching load and what is the basis for this understanding?

2.  Do you plan to teach additional classes beyond your required teaching load in this academic year or in 2015-16 or 2016-17? 

  1. If yes, please describe the classes and the semester in which you are teaching or expect to teach these additional classes.


  1. If yes, please describe the compensation that you are receiving now or expect to receive for this additional teaching.

 3. Are you currently receiving or do you expect to receive additional pay from WULaw for any non-teaching activities?


  1. If yes, please briefly describe these activities.


  1. If yes, please describe the compensation you now receive and expect to receive in the future for these activities.

4.  Do you currently administer or have discretionary control over any WULaw funds, excluding faculty research accounts? 

  1. If yes, what funds do you administer or control?


  1. If yes, how much money is in the fund?


  1. If yes, what are the oversight protocols to assure the funds are spent appropriately?


 5.  Do you expect WULaw to hire adjuncts for specific programming purposes in this academic year or in 2015-16 or 2016-17? 


  1. If yes, whom do you expect WULaw to hire and why?


  1. If yes, what is the compensation that you expect the adjuncts to get paid in each year?


6.  What is your understanding of the annual amount of money deposited into your faculty research account?


7.  If you receive a summer stipend, what are you expectations as to the amount of that stipend?

October 27, 2014 in Faculty News, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

Sunday, October 26, 2014

8.1% drop in LSAT takers in September from last year

LSAC data here.   Since the trend appears to be for applicants to apply later in the cycle, the final decline for this year is likely to be less than 8% (in the last few years, the September/October drop was always greater than the final total decline).   But a continued decline of any kind means that law schools uncertain about whether to hire new faculty will likely err on the side of not hiring.

October 26, 2014 in Advice for Academic Job Seekers, Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A quiet week at the blog

I just finished the Fresco Lectures in Jurisprudence at the University of Genoa, and will be giving workshops at other schools in Italy the remainder of the week.  My co-blogger Dan Filler may have some items, and I might get one in from the road.  I'll be back on the blog next week for sure.

October 22, 2014 | Permalink