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May 05, 2010


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Eric Muller

I have a chair, Jacqueline, and every indication thus far is that the chair and I are firmly bolted to the floor here at UNC.

Brian Leiter

I do not believe that holding a chaired or endowed position has any impact whatsoever on mobility. In many years of doing appointments at Texas, I can never once recall the subject coming up with respsect to *any* lateral prospect. One good predictor I have noticed over the years is that relatively high 'impact' as measured by citations is a super strong predictor of impending 'upward' mobility, except in some sub-fields which are not, for whatever reasons, deemed 'prestige' fields at the moment (evidence is a good example, so too family law).


I have to confess that something about this question makes me quite ill at ease. Ought our ultimate goal really be to wind up at a highly ranked school: Whoever has the best sounding chair-title, at the highest ranked school, when he/she dies, wins? Or should we be, perhaps, far less instrumental, teaching and reading and writing and being good institutional citizens as best we possibly can, regardless of where it will lead? Should we really care if taking a job with a chair at a lower ranked school leads to "worse" law review placements? I think you should go where you can do your best work, where you find the faculty most engaging and humane, and where you like the student culture. There is a disturbing amount of calculation and posturing in the legal academy; legal education would be better off if we all just stopped.

Jacqueline Lipton

I love your comments, Vladimir, and think I'll print them out and post them on my wall. I think you're absolutely right about this and I think we would all do well to work on being the best citizens we can at the schools we're at, even if we ultimately have plans to move on for whatever reason.

Jacqueline Lipton

Oh, and before someone posts that being a good institutional citizen and planning to move on are not mutually exclusive activities, I am fully aware of that. And obviously being a good institutional citizen at your current institution may be regarded favorably by a school you're seeking to move to - but often people focus outside their home school to the detriment of doing useful and productive things they could be doing within their home institution.

Orin Kerr

I agree with Brian that I have never thought of it as mattering.

As for Vladimir's question, I think ambition of that sort is generally good for legal academia. That ambition creates an incentive after tenure to keep writing and write well. Of course, we might ask if it would be even better to work hard like that just for the sake of it, without any personal benefit beyond the satisfaction of doing good work. But my sense is that's not how human nature usually works.


There really aren't any rules. How is it that Elena Kagan can get tenure at U of chicago and then move to Harvard having written so very little? Check out Paul Campos' excellent piece:

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