FIU College of Law in the Roger Williams Survey

FIU College of Law (which opened in Fall 2002) is not yet a member of the AALS, which meant we were not included in the Roger Williams survey of faculty productivity at non-Top-50 law schools. So, as St. Thomas (MN) did last month, we ran our numbers. The result: a 4.590 faculty score, placing us around # 30, just behind Indiana-Indianapolis and just ahead of St. John’s, Tennessee, and Loyola-Chicago.

Not bad, especially since I had thought before we ran the numbers that our faculty might have a couple of built-in disadvantages, given the study’s methodology. First, we have a very bottom-heavy faculty–10 of our 22 tenure/tenure-track faculty are pre-tenure and five of those are in their second year teaching, and three of our senior faculty are newly tenured. Second, we have a lot of specialists doing legal history (including non-U.S./non-English legal history) and niche international work, stuff that tends to place in specialty journals and that also tends to be shorter. Third, several of our top senior people have focused almost exclusively on writing books (scholarly and casebooks) rather than law review articles over the past 3-4 years (although I wonder if the trend in the academy towards book projects makes this an issue across the board).

Anyway, I was happy to see us come out that well in a preliminary study. It gives us something to build on with a new dean (we are beginning a dean search as I write this) and in the never-ending search for new faculty.

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4 Responses

  1. Andrew Perlman says:

    Actually, I think a newer school will typically do better in the Roger Williams study than a more established school. As you note, a newer school has more junior faculty, and junior faculty tend to write more articles per year than tenured faculty. They also tend to care more about placements, which is the only metric measured by the RWU study. Finally, the RWU study has a fairly limited time horizon (15 years) from which it draws its data, so junior faculty won’t be unduly prejudiced relative to other possible metrics (like citation counts), which take some time to accumulate.

    Moreover, it seems to me that a new school will tend to hire senior faculty who are still at least modestly productive and placing articles in decent places. So the senior faculty at a new school is probably going to have a more impressive recent scholarly record, on average, than the senior faculty at similarly situated schools.

    That’s not to diminish in any way the accomplishments of FIU. Rather, it’s just an explanation for why it shouldn’t be too surprising that a newer school would do well in that study. For more on why I think the study is problematic, see my comments after this post: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2008/09/faculty-product.html

  2. Howard Wasserman says:

    Andrew: Your point about young faculty writing more is well taken, but I do not believe it entirely overcomes the time period covered. Fifteen years brings in most still-going-strong senior full professors, those who are committed to writing and continue to do so. Someone about to be tenured has almost exactly 1/2 that time period (if we include pre-hiring writing) in which to work and more recent hires even less time than that. Maybe that just means junior-heaviness is a wash–neither a benefit nor a hindrance in the study.

  3. Andrew Perlman says:

    Howard, you may be right. I think that, all things being equal, a faculty heavily weighted towards junior faculty/recently tenured faculty will do better in this study than a similar school that is weighted towards more senior faculty. But that’s just an intuitive guess; it’s hard to tell without breaking down the data school by school.

  4. Guest says:

    Why does FIU have a law school? Are there too few law schools in Florida?