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May 04, 2009


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The common wisdom is that trusts and estates is a low prestige subject. And while I don't know the answer to this question, do law schools feel a burning need to hire trusts and estates profs in the same way that they feel the need to hire for the high prestige subjects? I get the sense that law schools' hiring priorities are for the high prestige subjects and that the hiring needs for the low prestige subjects are subordinated. That is, law schools will often make do with existing faculty and thus press someone into service to teach one of these so-called low prestige subjects--even if they are learning it themselves as they go along. Is that right? If so, then why are law schools pushing women into teaching these subjects in disproportionate numbers?


Hi Aspiring--thanks for joining the conversation.

I suspect that hiring priorities are set in a lot of different ways, perhaps in some relation to the rank (or maybe self-image) of the school. The high end places see themselves (perhaps) as hiring more for intellectual area; the lower end places perhaps look more for subject area. I'm not sure about this--and maybe the "lower end" starts pretty close to the top. When I think about hiring, I'm certainly very interested in what a person will do for us in terms of teaching. That's by no means my only concern, but it is a big one.

However, I think there is a lot of attention to subject areas at many places (the AALS job announcements often make reference to subject matter, for instance). I would think that many--perhaps most--hiring committees look to match candidates expressed interest (and publications) up with the schools' teaching needs.

So I might phrase the question, why do women disproportionately choose t&e? And does that have something to do with the field being considered low prestige? I want to blog some more about this--because I think there's some really interesting stuff to talk about in terms of how the field defines itself and how students perceive it--as well as whether those perceptions meet up with the reality of practice.

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