Most law faculty hiring follows the average cycle of the academic hiring market: it is conducted on a national scale beginning in August and ending in late spring. Many schools seeking to fill clinical positions with unitary or programmatic tenure will follow the same timeline. Schools seeking teachers for other types of clinical positions may follow a different timeline altogether. An approximate timeline for a typical cycle is as follows:
Schools may not rely primarily on AALS Faculty Recruitment Services to hire clinical faculty. Some law schools also may hire “off-cycle” rather than (or in addition to) during the traditional fall hiring season. Regardless, the steps necessary to prepare for the market are the same.
This information is limited to full-time clinical faculty positions. The process described does not apply to hiring teaching fellows or staff attorneys.
Step 1: Make Yourself an Effective Candidate
The cycle begins with having prepared yourself for the teaching market through some combination of relevant employment, a strong academic record, and scholarly writing. Refer to back to the overview of clinical teaching for more information on qualifications.
Step 2: Finalize Application Materials
Schools with unitary tenure or programmatic tenure with academic scholarship requirements will expect candidates to submit the following documents as part of the application:
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- Research agenda
- Job talk paper (or documents related to clinic design or teaching philosophy)
For schools using AALS Faculty Recruitment Services, the Faculty Appointments Register (FAR) form is another important component of the required application materials.
Schools hiring clinical faculty for positions that do not require academic scholarship may not require a research agenda. They may instead require a presentation about clinic design or teaching, participation in a simulated teaching exercise, or other stand-ins for the traditional scholarly talk given later in the process.
Step 3: Apply
Once you are ready to go on the hiring market, there are many ways to search for a job:
AALS Faculty Recruitment Services
A school might use AALS Faculty Recruitment Services if it has either a unitary tenure track or programmatic tenure for clinical faculty.
Click the button in Step 2 for more information about how to complete the FAR form and information on how faculty hiring committees use the forms.
Direct Contact With Law Schools
If you are limited in your ability to relocate, you may receive advice to write directly to schools within your geographic boundaries. This strategy is not common for clinical positions. The usual practice is to simply respond to job postings, as described in the next section.
Individual Job Postings
The AALS Placement Bulletin, issued four times per year, lists open clinical positions. Law schools generally post advertisements on clinical faculty listservs and job boards such as the one sponsored by the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA). They also may place ads with local bar newspapers and magazines, with local bar associations, and/or on their own human resources page where university jobs are listed.
Step 4: Preparing for Interviews
If a school is interested in your candidacy, they will contact you to schedule an interview. For any category of tenure-track or long-term contract position, you may first have screening interview, followed by a callback interview. Initial interviews often take place online/via video conference.
For faculty positions in other employment categories, interview processes vary by school and by position.
Regardless of the specific interview process, it is important to ascertain not only who is responsible for identifying candidates, but also who is the decision-maker at a school. Some law schools use special hiring committees for clinical positions that are not tenure-track. Some use the same faculty appointments committee for both clinical and podium hiring. The composition of these committees may vary; a majority of the members may be clinical faculty, or they may not. The faculty on the committee may make the final hiring decision, or they may forward a recommendation to the dean, who will then make the decision. In some cases hiring decisions are made by the director or dean of a school’s clinical program, or the director of a clinic.
Step 5: Preparing for On-Campus Callbacks
Law schools may or may not invite clinical candidates to a full day of on-campus interviews—it is likely for candidates for tenure-track positions, and less likely for positions in other employment categories.
Step 6: Responding to Offers
Following the on-campus interview, schools will consider your candidacy and decide whether to make an offer to join the faculty. There are many details to consider about offers, terms, and negotiating.