Search the Lounge


« Implicit Bias Conference at Harvard Law School | Main | Dorosin for Orange County Commissioner »

May 07, 2012


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



If you wouldn't mind, maybe you can begin by describing how you made the jump from a British school to a US school.


Paul M. Secunda

I have an article exactly on this topic if people are interested: "Tales of a Law Lateral Professor Nothing." Available on SSRN. I discuss some personal anecdotes, as well as provide tips oh how to apply and how to negotiate an offer on the lateral market. Although from 2008, I think the advice is still good.

Jacqueline Lipton

Thanks, Paul. That is an excellent article and I should have thought of mentioning it.

And Emily that's a good question too ie how to lateral from outside the U.S. I don't think there's any one great way to do it and my experiences are woefully out of date. That said, I did what a number of foreign law profs do, and ultimately decided to put my name in the AALS register and come over here as an entry level candidate. It's the easiest way to get U.S. law schools to consider your candidacy because it's very low cost/low risk for them to just meet you at the meat market and decide if they want to pursue things further with you. The more difficult thing is to figure out how to get credit for work done overseas or if indeed any credit is possible. I started as a pure entry level and did the whole tenure track at CWRU despite having been a fully tenured mid-level faculty member in Britain. This had both upsides and downsides. The downside is that the tenure track can be pretty stressful and it's kinda mystifying for those of us with no experiences in U.S. law schools at all. The upside is that if you do all or at least some of the tenure track in a U.S. law school you really get a sense of how it works and it proves quite helpful later on if you sit on P&T committees or appointments committees because you really understand what is expected of tenure track folks within your institution.

I get the feeling (again purely anecdotally) that U.S law schools are perhaps more willing than they were to look at overseas candidates. Once you have one foreign lawyer on your faculty and potentially on your appointments committee, that person can often give some guidance as to how to read and interpret the credentials of other foreign lawyers - at least that was a role I sometimes played on appointments committees at CWRU. And with more international exchange going on, there's probably more U.S. trained profs who are now better at reading and evaluating the credentials of foreign lawyers.

I'm at more of a loss to know how to lateral with tenure from another country. I know a small handful of folks who have done it, but they have generally had previous long term connections with the schools they ended up at e.g. through visits, conferences etc. And they still have to have written something that 'counts' for U.S. tenure purposes. Unfortunately, many schools in the U.S. are pretty limited/restricted about what they count in terms of overseas work. I'd be interested in others' experiences because mine are pretty limited and out of date. And thanks again for asking the question, Emily. I wish I had better answers for you.


Paul's article is useful, but primarily geared to those whose motivation for a lateral move is wanting to move up in the rankings. I'm interested in how those interested in a better fit, a different location, etc. might signal their intentions.

Jessica Litman

I've served on hiring committees that made lateral hires. One way to signal to the market that you might be persuaded to make a move is to visit at another school. A useful way to make an invitation to visit more likely is to tell your friends at other schools that you are interested in visiting and ask them to pass your name and CV on to the relevant decision-makers. (This will probably be more effective and less awkward if you are asking for a podium visit rather than a visit that might result in your being hired. If a friend is in your field, for example, she might suggest you to cover her courses when she is on leave, but might not want to share her courses with you on a permanent basis. Similarly, if other schools call your friend and offer her a podium visit, she may decline but suggest that those schools call you.) If you have an interest in a particular geographic area, it's not unusual to write to the hiring committee or dean at every school in the area you want to move to, explain your personal reason for wanting to relocate and the courses that you teach, and attach your CV. A problem with listing yourself in the AALS register is that your colleagues will of course find out that you are actively seeking to leave your current school. Since it may not work out, you need to figure out whether you are comfortable with the ramifications of their knowing that.

Jacqueline Lipton

Thanks, Jessica. Those are great suggestions.
I should also note that of the people I know who have put their names in the FAR book as laterals, most if not all of them have told their schools that they are doing it. It is definitely not something your school should find out for the first time when their appointments committee peruses the book.
The cases I know of are people who want to, say, relocate to or from a particular geographical region, or who are perhaps having issues with their current schools that are generally known within the school eg concerns about tenure potentially etc.


Why is the lateral market so inefficient? It seems there are some fairly standard and yet silly norms like the "play it coy" routine or not calling yourself but having some proxy or friend noting that you are "moveable."

Jacqueline Lipton

Have to agree with you there, TS.
FWIW, I have heard more success stories in recent years of people just contacting schools directly themselves and getting interviews and appointments, without doing the whole 'play it coy' game.

Paul M. Secunda

Quick response to Fred. My article does not just deal with moving to a "better school," whatever that may mean. Indeed, I point out that my motivations concerned geographic desires (i.e., being close to grandparents) and a sickness in the family. But really any and all reasons for moving are legitimate.

I would certainly agree finding a better professional fit, regardless of the stature of the school, should be on the top of the list.

Finally, in response to Jessica, I agree that visits are a good way to show willingness/interest in moving. But be very careful. Even if you think you have set up a "look see" visit vs. a "podium filler visit," don't be surprised if half the faculty doesn't know your status. Having just finished a undefinable visit, I think I might put pen to paper and write about lawprof visits. :>)

James Kraska

I hold the Howard S. Levie Chair in International Law at the Naval War College, where I teach international law (law of armed conflict, oceans law and policy), national security law, and foreign relations law. I also have lectured on international law in 19 countries in venues such as the Hague Academy and the San Remo Institute of Int' Humanitarian Law. Most of my students at the NWC are mid-career government (civilian and military) and most are non-lawyers. I am retiring from the Navy JAG, and have conducted treaty negotiations with dozens of countries over the years. My bottom line question is whether I should seek a lateral hire or an entry hire, or both? I will be going through the AALS process, but have a particular interest in some schools - when I contact the schools, should I request consideration for a lateral or visiting or entry? Much appreciate any advice.

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad