Search the Lounge


« The Epistemology of Baseball (or, Joe Torre and an actuary walk into a bar...) | Main | FAR and Away (Again)! »

July 07, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


If I can be so presumptuous, may I add a thought/question. These questions essentially ask what to do when in the market - after contact, for the school, for the negotiation, etc - but how to "get in the market' is a consideration. I know -good publishing is essential, but what is the level of direct solicitation that is appropriate?

Tim Zinnecker

Jacqui, I'll offer some thoughts on #1 above -- the factors which a potential lateral candidate might consider. Some may be better described as "front-end factors" (factors that might dictate whether to pursue the initial inquiry), and others perhaps are more likely to arise during the courtship. These are in no particular order (and should not discourage Harvard, Yale, or other law schools from calling me!):

1) Will I receive a salary bump?

2) What will my cost of living be? (Not sure a $20,000 annual salary bump sells well, if I have to borrow an additional $150,000-$250,000 to afford the same house I currently own.)

3) What is the quality of the student body? Will the classroom dynamic remain the same? Or might I find the students more intellectually curious, possibly creating a more rewarding/fulfilling teaching experience?

4) Will I be the sole [UCC/tax/IP/etc.] person on the faculty? Or will I have some help in the area?

5) Is the faculty a collegial group? Or are there numerous factions, each with a different agenda (and long memories)?

6) What retirement benefits will I receive? (The difference between a 5% contribution and a 10% contribution over several years can be significant.)

7) Does the school have a part-time program? If so, will I be teaching two or more nights each week?

8) Am I moving closer to, or farther from, relatives?

9) If I do much traveling (e.g., conferences, visiting relatives, etc.), is the school close to a major airport served by several airlines?

10) Is the school located in a metropolitan area with outstanding medical care, great restaurants, major league sports teams and cultural attractions (e.g., opera, theater, symphony)?

11) Is the law school part of a university that offers opportunities for interdisciplinary activities?

12) Does the law school cultivate and reward scholarly endeavors?

13) Are class sizes capped at reasonable numbers (e.g., no more than 40-50)? Or will I be teaching 90+ students in my bread-and-butter courses?

14) Will I get to teach what I want? Or I will I be asked to "take one for the team" on frequent occasions?

15) Am I running FROM my current situation, or TO a new situation?

16) What will my teaching load be (e.g., two and two, or two and one)?

17) Might my articles place better if I change letterhead? Am I moving to a place with a better "reputation" (however defined or perceived)?

18) Will this be a short-term move? Or can I see myself spending the rest of my career at my new home?

19) Do I have kids in high school, and will they hate me forever if I move our family?

20) What's the dynamic between the faculty and the law school administration?

21) Will the new school consider leaving open an offer until after I've been a visitor for a semester or two?

22) If I don't have tenure, what will my tenure track look like at the new school?

23) What is the sabbatical policy?

24) How frequently does the law school host internal or external speakers who present works in progress?

25) What kind of technology and administrative support can I expect to receive?

No doubt others will add to the list. And I'm guessing that most of us don't have identical "top ten" lists. I look forward to reading what others have to say.

Jacqueline Lipton

Tim - terrific list. Thank you. I think we should all print it out and use it in case we get any of those calls this year. And your point about salary and benefits reminds me of something I probably should have included in the original post. I always thought it was strange that discussions about salary never take place until an offer is made ie if salary is a big consideration (as it is for a lot of us, particularly those with families, college funds to maintain etc), it seems strange that many schools don't give ANY indication of salary at all until after you go through the whole rigmarole of the job talk, interviews, references, faculty vote etc.

Also, another item one might add to the list is whether a chair is likely to come with the offer (or to follow in due course). I've never put all that much stock in chairs personally - and some colleagues have said that being chaired too early at a lower ranked school can actually impair your chances of even being contacted by a higher ranked school - particularly if the higher ranked school can't, or doesn't want to, offer a chair at that point. So thoughts on that would be welcome too.

Re anon's query, I'm afraid that in the lateral market, it's generally who you know rather than what you know. So not only do you have to be a great scholar and teacher, but you have to be "out there" networking ie presenting at conferences, doing faculty workshops at your own school so people are talking to their friends about your work (but hopefully not about wanting to get rid of you!), blogging etc. In fact, I've seen a number of situations where people who are not as well-published as others take lateral positions that others were perhaps better qualified for because of contacts on the faculty. Particularly if you're looking to do a lateral move with tenure, folks at the recruiting school are going to be very concerned about making a tenured offer to someone that no one has vouched for, or has championed, so I don't think that the "networking effect" can be overlooked.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad