Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hiring Biases -- Yet Again

It's law school hiring time and nothing much changes. My impression is that the hottest entry level candidates are those with elite degrees and Supreme Court clerkships. In fact, these candidates often do not make it it the AALS convention. Next are the top ranked grades of elite law schools.

While I do not know that those people turn out to be more productive than others and I can think of examples when they have not, it seems to me that the more crucial issue for a mid or lower level law school arises with respect to the next level of hiring. The choice for these schools is between second tier elite school graduates and the top graduates from non elite schools.

I do not know what every school does when faced with this choice but my impression is that a fair number of them go for the second tier elite school graduate. What I do know is that this bias cannot be based on any empirical comparison of the productivity of second tier elites and top tier non elites. No, it's purely self-referential hiring because God only know what would happen if the top ranked non elites were hired and out-shined the elite. We couldn't have that, now could we?


Anonymous said...


Your blog is entertaining and thought provoking. But as a very successful (so I've been told) BIGLAW alum from a top 30 state school who is now doing well at a F100 company as an attorney, and who is trying to enter into the teaching market via the Meat Market and personal contacts (we'll see if I get any schools for my "dance card" this fall), you're not giving me much encouragement, even though I've been told by friends who are law school deans and professors that I would be an excellent candidate.

If I don't get any bites, I guess I'll just stay at my F100 gig, making at least 2x as much in salary as profs make, not including bonuses, pension, 401K matches, and other bennies.

Jeff Harrison said...

Please let me know how you do.

Anonymous said...

Ok, Jeff:

I did go to the Meet Market and I had about 10 interviews on one day (I turned some down, BTW), and I got one call back. I've had my job talk at that school, and I'm waiting to hear whether or not an offer will be extended. This has been interesting, and I believe that I would like academia, pay cut and all. But if I don't make it, I don't know whether I have the time (I'm in my mid-30s) on the "academic clock" to go back and do this again within the next 2years.

Two of my references are law professors--one is pretty well known at a T2 school, and one is a new prof at a T4 school. Do you know that hardly anyone called my reference at the T4 school? Amazing...This academia thing is all about who you know and where you went to school. Period.