In a little more than a month, the first electronic “issue” of the Faculty Appointments Register (FAR) for candidates for law faculty appointments will be released to law schools. Since I occasionally glance at in-bound referrers, I know that there are people out there who are reading up on the appointments process and how to get a job in law teaching. Brad Wendel has what I think is the most comprehensive list of links to online advice, including my own $0.02 (“Be the ball”).
Given the time of the season, here’s a tip worth repeating: Use the summer to line up your “bench.”
Your cv and the form you submit to the AALS will list your recommenders — the people already in academia who can say, genuinely, that you’re already a brilliant scholar and likely to be a prolific writer and a dynamic classroom presence.
In addition to your published recommenders, if possible you want to have a “bench” of additional supporters among law faculties, people who know you and your work but who might not have the name and reputation to impress an appointments committee on paper, or who aren’t quite as impressive as the folks you included, or who are in your field but who don’t know you or your work quite as well. This expanded circle of supporters can be your eyes and ears during the recruitment process, keeping a watch for appointments opportunities that aren’t explicit in the AALS bulletin, dropping your name into conversations with colleagues and appointments chairs about “hot” candidates in your field, and giving you feedback on things like jobtalks, managing callbacks, and (if things go well) fielding and responding to offers. If you haven’t already, spend some time now contacting these people, making sure that they know that you’ll be on the teaching market this Fall, soliciting their suggestions and advice (aka “ego stroking”), and confirming that you’ll let them know how your campaign progresses.