The best comment, before listing several good questions, asked where is the Moneylaw in all this and I’d like to respond to that question here.
I think the Moneylaw ideal is to hire people who are intellectually curious, productive, love to think and talk about ideas, etc. Moneylaw, to me at least, is about spotting actual talent and not falling for credentials as an indicator of talent. The predicate of most hiring processes seems to be that Moneylaw candidates can be identified by the schools they attended -- “brand” is an indicator of quality. In addition, the best brands are those schools that are expensive and highly ranked – mainly, as it turns out, by people who attended them.
My observations are that:
1. Moneylaw candidates are found at most law schools.
2. In almost 30 years of teaching economics or law, my impression has been that the non elites are equal to or superior to the elites. I have been consistently surprised, in fact, by the narrowness of the education of many elites and how frequently they are underachievers. Ultimately this led me to believe that a school cannot make a person into an intellectual nor keep someone from becoming one.
3. A minor empirical study I conducted indicated that elites at the bottom of the first tier of USN&WR are not more productive than non elites at this level. My school was one of those examined.
Let me go one more step. Let’s suppose the brain power is higher at an elite school AND that by plucking one person out of one of those schools, you get some of that brain power. I have two reactions. First, law teaching and scholarship are not rocket science. Rarely do I see an article in a law review as challenging conceptually as something in math, science, economics or philosophy. Brain power may play a minor role in turning out good scholarship. So, in a sense, what difference does the brain power make? It may be like looking for height when picking up your bowling team. (An elitist reading this may want to look up “bowling.”) Second, if 20% percent of the class at Harvard or its ilk possess “brain power” (something I concede only for the sake of argument) and only 10%, say, at Wisconsin, is hiring really based on drawing samples and hoping you guess right or is it based on in depth interviewing, calling reliable references (if any exist), studying whatever scholarship the person has produced, and looking over the life experiences of the individual. Hiring committees must think it is the former or maybe they are just lazy are actually threatened by what they might discover.
So my bottom is that a hiring policy that is exclusively focused on elites is indefensible as a Moneylaw matter. It is also indefensible in terms of the agency-like obligations of a hiring committee to do the best possible job for stakeholders, including students. Finally, it speaks volumes about the disdain elites feel for those not similarly privileged.