Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Decanal Search Firm Rip Off?

Many universities are now hiring expensive search firms to find candidates for deanships including those for law schools. I have to admit, I do not get it. Sure there are probably some economies of scales in that 20 law schools looking for a dean do not make calls to the same 100 or so possible candidates.  So, it appears that the search is like handing the job over to a secretary who makes the calls for the Universities.

Eventually the search firm comes up with a list of people willing to be considering. Seems like this is the same list anyone at a law school could create. Half the list will be perennial dean wannabes who are also on the list supplied to other schools possibly for years on end. The other half of the list is what? Promising people that only the search firm could  find. I doubt it.

My sense is that a couple of under employed law profs armed with a phone and maybe a couple of beers could create any list a search firm would develop.

The search firm option only makes sense if he really does mean lower transaction costs and getting a better dean than would be the case if two or three law professors did the same thing. Now we know if two or three law professors took time away from their scholarship to handle this, the cost would be zero. It would be hard for a search firm to charge less. So, does the firm find a dean who is so much better that it is worth whatever it costs. I cannot say either way but I lean toward no.

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