Thursday, October 17, 2013
Here we are again at the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference (FRC). My co-editor Dean Richard Gershon started the conversation the other day, and I would like to chime in with a few thoughts. I think the FRC, in its current form, is an idea whose time has passed. When this conference first started--all of us coming to DC (and sometimes Chicago in the really old days)--it was an efficient system. It provided a convenient way for candidates to meet with many schools and schools to meet with many candidates for quick screening interviews all in one place at one time. It enabled schools to keep costs low by shifting some of the cost to candidates themselves and by enabling interview teams to go to one place at one time to talk to everyone.
But, times have changed and technology has advanced. It can no longer be considered efficient for either interviewing teams or candidates to incur the costs to travel to DC when there is now reliable and inexpensive technology that can enable us to have the initial screening interviews from our own conference rooms in our home schools. There is no reason why the AALS couldn't continue to provide the FAR--and even charge for it--but when schools buy access to the FAR, that should include the right to opt out of the annual pilgrimage to the Marriott Wardman Park. The AALS could impose some date restrictions so that schools are operating on a roughly even time table.
Don't get me wrong; I really enjoy meeting the candidates and hearing about their fascinating and innovative work. I enjoy hearing about their enthusiasm for teaching; it inspires me to go back and find ways I can be a better teacher and dean. I enjoy getting to know people through the hiring process. I have good friends and colleagues who I met through this process (on both sides). Without the FRC, we would lose some of the camaraderie that develops within teams as well as between teams and candidates. I am looking forward to what the next two days will bring and excited about the prospect of ending up with some wonderful new colleagues who will help usher in the bright future of legal education.
However--in this time of shrinking budgets and concerns about rising costs--it's time to consider whether the FRC is the best use of our limited resources (for both the schools and the candidates).
But let's hear from you! While you are relaxing between interviews, send us your comments. What are your thoughts about the conference and the hiring process in general? Candidates, what do you want deans to know about you and about the process? Deans and Faculty, what do you want candidates to know? What do you look for when you hire faculty? For those of you who have been here before, what is your favorite memory from the AALS FRC? Your worst memory? (Mine's the year we had to vacate in the middle of the night for a fire--wasn't that 2001?) Tell us whatever you want to--it is your chance to rant or vent or just retell a funny story (and you can do it anonymously if you want to).