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An Important test for Moneyball Hiring Methods in Academia:

The Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville has recently hired University of Minnesota law professor Jim Chen as its next dean. Chen is a prominent legal scholar in several fields, and also a major advocate of Moneyball hiring strategies in legal academia, which he writes about on his highly recommended Money Law blog. I myself have defended Moneyball hiring strategies here and here. Just as Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane has used Moneyball strategies to build a superior baseball team with less money than his competitors, Moneyball advocates in academia have argued that schools can use such methods to build a better faculty and move up in the rankings, even relative to better-financed peer schools. In both baseball and academia, the Moneyball emphasis on statistical analysis can help identify promising "players" whose contributions are undervalued by more conventional metrics. Certainly, this approach was one of the keys to George Mason's rapid rise over the last few years.

To my knowledge, Louisville will be the second law school (after GMU) to place Moneyball advocates at the helm. Assuming that they give Chen enough autonomy to implement his ideas, this will be an interesting test for Moneyball methodology. If Louisville improves it faculty and rises in the rankings significantly over the next few years, it will be further evidence of Moneyball's effectiveness. The flawed, but widely used US News Law School ranking system currently has Louisville as a "Tier 3" school, which means that they consider it to be somewhere between no. 100 and no. 150 out of the roughly 190 AALS-accredited schools. I suspect they might be moving up soon.

Congratulations to Jim, and good luck!

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