Law Schools Behaving Badly?
posted by Dave Hoffman
Last year, the AALS distributed a survey designed to gather data on alleged high pressure faculty recruitment practices. In the wake of that survey, a special committee of the AALS issued a R&R on faculty recruitment good practices, with two major goals:
1. Discourage offers of employment expiring before the faculty recruiting conference. In the survey, 10.4% of respondents said they had received an offer that expired before the FRC. The committee felt, according to their memorandum, that while there might be circumstances justifying early hiring, it was not appropriate to deprive candidates of the opportunity to participate in the joys of the FRC process. (Particularly, though they don’t say so, the elevator waits).
2. Discourage exploding (short deadline) employment offers. The majority of respondents reported they were given more than two weeks to respond (42.4% 2-4 weeks; 15.2% more than 4 weeks) but a minority were given significantly less time (15.1% one week; 12.1% 3 days to 1 week; and 3% two days or less!) The committee proposed (although the AALS has not yet adopted, so far as I can tell) that schools give candidates “at least two weeks to consider an offer of employment . . .”
Some interesting issues here. First, I teld to agree that it is wrong for schools to attempt to “grab” candidates from the market in an attempt to reduce the likelihood that they will receive and take offers elsewhere. This behavior reduces the ability of less savvy candidates (already limited) to learn about and bargain for wages and benefits. It also will result in unhappy fits between schools and candidates. On the other hand, savvy candidates with active mentors or internet connections can get a relatively good sense of the opportunity costs of taking an early offer.
Quite obviously, the AALS is responding to an unraveling market problem. To the extent, however, that we can pretty easily predict that the AALS’ exhortations will fail to control schools’ desire for competitive advantage, is a match system for law faculty a possibility?
Second, I thought I’d enlist our readers in a collaborative project. If you know of schools in this year’s cycle that have made early, or exploding, offers, tell us about it in the comments. Alternatively, if you are the FR chair at your school, and are making such offers, explain why you are doing so and how much time you are giving. (Anonymous comments on both sides are welcome).