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October 26, 2010


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James Grimmelmann

How much do you weight the quality of candidates' articles, as compared with the prestige of the journals they were published in?


Interesting. I am, perhaps, in a bit of a unique situation. I am on the market and my first piece of published scholarship (since law school anyway) is due out in a few months in a Top 50 law review. I would be happy to consider T4 schools (I have practiced for many years). I have been a little frustrated that T4 schools which are looking in at least one of my areas of expertise have not called. All my interviews (all 4 of them) are with T3 and T2 schools. While I am thrilled with the interviews I have, the so-called "rule of 3s" [3 AALS interviews = 1 callback; 3 callbacks = 1 offer] has stressed me a bit. I know that my results may vary, but did T4 schools not consider me because they were scared I would not consider them?


Is there really such consensus about which are the "least prestigious" journals? Don't schools move around a lot between the 3rd and 4th tiers (and between 2nd and 3rd, too, for that matter)? there some general agreement on the "best" 3rd tier journals? Based on W&L?

Michael Lewyn

Lots of interesting questions in a very short time. To take them one by one:

Re quality- when we are sorting through hundreds of AALS forms, we are more focused on whether and where you have published at all: who has time to read hundreds of articles? By contrast, when we have winnowed down candidates to a manageable number (i.e. at the interview/callback stage) we are more likely to read articles and thus consider quality.

Re tiers etc.- I suspect that a faculty member reviewing hundreds of AALS forms is probably not that likely to actually look up a ranking (as opposed to relying on gut guesses about quality). So it probably doesn't matter if a school is 3rd tier one year and 4th tier another. (But on the other hand, maybe hiring committees might be more persnickety at a school that cares more about journal placement).

Re OnTheMarket's query: hard to know. If you think you are having a problem with T4 schools, you may want to contact schools individually and raise the issue, especially if you are close enough for a personal visit.

By the way, I think anyone who gets a callback for every three interviews is either much luckier or much more adept at interviewing than I was!


I've never been able to place my articles in top 100 journals, but I've gotten interviews from schools in the top 20 because they read my work.

Lev Elthafield

I think it's curious that law schools purportedly use the relative prestige of law reviews in which a candidate has published as a threshold proxy for a candidate's ability to engage in high-level scholarship. To do so presupposes that the students who run the law reviews and choose articles for publication do so solely based on which articles are the best. In fact, it is well-known that since almost no law reviews use a blind review process these students are free to, and do, use proxies of their own in choosing not only which articles to publish but even which of the submitted articles to read. Anyone who has used ExpressO for submission has seen the message alerting the submitter to the fact that law review editors tell ExpressO that the C.V. is the most important document to submit. Huh? What are they looking for? What schools you went to? Whether you clerked for a federal circuit court judge? Whether you worked for a Wall Street firm? Yet the only way to determine how good the submitted piece is is by reading it. Sadly, the law school faculties, through the hiring process, are apparently reinforcing this emphasis on badges of achievement or other markers (dare I say "class") over the work product. Clearly certain forms of discrimination are still openly practiced. The only way to determine whether the piece is any good is to read it.

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