Thursday, November 01, 2007

28-3 A Landslide Victory

Based on data provided to the faculty and my far from always accurate calculations, The University of Florida hiring committee interviewed 31 people in Washington. Here are their law schools:

Harvard – 8
Yale -7
Columbia – 4
NYU - 2
Stanford -2
Chicago -2
Vand. - 1
Penn. – 1
Virginia -1
Case Western – 1 (this candidate also has a tax LLM from NYU)

Nine of the schools listed, accounting for 28 of the candidates, are what would be regarded as elite schools. Harvard, Yale, and Columbia account for way over half. Yes, UF missed by only three people of having an elitist only interview line up. Only 3 candidates came from public schools and two of those are regarded as elite law schools.

The nine schools responsible for 28 candidates were included in a study I made of scholarly productivity of faculty found at 4 Law Schools that are at the bottom of top tier of law schools. I compared the productivity of graduates from those elite schools who end up at the bottom of the top tier with productivity of faculty from all other schools. My results indicate that there was no correlation between level of School and scholarship. There was, however, anecdotal evidence that level of school was correlated with high levels of self promotion and resume building for the same of resume building.

I suspect that the list looks a great deal like that at other schools and that it is roughly like the lists for all schools for many years.

At this point in one of my posts I might attempt to explain why legal education needs another elitist educated professor like it needs a lobotomy which is, by the way, what this type of hiring has done for many law schools. But, when you think about it, the burden should be the other way around. In the absence of any evidence that people from these schools make better law professors, why persist.? We know why: they look, talk like, and have experiences like the people hiring them. But I am asking why they would be the exclusive focus of hiring efforts if one had the best interests of the students and stakeholders in mind.

When you think about it, there is a pretty interesting message here. No student taught by these professors or their counterparts at similarly ranked law schools are taught effectively enough or are smart enough or well-versed enough to be permitted to the law teaching profession.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11/01/2007 1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But I am asking why they would be the exclusive focus of hiring efforts if one had the best interests of the students and stakeholders in mind."

1. Scholarship being equal, the more elite school will bring more prestige and reputation (for good or bad), which in turn leads to more dollars.

2. Resume building can have a reputation enhancing effect, which in turn leads to more dollars.

3. Scholarship being equal, one has better odds of finding raw brainpower from the top schools, which can equal potential (not guaranteed, of course) for brilliant ideas.

4. Scholarship being equal, raw brainpower may enhance the ability of the candidate to learn and then teach unfamiliar subjects for which the school has needs.

5. Don't most candidates come from the schools you named? If 7x Harvard grads are in the market than Case Western grads, then one would expect schools to interview 7x Harvard grads over Case Western.

6. Has anyone done a study whether students at mid-tier schools -all things being equal- would prefer a professor that went to Yale over one that went to a mid-tier school? Do we know whether more scholarship means less quality teaching? Do we have anything other than "anecdotes" that grads from these schools are any less effective in the classroom?

These are just some ideas, I'm sure there are more. This is not to say that graduates from other schools should be shut out of the market, it just means that there is more rationality to the process than you give credit for, especially with respect to fundraising. I have seen the prestige/fundraising link mentioned on this blog many, many times and I have yet to see a response from you that explains the link away. It is, after all, Moneylaw.

On a side note, as a white male from a poor background that paid his own way through top 5 undergrad and law schools, I can't say how irritating it is to read post after post bashing white males who went to such schools.

Given the thousands of very smart people who apply to elite schools every year, might it be possible that the students who get in bring their own form of diversity?

Your "automatic no" post implies not, and I read it as you being more prejudiced and judgmental than any one of my former classmates. I am extremely proud of my achievements, and to read that you would ding my application if I highlighted them is a good thing - I would hate to work with someone so prejudiced.

11/01/2007 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Disclosure: I made a conscious choice to attend an alternative college over likely admission to "top" schools, and I made a geographical law school decision to attend a lower-ranked school over likely admission to far-away schools ranked 10-20.)

I don't see the posts here as "bashing" white males who go to these schools. That kind of argument smacks of calling anti-war protesters "anti-soldier". I think the posts here generally recognize that it's not the people on the ground (the soldiers; the Harvard grads trying to get teaching jobs) who are the problem, it's the people in charge (the executive; the deans and hiring committees).

11/01/2007 7:26 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

OK. I will bite although my hunch is that your post is a prank. Yes, it must be irritating but think of how irritating is for virtually every non elite school grad to be told that he or she is not qualified before a word is spoken.

First, thought, I might hire a poor white candidate who incurred a ton of debt or worked hard to get through school assuming there is no rich but stingy parent in the background. You would pass the diversity test but not the non elitist test.

I have to tell you that I am a loss to follow some of your reasoning. In any case --

1. Are you referring to the more elite school or the more elitist hiring policy? Either way, you seem to be saying that graduates of, say, the Unversity of Ga will make greater donations if the hiring committeee follows an elite hiring policy -- one that basically tells them they are not worthy of the place they are asked to contribute to.

2.Yes its give you a reputation for being a pain in the butt as a colleague. And since the resume building I see means a dozen symposium articles in second tier law reviews, there is unlikely to any return.

3. And the reason for that would be? People admitted because their parents are big contributors are smarter?

4. Could be but you are equating raw brain power with elite school creditials. My experience with elite education folks are that they are more likely to be dull, poorly educated and inside the box thinkers.

5.Actually, the non elite candidates are advised not to waste their effort because the entire process is controled by elitists.

6.Actually, I do not think there will be a preference for where a teacher went to law school. I do know that elite teachers often let it be known where they graduated from in order to estabhish status but without substance it's just a scam.

Sorry the truth is irritating. I would feel the same way.

11/01/2007 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So where is the Moneylaw? Unless I have been missing the point, the goal is to ignore traditional (and meaningless) proxies for professorial potential in favor of real indicators of achievement. If that's true, then JD school should not matter one way or the other. Generalizations about brilliance or vacuity cannot be drawn from where one went to school. So of the 31 people your colleagues chose to interview, how many have one or more publications? Have you conducted a blind review of their writing for quality and contribution? How many have teaching experience? How many have practice experience relevant to their scholarship and proposed teaching package? How many, like Anonymous 1, have compelling personal histories showing a strong work ethic and substantial moral character? What other indicators do you think should be a priority in hiring? How many of those 31 have one or more of those? Were there others on the market this year from schools you think are not elite who had substantial demonstrated achievement but were passed over in favor of someone from Yale who had few or none?

11/02/2007 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to see a gender/race breakdown of the 31 candidates too.

11/02/2007 11:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are being too kind. This is inexcusable.

11/02/2007 1:56 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

There are so many anonymous responses, it hard to respond by person. In response to one anonymous, only the committee saw the full slate of resumes. I can only go by past experience. Based on that, I would say that non elitist education candidates were systematically ignored. This is because, at least in the past, there are obviously well-qualified non elitists in the AALS sheets. In fact, at my school we recently lost one non elite to a better school and are likely to lose another one. In the past we have lost others. In the meantime, at this point I do not think we have lost one of our elite school people in at least 10-15 years.
In any case, I agree with your sentiments. All of those things should be relevant.

Race and gender. I do not regard elite educated white women as adding a type of diversity needed at my school right now. It is a closer call with respect to race. Recently, though, I have run across elite educated minorities who seem more comfortably being elite than being diverse.

11/02/2007 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, for all we know, a substantial number of those 28 have solid moneylaw credentials despite graduating from schools you think vapid because elite?

11/02/2007 7:51 PM  
Blogger Jeff Harrison said...

"For all we know" the last time I checked, is not a basis for granting life-time employment.

11/04/2007 9:30 PM  

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