Amid a general trend toward far less lateral recruiting by US law schools (see here and here), there are some contrarian schools on the move this year. They are expanding their faculties, while others cut budgets by reducing faculty size. For example, each of the following schools recruited three lateral tenured law professors this year: Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Stanford, and Virginia. (Source: Brian Leiter, here).
In the academic year just ended, only 28 U.S. law schools (of more than 200) recruited any laterals, the vast majority abandoning a long tradition in legal education. They moved a total of only 46 professors of many thousands in the profession, down considerably from levels seen in decades past.
Other schools in this minority bucking the trend, with two recruits apiece this year: Alabama, Berkeley, Boston College (where I once was a professor and academic dean), BYU, and Penn. Among those hiring one tenured lateral are my own George Washington as well as our archi-rival Georgetown and Northwestern and Texas.
At the other end of the resource spectrum, dozens of schools cut salary expense, the largest line item on academic income statements. They are encouraging early retirement and not replacing the vacancies. For example, each of the following schools reportedly engaged in significant buyouts in the past couple of years: Albany, Appalachian, Barry, Buffalo, Charleston, Charlotte, Elon, Faulkner, Florida Coastal, Hamline, Liberty, New England, Phoenix, Seton Hall, Vermont, and Widener.
Others are more curious and harder to classify. Take U. Cal. Irvine, a newcomer climbing the ladder in part through aggressive lateral recruiting, setting the year’s record among schools, reeling in four. Or Florida International, which hired two laterally this year.
Curiosities aside, in a capitalist society, the rich do get richer and the poor get poorer, as Thomas Piketty has reminded everyone while soaring to academic stardom. Is it surprising that, in such a civilization, the fancier established schools get bigger and stronger faculties while weaker rivals cut faculty deeply through aggressive buyouts?