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July 05, 2011


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Tim Zinnecker


Great post! And great advice! As you acknowledge, the concern with delayed submission is the probable reduction in available slots when the committee turns its attention to the candidate's FAR form. I tend to believe, though, that considerable schedule shuffling continues at many schools through September, if not thereafter. And if a candidate is truly outstanding, a committee can (and probably will) find a slot (maybe starting the interview day earlier, or staying later, or interviewing during the lunch hour, etc.).

I wonder if there might be one other drawback to delayed submission. Might a committee possibly view a delayed submission as a sign that the candidate hasn't committed to the process? Or worse yet -- can't meet a deadline? Or does your suggestion offer the candidate (and, better yet, the committee) a plausible response?

And one more wrinkle: this year the conference is two weeks earlier, adding a bit more time pressure to the scheduling process.

Alex Reinert

As someone who was in the second book when I was on the market, and now has served on the appointments committee twice at my home institution, I do not think there is much advantage to being late. Partly it is for the reason Tim suggests -- some committees will view a delayed submission, particularly for someone coming from practice, as a sign of ambivalence about the academy. Or worse, a sign that the decision to try to get an academic job was not taken seriously.

In addition, I think some schools simply do not look at, or do not look closely at, the second, let alone third, FAR distributions. When I was going on the market, I did not even understand that there was such a thing as being "late" -- I figured that there were four distributions for a good reason, and that the schools did not differentiate between them. But my experience on the market and on appointments taught me otherwise. When I was in DC to be interviewed, I remember seeing a friend at AALS who was on appointments at her home institution, who said to me "I did not know you were on the market. How did I miss that?" My response (by this time I had learned there was a difference between the FAR distributions) was "I was in the second book." She said, "Oh, that explains it." I think at least one committee even asked me why I was in the second book. It seemed so strange to me at the time that it would make a difference, but it did. It all ended well, but I would not advise anyone to intentionally submit their FAR form to end up in the second distribution.

David S. Cohen

Interesting points, and I think Alex is probably right that there's a risk that some schools don't look at those distributions. I would bet a lot do, though, and if they are looking, they're probably excited about finding someone good in the later distributions so that their looking isn't a waste of time. But, maybe there is some kind of stigma with later distributions that you'd have to deal with.


If some schools overlook second or third distributions, might it be wise for those candidates to send notes to schools hiring in their areas? That could solve the "we ignore 2nd and 3rd distribution FAR form" problem while leaving them with previously mentioned benefits. Perhaps that's the best of both worlds.

Jim Milles

In view of all the current debates about the skyrocketing cost of legal education, massive student debt, and whether the current recession in the legal market is in fact a long-term, if not permanent, downturn, are any schools questioning whether we should really be continuing the hiring business-as-usual?

Orin Kerr

Alex's helpful comment raises the key question: Why does the AALS have multiple distributions? If there was once a reason for it, it's not obvious to me what it is.


Your article is very interesting fit & add new skills to my

Paul Horwitz

For what it's worth, and mostly for the benefit of would-be profs reading this thread, I would still, all things considered, highly recommend that folks get in on the first distribution.

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