Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's not what you know, but who you know

Recently, I wrote about the Pless family – remember them?  Paul Pless, “convicted” law school fake stats fall guy, and his wife Stacey Tutt who just so happened to get a nice teaching job at the same school at the same time that Paul took the heat for the entire scandal.  Yeah, acting alone and all that.

Turns out that family connections are often exploited for employment purposes.  Take for example our good friend and self-proclaimed lifelong oppressee Nancy Leong, now an assistant professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law (currently clawing her way up the prestige ladder at UCLA as a visiting professor - I guess only T14 is good enough.)  According to her New York Times wedding announcement, she’s shacked up with one Justin Pidot.  Back in 2010, Justin was a rising star with the Environmental and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice.  And now, concurrent with Nancy’s arrival at Denver in 2011, Justin is miraculously a law professor at Denver too!

There is an undeniable connection.  Just guessing, but I think Nancy pulled strings and helped her hubby get a cushy gig as a law professor, just like Paul Pless pulled strings or made a deal to get his wife a teaching gig in return for him taking the heat for the stats scandal.  Furthermore, looking at Justin’s resume, she’s been pulling strings to get his levels of “scholarship” to where they need to be too.  For example, she recently worked as an assistant law professor at William & Mary, and he has managed to get an article published in the William & Mary Law Review - another strange coincidence.

(How Justin obtained his plum job with the DOJ is itself most likely another family connection being used, for his father was the chief of the natural resources division of the Maine attorney general’s office and consequently probably had some connections that could be exploited to get his son in the door at the federal version.)

So what does all of this go to show?  Is it trying to show that Justin Pidot doesn’t deserve his position as a law professor?  Is his scholarship worthless because it’s conveniently published in journals where he has connections?  Of course not.  In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Justin, with his actual real life law experience, is precisely who we need in law schools.  He practiced environmental law recently at a high level, and now he’s teaching it.  He’s no “old fart” out of touch professor who has spent the past twenty years regurgitating the notes he took himself while a 1L at Harvard, nor is he some inexperienced K-->JD-->clerkship-->classroom "walking credential collection" with a resume stuffed with high dollar prestigious school names but who has never held a real job, let alone a legal job.

I'm sure Justin is doing just fine in the classroom.  He has the education, and more importantly the experience.  That is precisely what this blog is advocating for.  Law professors who know how to be lawyers, not just who know about the law.

No, my point is nothing of the sort.  Nancy and Justin are just an illustration for anyone who still doesn’t get the fact that post-JD employment, especially those legal jobs that are actually worth having (DOJ, for example, or Biglaw, or a law faculty position – we’re not talking about slumming it at some two-attorney strip mall social security claims mill), is not so much a matter of what you know but who you know.  If you don’t have the connections, your chances of landing a good legal job when you graduate are slender.

As one commenter to a prior Leong-based post spent so much time trying to argue, it’s not as if we wouldn’t do the same thing if we could.  And he or she was absolutely right, to some extent.  While becoming a law professor is not everyone’s idea of a dream job, I don’t think anyone would not use their connections to get a good job with the federal government, state government, a great firm, or a cushy corporate gig.  I don’t begrudge anyone using those connections.  Nothing wrong with that, and I’d do the same.  So well done to Justin - you did what you needed to do to get where you wanted to be.  That's how life works, and you get it.  I’d advise anyone seeking a law job to use whatever connections they have, because the career services advisor at their law school sure isn’t going to help.

But let’s all be very clear and honest about this.  Those with connections succeed, and those without struggle.  I could have gone to the same law school as Justin Pidot, had the same experience as him, but would never get hired as a law professor because I didn't have an insider connection.  Some people have good connections, most people don’t.  It’s an unwritten rule of the legal employment game, and one that law schools fail to disclose.  For many jobs, you need someone else to put their foot in the door for you.  You need an invitation.  You need insiders.  You need juice.  Whatever you want to call it.  And for many reasons, those who end up getting nice jobs because of connections tend to hide this fact.  It’s not inherently unfair, but it’s distasteful for many who firmly believe that employment should be on merit alone, not legacies and connections and under the table deals and knowing the right people, especially when we’re paying six figures for the opportunity to even get a shot at a legal job.  To pay all that money in tuition only to find out that the game was rigged from the start is unpleasant.  It’s the way society works though, and the point of this post is solely to make sure that all applicants are fully aware of the two following points:

First, even attending a top school and doing well sometimes isn’t enough to get a nice job unless you have connections.

Second, those successful students at low-ranked schools are often successful not because of the law school, but because of connections.

The second point is the most important, given the fact that students at top law schools can generally find some kind of work.  It’s the tens of thousands of law students at the 185 or so non top-14 law schools who suffer under this culture of connections, because they go into law school thinking that the playing field is level, and that they have (statistically) the same chance of success as everyone else.  In reality, anyone without proven preexisting legal connections should never go into law school under the assumption that if they succeed they will obtain either a job that pays anywhere in the upper 25% of that school’s reported salaries for its graduates or any secure job in government.  Those kinds of nice jobs are generally reserved for students with connections and not necessarily those who work hard and get the best grades.

Connections are vitally important in law (and life), especially now that jobs are hard to come by.  Parents hand books of business to their children, and attorney uncles and aunts make sure their law student nieces and nephews get the summer jobs in law firms rather than hiring Joe JD through OCI.  Government employees open doors for their relatives and friends while the rest of us blindly toss resume after resume into government recruiting web sites.  Without having someone already on the inside, your chances of ever getting through the door are greatly diminished, and your analysis of whether law school is a good choice for you should factor in this unspoken rule of the game.  Most of the good jobs are already allocated before you even walk into your first 1L class, so ignore those success stories prominently displayed on your target law school’s web site because the school is hiding the fact that the kid going off to work in Biglaw is the son of a prominent rainmaker, and the kid who is going off to be a prosecutor has an uncle who is a judge.


  1. This blog is on a roll, you've now defamed Justin Pidot, after defaming Richard Sander.

    1. I'm going to start removing these useless comments. They serve no purpose other than distracting readers from the core message of the blog. I'll leave this one up as an example, but over the past couple of weeks the blog has attracted a new group of readers who are intent on disrupting the usual smooth operation here. (I suspect that these comments are from law professors or their close allies because law professors have been the target of some recent posts here. And I also suspect that they know that it's easy to derail the usual intelligent commentary from readers by throwing in some red herrings like the one above. We're not going to play that game anymore.)

      Here's a modification to our moderation policy. All >relevant< comments are welcome. Anything else is subject to removal. Fellow mods, please feel free to filter comments that are clearly just submitted to stir up trouble.

      Besides, I'm not sure where my "defamation" of Pidot is? Perhaps in the heapings of compliments I've thrown at him? My post isn't coming down under some silly threat of defamation. While the Sander piece might have been based on someone else's flimsy research, I think the connections I've made here are pretty solid.

      You also miss the point of the post. It's not about Pidot, but about connections. He just happens to be a good example.

    2. Yeah, there've been a few new regular trolls in the last two weeks or so.

    3. I need to point out here that the word "defame" is often used as an equivocation. By whom? By Nietzsche and his one-man network of Internet thugs, for one. By many professors who know nothing about tort practice, for another. They've found that it tends to intimidate some writers, and they're going to use that word to the point where it stops working, which may be soon.

      To defame someone is to diminish their reputation. Many true statements that are not in any way wrong or tortious have the effect of defaming bad actors such as the scamdeans and their greedy hordes of underworked professors. That's why we've seen so much harassment here in recent weeks. We've been naming names and getting to the heart of the scam.

      I'm proud of the posters here for doing their job in such an effective way that the scamprofs are screaming with outrage at their parties, dinners, and conferences. Maybe some younger professors are starting to wonder what's causing so much unwanted excitement, and if it may somehow affect their careers. I'd consider that progress.

    4. If you state falsely that Justin got his job because of Nancy, you have defamed him, smarty pants, unless it is true, which it isn't. Your boss is going to be thrilled to learn of your hobby!

    5. And 5:30 you have just outed yourself as tipsy late night Nancy who thinks that she can't be found out just because she's posted here lots of times before and has not been called on it.

    6. For the benefit of 1L lawyers and law professors, here's a reminder:


      1. Hurt feelings.

      2. Awkward truths that you prefer to stay hidden because they are embarrassing.

      And remember, the burden of proof to show defamation is in the person alleging defamation.

      Carry on.

    7. For the benefit of 6:01 am: a false statement of fact that damages someone's reputation is defamatory. This looks to be a statement of fact:

      "I think Nancy pulled strings and helped her hubby get a cushy gig as a law professor, just like Paul Pless pulled strings or made a deal to get his wife a teaching gig in return for him taking the heat for the stats scandal."

      Prefacing it with "I think" does not insulate it from being defamatory, as lawyers know. Its meaning is clear: Pidot did not get his current professional position on the merits. If that is false, then Pidot has been defamed. The only remaining question is whether Colorado is a state in which a false statement of fact about someone's professional competence is per se defamatory, meaning there is no need to show damage. That is important because it is not plausible that claims made on this blog could damage someone's reputation IRL. But if it is per se defamatory, then that hurdle is cleared.

    8. Using "I think" doesn't change the result? That's hard to imagine. I "think" all kinds of stuff and when I say to someone, "I think this or that," most every listener knows that these words mean I am not claiming my opinion as a hard fact.

    9. 8:43, cute. Academic, but cute.

      Here's how it works in real law world:

      You claim it's defamating Justin. So he sues and we get access to all his and his wife's communications with the school about this matter.

      And what will those show? First, a bunch of insider dirty laundry will be aired. Second, that if Nancy didn't help Justin get his job, that the reverse happened (because the chances of husband and wife miraculously finding perfect law prof jobs at the one school near Nancy's family at exactly the same time is about 0.01%.)

      Here's what the lawyer will tell them (if you are correct and these two law professor positions were sought entirely independently, which is what you are claiming): "Ok, you might win, you might not, and even if you win you'll probably get nothing. Next step, I'll need a $20,000 retainer."

      And case closed.

      You've also demonstrated why law professors (which you are) are useless - you have absolutely no concept of the practicalities of legal work. Having a case is one thing. Anyone can figure that out. The hard part is making it profitable to file the case and see it through.

    10. Adding to 11:15's comment:

      I would be willing to bet that most the people who would be the target of 8:43's lawsuit are judgment-proof anyway as a result of the law school scam. It would be fun to file a cross on those facts as well, and get some additional discovery requests on law school stats.

    11. Decade+ litigator here who has actually defended defamation actions. It's hard to believe people with apparent legal educations think there's a defamation cause of action here, some of whom appear to have actually refreshed their memory of the elements of the tort before commenting. Saying “I think” does not *need* to insulate one from liability if the statement at issue was subjective opinion in the first place, removing it from the realm of tangible facts that might mislead a reader into thinking a falsehood about Pidot. But really, “I think” does play an insulating role here. You're not defamed unless the author’s statements suggests FACTS that harm your reputation. Calling you an asshole, lazy, incompetent, rude, and inconsiderate of others is not defamation, as a matter of law.

      Of course, all this sets aside the hideously absurd proposition that Pidot did not benefit one iota from his marriage to Leong to secure the job at Leong's employer. Unless Pidot can show the lack of a single fact supporting this assertion that could persuade a reasonable jury (extremely unlikely), the author would probably win summary judgment.

    12. 11:15: obviously if the allegation is not false, it would be foolhardy indeed for Justin to sue, and not only because of what the defendant would be entitled to in discovery. But certainly one reason not to sue is to expose oneself to discovery.

      11:59: if you're really a lawyer, you're not a very good one.

    13. Setting aside that there's no false statement of fact, the 1st amendment is a huge obstacle, there's a complete lack of damages, and the plaintiff would open themselves to discovery and counter-suit...

      Aren't law professors essentially defamation-proof on this point?

    14. Let's not forget the public figure and malice argument as well.

    15. That was fun. Almost like an episode of Law and Order. Now I'm debating whether I should go to law school so I can put overly paid law professors in their place in the blogosphere...

      And... Nice try Nancy. Better luck on the next post!

  2. "As one commenter to a prior Leong-based post spent so much time trying to argue, it’s not as if we wouldn’t do the same thing if we could. And he or she was absolutely right, to some extent."

    Thank you OTLSS. That was me. ;-). I knew if you let it sink in a bit, you'd know what I was trying to convey. It sucks to eat sour grapes, but it's better than not to know they are sour. There's no shame in having a harder lot in life. It just makes life's little successes along the way all that much more sweeter to know how it wasn't handed to you.

  3. "But let’s all be very clear and honest about this. Those with connections succeed, and those without struggle."

    Of course! But it's not exactly the way the article portrays it. There's a twist.

    I covered this here:

    The thing is this: It IS about connections. Nobody makes it without connections. Sometimes, daddy made the connections. Sometimes, YOU have to make the connections.

    There are many people out there who go out and make their own connections because daddy never made any.

    1. Yeah, I'll agree with that.

      Back to Nancy and Justin. Justin seems to have used his connections via his father and his wife to get his career up and running. Nancy on the other hand seems to come from a fairly modest background and got her start without milking a preexisting network of law-based connections (as far as I can tell). So sometimes you've got to get out there and make the connections yourself.

      I think this general idea is "networking", so poorly-explained and badly-understood by career services people in every law school who think that making connections is as simple as going for timewasting "informational interviews" or attending functions that lawyers go to and shaking hands.

      Networking is like a low-fat version of connections. With networking, you're asking and begging for favors in a sleazy salesperson kind of way. With connections, the other person wants to help you even if you don't necessarily ask for it because you've developed or acquired some kind of deep family/friend relationship that takes more than a handshake and a five minute chat to create.

    2. And just to reemphasize for anyone who thinks that me saying that Justin used connections to get his jobs is a slam on Justin. It's not. It's him doing what anyone else (good or bad) would have done to get ahead. I would do it. But let's not deny the fact that it's taking place. Very few successful people are self-made in the purest sense.

      In fact you can't get ahead in life in many cases without getting these little favors from other people.

      If you have connections, you >must< use them. Don't think that it's unethical to use them. Don't think that it's unfair or cheating to use connections. It's foolish not to.

    3. Your last paragraph is a very apt description of the process. In fact, I had Thanksgiving with a client's family because they have all become close friends over the years. I was asked by one of the daughters why I happened to wind up a friend of the family, with a follow-up question, like, "You don't become friends with all your clients like this, do you?"

      I told her, "Sure, I do! Some will be very good acquaintances in the sense that while we don't have Thanksgiving together and do small things together, we still care very much to see each other do well, and we would help each other as friends."

      Making friends is the best part of the whole experience. When I network, I have a dual purpose in mind: I am out to make a new client who will become a new friend.

    4. Actually, I think that it is standard practice at universities to find employment for the spouse of an incoming faculty member. Thus, that aspect of this issue isn't really all that sinister.

  4. My law school had many kids with connections but I also saw a lot of regular people with no lawyers in the family get good jobs based on their law school achievments.

    1. I don't disagree with this. Sometimes just doing well in law school is sufficient. Not everyone gets ahead through using connections. Some do well in law school and get hired with no prior network of insiders.

      I think my point can be distilled down to the idea that connections are more important than many people think.

      For example, say a school has 100 students and 20 generally get "good" jobs in each class.

      The law school would have you believe that those top 20 jobs are going to the 20 students who did well in law school (the level playing field theory). In reality, 5 of those top jobs are going to the kids in the top 10% of the class (the remaining half of whom might not even get a good job because the playing field is not level in reality), and the other 15 top jobs are distributed through the rest of the student body regardless of academic performance based upon who has connections to get their foot in the door.

      Just an example, not concrete stats. Performance in law school is a way to get a foot in the door. Connections are another. Law schools and law school advice dispensers I think put too much emphasis on the "get into the top 10% and you're good to go" group, and not enough on the "if you've got existing connections you're good to go" group.

    2. I think you're on the right track with this epiphany about connections, if I may call it that. I was a mediocre law student with no connections when I graduated, and certainly no lawyers or judges in my family. I started out with a hard luck crappy job at a small sweatshop law firm. But I'm a nice guy, I treat my opposing counsel with respect, and I seem to have decent lawyering skills. Over time, that's all it took for me to build up a pretty good network of lawyer friends alone. I can tell you from my years of experience that, often, a simple network of friends in your profession is just fine to help you get by. I have a pretty cushy job now. There are plenty of Ivy Leaguers who are junior to me, to give you an idea.

      In concrete terms, I haven't looked for a new job by cold-calling, emailing or writing letters to employers since my very first job out of law school. Every career move I made since that job was by word of mouth and reputation. People like to hire sure bets. When you have a connection telling the interviewer, “Hey, this guy’s kosher, you'll look good by hiring him, trust me,” that’s usually the ball game right then and there.

  5. That's a very interesting point. I've been considering JD programs for two years now, thinking I might generate some opportunities that I don't have at present. There are institutions on the West Coast that report 3% or 5% of their graduates get jobs in BigFirms, and I've decided not to pay any attention. My reasoning is that it's quite easy for 3% or 5% of any program's graduates to have preexisting connections that get them good jobs.

    But my question here is whether we can use the same reasoning to dismiss much higher percentages of BigFirm hiring. Do JD graduates from Penn or NYU or Chicago have to depend on connections to get hired at big firms? If not, what percentage of JD graduates have a chance of getting hired without connections?

    I'm interested in whatever insight or experiences your readers may bring to this issue.

    1. Everyone will claim the answer, but it doesn't exist. Some people with connections get in. Others get in without those connections. If you want to learn who does what, why and how, you need to just go into that circle and find out. Along the way, you just might make some connections.

    2. Going to a T14 school will make connections far less important. Biglaw hires lots of students from a handful of schools, and if you go to one of those schools and do well then you will walk into a Biglaw job (and walk out after a few years but that it a whole different post.)

      Some students will still use connections to get those Biglaw jobs, but many are just smart kids who law firms want to hire.

      If you go to Chicago and do well, you could be an orphan who lived in a mud hut and knows nobody and you will get a fair shot at a Biglaw job. But I think you are right in your analysis that those schools with 3-5% Biglaw of the class going into Biglaw are jobs that may well be going to the kids with connections (dad is a judge, mom is a politician, uncle is a CEO, that kind of thing that law firms know can be used to get better results in the courtroom or bring in business.)

    3. "If you go to Chicago and do well, you could be an orphan who lived in a mud hut and knows nobody and you will get a fair shot at a Biglaw job."

      With the caveat that in an elite academic program, everyone else is as smart as you and as hard-working as you.

      Just because you got A's as an undergraduate, does't mean you will do well at a really good law school.

      Probably 90% of the people who go to Chicago think that they will graduate in the top 20% of their class. Approximately 70% of those people will be wrong.

    4. @10:34 this is an excellent question. With respect to law firms including BigLaw the unquantifiable "fit" factor is much more important than in most businesses. Firms look to see if you will "fit" with the firm or within a particular section of the firm that is hiring. From my experience, connections are more important in medium and small firms as the larger firms will have more rules concerning nepotism. The problem with BigLaw is that you have to have a certain GPA/rank before you make the cut and only then will an attorney look at your CV. So if you are hoping to make a connection with a partner who has a similar background to you your own, you will be out of luck if you don't have the grades to get your CV in front of her/him.
      Also, something that they don't tell you in the Careers office is how much an advantage it is to be one of the beautiful people. Being young and toned makes up for at least .5 on your GPA. If you don't make law review, hit the gym.

    5. The irrational appeal of biglaw is part of the problem here, although it's compounded by outrageous tuition rates that force law grads to consider biglaw.

      Problem 1: Biglaw is not a rational career aspiration. It is not possible to sustain a lifestyle involving 2400 billable hours a year, your mental and physical health, and also an intimate relationship with a sane person, even for $175,000 a year or whatever the hell the going rate is.

      Problem 2: Biglaw doesn't teach you jack shit. After 3-4 years of reviewing documents or writing research memos, what experience have you gained that adds value to society, much less to government agencies, other lawyers, or public interests? How to wear a suit properly?

      Law grads today need to re-tool their expectations. Go out there and learn how to be trial lawyers. You know how common actual trial experience is among civil litigators of our generation? It's NOT. Supply and demand, folks. Trial skills are in demand out there in the courtrooms of America, and the supply of trial lawyers is necessarily low, because guess what? It's hard being a trial lawyer. Any moron with a pulse can get into California Western School of Law and have a Juris Doctor like anyone else. But how many JD's can cross-examine a liar?

  6. That's the whole point...make your own connections. That guy sitting next to you in lawschool ...he could be a ceo of a fortune 500 company someday. Many go to the elite schools specifically for the networking and connection making opportunities. Few adults rely on their parents, they rely on themselves. I know out of law school i got a job with a mid law firm because of friends i had made in law school, not my grades.

    1. From the comments I've read here over the months, paying full sticker at even an elite school, even HYS, doesn't make sense if you don't have family connections. Long-term job prospects for average people with nothing but merit doesn't justify the debt. If you can get a generous discount it might work. But going ~$200k into debt on the chance you might happen to make friends with someone who might be able to get you a job later on is a poor bet.

  7. Either having connections or making them is essential. Same with money. People born with either are way ahead.

    Frankly, that's another layer of scamdom. The schools sell their services as value added. The bottom 175 often boast of placing students in BigLaw or MidLaw or whatever, and students go to those schools on the chance that they'll be in the top x% and have a good chance at those jobs, when in reality the chance is only .4x% because the rest of those jobs went to the heavily-networked instead of any sort of meritocratic process.

    The schools know the game. 0Ls often do not and have delusions of pure meritocracy. That isn't how it works, and even at firms with strict associate programs and on-campus interviewing, I've seen middling networked candidates bypass the process. So the schools are effectively exploiting the ignorance of the non-networked applicants.

  8. Connections, wealth and the right family name trump hard work 99 times out of 100. This is not just in the legal "profession," but pretty much all job sectors. Did you work hard, do well on your interview, and not get a call back or even a damn email?!

    Don't worry. Some pretty young women with great calves got the job. According to the shills, you should be happy for the bimbo - even if she didn't have to work her way up or take out any student loans.

    1. There's nothing you can do about it, so why drag them down? That's not going to do anything, either. It's not shilling to recognize reality and roll with it.

  9. I know a guy who graduated mid-rank from Touro, but he went straight into his dad's cushy PI firm as an "associate" and obviously future partner/owner. His father has won a few big PI/malpractice judgments over the years and is set for life.

    Very little of success that I've seen in the legal world has come from the rigid "meritocracy" that is supposedly comprised of the law school sorting processes.

  10. It wouldn't surprise me if law professors are some of the ones posting racists and sexist comments that a certain law professor is so desperately afraid of.

    1. I am certain they are. The perfect cover. I think many of the inappropriate comments have come recently from Nancy herself. They did start when she was written about and considering the lies she is spreading elsewhere online, I think she also trolls here to post dirty comments to show everyone how much people "hate" her success.

    2. Fake 'hate' incidents happen all too often in academic settings. There is no real hate so they have to make stuff up in a desperate (and utterly dishonest) effort to validate their world view that everyone not on the left is a hate-filled racist homophobe:

    3. I'm sure that it's professors making the most deranged and offensive comments.

      Here's how to distinguish scamprof disinformation from an honest comment...The scamprofs show no understanding of the incongruity on which genuine humor is based. They just make some crude comment and expect everyone to find it funny. And they depart in the craziest way from the obvious context of a thread

      The misunderstanding of humor and the ignorance of context are characteristics of the Aspie mind, and many professors are Aspies of the most obnoxious sort. This accounts for the droning, pedantic nature of their communication, both to students at their institutions and to the anonymous critics they somehow manage to find over the Internet.

      I have great sympathy for academic Aspies, because their reputations and careers are so precarious. I suggest, though, that we set some boundaries for them and reject their anonymous posts. That's it for now...

    4. I want to encourage the mods to do those poor, pathetic professors a favor and reject their disruptive and inappropriate comments. They just don't know how to behave when given the opportunity to remain anonymous. And we know it's them, because of the way human behavior works. If they write idiotic things under their own names, for professor websites or student-run reviews, then just imagine how idiotic they can be when given unfettered freedom to make anonymous comments to the critics they hate.

      Show some compassion for these poor, context-retarded creatures, with their massive debts incurred to acquire more academic "prestige" than they know what to do with. Don't approve stupid comments that they think are quite funny, but undermine their own pretensions to education and prestige. Those stupid comments are going to haunt them for the rest of their tenuous "careers."

      Scamprofs with behavior disorders never get the feedback they need at their own institutions. We need to make a remote intervention to save what remains of their precarious "success." It's as easy as setting a few obvious boundaries for them, and refusing to approve their threatening and demeaning comments on this site.

      Thank you in advance to the mods for doing some strange and misguided professors a huge favor.

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


    2. The profs and their hangers-on are now outright mocking the mods for approving nonsense posts. Mods, where is your common sense these days?

  12. The twin-body, paired-career issue referenced in this post is making huge waves in academia. Many programs and departments find that they can't hire their top candidates because they have to hire the partner of some other department's top candidate. It's become just another manifestation of raw power, with departments seeking favor from administrators to cram their own top choices down another department's throat, so to speak.

    I'd say the chances are near zero that both Nancy and Justin were the top choices for the positions they acquired at Denver. One of them was favored more than the other. However, I have no doubt they were both been considered adequate, and more than adequate, by the current standards of academia. The overriding issue is whether those standards are appropriate for educating prospective attorneys, many of whom are incurring enormous debts to attend a mediocre institution. To this day, both Nancy and Justin need more practice experience, and more respect for what Nancy dismissed as the "minutiae" of court decisions in her purported area of expertise.

    1. I agree with this. There seems to have been some confusion earlier about what I was writing. I have no doubt that both Nancy and Justin are "qualified" for their positions. I was not suggesting that they used connections to obtain positions they were not qualified for. One just used the other to get a foot in the door. But I expected the usual suspects to misread my post and think that I was saying that I thought Justin didn't deserve his job or was somehow unqualified.

      Now, the issue of how low the qualifications for being a law prof are in terms of experience is a whole different issue, as you rightly point out.

  13. This post is an embarrassment. If you want to argue that connections can matter, it's an easy argument to make: No one doubts that connections can matter. But it's incredibly lame to single out the spouse of someone who is a recent sparring partner with the blog, and to then to make accusations without any basis that the spouse obtained his prestigious jobs (both at DOJ and in teaching) based on connections rather than on the merits. It's petty, vindictive, and remarkably uninformed.

    And the defenses of the post in the comment threads are even worse. First, the author announces that he is going to delete comments that criticize the post because they are "stirring up trouble" and "disrupting the usual smooth operation" of the blog. (!!) Then he makes the silly defense that the post isn't saying anything negative because having obtained the DOJ job based on connections, the subject then had a job at DOJ, and is therefore very deserving of the teaching job even though he couldn't get that job on the merits, either. Right, quite the compliment.

    I get that it's fun to take potshots at people from being a screenname. But if that's what passes as an argument around here, this blog is in serious trouble.

    1. Prof. Kerr,

      I think that when spouses end up on the same law school faculty, we are entitled to infer that connections had some role to play in how the trailing spouse got his or her job. Especially given that spousal hiring is incredibly widespread in the legal academy, and that the practice has elicited honorable criticism (for instance, by Prof. Jeffrey Harrison), and maybe even a touch of justified resentment from mere practitioners who do not have access to such perks. I assure you that my forthcoming blog post on spousal hiring will not mention the "recent sparring partner" or her hub.

    2. Seriously, professor? I sure as hell got my cushy job through connections. Is Pidot so special that merely suggesting he did too is now defamatory (or at least “without any basis”)? How about common freaking sense for a basis?

      The arrogance of your comment reflects a pretty strong condition of ivory tower syndrome to me. (Please don't sue me for thinking that.)

    3. Oh please, what a deliberate misread!

      You'll note that my post never once claimed that Pidot was not deserving of his positions. In fact, I explicitly state - in italics for emphasis too, I believe - that Pidot is exactly who we need in classrooms, and that compared to other profs, he is highly qualified.

      My sole point is that he most likely used his connections to get both the DOJ job and the prof job, especially the latter.

      There was no criticism of his qualifications or suitability. Just the clear and obvious point that if he was not the spouse of Nancy Leong, he would still be at the DOJ (or in Biglaw or some other environment where grads of his caliber end up.)

      Your fake outrage is amusing. You know as well as I do that connections are important in obtaining highly-competitive or unadvertised positions (e.g. law professor), and often the difference between getting hired or not is how hard your connections work in your favor to put your resume to the top of the pile. Save it for some of my less generous posts.

    4. And the censorship of comments critical of the post is also not true. Again, if you read closely, it's the comments that are irrelevant that are being removed. Yours, you'll note, is still here.

      I'm happy to accept all criticism when it's based upon what I've written, not based upon someone trying to mischaracterize my post.

    5. Kerr, it sounds like the righteous indignation of someone who is perhaps a little frightened. The fact that someone got to where they are in life in part because of connections worries you because it's absolutely true. And it shows that law professors are not this academic godlike race of superior intellectual beings than us mere mortal practicing lawyers. It shows that you guys sitting in those law school faculty offices and doing very little in return for great reward are not there because you deserve to be, but because you knew the right people. It bothers you that everyone knows that you're not smarter than any of us, you were just luckier.

      And that's a problem for people like you because your entire job stability is based on the myth that you're super intelligent and got to where you are entirely because of that awesome intellect. In reality, people like you and Pidot, while smart, are replaceable by any one of hundreds, thousand even, of equally smart lawyers who would do your job for half your salary and do it just as well as you.

      You're not concerned that anyone here has suggested that someone got ahead in life because of their connections. You're only concerned that someone here suggested that a law professor got ahead in life because of his connections.

    6. If you're what passes for a law professor, the legal education system is in trouble.

      Oh that's right it already is.

      lol at your "safe" retirement scammer!!!

    7. I would guess that Prof. Kerr has learned his lesson for trying to interfere with the echo chamber that this blog has become. Too bad it ended up that way.

    8. Responding to each in the order they appear:

      1) Dybbuk, spousal hiring is common, but it doesn't work at all in the way that "Outside" imagines. When the first spouse has a job and the second spouse goes on the entry-level market, the norm is for the second to go on the market individually. When a school expresses serious interest in the second spouse, the second spouse informs the school of the first spouse. The school then understands that either it needs to hire both spouses or at least that the other professor will need to find a job in the same city. When the second spouse was hired at the first spouse's school, it is often the case that the school hired the second spouse in order to keep the first spouse. That's the kind of spousal hiring that can be objectionable: the second spouse has an inside advantage because the school very much wants to keep the established first spouse. Sometimes the second spouse is deserving of an appointment; sometimes the second spouse is not. Either way, here the spouses here were hired a *different* school, not the first spouse's school, when the first spouse was an unknown in her first year. I don't see how the "connections" are supposed to have worked.

      Anonymous at 12:34: Do you see nothing troubling with the fact that you got your job through connections and couldn't get your job on the merits? Didn't you take your job from someone else more deserving than you?

      Outside: The misreading is yours, although unlike you I won't make up claims that your misreading was deliberate and that your response was in bad faith. Please reread my comment, which already responds to your position. If you'd like to respond to my comment based on what it actually says, ideally without more bogus claims of bad faith, I'd be happy to engage you on the merits.

      Anonymous at 2:03: You're right that I'm frightened. I'm frightened by the foolishness of this post, and by the remarkably poor quality of the responses (except for Dybbuk's, I suppose). And I'm curious, if you think I obtained my teaching job at GW based on connections, would you care to share with me what those connections were?

    9. "Either way, here the spouses here were hired a *different* school, not the first spouse's school when the first spouse was an unknown in her first year."

      They were both hired by Denver in 2011, apparently at the same time. Leong was hired from William and Mary, and Pidot was hired out of practice. Was it pure coincidence that the two most qualified applicants for a Denver law professorship happened to be married to each other?

    10. "But it's incredibly lame to single out the spouse of someone who is a recent sparring partner with the blog, and to then to make accusations without any basis that the spouse obtained his prestigious jobs (both at DOJ and in teaching) based on connections rather than on the merits. It's petty, vindictive, and remarkably uninformed."

      Kerr, you are setting up a straw man and beating it down. I believe the post says the man is qualified - as would be many others - but because of his connections, made the final cut.

      Engage on the merits.

    11. Ok, I'll bite.

      But first, here's the key qualifying point about my post:

      "So what does all of this go to show? Is it trying to show that Justin Pidot doesn’t deserve his position as a law professor? Is his scholarship worthless because it’s conveniently published in journals where he has connections? Of course not. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say that Justin, with his actual real life law experience, is precisely who we need in law schools. He practiced environmental law recently at a high level, and now he’s teaching it."

      Let's not overlook that.

      You're mischaracterizing my argument in the following way. I state in my post that his connections were his foot in the door, not what ultimately got him the job. His connections are what put his resume up to the top of a pile of equally well-qualified candidates.

      You misread this to mean that I think he obtained his job >solely< because of his connections. You stated that I made "accusations without any basis that the spouse obtained his prestigious jobs . . . based on connections rather than on the merits. It's petty, vindictive, and remarkably uninformed."

      This is clearly wrong. My point was extremely limited and you attributed a generality to my statement that I never present in the original.

      So to be very clear (again...) about the point I was making: connections get feet in doors. They don't override raw qualifications. They simply make people stand out in an ocean of similar people vying for the same job.

      And it is naïve to think that Justin's foot was not put in the door by his wife. This doesn't mean he's not qualified for the job. It just means he was fortunate enough to have an insider advantage that other highly-qualified applicants didn't have.

      I appreciate your willingness to respond, but as I've pointed out, you really didn't understand the original post and your response was to a pretend post you think I made in which you think I stated something along the lines of, "Justin got his job solely because of his wife, and he's therefore not qualified."

      Furthermore, the post wasn't even about Pidot and Leong - they were used as a recent, convenient example of how hiring in general is often dependent on connections rather than merit alone. It's not a post about legal hiring, nor a post about professors. It's a post warning law school applicants that they are at a significant disadvantage if they don't have preexisting connections in the legal profession, politics, or business - law firms prefer to hire those who have those kinds of connections over those who don't. Remember, for everyone in private practice, law is a business and they don't have the law professor's luxury of being able to isolate the law from everything else.

      Again, please don't assume that when I say that someone got his or her job because of connections, that connections was the >only< reason that person got the job. It was obviously a factor in a larger examination of the person's qualifications and experience, but one which must have had some sway because we can observe the results.

      I'm also a little confused by one of your other comments: "here the spouses here were hired a 'different' school, not the first spouse's school, when the first spouse was an unknown in her first year. I don't see how the "connections" are supposed to have worked."

      You may want to go back and check the full resumes of Leong and Pidot because I'm not sure your timeline is correct. Leong made a lateral move from W&M to Denver and her husband was hired at Denver as a new professor at that exact same time. They were not hired at separate schools.

    12. "Right, quite the compliment."

      Someone can be fully qualified and still get a leg up because of their genetics or mating preferences. How many former DOJ attorneys would love a professor job in the Denver market? How many former state assistant AGs, high-profile state prosecutors, high-level court clerks, etc.? How many experienced litigators would love the stability and hours?

      The market for law professorship posts is very competitive with tons of qualified applicants. There are lots of fully-qualified people who couldn't get the job on their merit because there's hundreds of other qualified people.

      I don't know how someone can be sympathetic to recent law graduates facing a brutal employment market and not understand the concepts in this post unless they were being deliberately obtuse.

    13. Addendum - I think the sub point Kerr was trying to make was that Nancy had no pull at Denver to get Justin in the door. I'm not sure that assumption can be made though without knowing how and why Nancy was hired at Denver. Was she recruited (for what?) and said she'd only go if Justin gets a taste of the good life too? Does she have friends there? (Her only connection to Colorado is that her family lives there. But now she's flaunting her wares at UCLA, so is she looking for another move out of state?)

      Too many variables to say. But what we can say for sure is that there's an awful lot of coincidences.

      I strongly doubt Denver would want to pick them up as a 'twofer' without some sway from someone. They are both qualified on paper, but why such a fortunate coincidence? Two positions in one school in the same year and a married couple gets them just by being the best candidates for both?

      My guess? She applied for and got the job on her own merits (and we can argue about whether law professors should be just academic lawyers or if they need actual experience all day.). Then she said she would not take the job unless Justin could come too. And he's very qualified, so they made a position for him - a lucky accident for both school and Justin, but let's not pretend that Nancy had nothing to do with it.

      Or perhaps he got the job on his own merits, and Nancy was the third wheel. This might explain why she's now somewhere else on what amounts to a job interview.

      Neither of us know. Denver knows, Nancy knows, and Justin knows. All are unlikely to tell. You say there's no assistance one way or another and that it's disgraceful for me to suggest such a thing. I say there's obviously some assistance somewhere and the evidence suggests that I'm right, and I also say there's nothing wrong with this assistance but let's not pretend that it doesn't exist.

      I see your point that the Denver connection is mysterious. But like so many things that cannot be directly observed, we know they exist because of how they affect things we can observe.

    14. Outside, I agree with you that "the post wasn't even about Pidot and Leong - they were used as a recent, convenient example." But that's what made the post so petty and vindictive. The first third of the post gratuitously singled out of someone, making accusations of favoritism that had no basis, on a subject (hiring at DOJ and academia) you appear not to understand, based apparently only on a wish to go after someone you obviously don’t like (N.L.). Step back for a second and see the big picture: It’s really lame of you to do that. As I said in my first comment, if you want to argue that connections can matter, it’s an easy argument to make: No one doubts that connections can matter. So just make the argument, without inventing examples based on your imaginings of what people you don’t like may or may not have done.

      As for your post, you now say, “I state in my post that his connections” were “not what ultimately got him the job.” Now I'm confused. Here's what you said: (1) On Job #1, you said it is "most likely" that "Justin obtained his plum job with the DOJ" using family connections; (2) On Job #2, you said that "Nancy pulled strings and helped her hubby get a cushy gig as a law professor." (3) And also on Job #3, but for for "Nancy pulling strings," you reasoned that her husband would not have been hired. As you put it, "I could have gone to the same law school as Justin Pidot, had the same experience as him, but would never get hired as a law professor because I didn't have an insider connection." If you’re now saying that your imagined connections did *not* ultimately get him either Job #1 or Job #2, then I appreciate the clarification. But it seems to me that you asserted the opposite in the post.

      Also, in backing off your initial post, you now characterize your position as being that “connections get feet in doors. They don't override raw qualifications. They simply make people stand out in an ocean of similar people vying for the same job.” If that's your new position, then I disagree with that, too. Where connections matter, they often override raw qualifications.

      Finally, re "separate schools," I meant separate from the school that had hired the 1st spouse. That is, UD hired the two at the same time, and was not in the position of making an offer to spouse #2 to retain spouse #1 that they had already hired. Given that, we don't know who UD thought was the stronger candidate. Maybe they were both considered equally strong; maybe #1 was thought stronger than #2; maybe #2 was thought stronger than #1. I have no idea.

    15. The time-delay between when comments are submitted and when they are posted makes a real-time exchange difficult, but here are two more responses:

      1) In response to Outside at 6:18pm, the point that you have no idea what happened is the key one. If you don't have any idea what happened -- which neither you or I do here -- it is generally considered inappropriate to just pretend that you know what happened and then present that as the truth.

      2) Anonymous at 6:06pm, I'm sure that there are a lot of people who would like a law professor job. It's the best job in the world: I feel incredibly fortunate to have the position myself. But J.P. was not just your average former government lawyer. He was a former DC Circuit clerk with a Stanford J.D., practicing at DOJ in the Environmental Appellate section, who had been a Fellow for a year at the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute and who had prior publications in environmental law. I've been in charge of an appointments committee search looking for someone to teach and write in the area of environmental law, and it's a really difficult area in which to make an appointment. If you think potential faculty candidates like J.P. are anything but very very rare, you are mistaken.

    16. The key point is that a husband-wife duo landed two open professorships at the same law school at the same time. Which is the more likely explanation-- coincidence or influence? And influence does not mean that an unqualified candidate got a job through pure nepotism-- rather, that a qualified candidate got bonus points, so to speak, over other qualified candidates based on his or her insider family connection.

      A prominent lawprof has indicated that someone with an offer has a lot of leverage, especially if he or she has offers elsewhere, and recommended using that leverage on behalf of a spouse or partner. "Finally, once you have an offer, this is a good time to raise issues about the employment prospects for a spouse or partner. Sometimes you may just want help:. . . . Sometimes you may be hoping for more: e.g., a position in the law school, or in another university department, for the significant other."

      I am sorry if this comment extends my sparring match with NL. I have never mentioned JP in any of my posts concerning NL's putrid law review article, and he does seem to be well-qualified for his professorship, as OTLS honorably emphasized.

    17. 12:34 here, whom Mr. Kerr asked: “Do you see nothing troubling with the fact that you got your job through connections and couldn't get your job on the merits? Didn't you take your job from someone else more deserving than you?”

      Spoken like a true outsider to the real world. What exactly would I be troubled about? That an opposing counsel I handled a few cases against told one of my interviewers that I had the exact qualities and skills he was looking for? That a senior managing partner at a big firm in town vouched for my skills, because I actually worked for him once? Just what in the hell do you think “connections” actually are, and what excuse do you offer to be so clueless about them? Do you have the faintest idea what is going on out there once your students get their degrees?

      I looked my interviewers in the eye and told them I was the best candidate for the job, which was true, and which I believe I've since proven true. I'm sorry I can't do the same to you, for various circumstances, but trust that you at least know enough about this market that lawyers can't run around yakking their mouths off about their employers even if they refrain from inappropriate or defamatory speech. Maybe when I'm a federal judge on senior status I'll maintain my own Hercules and the Umpire blog. Until then...

    18. Anon at 10:10, what you're describing is getting the job on the merits: You were the best lawyer for the job, hands down, and word of your incredible performance spread around. That's pretty different from what the post is describing, which is connections unrelated to merit (that is, based on family connections).

    19. Ok, I think I see the purpose of Kerr's visit, and it's not to critique the argument on its merits.

      I'll just say that our goal here is not to convince law professors of anything. It's to put doubt in the minds of law applicants as to the wisdom of their career track. And it's working.

      What Professor Kerr thinks is of little consequence, and even less than that when he's in an obtuse mood.

    20. Nice link to Leiter's notes on hiring benefits. This is one subject on which I concur that Leiter indeed knows exactly what he's talking about.

    21. Prof: 10:10 here, and fair enough, but the incorrect assumption about what "connection" means was read into my comment by you, not by anyone else. The truth here is that “connections” are often the most accurate estimate of a candidate's merits in the first place, as a general matter. If you're looking for a research assistant, all other things being even, you will always go with the applicant who your colleague down the hall told you is a hard worker with sharp analytical skills, over the guy/gal who has no one with your ear. We can debate whether that's fair or not, and I think it is while others (the “unconnected”) might not. But it's how things work.

      Does it matter that the connection is a spouse, relative, or friend? Not terribly. Unless of course one has SPECIFIC knowledge that the personal connection in that particular scenario imposed undue influence (coercion), resulting in some illiterate fool landing a position way above his or her capacity. That hasn't been alleged in this blog post, you will surely agree.

      Let's also not lose sight of one of he damning themes of this blog that law schools today cannot refute: law professors at low-ranked schools are being paid over-inflated salaries that are disproportionate to their levels and quality of work experience. Both Leong and Pidot (albeit to a lesser degree) fit in that category.

    22. " I've been in charge of an appointments committee search looking for someone to teach and write in the area of environmental law, and it's a really difficult area in which to make an appointment. If you think potential faculty candidates like J.P. are anything but very very rare, you are mistaken."

      1. Why are law schools actively seeking full-time faculty appointments to teach and write about environmental law? It's a niche subject that has extremely limited practical application.

      2. Within the Denver area, I would guess that there are several (>10) fully-qualified attorneys who would love to teach an environmental law course as adjuncts.

      3. Why, when looking for faculty appointments, is it necessary to find someone who has a "very, very rare" experience set in environmental law, while seemingly not caring about such things when hiring professors to teach torts, contracts, or crim law?

    23. In response to Anon at 5:50am:

      1. I think it's because some students want to take courses in environmental law, and schools want to attract those students to the school and satisfy their interests. My sense is that schools feel -- rightly or wrongly -- that having a full-time prof is helpful to both goals. From the perspective of schools, the tricky part about adjuncts is that they may or may not stick around. At most law schools, teaching as an adjunct is a ton of work for a pretty negligible amount of money. Adjuncts do it because they enjoy it, at least when they can fit it in to their busy schedules. But an adjunct might teach the course once and then move on; the school never knows if the adjunct will be there the next year. In contrast, schools with full-time profs can rely on the prof's presence year after year, so they can effectively promise the students that Professor X will be there to teach them, advise them, etc.
      2. I agree.
      3. Hiring is often different for an upper-level specialty area than a general 1L course. Most 1L courses don't change much over time, don't require much special expertise, and aren't the subject of much new scholarship. On the other hand, upper-level courses can be pretty technical and specific, and can be much more active from a scholarly perspective. As a result, schools wanting to hire in an upper-level area generally look for someone who specializes in that area, while schools needing someone to teach a 1L course often hire someone who is happy to teach the 1L course but doesn't specialize in the 1L course subjects. You end up with the admin scholar who also teaches civ pro, the corporations scholar who also teaches contracts, the environmental scholar who also teaches torts, the crim pro scholar who also teaches crim, etc.

      Anyway, I gather from "Outside's" latest comment at 4:01 that he isn't all that interested in me commenting in his threads, so I'll stop doing so.

    24. Kerr, you should stick around and shoot the bull with all of us. First, many will piss and moan and argue with you, but your input is valuable, challenging and insightful. Second, you would never have come around here if the movement was really "crazy" or "detached from reality." You must see some semblance of validity in the points being made by scambloggers in order to have come here and wasted even the smallest amount of your time and effort.

      Balance is such a good thing in a debate, and I hope to read more of you around here.

    25. I never went to law school (and never will) but I did enjoy following InsideTheLawSchoolScam. I've tried to get friends I know not to go to law school and will continue to try.

      Orin Kerr made good points and we want to see debate here and different opinions. I used to recommend friends read InsideTheLawSchoolScam (as well as do their own research), but I wouldn't recommend friends read this site as it has a lot of (IMO) awful posts/comments which seem vindictive and petty. The fact that a UCLA professor was falsely accused of discriminating against black students and the response was more of a "come at me bro, I'm not scared of you post" from the original author was a perfect example of that. Posts like this alienate people who actually support your cause.

      The "we're only trying to get people not to go to law school and don't really care if professors disagree with us" attitude needs to stop.

    26. To 5:00 above:

      You're distorting the content of the Sander thread. Most commenters disagreed with MA using the racism card, and he removed his post after extended discussion. His opinion expressed in removing the post is his own business. I think that if professors can express their opinions on this site, which you seem to enjoy so much, then MA can damn sure express his own opinion when he wants. I'm content that MA removed the post, and I'm proud of him for not surrendering his mind and heart to a rather odd professor in doing so.

    27. Only God knows why Orin Kerr posted here, but the response so far confirms the points made by 5 pm. Personally I hope the blog continues in the same way, as it is pretty funny, but as far as the blog's supposed purpose goes, not so much.

    28. You know, I don't mind Orin Kerr posting here under his own name, even though George Washington is a notorious graveyard for the career aspirations of bright students. Considering their inputs, they do an atrocious job of producing job outcomes.

      But everyone needs to understand that the purpose of this site is not to network with professors. They have their own sites for that. The purpose of this site is to warn prospective victims about the scam, so they can avoid incurring huge and unnecessary debts without much hope of paying them off.

      Even though I respect Sander and think MA's post was inaccurate, I care even more that the post didn't address the basic issues of the scam: high tuition, enormous debts, poor teaching, dishonest statistics, nonexistent jobs, etc. When MA removed his post, he knew that didn't have anything to do with the scam, and wanted to reaffirm his opposition to the scam. Whatever his merits as a professor,
      Sander draws a hefty paycheck from a trap institution whose graduates often can't
      obtain the high-paying jobs they expected when they signed the indenture papers.

      So there's that.

    29. Orin, I take your point, but I don't think it's all that surprising to suggest that two spouses hired by the same law school in the same year weren't some kind of package deal. That happens all the time.

      When I was on the market, I was REGULARLY asked about my spouse and whether we would need some kind of spousal accommodation. Of the hires I saw in my later years, the law school I was at extended offers and then negotiated spousal packages for at least 30% of the new hires. In some cases, the failure to do so ended up being a deal breaker.

      I know damned well in multiple cases where a spouse of a valued faculty member went on the market, that that person got care and attention that they otherwise wouldn't have.

      I'm not sure why you're pushing back so hard on this, when I think anyone who has been a part of the law school hiring world know that this happens and that it's a regular part of contract negotiations with professors. I was told to expect it, to ask for it, and to negotiate for it by the profs who helped me get ready for the market.

      Honestly, your posts suggesting that this is even remotely rare are kind of baffling to me. Why are we lying to these kids about how things work?

    30. You have misread my comments, 7:50. No one is questioning that schools engage in spousal hiring. Indeed, my second comment explains how the process of spousal hiring usually works, in my experience. Here's what I wrote: "When a school expresses serious interest in the second spouse [who has gone on the entry level market], the second spouse informs the school of the first spouse. The school then understands that either it needs to hire both spouses or at least that the other professor will need to find a job in the same city. " So yes, presumably this was the case here. And given that both spouses are law professors, and there is only one law school in the city at issue, presumably it was the case of the former and not the latter. So I'm not questioning that spousal hiring occurs or that the two were effectively hired as a package deal.

      Instead, I was questioning the poster's specific claim about how that deal came together -- that "N.L. pulled strings" and used her "inside connections" to get J.P. his job. As I wrote above, "we don't know who UD thought was the stronger candidate. Maybe they were both considered equally strong; maybe #1 was thought stronger than #2; maybe #2 was thought stronger than #1. I have no idea."

      I'm curious about something else, if you don't mind: If you're a tenured professor, why are you anonymous?

    31. My point is not that you're denying the existence of spousal hiring; it's that spousal hiring is so common that your reaction seems out of proportion.

      You claim that saying that someone is a trailing spouse is an insult, that it's a way of saying that they're not qualified for the job and didn't get the job solely on merit, that the post is an "embarrassment" and that there are accusations of favoritism that are "without merit."

      Do you really think that being the trailing spouse is such a black mark of infamy? Is knowing that you were only hired because the school wanted your legally sexier spouse something that should make people hang their heads in shame? Because I'm telling you, that is strange. The existence of the two-body problem in academia, and its solution via hiring mechanics, is so common that if this is something to be ashamed of, every school should be ashamed.

      It's obvious to everyone reading this thread--including you--that the dual hire most likely was not the result of two independent national searches which magically picked a husband and wife team without any disclosure on that part. And yet you say they were "making accusations of favoritism that had no basis." Well, that's just wrong. There is every reason to think favoritism played a role. The only question is what role it played: We don't know who pulled strings for whom. You're right that they had no reason to assume that JP was trailing to NL, but without more information, there's 50% odds they're right about the specific scenario they cited, and 100% odds that they were right that favoritism of some sort entered the decision-making process. A 50% belief that someone was hired for reasons that included "we wanted their spouse more" is not "no basis." Any reasonable person would conclude that JP either pulled strings himself or had strings pulled on his behalf. Either way, strings were pulled.

      I grant you the post is sloppy, and reading it is like reading an outsider's description of a baseball game. But it's sloppy and uninformed about a detail that is insignificant for the audience of the post. The strange hierarchy of law professors is not the center of their universe. From their perspective, we might as well be bugs on a log, and a detail like "who pulled strings for whom" is like asking which ant carried the heavier share of the load when you're writing a paper on the relative carrying capacity of ants. It might hurt one ant's feeling if you get the details wrong, but nobody reading the paper gives a shit.

      I'm anonymous because I'm trying to avoid derailing the conversation even further. I never said I was currently a law professor. As it turns out, I'm not--I don't like ruining people's lives and I'm bored by legal scholarship. But for what it's worth, I sat two seats down from you at the Kennedy reunion a few months ago. I was the one who wasn't a law professor any longer.

  14. Putting aside the issue of connections, there is also the "hot babe" problem. If 20 law graduates get good jobs; and 10 (or even 15) of those had connections, how many of the remaining 5-10 are pretty girls who did reasonably well?

    If a firm has a choice among 50 qualified applicants for 2 or 3 positions, the applicant who is a pretty girl will have a huge advantage.

    1. 12;07, my own experience from 25+ years ago was the same. But you know what? There is a distinct advantage in life to being good looking. It ain't gonna change so you might as well deal with it.

    2. Don't hate the pretty girls, and don't be a sexist pig (thereby detracting from the credibility of this blog). Because law is still pretty much a white male-dominated profession, women lawyers today continue to face inordinate amounts of harassment and discrimination at all levels, up to and including when they walk into courtrooms every day that are disproportionately run by grumpy old white men. So, you might have your own burdens because of the law school scam, but women do too and one of them is blatant sexism.

      The pretty ones? They face it too. It's not their fault they are attractive women. Many of them are not taken seriously by sexist pigs precisely because of those pretty faces. Others, sure, may have landed positions because they're attractive, but you have no way of knowing that anymore than you know the black lawyer you just saw in the hallway got into Harvard law because of affirmative action. (Unless you're Donald Trump and the black guy’s name is Barack. Donald seems to have figured that whole thing out with his brilliant mind.)

  15. By the way, here is my very frank assessment of Professor Kerr's resume: He is an extraordinarily brilliant and hard-working man, with at most about 4 years of experience as a trial lawyer. It's unclear how many trials he has chaired if any since he doesn't list that on his CV. I'd probably be very happy with him as my appellate counsel. But lead counsel in a high stakes trial? Or personal advisor to a young law grad who didn't go to a top 25 law school? Close to useless on both counts.

  16. Here's a fascinating question that transcends the mind-numbing pedantry introduced by the scamprofs into an otherwise great thread:

    Do aspiring professors marry each other BECAUSE they think their partner has a better chance of obtaining an academic job than they do? That might say something about the importance of connections.

    1. Considering Judtin Pidot's face compared to Nancy's, I think she married him because he was going to be a far more successful lawyer who could support her self-absorbed academic dreams.

  17. Outside, here's what you can take away from this thread:

    The scamprofs caught you off guard with the word "defame," and once you tried to defend your post, they had the momentum. You didn't need to defend your post in any way. Never, ever try to justify your ideas to a scamprof. They are confirmed sophists whose words are designed to hide their opinions, and whose opinions are the most atrocious nonsense.

    Use these magic words to ward off any future vampire attacks: high tuition, enormous debts, dishonest statistics, poor teaching, nonexistent jobs, and you can add your own favorites...Professors from George Washington are often embarrassed by these words, and either change the subject or go away for good.

    1. ^ this^

      Just add NON-DISCHARGABLE between enormous and debt

    2. Good advice. There was nothing wrong with this post. The fact that professors are now getting so defensive and resorting to lying to support their scammy positions and trying to discredit us as fools is a positive step.

  18. Look, I thought this was a silly post because it's blatantly obvious: "Water is wet," you announce. Congratulations. Academia is deeply incestuous and is all about making and using connections. It's not even a hard or a hidden proposition.

    Kerr has one point--which is that since Leong/Pidot showed up at Denver concurrently, you can't automatically conclude which one was the trailing spouse.

    As a simple matter of timing, though, I would question whether Justin was the trailing spouse, since he was the new hire. If he did the AALS meat market, he's unlikely to be the trailing spouse--new hires are typically hired earlier in the cycle before laterals (which is what Leong would have been), and so since they came in in the same year, it's much more likely that HE got the first offer and then negotiated for Leong's hiring.

    If he didn't do AALS, it's much more likely to be the other way around: that Leong was hired as a lateral and negotiated his position as a candidate through unusual channels.

    Typically those positions are not extended if the school thinks the other candidate unqualified--but in my experience, they also lead to hires the school wouldn't make in the absence of the more-favorable candidate.

    This is something of a black art, but this thread here has Justin reporting a Denver hire on March 24, which is a timeline more in line with Leong being the trailing spouse rather than the reverse. I'd expect a lateral spouse-leading to come later--April or May, perhaps.

    It's not conclusive, but there you are.

    Either way, nobody in the academic world should ever tell you with a straight face that the concurrent hiring of an academic couple was a complete coincidence. It never is.