Offers & Negotiating Terms

After the interview stage is complete, the process a law school follows to extend an offer can vary. For any type of tenure-track or long-term contract position, the dean will usually be the person extending you the offer. For short-term contract and other employment categories, you may hear from the clinical program director, associate dean, or the director of the clinic. In most cases, they will not expect you to accept or decline the offer immediately; you should be prepared to negotiate for the terms that matter to you.

Be sure you are absolutely clear on the answers to the following questions as you begin to consider any offer(s) you receive:

  1. If the law school has a unitary tenure track for all faculty:
    • Are the standards for promotion and tenure the same for all faculty, or do clinical faculty have different standards? If different, how so (different number, different types of scholarship considered)?
    • Assuming the obligation to research and write, what support is provided to produce scholarship?
    • Does the school provide funds for an attorney or other assistance to manage the clinic over the summer so that clinicians can engage in scholarship?
  2. If clinical tenure-track, then:
    • Is scholarly production required (or expected) for promotion and tenure? What did the last clinical faculty member promoted to tenure have? Have scholarly expectations been raised in practice, if not in written standards?
    • If so, what resources are available to support scholarship?
    • Must clinicians produce scholarship under the same standards as podium/classroom faculty? If different, how (different number, different types of scholarship considered)?
  3. If long-term contract, then:
    • What is the probationary period of employment?
    • What are the standards for promotion?
    • After the initial period of probation, how many years is the presumptive renewal period?
    • Is there support should you choose or be required to produce scholarship?
  4. What other professional benefits go along with the position? Would you be eligibility for sabbaticals and/or research stipends? Professional development funds?
  5. Is it possible to teach courses outside of the clinic?
    • If so, would you get release time or a reduced load in your clinic or externship?
    • Would there be additional compensation?
  6. Do clinical faculty have voting rights on issues of school governance, and do they participate on law school committees?

Other Considerations

In addition to the information listed above and what you learned at your on-campus interview, here are some terms that you may want to ask about and negotiate for:

  • Salary and benefits beyond standard employee package (e.g. family leave, retirement contributions, tuition benefits for family members, medical benefits, bar fees, bar association fees, malpractice insurance)
  • Moving expenses and housing support
  • The possibility of a return visit with your family
  • Assistance in locating a job for spouse/partner
  • Courtesy appointments at another school within the university
  • Issues relating to licensure (time/resources to take the bar, impact on start date, impact on tenure clock)
  • Clinic design (budget, first semester off to design, power to shape/design/re-design clinic, staff assistance/administrative support)
  • Contract (length of 9 or 12 months, probationary period, presumptive renewal, review process, length of renewal period)
  • Start date
  • Deadline for responding

Additional Factors to Weigh

In addition to the terms set forth above, you may want to consider the following:

  • Attractiveness (to you) of the city or town in which the school is located, or cities and towns nearby
  • The collegiality of the law school community
  • The view and treatment of clinical faculty by non-clinical faculty
  • The educational options available if you have or anticipate having children
  • Whether the relationship between the Dean and faculty is a healthy, productive one
  • The general financial health and stability of the law school and the university
  • Whether the law school is welcoming to junior faculty, faculty of color, LGBTQ, and women faculty

Exploding Offers

Sometimes a dean will only provide a very small time frame within which a candidate must decide whether to accept their offer; this is known as an “exploding offer.” The norm is to give a candidate at least two weeks to make a decision. If you receive an exploding offer from the dean of your ideal school, then accept the offer. If it is not your ideal school and/or you have other schools from which you have not yet received an offer, here are some possible actions to consider:

  • Contact the faculty hiring chairs at the other schools and let them know about the exploding offer. They may be able to expedite your candidacy.
  • Contact your faculty mentor or advisor for advice about how to proceed

Think about asking for more time, but be judicious if you choose to do so. While schools know that they are competing over candidates, you do not want to give the impression that you do not want to be a faculty member at the school that has made you the offer.