Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Which Tenured Boalt Faculty Still Publish Articles?

Have you ever found yourself asking just that question while sitting in class? Well, sometimes I do because as an economist, I'm curious how tenure affects incentives in real life. I also like spreadsheets.

[Just for the record, there was _nothing_ on TV tonight after the Warriors game.]

The survey results are very interesting. I've posted them here. I compiled the data from: Boalt's faculty website, HeinOnline's All Journals database, and HeinOnline's Most Cited Journals database.

The executive summary follows.

Boalt's champion tenured faculty member is Dan Farber. He has published the most pieces on average over the last ten years. He has also published the most pieces in "most cited" journals. He is averaging the most "most cited" pieces per year since graduating.

Boalt's young gun and runner up is John Yoo. Yoo nips at Farber's heels for pieces published per year over the last ten years (4.7 to 4.4). Yoo also has Boalt's third most "most cited" pieces overall, despite only being out of law school 15 years. (Eisenberg holds the number two spot) Yoo's average isn't near Farber's, but he'd be the clear MVP if Farber wasn't gunning. Quick conclusion: Farber & Yoo's tagteam for Constitution in the Early Republic will be terrifying & awesome.

Boalt's next prodigious faculty members are Andrew Guzman, Leti Volpp, and Rachel Moran. Guzman isn't publishing a huge number of pieces per year, but when he does, they almost always land in a top journal. Volpp and Moran are churning papers out (almost two per year each over the last ten years), but fewer land in the top journals.

Now that we've fleshed out Boalt's heavy hitters, who's got some 'splainin' to do?

Professors Bundy, Peterson, and Vetter have published zero pieces in the last ten years. When we expand the list to pieces in "most cited" journals in the last ten years, add Professors Kagan, Menell, and Shultz. Professor Caron has never published in a "most cited" journal. The Lifetime Underachievers (as I define them, averaging fewer than 1 piece in a "most cited" journal per decade since graduating law school) are Professors Caron, Krieger, and Vetter. On the brink of becoming lifetime underachievers are: Professors Peterson and Rakowski, both averaging just 1.1 "most cited" journal pieces per decade since graduation.

Feel free to parse the numbers and opine in the comments. Do note that we are still far away from creating a Fantasy Boalt Hall Faculty League. To do that, we need to add other relevant stats. I think we'd need units taught per year, casebooks/hornbooks/treatises published, adjustments for time off (Yoo's clerking, OLC work, Shelanski's FCC, White House work come to mind). We'd also want to count citations to published pieces to see whether some of these published articles are actually relevant.


1. I chose published articles because that is the signature responsibility of tenured faculty (contrast the position with lecturer in residence, professor emeritus, etc.). It also had the virtue of being (relatively) easy to measure.
2. I excluded muliple "law & _______" faculty because I did not think a HeinOnline survey would do them justice since it only catalogs law journals.
3. These numbers are intended purely for curiosity and/or Boalt Hall Faculty Fantasy Sports. I am not responsible for any other conclusions you draw.
4. There is no note 4.
5. Seriously. Nothing on TV. If anyone wants to lend me seasons 1, 2, or 3 of the Wire, please do!

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Anonymous Josh said...

I sometimes wonder which tenured faculty are still active scholars. Some of those names you mentioned clearly have become inactive scholars, unfortunately. I don't ask myself "[w]hich tenured Boalt faculty still publish articles" because it's a silly question. (Why is publishing articles "the signature responsibility" of faculty?) And, since you (admittedly) are not measuring professors' publications of casebooks and regular books, and cannot measure publications in non-law journals that are not on HeinOnline, is it really fair for you to then state that you are measuring who is most "prodigious," who's "got some 'splainin' to do," and who are "lifetime underachievers"? Is it even fair to use the measure of publications "per decade since graduation," since some professors went into the academy 2-3 years post-graduation, while others waited longer? (You are an economist, apparently, but you have forgotten to compare like with like.) Most unfortunately, you write that you are "not responsible for any other conclusions [readers] draw." What about our conclusions about the fact that, based on (admittedly) incomplete evidence, you have already chosen to draw such damning conclusions? You are responsible for this blog posting, disclaimers notwithstanding, and should take responsibilty for your claims and conclusions. Next time there's nothing on TV after a Warriors game, might I recommend that you pick up "Adversarial Legalism" by Bob Kagan, or peruse the latest edition of Hazard, Tait, Fletcher, and Bundy's Civil Procedure opus, or read some of the various articles that were recently published in CLR for a symposium co-organized by Prof. Linda Krieger (including the piece by Krieger herself) -- a symposium, by the way, that is not yet available on HeinOnline. (Can someone please lend Mr. Fletcher "The Wire" on DVD ASAP?)

1/03/2007 3:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leti Volpp is tenured? Scary.

1/03/2007 9:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

josh could have said that without being so pissy. o wait, he's talking to fletcher. go to hell fletcher!!

1/03/2007 10:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

writing a casebook is easy; hell, i could do it. just edit out the "**313" numbers from cases and summarize other people's original work. repeat for new editions.

1/03/2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

Re: why I wrote that publishing articles is a signature responsibility. Tenure exists solely to protect academic freedom. If there is no scholarly activity going on, tenure seems much harder to justify in my opinion.

Published articles alone cannot capture a professor's full contributions to legal scholarship. A HeinOnline survey misses activity like working on a restatement or mentoring student writing. But the numbers are interesting, because I think they start helping us develop tools for measuring productivity.

I started thinking about some of these things after reading Dean Jim Chen's "Moneylaw" blog (careful, long download time), where he opines and theorizes on how to build a good legal faculty.

Re: Volpp. I assume anonymouse recoils based on a classroom experience (though correct me if I'm wrong). Volpp's publishing a storm these days. To the extent tenure exists to protect scholars, she seems most entitled to the protection!

Re: articles not yet on HeinOnline. Obviously, they weren't counted. Note the dates I spanned in the spreadsheet are 1996-2005 (because not all of 2006 is up yet). How would a curious Boalt student get a copy of any of these new articles other than searchign them out on LEXIS? Maybe CLR could drop perusal copies of each new issue of the journal on the round tables in the main reading room in the library so interested, but non-member, students could flip through the journal and stumble upon new praiseworthy scholarship?

I actually like that idea a lot. I think I'm going to start pitching it. Courtesy library copies of Boalt journals on the main reading room reading tables. Like at the doctor's office. Hmm.

1/03/2007 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

You should check out Global Entertainment on Telegraph and 51st. They rent each the first two seasons of The Wire as a single rental (i.e. all 6 disks for $4) so you can really make some headway if you are down for marathon viewing. Of course, they regularly lose disks, so sometimes it can be hard to get the seasons. Also, season three is one disk per rental, so that is annoying. But that show is so freaking good.

1/03/2007 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

is that you rosen-prinz? where there's wire talkin' being done, there's bound to be 'ol rosen-prinz.

1/03/2007 10:37 AM  
Anonymous Jenna said...

ELQ will be publishing an article from Peterson in the spring. If you ever intend to take her Land Use class, I highly recommend the article when the issue comes out.

1/03/2007 5:54 PM  
Blogger Tacitus said...

Just with respect to Caron, the metric employed by TF falls way short. Caron is among the most respected and active academics in the field of international arbitration. He wrote an analysis of the UNCITRAL arbitration rules (a book) that is considered the major work on the rules. A lot of his specialty areas, like international arbitration and law of the sea, would not be carried in the typical "most-cited" journals, simply because they have little to do with the subjects that those journals typically devote much space to (I suspect the same is true of Rakowski, but I don't know). But as to Caron, and as is clear from Caron's personal web-page, if Tom had thought to investigate in a different manner -- --, TF's suggestion that he is an "underachiever" on the publication front is patently absurd.

More generally, I agree with EW's general observation that TF's post demonstrated an acceptable -- nay exemplary -- level of research for an N&B post (doing any research at all is exemplary for a blog post! and was intended only (and has) to spark discussion. However I also agree with Josh that TF's rash characterizations (underachievers, etc.) based on his very limited investigation and his very limited metric (publications in most cited journals, as opposed to other metrics he mentioned in the last paragraph) were unnecessary to that discussion and, insofar as those characterizations may be erroneous (as is the case with Caron, I submit), a bit offensive to the named professors.

1/03/2007 8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe there is even a spreadsheet! Did he search for all 60ish faculty members? Damn!

1/03/2007 11:46 PM  
Anonymous Josh said...

I apologize if the tone of my previous comment was overly harsh. My opinions on Tom's blog post are very close to Tacitus's second paragraph, and I thank Tacitus for stating them more clearly than I did. Yes, "Earl Warren," speculation is a beautiful word, but my objection was not to the speculative aspect of Tom's initial efforts -- it was the conclusions he was already drawing from them.

While "scholarly activity" is crucial, publishing articles is but one form such activity can take. That said, Tom, you and I probably agree that faculty who, for whatever reason, have decided to stop being productive scholars should reconsider their decisions, at the very least. I'm familiar with the Moneylaw blog. Indeed, I had a suspicion that Chen's blog was the inspiration for this post. I think the Moneylaw movement, if one can call it that, is an important and potentially useful development. The questions underlying Tom's research and blog post are being asked by others as well -- such as how do we measure scholarly success, how do schools better identify candidates for law teaching jobs (especially scholars who will be productive for a longer period of time), how (if at all) should the current tenure system be altered, how useful are metrics that measure the number of SSRN downloads, and so on. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the law-teaching profession (including entry to it) changes in response to these empirical efforts.

Have a good rest of your vacation.

1/03/2007 11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You raise some important issues but I think you are focusing way too much on numbers and you don't fully understand a law school is a trade school more than an academic department. Therefore, teaching does actually figure into hiring and tenure decisions at a law school while it does not in a meaningful way in an academic department at a research university. For example, I have heard a lot of buzz among faculty about Professor Murphy's teaching. I never heard buzz about teaching during undergrad or grad school.

The tone of your post is also a bit harsh. While you may be disappointed in some of our professors, please keep in mind Boalt's faculty is ranked #5 by Brian Leiter's Scholarly Impact Rankings. See his latest rankings at You also should keep in mind that sometimes things come up that keep a person from publishing. One of the professors you cite has a child who was in a horrendous car accident in the mid-1990s. I don't think this person has any 'splainin' to do to you or anyone else. Moreover, I would rather see one great article than five average or mediocre ones, something your metric doesn't take into account (and, yes, there is a lot of crap published in even the "most cited" journals). The overwhelming majority of law review articles are never cited (not even once). Thus, a great article is much more significant than an average one.

The points from commenters about alternative forms of publishing are well-taken but law is still a law review article-driven discipline. It is unfortunate that law student editors, who are often overly impressed with fancy credentials and not so good at assessing the quality of scholarship, slot the articles (both at your beloved "most cited" journals and at the Golden Gate Law Review). This state of affairs--which you should certainly know about from your own journal work--suggests much of the data you are relying on is inherently flawed.

Finally, I agree tenure is first about allowing professors academic freedom in what they publish. However, it is also about allowing them to teach what they think is important how they think it should be taught. Again, the teaching component is more important at law schools since they are trade schools.

By the way, aren't the "Money Law" guys the same idiots who found Iverson was the 91st best player in the NBA they year he won the MVP award and Ben Gordon was the worst player the year he won Sixth Man of the Year? Some people are so into their equations and numerical measurements that they make fools of themselves. In the legal world, we say these people have no judgment.

1/04/2007 2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krieger came to teaching after practicing for a long time, not on the standard academic track, and (literally) wrote the book on employment discrimination. Anyone who writes anything in this area of the law has to cite to Krieger. The "articles published" metric doesn't account for her kind of career.

1/05/2007 9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's also worth mentioning that at least one of your cited publishing powerhouses is a TERRIBLE teacher, while some of your pooh-poohed profs are WONDERFUL teachers! What is the value of an extra article or two vs. inspirational teaching?

1/06/2007 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since most law review articles bloviate and never end, I count it as a bonus that profs. like Bundy and Caron have not published in the "top" journals during the past 10 years. The funny thing about your post, Tom, is that you have included some of the most well-respected profs. in your Hardy Boys list of "underachievers."

1/08/2007 1:49 AM  
Blogger Tom Fletcher said...

Anonymouse 1:49, I have nothing but respect for those prof, and I vote with my feet by enrolling in their classes.

I did this little calculation just to answer my own curisoity about who was still writing and what they were writing. I think the results are interesting.

I intended it partially in jest (see words "champion", "prodigious", "'splain'" and "underachiever"), and I absolutely do not believe the results have any bearing on teaching. Just publishing in journals.

1/08/2007 5:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You little study does not tell us anything about WHAT professors are writing. It just tells us how much they are publishing and where. That doesn't tell us anything about whether their stuff is actually good because you can't let the judgment of student editors be the measure of quality.

1/08/2007 9:30 PM  
Blogger Anthony Ciolli said...

Wow, some of you people are really being too harsh. This study is pretty interesting, and while it could be improved upon Tom (unlike certain other people) has clearly not tried to overpromote it or claim that his findings are more important than they actually are.

1/16/2007 10:39 AM  
Anonymous have tenure, will snooze said...

People who have demonstrated good critical thinking skills for seven years -- i.e. student law review editors -- would seem to have good judgment on matters of quality. If not, the frequency with which lr articles are cited by other legal scholars would be a good, albeit time-lagged, measure of quality.

1/16/2007 11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leti Volpp is a wonderful professor, contrary to the anonymous aspersions above. I took immigration law from her, in which she was simply masterful. Seriously. In such a statute-heavy course, class could have been crushingly boring, but it wasn't. I do not plan on practicing immigration law, but her course was one of my favorites at Boalt and I'm very glad I had the opportunity to take it from Prof. Volpp.

1/16/2007 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys are dorks.

1/16/2007 6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tenure is not solely to protect academic freedom. In the world of legal academia, it is a form of compensation. Law profs, especially in the UCal system, earn far less than they could in private practice. The trade-off that they make is surrendering high income for better lifestyle--control over what they are working on and when and job security. Once you go academic, it is hard to go back to a firm, so tenure security is a major element of luring top minds into the academy.

Sure, there might be some abuse of the protections of tenure, but remember that there is more to being a law professor than publishing. First and foremost, there is teaching, then there is committee service, and editing. Are the tenured professors teaching more classes and are they teaching them better than the young bucks? Fletcher is looking at HRs, but a moneyball approach would look at other metrics, such as whether the professor is any good at training future lawyers.

Frankly, the better question is whether the publications of a Berkeley faculty member (or any legal scholar for that matter) have had ANY impact outside of the academy. The proper metric for this is not whether articles are in a HEIN Most Cited journal, but which have been cited by litigants, by courts, and in legislative hearings. The social utility of another article "reconceptualizing" the 14th Amendment or asking "Is the Constitution Legitimate" or a "Defense of Originalism" (sorry to pick on Con law, but they are perhaps the worst for this) that gets placed in the Harvard Law Review or Yale Law Journal is negative (wasted trees, wasted time, wasted electricity, wasted library space...). Somehow student law review editors consistently remain suckers for the most irrelevant and unrealistic articles. For example, there was some hubub this past year about an article arguing that "summary judgment is unconstitutional." Even if it is, no court will ever say so, so why are we losing sleep over it. It's the tree falling in the forest when there is no one to hear it.)

Tom did a fun and very ballsy study. But I'd love to see a study on the REAL WORLD impact of legal scholarship.

1/18/2007 7:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ditto on the lack of real world impact of legal scholarship.

As Steve Reese (sp?) of NYU infamously said years ago, the academy and law reviews ought to be ashamed of their irrelevance, but they're not. They're proud of it.

This probably goes to why law school faculties are getting filled up with JD/PhDs and plain old PhDs who are more interested in doing straight old economic (or sociologic or psychologic) studies (and typically not particuarly well for their discipline) than in actually knowing (and probing) legal doctrine.

1/18/2007 7:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if these professors were writing books or treatises and not publishing in law journals? They might be incredibly productive, but your student would never capture that.

1/19/2007 8:04 AM  
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3/14/2008 3:06 AM  
Anonymous Sildenafil Citrate said...

Yes I think that's fair in measuring who is prodigious because that's whet the society needs, even more when we are talking about professors.

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