Those seeking to become law professors (particularly those heading to the AALS Recruitment Conference this weekend) will benefit from a recent paper by Tracey George (Vanderbilt) and Albert Yoon (Toronto). In The Labor Market for New Law Professors, George and Yoon assess the market from an empirical perspective and carefully consider an array of variables. While the paper assesses data from a single academic year (2007-08)--and important market changes in law faculty hiring may be underway this year--as well as survey data, it is easily the most comprehensive and current data-driven assessment of law faculty hiring. The abstract follows.
"Law school professors control the production of lawyers and influence the evolution of law. Understanding who is hired as a tenure-track law professor is of clear importance to debates about the state of legal education in the United States. But while opinions abound on the law school hiring process, little is empirically known about what explains success in the market for law professors. Using a unique and extensive data set of survey responses from candidates in the 2007-2008 legal academic labor market, we examine the factors that influence which candidates are interviewed and ultimately hired by law schools. We find that law schools appear open to non-traditional candidates in the early phases of the hiring process but when it comes to the ultimate decision — hiring — they focus on candidates who look like current law professors."