Saturday, December 02, 2006

I’m Mad as Hell: PrivilegeLaw Users’ Manual

First, thanks to Jeff Harrison for allowing me to post this on Classbias. Entering the debate is sometimes the first sign one is losing the argument but, really, this has gone too far. Is it possible that MoneyLaw/Classbias may some impact? I don’t think so, but it's never too early to restore the balance.

PrivilegeLaw players: Are you using all of your richly deserved advantages to choke off the threat? If not, here is your check list:

1. The AALS is your friend. Make full use of all the boxes on the meat market form that stress credentials over substance. Remember, the shorter the form, the better off you are. You actually prefer the one line form that asks one question: School granting J.D. degree.

2. If you have a high class rank, say so. If not, say “not available.” Don’t worry. You went to a top ten school, right? Don’t undercut yourself by revealing something that is only relevant if you are actually in the top ten percent. You are helping recruiters by not confusing them.

3. For references, list people who are most likely to impress even if they do not know you that well. Remember, you are paying in part for a chance at a law teaching job. Those big names will write great letters even if they barely recall you. They owe this to you because this is part of what they are selling.

4. Before you send that first article out, be sure to touch base with anyone who would impress a law review editor when included in your acknowledgements. (Yes, that long exercise in name dropping at the bottom of the first page.) Thank them even if the only contact you had was a return phone message of encouragement. (“I am deeply grateful to Professor __________ for his continuing support.”). This is your birthright.

5. Your cover letter must drive home your credentials and the names of those important professors who “commented” on your work. Also, mention your last “piece” in any prestigious law review even if it is a five-page co-authored book review.

6. Remember, other members of the Club are on the faculties of highly-ranked schools. Call them. Ask to speak to the editor of the review about how important it is to put your submission at the top of the queue.

7. If the person you call actually did read an earlier draft, be sure he/she tells the editor just how much they liked the article. Otherwise they can just say, "The competition for this article is sure to be fierce."

8. Are you on the appointments committee? Remember this rule: Grads from top ten schools are always better than grads from lower-ranked schools. Sometimes a sigh or a raised eyebrow is enough to stop any silly effort by a colleague to be a bit more open-minded. And, no matter what, remember the PrivilegeLaw credo: Never write down anything you would not want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

9. Has your law school made the mistake of hiring a MoneyLaw person? Make sure the person knows right away who you are and how lucky they are to have a job that rightfully belongs to someone who was more properly prepared for the job. How many ways can you work Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc., into the conversation? The current record, by the way, is eight per minute and that was wind assisted. (Actually, I am surprised it is that low.)

10. Express your sincere regrets when the MoneyLaw colleague proudly announces that his/her first article was accepted by a law review below the top ten. Something like “Oh, I see,” or “Next time, try to leverage it up” will work.

11. If the MoneyLaw candidate actually survives six years of being dismissed as the runt of his or her law teaching class and makes it to a tenure decision, express concerns about whether the candidate really has “the horse power.” Forget about that pesky study suggesting the only clear determinant of post-tenure productivity is pre-tenure productivity. Quickly add how much you personally like the candidate.

12. Now this is really important. Right now, and I mean this. No delays. If the students in your class do not know you went to Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc., do not leave another class without them knowing. In comparison to your MoneyLaw colleagues you will automatically become a better teacher.

Best of Luck

Chadsworth (Do not call me Chad)

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