"I think schools might ask questions like: 'How are you going to add value to a student's education?' or 'How will your classroom teaching help develop skills they need in practice?' It will be interesting to hear from candidates if there is much discussion about the existential debate over the law schools."
Denning will have to find that information secondhand. Samford is among the law schools not attending the hiring conference this year.
The entry-level faculty members hired in 2012 are unlikely to receive many of the perks their predecessors enjoyed, Denning said. Guarantees of four-figure summer research stipends, lower teaching loads for prolific scholars and pre-tenure sabbaticals have been on the table for desirable candidates in the past, but "I think a lot of that stuff might be cut back, if not eliminated, this year," he said.
Rebecca Rausch voiced confidence heading into the conference. A visiting assistant professor at Seattle University School of Law, she has more interviews lined up than she did last year -- and with more prestigious law schools.
"In talking with other candidates, many are doing worse this time around," said Rausch, who graduated from Northeastern University Law School in 2004 and practiced health law for a number of years. "I'm fortunate to have a reasonably large number of interviews for someone with my background, given I didn't go to Harvard or Yale. Health law seems to be a hot area right now, with many schools looking to hire."
Rausch has spent the past four years laying the groundwork for a move into legal academia, publishing articles and teaching as an adjunct at her alma mater before taking the position at Seattle. Visiting professorships are temporary faculty positions that offer a foot in the door plus experience teaching and writing scholarly articles.
"This is not something you do on a whim," she said of entering the hiring market. "It's a tough process and you have to be willing to move anywhere. But being a law professor is a wonderful profession, and a profession I hope to become a part of."