Prospective Law Teachers (and VAPs and fellows) Workshop Committee
The mission of the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop Committee is to provide aspiring law professors with targeted feedback and advice from seasoned law professors. The Committee coordinates the SEALS Prospective Law Teachers Workshop, which provides opportunities for aspiring law teachers to participate in mock interviews and mock job talks. The Committee also schedules 1-on-1 sessions for prospective law teachers to receive faculty feedback on their CVs. Additionally, the Committee traditionally has organized at least one substantive panel on a topic of particular relevance to prospective law teachers, including past sessions such as “Maximizing your VAP” and “Navigating the Hiring Process.” Many of the Committee’s past workshop participants have gone on to obtain tenure-track positions in legal academia and now teach at diverse schools, ranging from Tulane to South Carolina to Louisville.
- Leah Chan Grinvald (Suffolk) (Chair) firstname.lastname@example.org
- Jill Fraley (W&L)
- Michael Higdon (Tennessee)
- Ian Holloway (Calgary)
- Becky Jacobs (Tennessee)
- Layne Keele (Faulkner)
- Stacy Leeds (Arkansas)
- Melissa Lonegrass (Louisiana State) (New Scholar Committee Liaison)
- Colin Marks (St. Mary’s)
- Luke Milligan (Louisville)
- Elizabeth Pendo (St. Louis)
- Shakira Pleasant (John Marshall Chicago)
- Nancy Soonpaa (Texas Tech)
- Howard Wasserman (FIU)
- Spencer Weber Waller (Loyola Chicago)
“I think I tried to express to you at the conference just how helpful the Prospective Scholars workshop was for me (and continues to be), but words don’t begin to sum it up. The advice, candor, and feedback from you, Leah, and the dozens of SEALS attendees that you two organized to speak with us was nothing short of awesome. The feedback is helping me to improve my materials and to present myself better and, if I get a job, which I hope I will, it will be in no small part due to all of the work that you put in and you do it all with a great sense of humor that takes the edge off of and adds some fun to what can feel like a completely insane process.”
Portia Pedro, 2017 Workshopper, Ph.D. in Law Candidate, Yale
“I can’t tell you how much more prepared I am for the job market this cycle and how grateful I am for all of your efforts!”
Hiba Hafiz, 2017 Workshopper, Bigelow Teaching Fellow
“I’m still amazed how much effort and thought went into planning this. You are truly doing a remarkable service to aspiring law professors. For me, it really serves as a reminder to constantly give back to my students and my community.”
William Moon, 2017 Workshopper, NYU Lawyering
“I have had a note on my desk for a long time reminding me to email you both and thank you for all of your encouragement and help . . . The SEALS workshop was instrumental in getting me on the right track in terms of interviewing and job-talking and meeting folks, and I so appreciate your work on that front. I have already raved about the workshop to [others].”
Michael Pollack, 2016 Workshopper, Associate Professor, Cardozo Law
“I was so impressed that you had so many professors at our job talks, the CV review session, and in the mock interviews. Everything worked seamlessly, and all of the advice and input will help so much on the market. You’re doing us all a great service, and you have my deep gratitude!”
Luke Norris, 2017 Workshopper, Columbia Associate in Law
Welcome to the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop Committee. We are thrilled that you are interested in this year’s exciting program. We look forward to learning more about you and your interest areas for teaching and scholarship. We hope you will find the mock interviews, mock job talks, and related panels of great use in your quest to secure a tenure-track position. If you are interested in participating, please contact one of us to express your interest. At that time, please provide a CV as well as a brief statement regarding your upcoming plans and professional goals.
If you are already planning to attend SEALS, please make sure you have registered for the conference and arranged for your rooms. Some people attend the whole week-long conference (for networking), while others attend just a few days centered around the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop. Information for registering for the conference is also on this website.
We look forward to seeing you at the conference.
2021 Annual Report
2020 was the first time the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop (the “Workshop”) was held virtually, along with the entirety of the SEALS conference. Given the uncertainty around how the virtual platform would work, the 2020 Workshop was limited to six workshoppees. With the virtual platform, we utilized one main room for the mock job talks and the mock interviews. Faculty volunteers were assigned to breakout rooms and the workshoppees moved from breakout room to breakout room as needed. Instead of hosting the CV/FAR review session, the workshoppees connected with inidivdual faculty volunteer reviewers at a time that worked for the workshoppee and faculty volunteer. Six workshoppees turned out to be a good size group in a virtual setting.
With the smaller size of the Workshop, this was the first year that the Workshop had to turn away faculty volunteers. We were still able to staff each of the mock job talk breakout rooms with 10 faculty volunteers, and three to four faculty volunteers for each mock interview breakout room. Some of the faculty volunteers needed to wake up extremely early, given the different time zones involved with the virtual setting. All of the help received was very much appreciated – both by the Workshop and the workshoppees. Notwithstanding the surrealness of the virtual nature of the Workshop, all of the workshoppees reported that they greatly benefitted from the feedback and making virtual connections.
The Workshop proved to be resilient, and provided both faculty volunteers and workshoppees the ability to practice virtual interviewing skills. Our 2020 workshoppees have seen a great deal of success on the job market, with the majority securing full-time, tenure-track positions at law schools in a variety of different types of positions, including doctrinal, clinical, and legal writing.
2020 Annual Report
The 2019 Prospective Law Teachers Workshop Committee, Co-Chaired by Brad Areheart (Tennessee) and Leah Chan Grinvald (Suffolk), was another successful year for the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop. Our main goal for 2019, our eighth consecutive year, was to increase former workshoppee participation, which we were able to do. We expect even more participation going forward, as more former workshoppees return to the SEALS conference after settling into their new faculty positions.
This year, all workshoppees attended the New Scholars Luncheon, which took place directly after the CV/FAR review session. The New Scholars Luncheon was well-attended and even required the addition of chairs at the last minutes. One of the pieces of feedback we received last year was that it would be helpful if the CV review included a review of draft FAR forms. So this year, for the first time, we asked faculty volunteers to review FAR forms as part of the CV review session. That was a big hit and we plan on continuing it in the future.
It was another record year for faculty volunteers, with close to 100 individual faculty members helping out over the course of the workshop. This allowed us to have 10-12 faculty members in each job talk room, better simulating the faculty-filled room at call back interviews. For the mock interviews that simulate those which occur prior to callbacks, we had at least three faculty volunteers in each interview room.
Our 2019 workshoppees have seen a great deal of success on the job market, with the majority securing full-time, tenure-track positions at law schools in a variety of different types of positions, including doctrinal, clinical, and legal writing.
2019 Annual Report
Our goals for 2018 were to increase the level and breadth of faculty participation, as well as the level of former workshoppee participation, in order to provide more individualized and productive feedback to each workshoppee. We are happy to report that we met all of these goals during the 2018 workshop, which was its seventh consecutive year of the workshop.
We continued the innovations that we began in 2017: holding both a welcome reception and a closing reception with the workshoppees in order to increase the feeling of community, and the “speed dating” CV review session. As a formal addition to the workshop, we invited the workshoppees and the faculty volunteers in the workshop to the New Scholars Luncheon. All of the workshoppees attended the lunch and it was another way for the entire community of prospective and new scholars to come together. Overheard were some great conversations and informal mentoring between new scholars and the workshoppees.
2018 saw the highest number of faculty volunteers, with close to 100 individual faculty members helping out over the course of the workshop. This allowed us to have approximately 10 faculty members in each job talk room, more closely simulating the faculty-filled room at call back interviews. We also had a number of former workshoppees (who are now full-time faculty) volunteer and a goal for 2019 and beyond is to increase their participation.
Our 2018 workshoppees have been quite successful on the job market, with 10 of the 12 workshoppees securing full-time, tenure-track positions at law schools in a variety of different types of positions, including doctrinal, clinical, and legal writing.
2018 Annual Report
2018 marks the sixth consecutive year of the workshop, and the Prospective Law Teachers Workshop Committee is looking forward to continuing this workshop for the coming year. The feedback that we continue to receive from faculty volunteers and workshoppees has been overwhelmingly positive. The experience from both sides of the table makes for a productive and satisfying workshop.
In 2017, we instituted a number of program innovations designed to increase the level of feedback that the workshoppees receive from faculty volunteers, in addition to increasing the feeling of community. We held a welcome reception at the hotel bar the night before the workshop began. We had the workshoppees arrive a bit early each day to check-in with Brad and Leah. During the workshop, we reinvented the CV review session and ran it as a “round robin.” We split the workshoppees into two groups of six and placed each group of six into different rooms (for space purposes). We then paired each workshoppee with an individual faculty member volunteer. Each pairing had approximately 15 minutes to chat about the workshoppee’s CV or any questions the workshoppee had. The feedback we received from the workshoppees and the faculty members was that this session allowed for greater individual feedback and the opportunity to make connections with a wide range of faculty. We will continue this program feature in 2018.
In addition, our goal of having a minimum of five faculty members in the audience of each of the 12 job talks was met, and in fact, surpassed. We had an average of eight faculty members for each job talk room, which provided a great forum for each workshoppee to receive feedback on their presentation. Finally, to close the workshop, we had an informal reception after the last panel of the formal workshop programming to receive feedback from the workshoppees, which was quite successful. It provided an opportunity for the workshoppees to reflect on their experiences and their take-aways for the upcoming job market. This format also allowed for the workshoppees to provide Brad and Leah with valuable feedback about the workshop.
As in years past, we coordinated our dates with the New Professors Workshop so that the candidates can also take advantage of their programming on teaching, research, and service; indeed, we have strongly encouraged each workshoppee to attend these sessions as well. Further to this, in 2017, some workshoppees joined the New Scholars Luncheon, which we will strongly encourage in 2018, as it provides a natural complement to the workshop programming.
Our 2017 workshoppees have been quite successful on the job market, with about half of the workshoppees having already secured full-time positions at law schools. Workshoppees in current fellowship or visiting assistant professor (VAP) programs have also been helping us spread the word to their current colleagues or incoming colleagues about the value of the workshop. In addition, a number of former workshoppees have volunteered to take part in future workshops to be able to “pay it forward.” We continue to stay in touch with former workshoppees as they matriculate and grow into the legal academy.
2018 is shaping up to be just as impressive a year, with an increased number of inquiries from prospective workshoppees over the year prior. Our goal for 2018 is to increase the level and breadth of faculty participation, as well as the level of former workshoppee participation, in order to provide more individualized and productive feedback to each workshoppee.
2017 Annual Report
With the word spreading among fellowship and visiting assistant professor (VAP) programs, as well as among SEALS attendees, in 2016 we were able to accept the highest number of candidates yet for the workshop. We instituted a number of new programmatic developments designed to increase the feeling of “community” among the workshopees, including a welcome reception at the hotel bar the night before the workshop began. We also had the candidates arrive a bit early each day to check-in with Brad and Leah, which also led to the candidates feeling part of a workshop and community.
This year marks the fifth consecutive year of the workshop. We were again quite successful in raising awareness of the workshop among the many fellowship and VAP programs around the country, as well as more general knowledge among the legal community (shown through the applications we received from practitioners). The committee received approximately 23 applications to participate in the workshop, which was about the same as in 2016. Therefore, we were able to have another successful competitive process, and have accepted 12 candidates for the 2017 workshop, all of whom are quite impressive.
Our “graduates” continue to experience success on the market. Our 2016 workshopees accepted positions for tenure-track professorships all around the country. While the workshop cannot take all the credit for helping these candidates secure jobs, the feedback we received was extremely positive and clearly indicates the workshop was helpful in preparing them for the market. In addition, Brad and Leah stayed in touch with the 2016 candidates throughout the job market, checking in with them at critical times. We spent hours on the telephone and over email providing one-on-one advice to candidates about the pros and cons of particular job offers.
Our plan for 2017 is to continue the success that we have seen with the workshop and provide each candidate with mock interviews that are closely related to the real experience of the AALS faculty recruitment conference. Each candidate will have three mock interviews. In addition, our goal is to have a minimum of five faculty members in the audience for each of the candidate’s job talks (in addition to other candidates, which we require to sit in on at least one job talk). Last year, we had approximately 60 faculty volunteers from 30 unique and very different law schools. We believe that the exposure to a wide range of interviewers and job talk audience members is one of the most distinguishing features of this workshop.
In addition to the mock interviews and mock job talks, the workshop also provides candidates with a one-on-one CV feedback session, as well as a panel geared toward navigating the job market. The panel generally features a mix of professors who have spent time on appointments committees and junior professors who have recently succeeded on the job market. As in years past, we coordinated our dates with the Newer Law Teacher’s Workshop so that the candidates can also take advantage of their programming on teaching, research, and service; indeed, we have strongly encouraged each workshopee to attend these sessions as well. Our hope is that the candidates enjoy a well-rounded and rich experience at SEALS, which helps to prepare them for the upcoming market. We hope that the workshop will continue its success in the coming years.
2016 Annual Report
2016 marked the fourth consecutive year of the workshop, and with four years under our belt, we can now see some of the results. Of the 24 candidates to have participated in the workshop since 2013 (not counting the 2016 candidates), all but three candidates are currently employed in an academic institution. While the workshop cannot take all the credit for assisting these candidates in their job searches (particularly those from 2015 that are still in the academic positions they held while participating in the workshop), it is gratifying to see that many have clearly benefited from the workshop and the programming that we offer to them.
This year, we were again quite successful in raising awareness of the workshop among the many fellowship and Visiting Assistant Professor programs around the country. The committee received 23 applications to participate in the workshop, which was about one less than last year. Due to the efforts of the chairpersons and the willingness of the faculty volunteers, we were able to accept 12 candidates, which was an increase of three from the year prior. We currently have 36 faculty volunteers lined up for the mock interview sessions. This means that we can provide each candidate with mock interviews that are closely related to the real experience at the AALS meeting, as each interview room will have at least three faculty volunteers “interviewing” a candidate at one time. Each candidate will have three mock interviews. In addition, we have lined up over 25 faculty volunteers for the mock job talk sessions, which will mean that each job talk will have at least five members of the audience at any one time (as other candidates will sit in on the job talks as well). The faculty volunteers are from a wide range of schools across the country, representing approximately 27 different law schools.
In addition to the mock interviews and mock job talks, the workshop also provides candidates with a one-on-one CV feedback session, as well as a panel geared to them on navigating the job market. As in years past, we coordinated with the New Professors Workshop on dates so that the candidates can take advantage of their programming on teaching, research, and service. This ensures that the candidates are provided with a well-rounded and rich workshop and experience at SEALS, hopefully helping them to prepare for the upcoming market. We hope that the workshop will continue to be able to expand to include additional candidates and faculty volunteers next year.