Law Professor “Job Hopping”

National Law Journal: “More job hopping at schools.” This year, there was a lot of faculty movement at highly ranked law schools–a circumstance this article attributes to (1) Harvard’s decision to bring in new blood and reduce faculty-student ratios, and (2) Columbia’s vow to increase its faculty 50% (over 3 years) to reduce faculty-student ratios. Collectively, these decisions led to a domino effect which is likely to percolate for several years as top-ranked schools raid lower-ranked schools and as professors play musical chairs among the top-ranked schools. Some implications:

* reduced faculty-student ratios are terrific for both students and faculty, but they don’t come for free. At many schools, this necessarily means increased tuition for students. With tuition well over $35k/year at some schools, how high can tuition go?

* the article suggests that faculty decisions to move aren’t always financially motivated, but at many schools, lateral movements by professors (or, at least the threat to do so) is a principal way for professors to reset their salaries to prevailing market standards. In turn, as law professor salaries escalate due to this market-resetting, students likely will pay the bills for this as well.

* as the article points out, some students are disappointed when they select a school to study with a particular professor who then moves on. Note to prospective law students: life is uncertain, so deciding between schools based on the identity of specific professors has an unmitigatable risk of disappointment.