Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

Tales of a Law Professor Lateral Nothing*

Academic journal article The University of Memphis Law Review

Tales of a Law Professor Lateral Nothing*

Article excerpt

I. INTRODUCTION ................................................................. 125

II. So, Are You Experienced? ........................................... 128

A. The Right Stuff. ............................................................ 128

B. Blogging to Be a Lateral ............................................. 130

III. WHERE DOES ONE FIND THE LATERAL MARKET EXACTLY?. ......................................................... 132

IV. FIRST CONTACT ................................................................ 135

V. THE NOTHING INTERVIEW ................................................ 136

VI. THE EVERYTHING INTERVIEW .......................................... 138

VII. THE WAITING GAME ........................................................ 140

VIII. REJECTION IS A DISH BEST SERVED COLD? ...................... 142

IX. THE OFFER: "YOU LIKE ME, YOU REALLY LIKE ME?" .... 143

X. THE NEGOTIATION ........................................................... 146

XI. "SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO?" ................................ 149

XII. CONCLUSION ..................................................................... 150

I. INTRODUCTION

It always struck me as odd that even though law professors spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and talking about moving to another law school "at the next level" through the lateraling process,1 there is surprisingly little written about the lateral hiring market for law professors. There are numerous articles and blog posts on how to score that first entry-level job in the legal academy,2 and there is even a whole symposium devoted to the meaning of the law blogging revolution for law schools and for law professor aspirations to move up in the law professor world.3 However, in this Essay, I want instead to spotlight the less- discussed and more mysterious law professor lateral process.4 In short, this is an initial attempt to master the mysteries of the law professor lateral hiring market. I seek to fill in the knowledge gap through a first-person narrative, sometimes funny, sometimes downright tragic.5 I feel as well suited as anyone to undertake this delicate task. I offer these humble observations as someone who has been on the lateral market for the last three years and who has been turned down by numerous schools-two of which occurred after fly-back interviews; I have also turned down a lateral offer and finally, accepted a lateral offer from Marquette University Law School ("Marquette") in 2008. 6 Additionally, I served on the University of Mississippi School of Law's ("Mississippi") Faculty Appointments Committee, which hired lateral candidates in 2007 and 2008. My hope is to bring some much-needed light to this process both from a candidate's and an appointments committee member's perspective.

The Essay starts from the very beginning of the lateral hiring process by establishing some basic guidelines to determine whether one might have the necessary credentials to take the plunge into the lateral market. From there, the Essay discusses the unique nature of the law professor lateral market, the best ways to break into that market, and how to handle the different stages of this process, such as the first contact with a law school, the preliminary or "nothing" interview, the call-back or "everything" interview, the waiting game, the rejection, the offer, the negotiation, and finally, the decision of whether or not to make a move to a new school.

Before going any further, however, like any good professional in my line of work, I start with a very important disclaimer. There may be as many factors beyond your control about whether you obtain a lateral job as those that are within your control. These outside-of-your-control factors include whether you are a junior or senior faculty, whether you are tenured or not, what curriculum slot the school is looking to fill, what demographic diversity you bring, the crazy politics of a place, and even the crazy interior world of one faculty member's mind who has made it his or her life's mission to "get you" for reasons not apparent to anyone. …

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