Friday, September 15, 2006

Things that faculty appointments committees should know (if they don't already)

1. People choose to attend particular law schools for all sorts of reasons, but I don't know too many who choose a law school based on whether or not that school is a good "feeder" school for budding law professors. Don't punish the candidate for his choice of law school. Look beyond the group membership (choice of law school) to the candidate's talent.
2. The best predictor of future performance is past performance (of the same skills). Therefore, a high GPA (which is a very nice thing--don't get me wrong) is not as good a predictor of potential scholarly performance as is past scholarly performance (e.g., a law review note, articles published while the person is working as a lawyer, etc.). Experience as an appellate court clerk IS useful; the prestige of a particular clerkship (judge, court) is not.
3. Not everyone goes into the faculty recruitment conference having been prepped by mentors. That means that the answers that the candidate gives during the screening interview may not be the "standard" answers (e.g., "I have wanted to write since I was a zygote"; "Teaching? Sure, it's important, but I live for my writing").
4. Candidates can hear you clicking your pen over and over during the interview.
5. Law schools grow by having a variety of different types of professors with different backgrounds and interests, but some of those backgrounds and interests may put you outside of your comfort level. Be open to the decision not to replicate yourself in your hiring choices.

Tomorrow I'll explain why the Faculty Appointments Conference interviews remind me of one of my favorite Mary Tyler Moore episodes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great reminders, especially #1. I'll offer some others to consider, in no particular order.

1) Don't assume that a former judicial clerk is an ideological clone of the judge. And don't criticize the candidate's choice of clerkship or turn the discussion into a personal attack on the judge. It puts the candidate in an awkward position, and it makes the faculty member look small-minded, if not ideologically biased.

2) Don't air your dirty laundry, or engage in a verbal spat, in front of the candidate.

3) Designate a committee member to be the clock-watcher, and consider politely ending the interview after 25 minutes. The interview team can use the extra five minutes to share fresh thoughts on the candidate with each other and take a breather before the next interview, and the candidate will appreciate the extra time to jockey for a valuable spot on a scarce elevator for a trip to a different wing of the hotel for the next interview.

9/18/2006 7:30 PM  

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