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August 13, 2009

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Tim Zinnecker

Rob, thanks for the thoughtful remarks.

As of 10:25 local (Houston) time this morning, the AALS had yet to post the "first distribution." So the magical number remains a mystery. But the day is early!

One comment on your remarks: just because you may not "see" your CV at the conference doesn't necessarily mean that the recruiters have not reviewed it (or don't have a copy in their notebook). As chair, I have the task of assembling what goes into our notebooks. In addition to the FAR form, I include a CV, a research agenda (if provided), any interesting info on the candidate that I can find online (e.g., law firm bio, ssrn abstracts, blog postings, etc.), ten to twenty pages of selected scholarship (one or more committee members will read at least one piece, usually selected by the candidate, in its entirety prior to the conference), etc.

Robert Heverly

Tim, Thanks for that clarification; it could just be the experience I've had with committees, but it was clear that, for many of the schools I was seen by, the hiring committee had no knowledge of me beyond my FAR form (asking basic questions that were answered on the first page of the CV, for example). I would love to think the CV is relevant and used by the committees, as even though it is far from perfect, it much better represents "me" as a person.

A Critic

One major problems w/ the FAR form is that the category most of us think to be the most important of all, publications, appears way at the bottom. That category should be at the very top, perhaps right before or right after law school. Moreover, there is an inadequate amount of space for someone to list an extensive publication record. Yet another problem is the lack of space for comments. For someone advanced in their career, much more could be gleaned from those comments than from their law review background.

Anon

Ahhh to be Rob Heverly, lamenting the inability to jump out past the FAR form by hinting at your qualifications on a heavily read law faculty blog. I don't know how any law faculty member is going to know that you have a cited article published by Berkeley... or now, how will they ever figure out that if they want to know more about you they can just Google you...or perhaps talk to some of your supportive references and colleagues. I mean given that unhelpful FAR form I don't know how anyone will get to know your name, qualifications and scholarship. Perhaps you should just post your C.V. here and tell your story brotha, the rest of us wish we had your platform!

Marketeer

As a candidate, I think the bit on race/ethnicity should not be included. To steal one from the anticlassification/antisubordination debate, it seems the anticlassification grounds would prevail as there are not real antisubordination norms to dictate leaving the category in. Put another way, it does not seem various races are subordinated by the law school teaching hiring process, such that they represent an underclass of applicants. Law schools should be forced to make their decisions on the basis of merit, not characteristics that are arguably irrelevant.

Paul Horwitz

Perhaps one of your co-bloggers will address this, but sometimes directed mailings, aimed at schools or regions you particularly want to live in, can help. Not always! But I don't think they offend, and in some cases that may make a difference. They certainly give you a chance to include both a cover letter that tells some of your story and a research agenda, which shows that you have long-term potential.

Tim Zinnecker

I agree with Paul and have said so elsewhere. Those letters can indeed make a difference. Proofread and proofread them again, though!

Mark McKenna

637 in Distribution 1

Jacqueline Lipton

Wow - really, Mark? Only 637?? I was WAY off.
And to echo Tim's earlier sentiment, as hiring chair in previous years I have always included full CVs and writing samples (and often also transcripts of telephone conversations with referees) in the binders we take to DC when interviewing folks, so it's not just the FAR form.

anon #2

To help put this number (637) in perspective, does anyone know (roughly) how many FAR forms have been in the 1st distribution over the past couple years?

Ray Campbell

In 2006 it was 579 in the first distribution. In 2007 it was 621. Both numbers are from the AALS website.

They don't have numbers up for 2008.

Tim Zinnecker

A colleague who served on last year's committee tells me that the first distribution in 2008 included 592 forms. When you add in the numbers from the second, third, and fourth distributions, I seem to recall that the aggregate number of FAR forms for 2008 easily exceeded 850.

Robert Heverly

Thanks to everyone for contributing here, it's been a really interesting conversation. I agree with Paul and Tim that directed mailings are an important part of the strategy (but only where you have something to say, such as, "You need an intellectual property person and I'm an intellectual property person"). I would note, though, in addition, that it's important to supplement that with the assistance of references and colleagues following up with schools you are particularly interested in. My experience has been that without something extra (like a phone call from a reference to the hiring chair or someone on the committee they know personally), a letter or cv alone isn't likely to get you very far.

Good luck to everyone playing the game this year around!

AALS Candidate

FWIW, I agree with removing the category for Race.

Jacqueline Lipton

This is going to be a difficult question to ask because of anonymity concerns, but I'm interested in whether those people who would prefer to remove the categories for race and gender are in fact representatives of those groups who don't like the idea they may be given courtesy or "token" interviews, or if they are rather predominantly Caucasian males. I understand the sentiments that people are expressing about those categories - I'm just interested in who feels the most strongly about this issue.

AALS Candidate

JL, in response to your question, I'll just note I'm a person who is generally supportive of such policies (especially before and through college), but believes a line should be drawn at some point in life. Should race also count for a tenure review?

Jacqueline Lipton

Oh, that's very interesting - so you're basically raising a chronological argument ie at a certain point we should turn off the switch and you would draw the line at the hiring market? I'll have to think through that one. It's an argument I don't think I've heard before, but it does add an interesting new dimension to the problem - a temporal dimension. My worry is that in some contexts, it doesn't matter how senior you are, there still seem to be many subtle forms of discrimination in play, although I'll admit that I don't know if this kind of disclosure would help with that. Food for thought indeed.

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