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June 14, 2012

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Howard Wasserman

The trickle-up and trickle-down of this could be interesting for those of us at lower-ranked schools. Enrollment was down nationally this year, especially among top LSAT performers, so many higher-ranked schools went deeper into the pool, with the expected ripple effect. But that effect could be countered if many higher-ranked schools reduce class size.

CBR

I agree with Howard, and I also think that students' price sensitivity (or, in some cases, lack thereof) is an interesting confounding variable on the trickle down/trickle up effect. Right now the rankings largely reflect resources, and students have historically been much more rankings sensitive than price sensitive--but I think that is changing; at least this cycle, applicants seem to be much less willing to take on huge debt burdens (the "Campos effect"?). I've written before that I think the rankings will change dramatically with greater price sensitivity (http://www.legalethicsforum.com/blog/2012/02/after-the-student-loan-arms-race-the-disruption-of-hierarchy.html ).

FIU is one of the schools I would think would skyrocket in the rankings as students start comparison shopping (good programs, good location, universally strong faculty, and significantly underpriced relative to competitors, at least for in-state students).

prospective faculty candidate

Are the declines in enrollment and the movement to teach more skills having an effect on faculty hiring? For instance, are schools changing the skills they're looking for in faculty candidates? Are schools going to be hiring this year?

CBR

My impression is that there will be fewer hires overall (Brian Leiter made the same point here: http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/leiter/2012/05/a-prediction-about-the-law-teaching-job-market-for-2012-13.html ). I also wouldn't be surprised to see schools rely more on VAPs and adjuncts. (Everyone I've known over the last few years who has done a VAP has been able to move into a tenure-track job after the VAP was over--I wonder if this will become harder if we see more VAPs and fewer tenure-track lines?).

prospective faculty candidate

I was afraid the market would be very tough. Is there any sense that schools are changing what they're looking for? Are they looking for more experience? Are they changing their course offerings?

CBR

prospective faculty candidate, I'm only familiar with a limited number of schools, so I don't know how accurately my impressions reflect the overall market. But for what it's worth, I have seen some changes in course offerings, especially in terms of strengthening academic support and increasing the number and variety of skills classes that are offered. But for the most part, I've seen schools implement these changes by hiring people outside the tenure track; that is, hiring people with more professional experience but with no publication expectations. For the tenure-track positions, though, I really haven't seen any change (except, with the rise of VAPs, even higher expectations for teaching experience and publication quality). I'd be curious to hear what other people think, though.

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