Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Automatic No Votes

The highly coveted campus visit awards have been handing out to particularly "deserving" people over the last two months. Now is it time to hand out the remaining awards as Hiring Committees scramble to get in campus visits before the holiday break. In the interest of efficiency, here are some automatic no votes for me.

1. Any candidate whose resume lists as their most relevant qualification (as indicated by being the first thing I see after his or her name) a degree from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. I still have yet to see anything that makes me think those folks are better suited than non elite school graduates to be law professors. The overt pandering of listing the School first is all I need to know. If the candidate thinks the most important information is the name of his or her law school I assume he or she will follow suit when deciding on future hires. No thanks.

2. Any fudging on a resume or the AALS form. For example, the form asks candidates to list "major publications." I'd say that means listing the best of whatever the candidate has published. To me that excludes "in progress" which can mean nothing. More importantly, the the candidate who lists "in progress" as a "major publication" is highly likely to be excessively self-promotional. I can see a future resume -- every talk, one page introduction, and 5 page coauthored symposium piece listed under scholarship.

3. Not a smidgen of diversity. I am not looking for much here but most schools need another elitist education white male or female from a upper middle class family like they need a terrarium. In fact, they may need one of those less than a terrarium.

4. Political pandering in scholarship. Is the candidate a scholar? Does the scholarship reflect an openness to opposing positions. Does it at least raise them and address them? Is this the work of an intellectual curious person? Or, in a first outing as a scholar is there a lack of humility. I don't think I have met anyone who was not driven by intellectual curiosity at the outset then become intellectually curious later.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, not to put too fine a point on it, but your own vita on the U.Fl. website lists, first, your J.D., and the fact that you received high honors, coif, and law review.

If you take out the candidate who lists his law degree (and in this game, 90% of them are from Havard, Yale, Stanford, Chicago or Columbia), good luck to Florida in getting anyone at all.

10/31/2007 9:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff, not to put too fine a point on it, but your own vita on the U.Fl. website lists your school, high honors, coif, and law review as the first item. By this standard, you would be voting against yourself (of course, N.C. is not Harvard, but are you saying that you would affirmatively discriminate against Harvard grads?) Good luck to Florida getting anyone who lists something other than their school first when applying for a faculty position.

10/31/2007 9:13 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

Good points, though I'd disagree mildly about the "school first" point. I agree that where a candidate attended law school shouldn't matter nearly as much as it does, but many candidates list it first on their resumes just because their mentors told them to do so; with every field of employ featuring different "CV conventions," it's only sensible to follow what established mentiors tell you. Also, in defense of those mentors: in a world in which more hiring profs disagree than agree with you and me about "alma mater prestige," it makes sense to follow that advice and plop your school up top.

11/01/2007 1:32 PM  
Anonymous SHG said...

It was always my understanding that whatever you did last goes first. If you were employed, then employment trumps education. If you were employed but put HLS first, then you apparently don't think your position will sufficiently impress.

And if the most impressive thing you've ever done is go to school, well . . .

11/01/2007 5:47 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

I am not sure listing UNC first could be regarded as pandering to the elitists. Strikes me as saying "if this is a problem, lets get out out of the way first."

I can't say that I would vote no automatically against someone from Harvard. Other factors are important to me but if mommy and daddy paid for the Harvard or any similar school, it's a no. Not because there is something wrong with the candidate but because legal education needs greater diversity. I would, however, vote no for someone who thinks that Harvard is the most relevant thing to know.

11/02/2007 5:18 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

I'd like to add one thing to my last response to comments. My view is formed by a sense that something is missing in legal education. Way too many people hired by doing business as usual seem unable to bring excitement to the classroom or scholarship. Obviously, I cannot promise that the problem stems from hiring relatively privileged people, but it would be interesting to focus on barriers overcome, energy, productivity, etc. and not brand names.

11/02/2007 5:27 PM  

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