Search the Lounge


« The Administrative Forms for Sterilization | Main | Teaching Methodology Question »

May 23, 2012


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


Hi Brando- I don't have any statistics but I'm curious if you'd think there would be any a priori reason to think it would make a difference either way. Should we _expect_ the increased importance of VAPS/Fellowships to matter for this? I can imagine stories either way.


I think the biggest structural effect of the fellowship "requirement" is economic. It means that people who have more money and can afford to take a huge pay cut get a major boost. Similarly, single people who can more easily move twice in a short period (once for fellowship, once for prof job) disproportionately benefit. Worst off are those who took on substantial debt to go to law school and need to support a family.

This has almost nothing to do with your question, but it's a major source of frustration for me.


Given that the credentials needed by minorities on the teaching market are typically less than those needed by white candidates, I think it doesn't matter much. As you present it, I would say no effect at all. It's probably having the greatest effect on white males, who are having to do even more in this day and age to differentiate themselves on the teaching market.


I think the long-term effect will be favorable to minorities. Legal academic hiring has long been perceived as a club with secret handshakes etc. To the extent there is a known pipeline into that club, that can help demystify and democratize it.

I do think the pay cut required and the need to move are significant barriers, but I don't think academics are sympathetic to such problems because they perceive geographic flexibility and a preference for quality of intellectual life over money as being prereqs to academic life. That is not to dismiss those barriers, but I'm not sure the advent of the fellowship/VAP stage meaningfully raises them - it's just one more hurdle among many.

Bill Araiza

Brando: This is an interesting question. I don't have any data, either, but I wonder if the answer turns in part on how VAPs are selected for a particular program. If the VAP program is designed to give people a perch where they can start doing serious scholarly writing, then it might have an incidental effect of benefitting people of color, if we assume (big assumption) that, statistically, people of color might be late starters to the academic game (maybe for class or other reasons). On the other hand, if the program selects people because they already have something of a track record, then it might simply add on another advantage (the credential and the extra time to write) to people who are already ahead of the pack. A long time ago I blogged about the phenomenon of research agendas as a then-increasingly standard part of a entry level candidate's application package, and engaged in similar speculation:

Brando Simeo Starkey

Matt-- I'm not really sure if there is an effect. Just seeing what people may think.

Interesting post, Bill.


Have to say, I very strongly disagree with this from AnonVAP:

"That is not to dismiss those barriers, but I'm not sure the advent of the fellowship/VAP stage meaningfully raises them - it's just one more hurdle among many."

I'm a practitioner with an otherwise solid teaching resume (all the things you'd want, except advanced degrees). If fellowships weren't almost required, I wouldn't think twice about skipping them entirely. But, in light of the market, my advisers think it's a major risk to forgo a fellowship. The problem is I have a family to support, and while I can cut my salary to, for example, 90K, I can't afford to go to 30K. And while my family can handle one move, two over two or three years is simply too much. I'm probably going to go ahead and take the risk, and see where the chips fall.

Of course, it's true that there were a lot of other hurdles along the way (getting into a good school, writing, etc.). But that doesn't mean the marginal hurdle, which is a very big one, is irrelevant.


Anon 9:04 -- two things.

First, a genuine question: are many fellowships $30K? Most seem to be in the $45-60K range.

Second, while the need to support a family is significant -- I can see why even a drop to $60K for 1-2 years from a private practice salary could be game-changing -- but Brando's question concerned the effect of the de facto VAP/fellowship requirement on the entry into legal academia of minorities, not prospective prawfs with families. Either you're making a logical leap by assuming that minority aspiring prawfs are more likely to have families, or, as I suspect is the case, you're commenting on your own personal situation separate from the minority dimension, which is fine, but is not at cross purposes with my original post, which only concerned minority participation.

Kendall Isaac

Seriously anonprof? White males are having to do more because less qualified minorities are on the market? Perhaps you should check the ivy league credentials of most new minority profs and vaps (myself excluded but still equally qualified) before you make questionable 'anon' comments.


I see, AnonVAP. We have indeed been talking past each other. As I said in my original comment, "This has almost nothing to do with your question, but it's a major source of frustration for me."

The comments to this entry are closed.


  • StatCounter
Blog powered by Typepad