What If the Untenured Volokh Conspirators Were a Law Faculty?

David Bernstein's post comparing the VC members' citation counts since 2000 to the list of top 20 law schools excludes the untenured (as Brian Leiter did in the original study that David based his methodology on). However, we untenured proles hate to be left out of the fun. So I decided to see what would happen if we compared the citation stats for the three untenured regularly posting conspirators (David Kopel, Sasha Volokh, and myself) to the mean citation rates for the tenured profs at the 20 top-scoring law schools compiled by Leiter. I include Kopel despite the fact that he isn't a professor because he certainly is a legal scholar and is obviously not tenured.

With a mean score of about 240 citations per person, our group would rank 18th in Leiter's study, tied with the University of Illinois, and just slightly behind Penn (260) and Virginia (250). Considering that the comparison group consists of tenured professors at higher-ranking institutions, with on average many more years to accumulate publications, that is not a bad showing. Note also that Sasha is only just now about to start on his first tenure track job (at Emory), which places our little group at a further disadvantage. Yet he has already accumulated a substantial citation count.

My estimate of 240 is a bit imprecise since it slightly overstates David Kopel's count (because I wasn't able to fully scrub out a few false positives where the cite was to some other author named Kopel or to a case name with Kopel in it), and slightly understates Sasha's (because I had to use fairly crude methods to eliminate citations to Eugene Volokh from the study, which probably led to accidental excision of some genuine Sasha cites). I am confident, however, that a more thorough parsing of the data would still leave us in roughly the 230-250 range.

Even if we were so inclined, the untenured VCers couldn't start our own law faculty because there aren't enough of us. But if we could join with our tenured co-conspirators, we would probably have enough professors with a broad enough diversity of expertise to cover the basic law school curriculum (along with some interesting specialized courses) and start a small school of our own. I'm sure Dean Eugene would be happy to start taking your tuition deposits in his handy tip jar!

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