From time to time a law professor at another school writes to me rather than comment on a post. Here is part of an email from what I assumed to be a first or second year law professor. He or she had just come from an appointments meeting at which a number of candidates were discussed.
"I assumed that the hiring meeting would show me that people took the hiring process seriously. While this was certainly true of a number of people on my faculty (I suspect a majority), others really surprised me. Lessons that I learned from the faculty meeting (based on oral comments at the meeting rather than the vote itself):
Note that "like" a person plays a role in 5 of the 6 rules. I wonder how the rules might apply to selecting members of a football team.
1. Wide receiver speed matters except when you like the receiver.
2. The punter's hang time matters except when you like a person.
3. When you do not like a lineman say it indirectly. ("Something about his stance just does not seem quite right.")
4. The quarterback's accuracy matters except when you don't like the person
5. What the experts think matters except for when they don't.
6. Yards per carry for a running back either count or are discounted based on how much the candidate is liked.
Pretty crazy way to pick a football team right? The team would lose every game. Is there any reason to think the "like" factor is different for law faculty success. At least in football there will be an objective measure of success and an opportunity to cut players. In law school hiring there are no measures and the initial hiring decisions are for lifetime jobs.
What the young law professor described at his school sounds like a great approach if you are deciding who you want to go down to the bar with after school for a drink -- which sadly may be the standard by which much hiring is done. It's a disaster for the stakeholders of a law school.