Update on Down Lateral Prawfs Market

I promised to update my post from last week about the weak state of the lateral hiring market for law professors.  The Faculty Lounge has updated its figures through March 3, now showing lateral moves of 28 prawfs in recruiting by 21 schools (up from the prior report, through February 4, of 21 prawfs and 17 schools).

We know of at least a few schools/prawfs not yet reported at FL (including two involving Temple University, thanks to Dave Hoffman of this blog, and seven Paul Caron reports knowing about).  All seem agreed, however, that this is a down year, well off from the years when 70 or 80 schools wooed 130 or more prawfs. This reflects the contraction of the legal profession and resulting uncertainties plaguing legal education. The new environment entails a reexamination of past sector-wide practices, which is probably wise.

The signal that lateral recruiting used to send for a school, being competitive to boast the greatest faculty, may nowadays backfire, being a signal of peculiar resource allocation amid tough times for students. Notably, New York University’s John Sexton was a pioneer in the former and these days is getting negative press for sticking with it.  Academic luxuries can no longer be taken for granted.  It remains a difficult balancing act, however, because in many cases a lateral recruit is vital to fill an important need at a school.  It is not always easy from the outside to see the difference.

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6 Responses

  1. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Further Update: FL figures through March 5 show lateral moves of 32 prawfs in recruiting by 24 schools.

  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Further Update: FL figures through March 6 show lateral moves of 36 prawfs in recruiting by 27 schools.

  3. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Leiter Law Reports, which focuses counts only lateral law professor moves with tenure, indicates a total of 19 beginning with the 2013 academic year (as of March 2013) compared with 50 beginning with the 2012 academic year.

  4. Christine Hurt says:

    Larry, do you think that the decrease is mainly a buy-side contraction? Is it possible that folks are risk-averse about moving? I know in the past few years, moving might entail selling a house in a down market (or not selling it), possibly leaving unvested retirement monies on the table, forcing a spouse to leave a job and find another one in a bad market, etc. Is it more costly to move this days? Or, do you think that in the past, hiring schools were more generous about making up costs (lost sabbaticals, retirement monies, tuition benefits), but just can’t justify it anymore? Lots of interesting things to think about.

  5. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Chrstine: Excellent points. Many prospective lateral recruits are declining opportunities at various stages until the uncertainty, which is a cost that cannot exactly be compensated for, clears up.

  6. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Further Update: FL figures through April 20 show lateral moves of 56 prawfs in recruiting by 41 schools.