March 30, 2005
Google AdSense Thinks This is a Site for Hunters
Google AdSense thinks this site is relevant to hunters. This is due to my prior post on the Wisconsin legislature’s efforts to regulate Internet hunting. I used the phrase "hunt," "hunting" or hunter 12 times in that post. As a result, today my blog displays the following ads:
Utah Pheasant Hunting
Premium guided bird hunts on 3000 acres of private Utah farmland
Saskatchewan Deer Hunt
Great Hunt, I can't go, take my spot in 2005 get your 180
A Bird Dog's Dream Hunt
Guided hunts on private ND acres Limit out on pheasants, grouse
Colorado Elk Hunting
Primitive Wilderness Elk Hunting Since 1982, Guided and drop camps
Needless to say, Google has mischaracterized this site and its likely audience!
March 29, 2005
Moral Hazard and the Initial Public Offering
My colleague Christine Hurt wrote a paper, the Moral Hazard and the Initial Public Offering, which is now available on Westlaw at 26 cdzlr 711. You can also download an earlier version from SSRN. Christine takes a critical look at the IPO process and persuasively argues that IPOs are a sophisticated pump ‘n’ dump scheme designed to accrue value to the investment banks and institutional buyers at the expense of buyers in the open market. For anyone involved in the IPO process (or just curious), I highly commend the article.
March 25, 2005
Live-Shot.com and the Wisconsin Legislative Response
A few weeks ago I blogged about Live-shot.com, a Texas-based website that is planning to allow a person to operate a real 30.06 gun on a platform to “hunt” animals. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the operator of Live-shot.com claims that "hunting on the Web is for people with disabilities who can't get out in the woods or for those who aren't able to participate in hunts, such as soldiers serving overseas."
A Wisconsin legislator, Rep. Scott Gunderson, also heard about Live-shot.com. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quotes him as saying: “When you talk to regular hunters, they say this is just wrong…It's about being out in the woods, being one-on-one in nature with the animals.”
Rep. Gunderson has introduced a bill (AB 179) that says "No person may shoot or shoot at a farm−raised deer [or captive wild animal] while hunting unless the person is in physical possession of the weapon." The Wisconsin Assembly Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on this bill next Wednesday. Note that this flurry of activity has been initiated by a single website, not in Wisconsin, that has yet to conduct its first web “hunt.”
Unquestionably, hunting is a Big Deal here in Wisconsin. During deer-hunting season, little towns in deer-hunting areas swell from wide spots in the road to 10,000 person boomtowns. On the Interstate freeways running through town, it’s almost impossible during deer season to drive without seeing a deer carcass strapped to a vehicle. So it’s not surprising that local politicians are desperate to grandstand for the hunting voters.
However, the Wisconsin legislature spent a lot of time over the last 2 years debating the definition of “marriage,” and now it will spend time debating the definition of “hunting.” From my perspective, the Wisconsin legislature seems to have too much discretionary time. Perhaps they might choose to allocate that time trying to define things like “balanced budget” or “no new tax increases.” I’m going to go out on a limb and venture that even Wisconsin hunters would be more impressed by that.
UPDATE: Channel 3000's report with photos, video and poll
Update on SSRN Download Counts
A few days ago, I called on SSRN to clean up their download counting procedures. In response, I had an email exchange with Gregg Gordon of SSRN, who emailed me the following (reposted with his permission):
“Thank you for the email and including our lists on your blog. SSRN takes the validity of our download counts very seriously and has developed capabilities similar to those you mention. We have spent significant sums of money on sophisticated systems to identify both repetitive downloading by individuals and potentially fraudulent download patterns over time. I am not at liberty to say exactly what we do because it would limit the effectiveness of our efforts. However I can tell you that we actively investigate suspicious download patterns. We also continue to improve our systems and our ability to identify suspicious downloads.”
Today, SSRN sent another mass-email announcing their new top author and top school rankings tools. Following on the theme of Gregg’s email, the mass-email contains some saber-rattling, saying (among other things):
“SSRN does not look kindly on attempts to game the system. We have sophisticated software in place to detect it and we have removed illegitimate downloads in the past where warranted and will do so in the future. Those found abusing the system may be asked to leave.”
Gregg has promised me more details about their efforts—at minimum, a forthcoming FAQ will discuss this. I’m interested to see the specifics. If they can produce reliable download counts, I think the SSRN rankings have the potential to become a major metric for academic performance.
March 23, 2005
SSRN and Download Statistics
Brian Leiter reports on some new SSRN download statistics ranking schools and authors (SSRN login required). One of the best aspects of SSRN is that we, as authors, can get some real-time statistics on readership. Historically, we had no real idea if anyone was reading our articles; we might get occasional oral or email comments, or we could check citation counts months or years after the fact. Now, a simple check of SSRN tells us how many times our papers have been downloaded, giving an instant ego stroke. The statistics also permit a new type of benchmarking among professors and schools.
However, there’s a big problem with SSRN’s download counts—as far as I can tell, SSRN does absolutely zero to validate their accuracy. Specifically, I believe that SSRN counts each time a paper is downloaded, even if the same person downloads the article multiple times. More problematically, an author could boost their own download counts simply by repeatedly downloading their own papers. (While it would take a lot of fuss to break into the top ranks, self-downloading could easily pull an author out of the big pack of authors with relatively low download counts.) I’ve heard whispers of other gaming strategies, but I don’t know if they are true.
Producing accurate download counts is not a new issue. For example, at Epinions, we used to pay authors based on download counts. Therefore, to maintain system integrity, our software excluded author visits from download counts and counted repeat visits from other person only after a certain period of time (like 1 month). Couldn’t SSRN do the same?
Whatever the case, until SSRN fixes how it counts downloads, its statistics lack reliability. I call on SSRN to take some steps to shore up its download counts—and to publicly announce those steps so we know how downloads are counted and can rely upon them accordingly.
Sheppard Mullin Settles Overbilling Suit
Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton bills the city of South Gate $1M+ for criminal defense of a city official, and the firm helps procure a defense verdict. Then, the judge says the bill should have been $150,000, calling the firm’s bill “excessive and unreasonable … transcending beyond the stratosphere into deep outer space.” Sheppard Mullin settles the fee dispute with the city for $2M.
March 22, 2005
Law Review Article Length Policies
Jim Gibson compiled the stated page length preferences of various law reviews (reposted with his permission—thanks Jim!):
· California Law Review -- is rethinking length policy; seems to prefer 40-70 pages
· Columbia Law Review -- will not review articles over 37,000 words as measured by Word barring exceptional circumstances; prefers under 32,000 words
· Cornell Law Review -- strongly prefers under 30,000 words
· Duke Law Journal -- no policy given but did sign joint statement
· Florida Law Review -- prefers 40-70 pages (20,000 to 35,000 words)
· Georgetown Law Journal -- strongly prefers under 35,000 words (70 pages); will consider over 35,000 only in extraordinary circumstances
· Harvard Law Review -- prefers under 25,000 words (50 pages); will not publish over 35,000 words (70-75 pages) except in extraordinary circumstances
· Michigan Law Review -- prefers 50 to 70 pages; if piece exceeds 70, a mention in your cover letter explaining why might prove helpful
· New York University Law Review -- prefers 40-70 pages (20,000 to 35,000 words)
· Stanford Law Review -- prefers under 30,000 words
· Texas Law Review -- no cap on length; signed joint statement to remove perception that it prefers long articles
· University of Pennsylvania Law Review -- strongly prefers under 35,000 words but will publish over 35,000 if length is merited
· Virginia Law Review -- strongly prefers under 20,000 words; will publish over 30,000 words only under exceptional circumstances
· Yale Law Journal -- encourages less than 30,000 words (60 pages) and strongly discourages more than 35,000 words (70 pages)
He also lamented that the journals changed their rules mid-stream with surprisingly little warning. I sympathize. For authors who were working on the old rules (like Jim), this rule change had to be brutal.
Personally, I “blame” this quick rule change on the rapid adoption of ExpressO. With the ease of sending articles via ExpressO, there is really zero cost to authors to send everything they write to the top journals. As a result, I have to assume that the volume (both number of articles and total pages) received by these journals looked like it was going to grow exponentially. Pushing down page lengths was a quick defense mechanism against the spamability of ExpressO.
March 21, 2005
Durrani's Second Article on Law Teaching Careers
Anayat Durrani has posted the second of her two articles on law teaching careers. This article focuses on attorneys who seek law teaching careers after some significant practice experience, quoting (among others) Michael Madison, Gordon Smith and me. You can see my entire series on this topic here.
March 18, 2005
Silly story about SaveToby.com. The author claims that he will eat Toby, a little bunny, unless people chip in $50,000 by June 30, 2005. This threat isn’t all that weird, and it’s not even all that original. What's weird that some people are upset about this—why? Because the author is going to eat rabbit? Because he has identified a specific rabbit he wants to eat and that he has a name for it? Because he wants to be paid not to eat the named rabbit? (This is just the Coase Theorem in action—we can pay him to not engage in actions that create negative utility for us).
The “joke,” of course, is that people eat rabbits and other livestock every day. Most of the time, the meat is delivered in plastic-wrapped packages or doused in some sauce—in each case, as anonymized and depersonalized food, not as the remains of an animal with a name and cute picture on the website. So any meat-eater who is upset by SaveToby.com should consider exactly how these situations are different.
Meanwhile, I’m making a promise/threat of my own. Pay me $50,000 or I will go to McDonald’s and order a Big Mac made from Bessie.
Thanks to Steve Middlebrook for the reference.
Spring Break Plan
Marquette is on Spring Break. Spring Break usually means one of two things to a law professor. For some law professors, it is a welcome chance to escape to better climates (for those of us in Milwaukee, a welcome respite from a snowy and cloudy March). For other law professors, it is a chance to power through some work without interruption. Sadly, I fall in the latter camp—this is a big opportunity for me to make substantial progress on a paper that has not gotten all of the attention that it deserves.
March 17, 2005
Experienced Lawyers and Law Teaching Careers--PART IV
This is the last of a four part series on experienced lawyers seeking law teaching careers, which in turn extended a five part series about law teaching careers generally. You can see the entire series (and a few other posts) here.
4) Is adjunct a barrier to teaching at the school where you are an adjunct but a good thing to teach elsewhere?
I am not aware of any empirical studies on this, but I would assume that there are relatively few recent instances where an existing adjunct converted that position into a full-time tenure-track position at that school. The reason why is that most hiring schools conduct a nationwide search for the best candidates, often through the AALS hiring process. It’s fairly serendipitous if an existing adjunct emerges as the best candidate through that search, especially when the school wants to hire only in a certain substantive area. It can and does happen, but I suspect that it’s fairly infrequent.
However, I don’t think that being an adjunct is a “barrier” to being hired by that school. If anything, being an adjunct can be a plus; an adjunct can build personal relationships and institutional goodwill that will help their candidacy. However, schools generally will hire the best candidate, and in that sense, adjuncts often don’t have any material advantage over other candidates.
March 16, 2005
Experienced Lawyers and Law Teaching Careers--PART III
This is the third of a four part series on experienced lawyers who want to become full time law professors, with a specific focus on adjunct teaching. You can read the prior series (and the preceding five-part series) here.
3) What is required when a practitioner wants to teach as an adjunct?
Each school handles adjunct hiring differently. I got my first two gigs as an adjunct by sending to the local law schools, unsolicited, a course proposal, syllabus and resume. Schools also advertise for adjunct positions (although those advertisements may run very late in the school’s decision-making process), and the academic dean and professors teaching in a particular area may also recommend adjunct candidates for particular needs. A lawyer determined to get an adjunct position is probably best served by networking with the academic dean or professors at the target school.
March 15, 2005
Hurt on Law Teaching Careers and Years of Practice
This week I’ve been blogging about experienced lawyers seeking a law teaching job. In response, Christine Hurt posted on an important related topic. She writes: “conventional wisdom tells would-be applicants that practicing too long can hurt you in the law teaching pool.” (She cites the number as 5 years of practice). She offers a possible rationale and some suggestions to candidates to address it.
Like Christine (and another colleague I discussed this with), I have definitely heard this conventional wisdom before. In fact, several of my advisors mentioned this specifically in connection with my candidacy. I was applying with 8 years of practice experience, and several advisors mentioned that schools liked candidates with 3-7 years of experience (I got different guidance than Christine did). Several advisors warned me that some schools might look at my experience with suspicion and that my window of opportunity was closing rapidly.
I chose not to initially address this conventional wisdom because I can’t substantiate it. I don’t know if appointments committees act on the conventional wisdom (implicitly or explicitly) and, if so, how often. In particular, I’ve never seen any empirical stats on this (unlike the stats on JD credentials). Therefore, it’s possible that this conventional wisdom is outdated or was never true, or is true right now—I just don’t know.
Thanks to Christine for tackling a tough topic rarely discussed in public.
Dzienkowski on Law Professor Ethics When Circulating Articles
John Dzienkowski made a provocative post about law professor ethics when circulating articles to law reviews. This topic came up at a conference I attended last summer, and I was surprised how few professors wanted to have an open discussion on this topic. A 1992 Marquette Law Review article proposed a model code of ethics for law review editors and authors (roughly modeled on the Model Rules of Professional Conduct), but this article doesn’t seem to be widely known or followed.
Because this topic is so rarely addressed in public, new law professors receive relatively little training about how to circulate articles. This can lead to a “race to the bottom” to the extent that new professors are socialized to make misrepresentations to win the “game.” Even without that socialization, new law professors are generally expected to figure out the rules for themselves, meaning that each of us establishes our boundaries idiosyncratically.
Meanwhile, as S.cotus observes in a comment, law review editors do play games. Clearly this creates an unhealthy dynamic. I would love to see a revitalized code of ethics to set baseline behavior for both sides.
Olympics of Cheese
Milwaukee hosts the “Olympics of Cheese.” The article includes a procedure for cheese tasting: “Chew the cheese, allow it to cover the tongue for a few seconds, spit it out - and then smell the aroma.”
Experienced Lawyers and Law Teaching Careers--PART II
This is the second of a four part series about experienced lawyers seeking a law teaching career. This series is a follow-on series to my previous five part series about law teaching generally. You can find the previous posts here.
2) Should a person consider adjunct teaching as a bridge? Please explain.
Adjunct teaching is a great experience, and I recommend it enthusiastically. However, as a bridge towards getting a full-time tenure-track job, I don’t think it’s heavily weighted in the hiring process. A candidate is principally evaluated on his or her academic pedigree, other prestigious accomplishments and track record of publishing law review articles; prior experience as an adjunct is an insignificant factor compared to those criteria.
Nevertheless, experience as an adjunct might help the candidate at the margins. It might convince schools that the candidate is serious about making the career switch, or it can provide evidence that the candidate can actually teach (through good teaching evaluations). It also helps the candidate answer the inevitable interview questions like “What’s your teaching style?,” “How would you choose a casebook?,” “How would you teach X course?” or “How do you write exams and grade them?” Depending on the school, adjunct experience can also act as an additional prestige credential; for example, an adjunct stint at Boalt added some panache to my resume.
Nothing comes free, however, and the question is whether a stint as an adjunct is cost/benefit justified. My two-unit Cyberlaw course routinely consumed 200 hours per year, and I could have redirected those hours to writing one or more law review articles. I strongly suspect that writing articles would have been a better investment of time to prepare for a law teaching candidacy. Having said that, personally I would not do anything differently; being an adjunct was one of the best professional experiences of my life.
Slinky 60th year anniversary
Don Fernandez of Cox News writes an article on Slinky’s 60th year anniversary. For enthusiasts like me, there’s not much new in the article (the article seems to rely heavily on a press release from the manufacturer), but it is still a nice summary of the topic. However, I absolutely hated the analogy between Paris Hilton and the slinky (saying we like both because they are “brainless things that move funny”)—this person clearly doesn’t understand slinkies and exudes disdain towards slinkies.
I have written a lot about slinkies. The principal highlights:
· my 1,600 word comprehensive review of slinkies
· why slinkies are good office toys
· a review of the Super Slinky
· a review of the Slinky Extreme
(Thanks to my student Matt Holemon for the link).
March 14, 2005
Experienced Lawyers and Law Teaching Careers--PART I
This is the first of a four part series on experienced lawyers and law teaching careers, prompted by my email interview with Anayat Durrani for a LawCrossing.com article. This four part series follows on my earlier five part series about law teaching careers generally.
1) Is it possible for someone to transition to teaching after years practice? Is it hard/not hard? (from your own experience)
Let me focus on full-time tenure-track positions. For experienced lawyers, it can be hard to start their career over in an entry level position. In my case, I had been general counsel of an Internet company, in charge of the company’s legal affairs and a member of the company’s executive management team. I left that to become an assistant professor, the junior guy on the totem pole, with no credit for my past experience. This meant that I had to learn the ropes, build new skills, build my reputation within the school, and stress about tenure.
Most experienced lawyers also will see a major decrease in their income. However, experienced lawyers may have been able to pay off school loans and put away some savings, which makes a law professor’s salary more manageable.
However, an experienced lawyer has certain advantages. Experienced lawyers may have accomplished their professional goals as a lawyer, giving them a sense of “closure.” Experienced lawyers can bring their practice experiences and “war stories” into the classroom, which students often find very valuable. Finally, experienced lawyers may have some assets that will contribute towards succeed as a professor, such as time management skills, networking skills, a rolodex of contacts and experience writing and speaking.
Continued Blawgswarm on Law Teaching Careers
Anayat Durrani released her article on law teaching careers at LawCrossing.com, quoting (among others) Solum, Wendel and myself. Her email interview with me for this story prompted my five-part series on law teaching careers from a couple of weeks ago, which in turn contributed to a blawgswarm on the topic. The latest set of entries come from Orin Kerr and Randy Barnett at Volokh Conspiracy. Their posts bristle with wisdom, insight and pragmatism. I especially agree with Orin that persistence and dedication have a high probability of being rewarded—there are obstacles at every corner, yet many candidates can overcome them with commitment and realistic expectations.
At the risk of continuing the blawgswarm, Anayat did email me more questions for Part 2 of her story, due next week, and as a result, I’ll post a four part series this week. This series focuses on what she calls “less traditional” candidates, but I think mostly it refers to experienced lawyers who decide mid-career to seek a professor position. She also asks some about the role of being an adjunct—something I have a lot to say about, given that I taught 8 courses as an adjunct over 7 years at 3 different law schools. My first post in the series is here.
March 11, 2005
Poor Diligencing of Defendants
Real estate closing costs are a tangled mess, so I’m generally happy to see some consumer protection litigation over them. One case involved a $60 “fax fee” charged by title companies. The lawyers try to form a class action against the title companies for charging these fees. Only problem? One of the plaintiff’s lawyers also owns a title company that’s named as a defendant. While that seems to violate a number of ethics rules, incredibly the judge doesn’t disqualify him from the lawsuit. Irrespective of the litigation conflicts, I wonder if the lawyer got appropriate waivers for doing business with his client (representing home buyer as attorney when home buyer chose the title company owned by the attorney).
March 10, 2005
More on Virtual Worlds Paper
Neal Stewart writes a lengthy and interesting critique of my draft paper on virtual worlds. Good reading for a discussion about the complex issues that need to be balanced when a private actor restricts speech.
Posted by Eric at 01:46 PM |
March 08, 2005
Follow-up on Law Teaching Careers and Credentials
Last week I wrote a series of postings about law teaching as a career. (You can find the series, and some other topics, here). This, along with an independent post by David Bernstein, led to a small blawgswarm on the topic, with Brian Leiter, Larry Solum, Christine Hurt and several students (including Law Dork) chiming in.
Mostly the students reacted negatively to the unanimous position of law professors that getting a JD from a school outside the top X (where X = 3, 5, 15 or 20, take your pick) will make the job search very hard. Unfortunately, there isn’t much to debate on this point. The statistical evidence compiled by Leiter and Solum makes a compelling case.
Despite this, I was sympathetic to the students’ frustration. The premium placed on JD credentialing is questionable. I’m not aware of any social science validating that a candidate’s alma mater is an accurate predictor of the candidate’s propensity to be a “good” law professor (whatever that means). Instead, the JD credential acts as a heuristic for other predictors, although I’m not sure it’s a particularly good heuristic. There’s a little bit of a network effect operating here—because everyone else uses JD credentialing to select candidates, everyone else has to use it to communicate the hiring school’s prestige and reputation, irrespective of the standard’s usefulness.
I was also sympathetic because I remember my own reactions when I was diligencing my chances of having a successful law teaching candidacy in Summer 2001. Some advisors were optimistic, but several advisors were less sanguine. One advisor told me that I shouldn’t be surprised if I had to go through the AALS process several times to get a job. Other advisors strongly recommended that I get additional credentialing, such as a fellowship, if I wanted to have a chance. Getting the negative feedback on my candidacy was brutal.
Also brutal was this partially-reconstructed interview with an advisor evaluating my candidacy:
Advisor: Where did you go to law school?
Advisor. Hmm. Were you Order of the Coif?
Advisor: Were you on Law Review?
Advisor: Good. What position did you hold?
Me: Just an editor.
Advisor: Did you do a clerkship?
This was a sobering interview. My decade-old choices were playing a large role in shaping my candidacy. But having seen the competition from the “other side,” I realize now that the bearish advice was entirely justifiable. Knowing what I know now, I would have given myself the same advice. For law students (or other potential law teaching candidates) frustrated with this advice, the question is—knowing the challenges, are you willing to overcome it?
A major accident occurs. People are injured. How does the government respond? Police squads arrive. Paramedics arrive. The State Bar arrives to discourage lawyers from chasing the ambulances. (Thanks to the Legal Ethics blog for the tip).
March 04, 2005
Hunting Technologies and Ethics
AP article on how states are regulating new hunting technologies. The lead item from the story: a website where hunters can control and fire a 30.06 by point-and-click. The article quotes Kirby Brown, executive director of the Texas Wildlife Association, a hunters' group as criticizing the website because "It's off the ethical charts."
From a vegetarian’s perspective, this attempt to fix a line between ethical and unethical hunting practices is very, very strange. Technology has already grossly distorted nature's balance between hunter and hunted, so how can we know when we've gone too far?
Law Teaching Careers--PART V
This is the fifth of a five part series on law teaching as a career, which was prompted by an email interview I had with a reporter. See Parts I, II, III and IV. Next week, I will discuss some of the emails I received in response to this series. I invite your comments on the series. Sorry that today's post is comparatively short and sweet, but this was the easiest question the reporter asked.
5) Are you happy you chose this career path?
Law professors say that we have the best job in the world and that we can't believe we get paid to do what we do. In my case, I spend my time doing, as my main job, what I chose to do as my hobbies when I was in practice. In other words, I now get paid a decent salary for doing the activities I used to do voluntarily for free with my discretionary time. It's hard to imagine a better job than that.
Lubet on Law School Exams
Professor Steven Lubet raises some provocative questions about law school exams. After recounting a story about how Chinese students chose to deal with a closed-book exam through brute force memorization (despite professor entreaties not to do so), Lubet asks the pointed question:
“So it is unsurprising that the Chinese students refused to embrace American law school exams. The real question is why American students put up with them.”
Student acquiescence doesn't make sense to me either, but this isn't a new complaint. We've heard grumbles about the deficiencies of law school evaluation methods many, many times before. However, we also know that every evaluation method is flawed at some level, and therefore choices between evaluation methods involve some tradeoffs. What's the solution? Lubet doesn't answer this question, and the lack of a perfect solution suggests that maybe the griping about exams is misplaced. As Lubet points out only in passing, grades on exams communicate surprisingly little useful information, yet we (mistakenly) treat them as scientific. Perhaps we would benefit by recalibrating our expectations about the communicative import of grades.
March 03, 2005
Computer Law Association Writing Competition
The Computer Law Association, in association with the Marquette Intellectual Property Law Review, is holding its annual writing competition to recognize papers on information technology law topics. Papers need to be sent by April 30, 2005 and received by May 10, 2005. You can find more information about the competition at http://www.cla.org/2005claitcomprules.pdf.
More on AnnualCreditReport.com
(Thanks to Politech for the reference).
Law Teaching Careers--PART IV
4) What should students do to prepare themselves for a career as a law professor?
Several law professors, including Brian Leiter (article and chart showing where law professors hired in 2000-2002 got their JDs), Brad Wendel and Larry Solum (chart showing where law professors hired in 2004 got their JDs and analysis over time of educational background of law professors), have answered this question in detail, especially with respect to the role the JD-granting institution plays in the outcome. (Yet more resources can be found on my page at http://eric_goldman.tripod.com/resources/becomingalawprofessor.htm). In many cases, a law student's choice of law schools may realistically prevent them from getting a law professor job. A student at a top 5 law school meets the initial criterion. A student at a top 20 law school can have a chance. A student at other law schools faces long odds. An LLM from a prestigious school might help overcome a JD from a less-regarded school; Brad Wendel addresses this issue specifically.
No matter where a student went to school, there are 2 things that will increase the odds of success.
First, add as many "prestigious" things as possible to your resume. This includes things like prestigious judicial clerkships (federal appeals court or federal district court), prestigious student activities and honors (like law review and Order of the Coif) and prestigious jobs with big brand-name law firms.
To understand the importance of prestige, consider how your application will be reviewed. In most cases, you will submit a resume through a centralized resume service that almost all the law schools use when they are hiring. Your resume will be shipped to the law school in a stack with hundreds of other resumes. How do you stand out in this crowd? The more prestige on your resume, the more likely that your resume will catch the eye of someone reading through this enormous stack. We might debate whether or not this system is fair or accurate, but for now this is the prevailing system. As such, you benefit by having as many impressive items on your resume as possible.
Second, publish law review articles. Publish while you are in school. Publish while you are in practice. Publish as often as you can while maintaining quality. If you love to write, publishing will be a natural step for you. If you don't love writing, this standard may remind you to consider if you're on the right path.
There are other possibly useful things a student might consider, such as getting a PhD in another discipline (many schools now look favorably on interdisciplinary candidates), adjunct teaching (if for no other reason than to confirm if you like teaching) and networking with well-known and well-connected law professors. While it's doubtful that any of these steps hurt, they are likely to help only at the margins.
Putting aside the issue of qualifications, I think the single best thing a student can do is to have realistic expectations. It is extremely rare for freshly-minted JDs to get a full-time tenure-track position. Frequently, there are a number of time-consuming prerequisites: a judicial clerkship, a few years of practice at a brand-name firm, publication of one or more law review articles following graduation. Therefore, a student who really wants to become a law professor may need to develop and implement a multi-year plan to get there.
I'll wrap up this series tomorrow.
March 02, 2005
Law Teaching Careers--PART III
3) Are the publish or perish pressures worse than in firms?
For full-time tenure-track positions, almost all schools expect professors to publish law review articles regularly. Therefore, these jobs are not a great choice for someone who thinks teaching is fun but writing articles is anathema. There are other law professor jobs where publishing is usually not expected, such as clinical or legal research and writing positions. Otherwise, in most cases, it truly is publish or perish.
Having said that, at many schools the publication requirements are not insurmountable. Often, the requirements can be as low as 2 or 3 substantial law review articles over 6 or 7 years. Of course, schools vary on this, and at some places, 2 or 3 articles are the stated minimum but the realistic minimum is higher. Furthermore, some schools have additional standards, like the prestige of the journals publishing the articles.
I don't want to trivialize the effort required to write a substantial law review article--it is hard, time-consuming and a labor of love. However, for people who like to write law review articles, the tenure standards are entirely achievable and, in fact, lower than many would choose to do as a matter of preference.
Therefore, I would suggest a different way of thinking about the "publish or perish" issue. If the candidate likes to write law review articles and can do so competently, they may never feel any pressure about perishing because they will have no problem meeting the requirements. If, however, the candidate feels pressured to write law review articles solely because of the fear that they will perish, a full-time tenure-track position may be a sub-optimal career choice.
More on this topic tomorrow.
March 01, 2005
Free Credit Reports
Today is the first day Midwesterners can get their free credit reports from https://www.annualcreditreport.com/. Generally, I think this is a terrific idea. Credit reports have a significant impact on us and it’s always fascinating to see what they remember. Credit reports never forget anything. Plus, I like getting the reports for free rather than paying the credit reporting agencies.
While the user experience generally worked OK, there were some irregularities:
· To get all three different credit reports, I had to fill in the exact same form three times.
· The site was a little buggy. For example, my first time through, it said that Trans Union was unavailable, but my second time through, it was available. After accessing a credit report, the “closing” screen was confusing.
· I thought it was ironic that the credit reporting agencies tried to get me to create an account with them, asking me for email addresses and other information that seems perfect to append to a credit report. As if they don’t have enough information already!
· All three agencies tried to upsell me on various credit-related services (Equifax, unsurprisingly, was the most aggressive). This is a great example something the industry fought hard (the obligation to provide free credit reports) will probably end up creating a new stream of profits for them.
· Perhaps my biggest beef is that both Trans Union and Experian asked me follow up questions to confirm my identity—but then let me guess multiple times to give the correct answer, rather than locking me out or at least asking a different question. I like the convenience of being able to access the reports from my desktop, but there is something a little unsettling about how much information an identity thief could get very quickly with persistence and some basic info (address, DOB and SSN).
Law Teaching Careers--PART II
This is the second of a five part series of posts about law teaching careers. See Part I. This series was instigated by an email interview I had on the subject. Today, I deal with the second of the reporter's five questions.
2) What kind of pay can a law professor expect, relative to private practice? (And versus other professors in other disciplines).
Law professor pay varies by school and type of position. For an entry-level tenure track position, the range between the highest-paying school and the lowest-paying school may be close to 100% (i.e., the top-paying schools will pay approximately 2X the lowest paying schools). Pay also varies by geography. Having said that, I think that all schools pay less for entry-level than the top law firms pay their first year associates. And, in many cases, new full-time tenure-track law professors have substantial experience before entering the teaching market. For example, in my case, I had 8 years' experience as a practicing attorney before taking a full-time job. My starting law professor salary in 2002 was about 40% of my 2000 salary as a 7th year associate at a law firm.
Also, pay raises for most professors are very low--often below the rate of inflation. As a result, many professors see their inflation-adjusted earnings decrease over time. If an entry-level professor thinks the initial starting salary is tough to live on, it may only get worse over the course of their career.
Nevertheless, law professors also usually get paid noticeably more than other academics. Further, while I could be earning more, I think many schools pay a salary that allows a comfortable (not lavish, not destitute) lifestyle. Though it’s easy for law professors to envy the pay of others (especially some of the students that we are teaching), the reality is that many law professors do OK financially.
More on this topic tomorrow.
UPDATE 2 (May 2007): I've posted new data and new comments here.
Generation Y Attorneys
Law.com article on Generation Y attorneys. It remains to be seen how strongly Gen Y attorneys affect large law firms. Based on my interactions with my Gen Y students, I do sense a small revolt against certain norms associated with BigLaw today—but it remains to be seen if enough Gen Y attorneys will take action to effectuate real change.
UPDATE: Are associates today "slackers"? Midlevel associates make their case why they are not. Says one: "Stick it."