For some clinical positions (particularly for tenure-track), the hiring timeline and process closely mirror those used for tenure-track podium/doctrinal positions. Once the hiring committee has completed its screening interviews, it will narrow its list to several candidates who will be invited for on-campus interviews. The information below is for candidates following this process.
For many clinical positions, there may only be one interview or schools may use a different series of steps altogether. Be sure to clarify the process for each job you apply for.
Be prepared to schedule these visits on short notice, as schools may issue invitations quickly after the initial screening. The school will pay for your travel and lodging. You should do your best to schedule the interview when the school wants to hold it; this can get difficult if you are fortunate enough to obtain multiple interviews. Be sure to understand your schedule before making any travel arrangements (which the school may handle or offer to handle for you).
On-campus interviews often last an entire day and involve many small group interview sessions with faculty; a meeting with the Dean; a meeting with law students; a tour of the law school; and a 15-20 minute job talk or presentation before the clinical or entire law faculty followed by a 40-45 minute round of questions. There also may be a dinner with faculty members on the night before or day of the interview. Remember that the dinner is a continuation of the interview and many of the attendees will be faculty you have not met with previously.
Callbacks can also include some interviews with key administrators, campus Human Resources personnel, and other groups. Some schools offer local tours, sometimes with a realtor or apartment broker.
You should receive an agenda for your callback a few days in advance. Be sure to do your research on who you will be meeting. Sometimes staff will escort you from meeting to meeting. Remember that they are part of the law school community as well and often have the ear of the Dean and hiring committee.
Questions for you
The questions you get will be much like the ones that you received during the initial interview.
Questions to ask
Remember that not only is the faculty interviewing you, you are interviewing the school. You want to be sure it is a good place to begin your career.
To get a feel for the culture of the school, consider asking the following questions, many of which were suggested by the AALS Section on Clinical Legal Education and the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA):
- Questions related to faculty status, including the rules (and practices) governing promotion, and probationary periods and terms for the renewal of long-term contracts. You may ask to see a copy of the faculty handbook or at least a written copy of these standards.
- What is the relationship between clinical and podium/classroom faculty?
- Are there other attorneys in clinics, and if so, what is their role?
- Is there a clinical fellowship program in place?
- To what degree would you be responsible for fundraising for the clinic or for a fellow?
- What issues divide and unite the faculty?
- What is intellectual life at the school like?
- Does the school provide formal or informal mentoring?
- Would you be eligible for summer research grants: amount, eligibility, availability for the summer prior to the start of classes?
- Information about pre-tenure leaves or reduced course loads: eligibility, obligations during the leave
- Are you entitled to a research and travel budgets and research assistants?
- Are you eligible for sabbatical leaves?
- If scholarship is a requirement, does the law school pay for an attorney or other assistance for the clinic during the summer or leaves?
During your on-campus visit, it is likely the school will ask you to do a presentation either to the entire faculty or just to the clinical faculty. The type of presentation will depend on the status of the position you are seeking and the requirements of each school. It may take the form of a scholarly job talk, a discussion of clinic design, or a teaching demonstration.
For tenure-track and other positions that require academic scholarship, the conventional presentation required will be a job talk on a published or forthcoming paper. The job talk serves many purposes, but it is increasingly used by faculty as a proxy for good teaching skills. Faculty members may use both your style of responding to questions and your actual responses as a proxy for how you may respond to student questions in the classroom.
For more detailed information and resources regarding job talks, visit the tenure-track section on callback interviews.
Beyond the standard job talk, schools interviewing for clinical positions may request a wide variety of other kinds of presentations and exercises during their on-campus day. Schools vary widely in their practices and requirements, so it is important to get as much information from the school in advance so that you can prepare for the day. As with a scholarly presentation, consider your use of technology and expect the demonstration to be recorded. Some examples of alternatives to scholarly job talks include:
Presentation on clinic design
If you are applying to a position that would require you to begin a new clinic or a new practice area, you might be asked to present your vision for that clinic or practice area. This will likely take the overall form of a standard job talk, in that you will be asked to present for 30 to 40 minutes followed by questions from faculty.
Generally, in such a talk you may be asked to focus on and justify your vision and goals for the program, describe a case or two that you anticipate being a part of the students’ work, and talk about how the clinic meets both the communities and the students’ needs.
In such a talk you are trying to demonstrate at least three kinds of expertise. First, you need to demonstrate your expertise as a lawyer. The faculty need to feel confident that you can practice in the area at the highest degree of professionalism. Second, you need to demonstrate some knowledge about the community need. No one will expect you to know everything about a new community, but you should endeavor to find out as much as you can to demonstrate that the clinic is needed—or at least be able to describe the process you would use to familiarize yourself with the needs of the community. Finally, you need to demonstrate mastery of clinical pedagogy. The faculty need to believe that you have the expertise not only to teach students to lawyer on the clinic cases, but to use clinical methods with your case or project work as a ground to teach students broadly about lawyering.
A presentation on pedagogy
A school might ask you to do a presentation on a class that you would teach as part of your clinic seminar. You should get specific instructions from them, but they will likely ask you to articulate the topic of the class, its placement in your overall syllabus, its pedagogical goals, the teaching techniques you are using to meet those goals, and the relationship between that class and the case or project work of the clinic. In addition to the oral presentation, faculty will likely expect you to share with them the materials (e.g. assignment, presentation, and in-class handouts that are part of the curriculum).
A teaching exercise
A school might ask you to participate in simulated teaching exercise. This may take several forms. For example, one school recently provided candidates with a video of a student/client interaction, then asked the candidate to engage in a simulated supervision session with the student.
The school often will give you the topic and sometimes will provide basic materials. If they allow you to select the topic, you should speak with the program director to understand some of the topics you are likely to be teaching, whether the program uses standardized course materials, and what other teaching goals and expectations they have. You also need to understand whether you should provide a reading assignment or other materials in advance so that your class will be prepared for your presentation.
For a teaching demonstration, you may be teaching an actual class with some faculty members observing, or you may be presenting to an all-faculty audience. You might consider using clinical methodology by embedding substantive law or lawyering skills in a simulation, for example the type of case that the clinic may encounter.
In a teaching demonstration, the faculty present will be evaluating your ability to master, organize, and explain the topic to level-appropriate students, the accuracy of your information, your ease in the classroom and presentation abilities, your ability to engage in a discussion (as opposed to a lecture), and your understanding of how to interact with a diverse student population. If you are presenting to students, the school may ask them to fill out an evaluation questionnaire. It’s fair to ask for a copy in advance to see how you will be evaluated.
If you are asked to teach a mock class, ask the questions below if the school does not address them in your callback instructions:
- Length of presentation.
- Presentation topic.
- Pedagogical goals of the lessons.
- Who the audience will be, both “mock: (e.g., 1L students) and “actual” (e.g., professors, actual students, or both), including the anticipated number of participants.
- If the class if part of the regular semester and if so, whether you can have a copy of the course syllabus to understand how the class you will teach fits into the course.
- Whether you may call on audience members or engage in some other type of interactive exercise.
- Whether you can or should prepare handouts (and whether they will be posted in advance or whether you need to make and bring the copies).
- Whether you can or should use technology (see “Technology” above for tips).
- Type of room you’ll be presenting in.
- Whether you will be asked to answer questions after the presentation about topics such as your pedagogical goals, teaching philosophy, etc.
If you feel comfortable doing so, you could ask the program director or your contact on the recruitment committee whether you could have access to a recording from an actual clinical seminar class or two from the school. If you are not comfortable, you might try to find videos on the school’s website or YouTube that reflect the range of teaching styles used at that school.
Final tips for a successful campus visit
- Schools will usually designate a specific faculty member to act as host during your callback. Be sure to get the name of your host and review their bio on the law school website.
- Get the names of the faculty members who may be attending dinner. Review their bios on the law school website.
- Ask the host or the hiring chair for the job talk presentation guidelines and job talk norms.
- Explore and carefully study the law school’s website, paying particular attention to two things: the webpages of faculty members, and everything you can find about their clinics and overall experiential learning curriculum.
- Read select publications by faculty members at the law school who teach and write in the same field. Where possible, consider how those faculty members’ research ties into your own.
- Remember that you are being interviewed by everyone you meet and interact with (from the first telephone call), from security guards to administrative assistants to IT workers. Be gracious to everyone.
- Send thank you notes to your host, the hiring chair, the clinic director, and the dean asking them to share your thanks with the faculty. Using email is typically best, as it will arrive quickly, but handwritten notes, if sent immediately, also can be effective.