Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Workplace Prof Moves: 2013-2014 Edition and Call for Conference on Academic Future of Labor and Employment Law

Lateralmove_introLet me start this annual post by remarking on the unbelievable lack of movement, at all levels, in our ranks from this year compared to last year.  This might change somewhat once people supply more information through the comments, but the lack of movement in all directions in our collective fields cannot be denied. 

Indeed, I think the time has come (again?) to consider where we stand in the larger legal academic community as labor and employment law scholars. My sense (anecdotally mostly) is that there is an underappreciation of both the importance and necessity of having one or more full-time labor and employment law scholars (of all stripes) on a large number of law school faculties.  There is particularly a glaring lack of traditional labor law scholars at a large number of law schools (including some of the best) and I fear this dwindling number may be consistent with the preciptious decline in unions and other workers' rights organizations throughout the US (and Canada too).

Let me suggest preliminarily that the time might be ripe to convene a national conference on the academic future of our field. How do we as a labor and employment law community "collectively" persuade our colleagues about the importance of our work to a strong, robust democratic society?  I look forward to hearing from others in the comments if this is a concern that they share and feel should also be addressed. Ideas for what such a conference might look like and where it might be held are also very much welcome.

Less importantly, and second, it is hard to believe that the first list that we compiled for this annual post was completed in 2005-2006!  This is the eighth time we have compiled this list and my hope is that it continues to connect us all as a virtual and vibrant labor and employment law professor community.

So without further ado, here is the annual report of workplace law professors comings, goings, etc.  (as always, if you have additional information, please provide in the comments).  This post will be updated as additional information comes in.

Entry Level Hires

  • Victoria Schwartz (Bigelow Fellow at University of Chicago) to Pepperdine
  • Annie Lai (Yale Cover Fellow) to UC-Irvine
  • Claire Mumme to Windsor (Canada)
  • Tammy R Pettinato (from VAP at Louisville) to North Dakota
  • Michael Oswalt (SEIU) to Northern Illinois
  • Leora Eisenstadt (Freedman Fellow at Temple Law) to the Dept. of Legal Studies at Temple's Fox School of Business

Promotions and Tenures

  • Marica McCormick (St. Louis) has been promoted to full professor
  • Paul M. Secunda (Marquette) has been promoted to full professor
  • Matthew W. Green (Cleveland-Marshall) has been granted tenure
  • Ariana Levinson (Louisville) has been promoted to associate professor
  • Kerri Stone (Florida International) has been granted tenure
  • Craig Senn (Loyola-New Orleans) has been granted tenure
  • Jessica Fink (California Western) has been granted tenure

Administrative Appointments and Honors

  • Rick Bales (Northern Kentucky) to be Dean at Ohio Northern University
  • Seth Harris (formerly NYLS) appointed Acting U.S. Secretary of Labor
  • Israel Horowitz (PBGC Chief Counsel and Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law) named to serve on the Labor and Pensions Advisory Committee to the American Bankruptcy Institute's Chapter 11 Reform Commission
  • Jeff Hirsch (North Carolina) named Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
  • Steve Befort (Minnesota) named Associate Dean for Planning and Research
  • Sharona Hoffman (Case Western) has received a chair and was named the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Jurisprudence
  • Paul M. Secunda (Marquette) appointed to ERISA Advisory Council
  • Emily Spieiler (Northeastern) to Chair of Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee
  • Richard Moberly (Nebraksa) to Whistleblower Protection Advisory Committee
  • Charlie Sullivan (Seton Hall) named Recipient of the Second Annual Paul Steven Miller Award for Scholarly Contributions to Labor and Employment Law
  • Jennifer Drobac (Indiana-Indianapolis) appointed to American Law Institute (ALI)
  • Melissa Hart (Colorado) appointed to American Law Institute (ALI)
  • Michael Waterstone (Loyola-LA) appointed to American Law Institute (ALI)
  • Harris Freeman (Western New England) appointed to serve as one of three members of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board in Massachusetts 

Lateral Moves

  • Jeremi Duru (Temple) to American
  • Brendan Maher (Oklahoma City) to Connecticut


  • Noah Zatz (UCLA) to Yale (2013-2014)


  • Lorraine Schmall (Northern Illinois)


  • None to report


received a chair and was named the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Jurisprudence


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Before we do too much breast beating, it might be well to recall that hiring/laterals in the legal academy generally has fallen off dramatically this year. That's certainly my impression from a lot of conversations as to hires, and Brian Lieter's reports of lateral this year is about half as long as it was last year. Of course, it may be that we, employment and labor profs are doing worse than we, the legal academy, but I'm not convinced yet that that's true.


Posted by: Charles A. Sullivan | Apr 10, 2013 3:36:34 AM

I wish it were so, Charlie; that labor and employment law professors are just facing the same difficult economic climate as everyone else. But I don't think that is the primary thing going on here for at least three reasons.

First,labor and employment law has been underappreciated and under attack in the law school world for some time now (at least a decade). All you have to do is to look at the hiring numbers and see that most hiring committees are not even looking for labor and employment people when they identify "needs." Labor and employment law courses are increasingly seen as luxuries that can be taught, if need be, by adjuncts.

Second, previous strong labor and employment law programs are dying off (and there are very few remaining LLM or certificate programs). Consider schools like Wisconsin, Penn, Cornell, and Vanderbilt, which used to have strong programs (and giant professors in the field) and now have none or little programming. And these are only the name brand schools. Consider also the elimination of Schools of Industrial Relations throughout the country, which have been replaced by Human Resources Departments in Business Schools.

Third, and finally, we can't ignore the attacks on labor and employment rights in this post-Citizens United world we now live in. I am not trying to be paranoid here, but reducing the number of labor and employment law professors, reduces the number of law students who practice in the field. Less practitioners (although many of course represent employers) mean unions and other employee organizations have less intellectual might and energy to fight against corporate interests for a meaningful employee voice in the workplace.

Again, I might be alone on my views on this, but I feel strongly that we have to consider all these surrounding circumstances, talk strategy, and come up with a collective strategy to reinvigorate our part of the academy before we reach some future, hard-to-return-from tipping point.

Posted by: Paul M. Secunda | Apr 10, 2013 7:35:35 AM

Just a quick note that I crunched the numbers a couple of years ago in A Data-Driven Snapshot of Labor and Employment Law Professors, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1789702. It’d be interesting to do a follow-up study in a couple of years to ascertain the trends.

Posted by: Rick Bales | Apr 10, 2013 8:16:35 AM

I was responding mostly to the notion that the data for this year reflect some sort of sea change, which they don't -- if taken in the context of what's going on with legal education generally. If Paul's point is that we've been undergoing a long term decline in numbers and influence, that's more plausible. But it's also true that reversing any such trend is probably going to be impossible in the short-run. If we lost ground in the fat times, regaining it in times of hardship is going to be much more difficult. Not that I'm opposed to talking about it, but I wouldn't want our voices to be lost in the woe-is-us that characterizes current discussions about the state of legal education.


Posted by: Charles A. Sullivan | Apr 10, 2013 8:52:17 AM

Writing to let you know that Leora Eisenstadt (Freedman Fellow at Temple Law) is headed to the Dept. of Legal Studies at Temple's Fox School of Business. Plans to keep writing and teaching in employment law.

Posted by: Leora Eisenstadt | Apr 10, 2013 1:40:24 PM

I know I risk repeating points already made in this discussion over time, but what the hey:

1. LEL typically isn't a topic that attracts many students to law school. Plenty are attracted to vague notions of int'l law or arguing great constitutional cases, but LEL isn't sexy by comparison and we tend not to be highlighted as much in all the propaganda delivered to prospective applicants.

2. LEL is not a specialty listing in the U.S. News rankings, which continue to drive so much decision making in legal education. I'm sure that my school isn't the only one whose faculty has expressly discussed how to beef up and/or better promote their specialty category programs.

3. That said, in this climate of preparing "practice ready" lawyers (the meaning of which is another discussion...), we should be able to make the case for LEL in the curriculum. For example, there's a strong argument to be made that a survey-level Employment Law course should be a core course for anyone contemplating not only a dedicated LEL practice, but also general practice, civil litigation practice, and business practice, not to mention public interest & civil rights work.

David Yamada

Posted by: David Yamada | Apr 11, 2013 2:33:24 PM

I write as a friend of this blog, a sometimes legal writer, and a former adjunct teaching both employment discrimination and straight labor law courses. I am also a partner in a law firm with a long history of representing employees and labor unions in the South.

Paul Secunda's reasons for concern resonate with me. My sense, however, is that the problem he describes has even more layers. A couple of points come to mind.

First, LEL is not, I venture, a subject tested by bar examiners in most states, even though legions of law firms have scads of lawyers devoted to the employer-employee problems of their clients. I daresay that more practicing lawyers these days will face an employment law issue than will tangle with the Rule Against Perpetuities. Yet, the bar insists on testing on the latter while wholly ignoring the former. I have advocated at several recent presentations that we LEL lawyers need to convince bar examiners to test applicants on employment law and the rudiments of labor law. That prospect alone should animate law schools to appreciate their LEL professors a little more.

Second, what I hear from my colleagues across the country is that LEL attorneys are under-appreciated within their own law firms. The investment banking, private equity, M&A and other more lucrative transactional work in the BigLaw firms, particularly in today's bottom-line marketplace, puts LEL work into a remote and relatively powerless corner of modern practice. Even the larger LEL boutiques are feeling pressed by the advent of EPLI insurance and the competition from relatively low-fee insurance defense practitioners. You are, therefore, not alone in being under-appreciated within your own sphere of practice.

Finally, and most fundamentally, the employment relationship is bound up with our nation's social and political history, and regrettably, neither college students nor law students have much appreciation for that history. At the risk of sounding preachy, when I went to law school in the mid-60's, legal history was a requirement in the first year. As a consequence, labor law was well attended as an elective in the second and third years, even though few graduates pursued a labor practice (there was no such thing as employment law in pre-Title VII days.) Most of us - my wife and myself included - went to Wall Street to begin practice in the world of banking and finance. But most of us also left law school and entered practice with an appreciation of the place of labor relations in our legal and constitutional history. It would be nice to reinvigorate that appreciation of our history. By doing so, LEL professors might be able to reassume more easily their rightful place in the academy.

Jonathan R. Harkavy [[email protected]]

Posted by: Jonathan R. Harkavy | Apr 11, 2013 10:08:36 PM

Jonathan, I think you make a lot of good points. However, while I wholeheartedly agree with your observations about students' awareness of labor and social history, what we've found consistently at my school (which typically attracts middle and upper middle class students from New England and the Northeast generally) is that students often discover LEL and get very excited about it after taking a course in the field.

While I'd like to think that our dedication to teaching has something to do with it, in reality the subject matter helps to sell the practice area. It's the stuff of life, and also one of those areas where the study of LEL and the practice of LEL are both interesting and varied.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am of the horribly unfortunate influence of the US News specialty rankings on shaping even curricular priorities. If LEL was added as a specialty category, you can bet that schools would be beefing up support almost overnight.

David Yamada

Posted by: David Yamada | Apr 12, 2013 6:36:53 PM

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