Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mississippi Secunda and the Lateral Market of Doom

My friend and soon-to-be ex-Mississippian Paul Secunda has written an excellent article on negotiating the vagaries (treacheries?) of the law school lateral hiring market. The article is available on SSRN here. I highly recommend it as general reading for pretty much anyone interested in how law schools work--students, professor wannabees, current profs, and so on.

As Paul points out in the article, there has been a good deal of commentary on the entry-level hiring market for law faculty, but there is a paucity of literature on the lateral hiring market (the market for law profs who move from one school to another). So Paul, who is in the process of moving from the University of Mississippi School of Law to Marquette University Law School, has bravely set out to rectify that.

Personally, I think the article is great for a number of reasons. First, as already stated, it is a great resource. Second, it is an easy and fun read--not a common characteristic of scholarly writing. Third, while the advice is focused specifically on the law school lateral hiring market, some of the advice translates well to any interviewing scenario. Especially helpful, I think, is Paul's point that many of the variables in the hiring process are beyond the interviewee's control. Understand that, accept it, and focus instead on the factors you can control. That likely will increase your chances of success, and it certainly will reduce your stress level a good bit.

And finally, the article is a perfect example of how blogging can directly promote scholarship: parts of the article appeared as a series of blog posts by Paul on Concurring Opinions (see his first of eleven posts here). After all, novels by Dickens first appeared in serialized form, so why not law review articles? Dickens might even have been a blogger were he alive today--although perhaps not a law prof.

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