The Law Faculty Combine

Passionate followers of professional football know that the National Football League is just now concluding its annual “combine,” the camp where would-be draftees get timed, tested, and measured by pro scouts in anticipation of draft day.  There are speed tests, jumping tests, “position specific events,” measurements, and the famous or infamous Wonderlic intelligence test. The “combine” is such a big deal that it has both an “official” website (here) and is covered, live, on the NFL Network.

One of the goals of the NFL combine is to identify diamonds in the rough, fabulous athletes whose professional potential was obscured by a mediocre college team.  Law school faculties, it is well-known, sometimes engage in the related practice of “best athlete” hiring.  Schools that undertake “best athlete” searches aren’t looking for fill specific substantive needs, but are instead bound — if at all — only by the mandate that they hire raw talent.

In the spirit of this older post about a Fantasy Law School League, what would a law faculty combine look like?  I mean the question both in its obvious semi-serious sense, but also in a MoneyLaw sense. Whether at the AALS Recruitment Conference (aka the meat market), elsewhere, or nowhere in particular, what tests should “best athlete” faculty candidates be made to run, who should run them, and where and when should they take place?

Updated 2/26:  At MoneyLaw, Jim Chen picks up this ball and runs with it, as it were.

2 thoughts on “The Law Faculty Combine

  1. I resist answering on some level because I dislike anything that makes the enterprise more “game-like”. But I suppose if I were just thinking about the types of tasks that indicate some talent, they might include:

    –Construct a syllabus incorporating a new pedagogical technique. (note–interviewers could learn a lot from this, too!)

    –From Bowie to Thomas Kuhn: Assess whether your field is in a state of “normal science,” or needs to undergo a “paradigm shift.” If the former, how do your projects contribute to answering the key questions. If the latter, what new questions need to be asked?

    –Write a blog post about some news item from the past thirty days that shows how your work illuminates the issues raised in the news item.

    By the way, I think the Kuhn question is the key one because it highlights how different academia is from a game. As Jeff Lipshaw has said in a recent post on Appiah’s Experiments in Ethics, much of life consists not in playing a particular game well, but figuring out what game you’re playing. Would that the rat-choice acolytes in poli-sci discovered this point before the field’s Perestroika forced them to. See, e.g.,
    http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300099812

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