I was guest-blogging at Prawfsblawg seven and a half years ago when I wrote a post about trends in law professor hiring. As that post described it, VAPs and JD / PhDs were taking over the academy. People with a profile like mine (JD to clerkship to big law firm / government to tenure track teaching position) were becoming rarer and rarer. Top schools were interviewing people with fellowships or PhDs, and in many cases both fellowships and PhDs. I talked about the benefits of this shift, and encouraged candidates interested in law teaching to think about fellowships, ending my post with the words of advice: Do as I say, not as I did.
I think it is time to update that advice.
As various posts have made clear, a number of candidates on the entry level hiring market struck out this year, and they are scrambling to land other fellowships or transition back into legal practice. I am very cognizant of the privileged position I occupy as a faculty member at an elite school. The Bigelow Program's track record of placement into tenure track jobs is unusually good, even compared to fellowships at other elite schools, and that has always enabled the school to cherry pick aspiring academics. Each of the five University of Chicago fellows on the teaching market this year have accepted excellent tenure track offers or are still weighing elite school tenure track offers. But the contracting market raised anxiety levels for many of them (and for those of us who were advising them).
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