July 10, 2009
Up or Down?
Reflecting on the last post, I will admit to noticing a lack of big movements this summer in our field, and I think the down market for legal employment has something to do with it. I am beginning to suspect that up markets are better for innovation than down markets such as this one, at least for the legal academy (a strong argument can be made for this market forcing innovation on big firm practitioners).
In short, we might expect innovation to come from those who who are most disadvantaged in this market-- that they might try new things to succeed. In our field, though, entry into the academy (with a legal teaching job) is very tough, and largely locks out those who have been thrust out of other parts of the legal world. On the other hand, those who already are on the inside may be hunkering down to protect their positions.
In short, innovation comes from risk-taking-- which includes the risk of failure, the risk of being seen as odd, the risk of challenging a status quo. In a down economy, those who are on the inside are less likely to take risks, and those who are on the outside are less likely to get to the inside.
So, what are the exceptions? Is anyone hiring lawyers laid off at big firms as tenure-track professors?
-- Mark Osler
July 5, 2009
Seeking news, reports, information on serious summer innovations
The summer of 2009 would seem to present a uniquely vibrant opportunity for law school innovations.
A down job market for both recent grad and summer associates likely creates lots of potential "human capital" for innovative summer law school programming (and a lack of real capital might demand some true inventiveness by Deans to fund and staff such programs). Meanwhile, a new Administration in DC run by a lawyer and former law professor (which has hired a whole lot of other law professors), as well as a pending Supreme Court transition with Senate hearings scheduled for mid July, could and should present lots of new and perhaps novel topics for public-interest-oriented activities.
Though there may not be a rash of innovative activities this summer, I am hopeful that folks might report in the comments or via e-mail any exciting new happenings at law schools this summer.