The U.S. Law Teaching Market
The U.S. law teaching market is organized and crowded. The Association of American Law Schools (AALS) facilitates the process by which the vast majority of entry level law professors are hired. Candidates submit to the AALS an online form (the faculty appointments registry or FAR form) summarizing their credentials in the summer approximately 12-14 months before they would like to begin teaching. The form is then distributed by the AALS to law schools across the United States. Law schools use the form to determine who to invite for a short interview at the yearly AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference (held in Washington, D.C. during late October or early November of each year). Although the screening interview process can be draining, it allows candidates to meet with a number of schools in one place over a short period of time. Candidates who make a positive impression at the Recruitment Conference are then invited back to the hiring law school for a full day of interviews and to present a scholarly work to members of the law school's faculty.
Each year approximately 1,000 people submit their registration form to the AALS. Competition is stiff to land even preliminary interviews at the Faculty Recruitment Conference. When deciding who to hire for law professor positions, schools generally look for a combination of scholastic achievement and scholarly promise, intellect, teaching ability or potential, performance during interviews and at the job talk, collegiality, and references. These qualities are evidenced (or believed to be evidenced) by specific activities or benchmarks. Most people do not go on to the law teaching market until 3 to 7 years after they have graduated from law school. Thus, if you are starting out, it is useful to focus on the qualities and accomplishments U.S. law school appointments committees view as highly desirable. The ACP registration form serves as an important guide to the types of activities that will assist your candidacy.