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October 29, 2013


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Alfred L. Brophy

This is in the request for information (rather than providing information) category: I've asked before what people think about search firms. The responses have been mixed. I see again that there are a lot of schools using firms. Do those who've had a recent experience with them (or are experiencing them now) find them worthwhile? A positive experience? I'm guessing yes or schools would stop using them.


I've co-chaired a dean search committee within the past 3 years. The law school is part of a large, state university. After some initial difficulties in the search, the President of the university demanded that the search committee use a search firm. The sense of the committee was that the search firm probably wouldn't be that useful except in one way: it would validate the search to the President. And that's pretty much how it played out. On a few points, the search firm utterly failed to do what I would expect it to have done -- such as catching some problems with a specific candidate. On other points, it was helpful. Over all, it relieved us of some of the work (like calling references) about as often as it imposed on us additional work (like listening to the search firm professional state the obvious with a power point). On occasion, having a third party involved did help bridge some of the differences in perspectives between faculty and alumni members of the search committee. At the end of the day, mostly what the President bought himself was the feeling that the search process was about as good as he could hope for. And there's some value to that, I suppose.

Alfred L. Brophy

Thanks, John -- that's helpful and makes sense.

Orin Kerr

I share John's view that the primary purpose of a search firm is to make the university's President feel that the Dean search was done properly.

not fake

That's the kind of image that i really thing is super image like. If more images very real like this were out there we'd be super full of graet images in the world.

Former dean candidate

I think the value of the search firm to a school depends greatly on the firm and the individual search consultants. As a deanship candidate, I have had mixed experiences. One in particular was quite good and helpful-- she served as an excellent intermediary for the search committee including confidentiality at the early stages in the process and later in the search provided useful advice concerning an internal faculty dispute. Another, however, seemed to harm the search with miscommunications in both directions.

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