Friday, December 22, 2006

A staggering project

Bill HendersonThe extent to which legal academia is engaging in and has engaged in lateral hiring, recently raised on this forum, is "an empirical question that has a clear factual answer." Bill Henderson correctly observes that "[t]he only thing holding us back is collection of the data."

No longer. Bill has just announced this staggering project. Bill, Olufunmilayo Arewa, Andrew Morriss, and Ken Dau-Schmidt have just secured funding for an ambitious longitudinal analysis of legal scholarship:

The Henderson team's study would reach beyond the beginning of the Hoover administration.
Our study would span from 1928 to 2005. Moreover, we are not limited to a mere sample; rather, our data include every bibliographic entry in the Index of Legal Periodicals (ILP) during the last 87 years--over 600,000 scholarly article!

Well, last month, the Law School Admission Council (LSAC) funded our grant proposal! The primary purpose of the grant is to build a relational database that includes bibliographic information (with ILP subject matter coding), author characteristics (from the AALS Directory), law school characteristics (which bear on journal and faculty status), and -- eventually, with some luck and another round of financing -- citation counts by scholarly journals and courts.
The study will use the AALS directory's "mini-career history for each AALS faculty member." The directory's format has retained the "same format since the 1920s," a phenomenon that has led Bill to observe, quite astutely, that "credentials have long been a topic of interest to law professors."

According to Bill, this massive project will yield answers soon: "Sometime in late 2007 or early 2008, our research team will be able to answer the lateral mobility question with unparalleled precision, including relative trends among national and regional law schools."


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