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November 17, 2011


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Kendall Isaac

While inquiring into the spouse issue on the front end could lead to concerns of "familial status discrimination" or that the refusal to accept a candidate for a call-back is directly tied to the fact that the person is married, this type of legal argument is novel and rarely would the person find an adequate statutory basis to actually succeed in putting forth such an argument. I say all of this to say that while it may not be illegal, it could bring unwanted pushback from candidates based on concern about being treated differently based on marital status. Also, I am sure some candidates would rather wait until after the call-back or after receiving an offer to disclose this need due not only the the before-mentioned concerned but, more practically speaking, because if the school first falls in love with the candidate through the process, the school would be more prone to figure out how to make a concession for the trailing spouse as opposed to simply writing the candidate off on the front end before interviews really begin.

Howard Wasserman

My comments:


Schools want to know as early as possible so they can give your callback to someone else. If you actually want a job, don't let anyone know until after the offer.

I didn't get a single callback at schools that knew about my better half, but I got callbacks at half the schools that didn't know. (And she was a much stronger candidate than me.)

Putting this together with Brian Tamanaha's post at, I wonder if law schools are going to be a lot more reluctant to consider spousal hires?

Christian Louboutin Outlet

I do. Just because someone doesn‘t love you the way you want them to, doesn’t mean they don‘t love you with all they have.
Schools want to know as early as possible so they can give your callback to someone else.

Sharona Hoffman

I just wanted to supply the accurate employment discrimination information. Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia have state statutes that prohibit marital status discrimination. At the federal level, the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 prohibits the federal government from discrimination against public employees based on marital status, but federal law does not otherwise govern this type of discrimination. I've written about this in an article published in the William & Mary Law Review, called "The Importance of Immutability in Employment Discrimination Law,"

I don't think law schools would be violating any applicable state laws because they would not be asking about marital status itself. First, it would be important to word the question in terms of "partner" or "significant other," not "spouse." Second, we would be asking only about partners that need academic jobs, not partners in general. Third, the question would be designed to enable law schools, at least in some cases, to figure out ways to hire both members of the couple rather than necessarily to weed out individuals with partner hiring needs. By contrast, if a law school with budgetary constraints finds out about the issue only after offers have been made for any other available slots, it can be nearly impossible to accommodate the partner hiring need.

Assuming that the question is legal, I'm still not sure whether asking it is strategically desirable.

Ann Marie Marciarille

The data shows, of course, that any policy singling out those with trailing well-educated spouses would not be gender neutral. Why is this? Because American women, including well-educated American women, overwhelmingly "marry up." You can read about the debate over whether this is an enduring phenomenon here: but hypergamy (the notion that women marry up in class or disproportionately do not marry at all rather than "marry down") is a reasonably accurate depiction of the American status quo at all educational levels. This means disclosure of a highly educated law teaching job seeking spouse would disproportionately land on women.

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