Law Professor Hiring: Statistics on JD Placement

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42 Responses

  1. Great data & analysis, dan!

  2. One thing this data illustrates is that the very low numbers in the academy for JDs from most schools is at least party attributed to the fact that they aren’t applying.

    Given the percentages involved and the high price tag of the AALS process, the reverse is probably also true.

  3. anon says:

    As an aspiring prof, this data is very interesting and much appreciated.

    In addition to JD affiliation, another top factor in securing a tenure-track placement seems to be the quality and quantity of publications the would-be professor has amassed prior to entering the market. I’d be curious to hear any speculation – informed or otherwise – as to what percentage of applicants at the AALS have sufficiently developed their scholarship prior to going on the market, and how this data compares to the data presented by Dan above.

    In other words, of the 80 Georgetown grads to go on the market, how many of them could be said to have had a realistic chance of gaining employment in light of their publication history? Does that percentage differ from those applications hailing from Yale, Harvard, or, say, Fordham? Put differently, are the graduates of Yale and Harvard not only benefiting from the prestige of their degree, or do they also tend to be better prepared for success on the market?

  4. anon says:

    As an aspiring prof, this data is very interesting and much appreciated.

    In addition to JD affiliation, another top factor in securing a tenure-track placement seems to be the quality and quantity of publications the would-be professor has amassed prior to entering the market. I’d be curious to hear any speculation – informed or otherwise – as to what percentage of applicants at the AALS have sufficiently developed their scholarship prior to going on the market, and how this data compares to the data presented by Dan above.

    In other words, of the 80 Georgetown grads to go on the market, how many of them could be said to have had a realistic chance of gaining employment in light of their publication history? Does that percentage differ from those applications hailing from Yale, Harvard, or, say, Fordham? Put differently, are the graduates of Yale and Harvard not only benefiting from the prestige of their degree, or do they also tend to be better prepared for success on the market?

  5. This was info I really wanted to know going in. Looking back, I’m glad I didn’t know it!

    The next question – and one more difficult to determine, is whether there is some measurable/reproducible factor (e.g. lack of scholarship) that causes the 50%+ of even the top performing schools to not get hired.

  6. grammar nazi says:

    data are

  7. Michael and anon,

    In any given year, there are typically a very large number of applicants who are not very viable candidates given a lack of scholarship. I don’t have more information about the successful vs. unsuccessful candidates. My guess is that many of the unsuccessful candidates were weak on the scholarship front. So it would be interesting to find out how candidates with two or more substantial publications published in journals with reputations of above moderate quality would fare.

    I believe that the schools that have low success percentages have candidates that are not competitive on the scholarly front. Although the school a candidate graduated from plays a role, I believe (and hope) that the candidate’s scholarly record is the main criterion in the hiring decisions.

  8. grammar nazi — No, you’re wrong. Data can be both singular AND plural. If you’re going to be a grammar nazi, at least get your grammar right!

  9. Grammar mediator says:

    Whether data is singular or plural is a little in between Dan and the nazi. Here’s a standard usage note from an online dictionary. I wouldn’t do this in polite company, of course, but this is the Academy.

    —Usage note. Data is a plural of datum, which is originally a Latin noun meaning “something given.” Today, data is used in English both as a plural noun meaning “facts or pieces of information” (These data are described more fully elsewhere) and as a singular mass noun meaning “information”: Not much data is available on flood control in Brazil. It is almost always treated as a plural in scientific and academic writing. In other types of writing it is either singular or plural. The singular datum meaning “a piece of information” is now rare in all types of writing. In surveying and civil engineering, where datum has specialized senses, the plural form is datums.

  10. mediator,

    This is off topic, so I’ll claim the last word here, but it’s always been my personal preference to treat data as singular. Data and information are frequently used as synonyms, and it sounds quite odd to have one be singular and the other plural. In a paragraph where both are used synonymously, the change from plural to singular or vice versa can be a bit awkward: “The information in the chart is very interesting. The data are interesting because they reveal . . . ”

  11. Eric Goldman says:

    Dan, this is terrific work as usual. Note that some successful candidates may not have submitted an AALS form, such as really strong candidates who could apply directly to choice schools. These candidates may slightly boost certain schools’ percentages because the denominator of applicants doesn’t count those folks but they show in the numerator of successful hires. Eric.

  12. anon says:

    Thanks Dan. As an aspiring prof with 3 publications (albeit two of them probably failing your “journals with reputations of above moderate quality” standard), this gives me a little more hope about my prospects this fall.

  13. davidbernstein says:

    I’m pretty sure that Solum’s data, while useful is/are not complete.

  14. GW Grad says:

    This is depressing…

    Although perhaps there is some light out there for those of us with a publication or two.

  15. Norman Stein says:

    This is interesting, but I wonder how things would change if success were measured by receipt of an offer rather than acceptance of an offer. There are many people each year who receive an offer but for various reasons (e.g.,geography, status of school not meeting expectations, salary, etc.) do not accept offers made to them. (Similarly, there are people who court failure by geographically limiting their choices to a narrow geographic area.) I suspect, though, that if success were redefined to mean receipt of an offer, the order of the list would look pretty much the same, although I also suspect that the most elite schools would end up with higher success percentages.

  16. anon says:

    Do we have any idea how many hires Solum misses in a given year? I can count at least 3 hires this year who aren’t on the list yet.

    Also the 2008 market has not completely cleared yet. I know of at least one person who is still deciding where to go

  17. anon says:

    Daniel: can you provide a rough definition for journals with “reputations of above moderate quality”? Thanks very much.

  18. Penn '89 says:

    I am surprised at the low number of Penn grads (and Leiter’s comments singling out Penn citing this study). From my class at Penn (’89), I can think of at least 5 people who are currently law faculty members, there are probably others I haven’t heard about. I am not sure if Penn people are going some other route that is not counted here.

  19. andy says:

    Thanks for gathering this information. It would be helpful to further know how many of the successful applicants at each school in 2007-2008 were among the unsuccessful ones in 2006-2007 (or in another recent prior year). I know of numerous instances where candidates aren’t hired their first time out but are one to three years later. It could thus be, for example, that Yale in fact places well over 50% of its graduates who seek law professorships.

  20. Regarding my comment about scholarly publications of law professor candidates, I meant to say “two or more substantial publications published in journals with reputations of above [OR] moderate quality.”

  21. anon says:

    I find this bizarre. I’m not in academia, but am at a selective law firm, and I haven’t – in the slightest – found that attorney quality is higher among Harvard and Yale grads that other schools on the list, e.g., G-Town, Penn, Notre Dame. This is not reverse-snobbery, but you’ll just have to take my word for that. I will say, in particular, that the dumber people from Harvard and Yale tend to be among the dumbest people I’ve ever met. One would presume that the real dummies don’t survive this AALS process that is supposedly difficult, yet the market for jobs at a firm like mine is pretty tight too. In any event, why the bias towards these schools? Pure elitism? The selectors went to these schools, so they pick their own? These don’t strike me as particularly intellectual bases for choosing professors, but I’m just a dunderheaded appellate law practitioner at an elite big City firm (G-Town ’03), so what do I know.

  22. Future Prof says:

    Not to be anal, Dan, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts (or others) about what would be a journal with a reputation “of above or moderate quality”. First tier law reviews? Any primary journal or top 15 specialty journal?

  23. Anon says:

    This is a great service, Dan. This type of post helps illuminate a world that is often seemingly shrouded in mystery. Thanks for your exploration of this; I look forward to hearing more on this topic, including any answers to questions re number and quality of publications (notwithstanding the fact that any guage of quality is obviously only a proxy of sorts).

  24. Miriam Baer says:

    Solum’s data ordinarily would not include VAP, Legal Writing or Clinical positions. Many schools, however, interview for these jobs at the AALS conference (and many applicants are well aware of that fact and therefore fill out FAR forms). Accordingly, some law schools may have better success than the above list suggests.

  25. academic-anon says:

    Anon (G-town ’03): You’re right; there is a bias toward the elite schools in faculty hiring. Indeed, some schools will not (seriously) consider applicants who lack an elite pedigree, regardless of their publication record (although I’ve been told that this practice is slowly starting to change). As several bloggers have pointed out over the years, a substantial number of schools would prefer “to take a risk” on a Harvard-Yale-Chicago type with, for example, one so-so placed pub as opposed to a candidate from a lower-ranked school with a good article placement (or two). Also bear in mind that the elite schools send out resume books showcasing their alumni who are on the market to all law schools each recruiting season and host “Come meet our candidates on the market” receptions for appointments committees at the AALS recruitment conference.

  26. Future Prof,

    I’d say most primary journals in the US News Top 100 clearly qualify as moderate reputation or above. There are also some primary journals outside the US News Top 100 that are quite good as well, but outside the Top 100, it is more hit or miss. Secondary law reviews (topical ones) are more likely to be viewed as less strong in quality. Some are excellent and have stellar reputations, but there are some (even those at top schools) that are not so great.

    Journal placement becomes a rough proxy — if a candidate has a piece published in a well-regarded law review, that can help a lot at the initial stages. Later on, when the number of candidates a school is interested in pursuing is winnowed, the articles will get read, and even if they are well-placed, a poor article can spell doom for a candidate.

    The biggest function of journal placement is to act as a quick proxy for article quality at the early stage (there’s no way the hiring committee is going to read everybody’s articles at the initial screening stage when there are nearly 1000 applicants per year).

  27. bill says:

    @Penn ’89

    Defending Leiter, it’s worth noting that he didn’t “single” out Penn, he also pointed out Cornell. You could argue that he should also have pointed out Duke. All 3 of these schools are repeatedly “top 10″ law schools by the definition of those who worship USNews, but are nowhere near the top 10 by this metric of law prof placement.

  28. Nic says:

    I found the statistics very interesting and a little disheartening. I am headed to Cornell in the fall, and while I don’t plan on going into academia immediately upon graduation, I would eventually like to end up there. Is there any information on candidates who have established themselves in their field before they apply? Does the bias continue even for these candidates? I am open to suggestions, and publishing would help, but anything else?

  29. Nic says:

    I found the statistics very interesting and a little disheartening. I am headed to Cornell in the fall, and while I don’t plan on going into academia immediately upon graduation, I would eventually like to end up there. Is there any information on candidates who have established themselves in their field before they apply? Does the bias continue even for these candidates? I am open to suggestions, and publishing would help, but anything else?

  30. Nic says:

    (sorry for the double post, connection issues)

  31. anon says:

    Might a “progression” in publication quality as be indicative of a maturation of scholarly ability? To put it another way, if an early article is followed later by a better placed one, would that seem to “count” as 1 well-placed article, or 2 articles from someone who can place into quality journals?

    Very very interesting data.

  32. Penn '89 Again says:

    Re Bill’s comment: “All 3 of these schools are repeatedly “top 10″ law schools by the definition of those who worship USNews, but are nowhere near the top 10 by this metric of law prof placement.”

    I count only 12 schools that have placed more than the 3 Penn did in 2006-8 according to the data above, and some of those have much larger class sizes than Penn. So this seems like it is pretty close to the top 10 to me, even though I suspect the data is missing some people.

  33. bill says:

    @Penn ’89

    I think Leiter was responding to the chart by success rate (percentage) not by absolute numbers of profs. That is the first chart, where Penn is in 19th place behind Washington & Lee in the rate of success of its applicants for law professorships.

  34. anonlawprof says:

    Nic, something to consider would be to “transfer up” if your 1L grades are decent.

  35. Anonymous says:

    The schools who place the most in academia are thus overrepresented amongst U.S. news voters. Thus, they are overranked in U.S. News.

  36. Heather Elliott says:

    As someone who used to be in a PHD program, then dropped out and went to law school to be a law professor, I have always been struck by the seemingly ad hoc way in which law grads go into teaching. It is my impression that most law schools, even extremely good ones, simply don’t train future academics. I wonder if the success rate of Yale and Harvard is due to a feeling among the tenured faculties at those institutions that they ARE training future academics — thus more mentoring, more encouragement to publish, etc.

  37. yet another anon says:

    1. If Solum’s data is incomplete (likely the case), aren’t these underestimates?

    2. Are the applicant numbers distinct? Or is it the same dozen or so getting rejected from Yale every year?

    3. Seems strange to me that it’s more important to have an above-average placement rather than an above-average article. Are articles ever read during the AALS process, or is quality irrelevant?

  38. bb says:

    I’m sorry if I’ve missed someone else making this point, but these success rate figures should be calculated as a factor of the number of the school’s graduates applying, and Leiter’s figures regarding their percentage within the class. If I’m doing this right, this would place Yale, with 45 successful candidates out of a yearly class size of about 180, even further ahead of the pack, and UPenn and Georgetown actually doing quite well, before Texas and right after Northwestern, and place Columbia where it should be, at about number 5, and NYU in the top 10.

  39. Brian says:

    I think that the new numbers posted by Solum here most recently

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/entry_level_hiring_report/index.html

    change the percentages quite a bit, specifically for Stanford (who had 4 more hires reported) and Yale (which had 5 more).

    Perhaps you can update the percentages with these new numbers to reflect the most recent information?

  40. Brian says:

    You might want to consider updating these percentages given the new numbers that have come out from Solumn’s blog

    http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/entry_level_hiring_report/index.html

    I think that these new figures will change the percentages quite significantly, specifically for Stanford (who had 4 hires reported since then) and Yale (which had 5 more hires)

  41. Kerry says:

    Do you know what the overall hit rate for the AALS process was?

    Number of hires/Total number of applicants

    It would be interesting to see how the various schools outperformed the average hire rate for all applicants.

  42. Greetings:

    I would greatly appreciate it if someone could let me know where I can find published (and reliable) data on the average number of years a newly-hired law professor (at the assistant or associate professor level) remains at the initial law school that hires him (i.e. s/he decides to give up teaching at law school or the school asks the individual to move on).

    Of course, the burn out rate of public school teachers is available and high.

    Thank you,

    Ethan S. Burger