And Tennessee law professor Michael Higdon (pictured) recently posted an article on SSRN that merits the attention of faculty recruitment committees. The article is entitled "A Place in the Academy: Law Faculty Hiring and Socioeconomic Bias." From the abstract: "to the extent a law school values having a socioeconomically diverse faculty, hiring exclusively from elite law schools makes achieving that goal more unlikely. After all, numerous studies have revealed that those students who attend the elite law schools are overwhelming representative of the top level of the socioeconomic spectrum." The author's proposal? "I conclude the article by proposing that when a law school engages in faculty hiring, it treat academic pedigree as merely one factor in the hiring determination – not the sole determinant as it is commonly used today." The full abstract is here.
As I read the author's proposal, I thought: "Do faculty hiring committees use academic pedigree as the sole determinant?" Wow! Really? Call me naive, but I'm skeptical. Might faculty hiring committees "overweight" the importance of academic pedigree? I could agree with that statement. But I also wonder whether, in recent years, scholarship (whether "none vs. some," or placement) might be the dominant factor for many (most?) hiring committees. I'd be curious to know what others think (hiring chairs, committee members, faculty candidates).
The article offers some great food for thought. Download it and give it a read. We've got less than eight months to go until the AALS hosts its annual faculty recruiting party in DC (October 11-13). Those FAR Form distributions will be hitting your email box before we know it! (And, as in prior years, the Form probably will disclose a candidate's academic pedigree.)