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George Mason Law School Update:

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that George Mason had so far hired eight new tenured or tenure track faculty members this hiring season. The hiring season has now ended, and the tally is up to nine, with the addition of tax scholar Rachelle Holmes. Our new additions increase our faculty by 30%, and with eight of the nine new hires untenured, and none a higher rank than associate professor, I think it's fair to say that the "class of 2008" represents the future of George Mason Law School.

The law school's press release, with bios of these new hires, (plus another great addition, senior lecturer Robert W. Woolridge), can be found here.

As an aside, it's very interesting to note that all but one of GMU's seven new assistant professors had a research fellowship or visiting assistant professorship before they went on the market--and the seventh has two law degrees, one from Australia and one from the U.S. A quick check of Larry Solum's compilation of law school hiring suggests that most new hires have post-J.D. academic experience, especially, but not exclusively, at the higher-ranked schools. The traditional academic route of "law review to clerkship to big firm to tenure-track job" seems to be going the way of the dodo.

MJG:
Interesting. And in terms of the different tracks nowadays, becoming a professor is more competitive than before, and these Fellowships have really sprung up recently, largely as a way for would-be-profs to spend some time writing.
4.15.2008 10:25am
Reinhold (mail):
It's interesting that professors are becoming further removed from the practical aspects of law before becoming professors.
4.15.2008 10:42am
DavidBernstein (mail):
Actually, the effect of the fellowships is debatable; the net effect may actually be to allow individuals who are really "into" their jobs as attorneys to transition to academia. In the old days, it was very difficult to both do your "day job" and get something prepared to published, which discouraged a significant number of "real lawyers" from going into academia. This would be even more of a problem today, given the ever-increasing billable hours demands on associates.
4.15.2008 11:00am
Stuart Buck (mail) (www):
Well, I wonder -- how many law firm partners want to take a 90% pay cut for a one-year job that might give them a chance to enter academia? It's a very risky step to take. It seems to me that the emphasis on VAPs is another hurdle that will only make it harder for people who have large student loans to enter academia.
4.15.2008 11:09am
DavidBernstein (mail):
I'm not talking about partners. I'm talking about young lawyers. I knew many from my day who had some interest in an academic career, but just couldn't fit any writing, or even a lot of independent thinking, into their very busy legal career.
4.15.2008 11:25am
Stuart Buck (mail) (www):
Even so, it seems risky -- if you have $130,000 in student loans, it's going to be very difficult to strike out after a couple of years in practice and take a $40,000 one-year job that might or might not lead to something more permanent.
4.15.2008 11:33am
DavidBernstein (mail):
That's true; but it also separates those who really want to be academics from those who just want a break from law firm drudgery. Also, VAPs pay reasonably well.
4.15.2008 11:41am
George Smith (mail):
Is being a good classroom TEACHER even a minor requirement for these jobs?
4.15.2008 12:40pm
hawkins:

Is being a good classroom TEACHER even a minor requirement for these jobs?


No
4.15.2008 12:49pm
Zed:
Being a good classroom teacher is not a factor in the US News rankings, while faculty prestige certainly is a factor, so obviously no, being a good teacher is not a requirement for these jobs.
4.15.2008 1:26pm
Chris Newman (mail):
George:

A huge part of the interview process is giving a job talk, which requires one to display the ability to give an organized and engaging presentation on legal issues. That ability certainly isn't the only thing that one needs to be a good classroom teacher, but it's probably about as good a proxy for it as the hiring schools can be expected to use, unless we want to limit them to only hiring people who have already taught professionally.
4.15.2008 1:44pm
Chris Newman (mail):
FWIW, in my case at least the fellowship was precisely what made it possible for me to transition from practice (where I spent nearly seven years) into teaching. Without the opportunity to spend a year focusing primarily on writing (while receiving an adequate if vastly reduced income), I doubt that I ever would have been able to do it.

Of course, I must confess to a lingering amount of bemused umbrage at the legal academy's notion that during seven years as a litigator (including countless briefs, memos, opinion letters) I didn't do any real legal "writing."
4.15.2008 1:55pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Sorry Chris! Change what I wrote to "writing" with scare quotes.
4.15.2008 2:05pm
Chris Newman (mail):
:-)
4.15.2008 2:08pm
MR (mail) (www):

Well, I wonder -- how many law firm partners want to take a 90% pay cut for a one-year job that might give them a chance to enter academia? It's a very risky step to take. It seems to me that the emphasis on VAPs is another hurdle that will only make it harder for people who have large student loans to enter academia.


I did, and I could never have done it without the fellowship.
4.15.2008 2:16pm
lostmycookies (mail):
So how do you get a fellowship as a joebloe attorney who has published nothing but misc one page crappers for the local bar mag?
4.15.2008 5:38pm
MR (mail) (www):

So how do you get a fellowship as a joebloe attorney who has published nothing but misc one page crappers for the local bar mag?


You probably don't. You have to start and have a good draft (probably; I suppose there are exceptions). But the key is that most people don't get hired with just one publication - the fellowship helps you get the second (and/or third) publication done. During my fellowship I finished one article, started and finished a second, and started a third (which is just now going out).
4.15.2008 8:58pm
Zywicki (mail):
David forgot to mention the most important professor job qualification--VC Reader!
4.16.2008 7:56am