Cluster Hiring in Law Schools?

Cite this Article
Joshua D. Wright, Cluster Hiring in Law Schools?, Truth on the Market (January 09, 2007),

This article documents the “cluster hiring” strategy employed by the Duke Economics Department over the past several years (HT: Marginal Revolution). The article defines cluster hiring as: “recruiting groups of researchers who share an approach to an academic discipline and have existing relationships.”  Part of the motivation for this hiring strategy was simply to increase the size of the faculty, but Department Chair Thomas Nechyba describes the strategy as part of an “intellectual vision of getting people to come here who otherwise would have never worked together, and who could combine their skills here in a way that creates much more than they individually could have.â€

This is a very interesting approach to faculty hiring, and it certainly makes sense to hire “intellectual couples” (as the article describes pairs that are likely to collaborate) or “trios” in order to take advantage of these complementarities.  Being a relatively new law professor, I don’t know whether any law schools have adopted this approach in recent times.  GMU’s string of law and economics hires under Henry Manne in the late 1980s certainly qualifies.  I can also think of examples of a law school making several excellent hires in one field of expertise simultaneously or over a few years time in order to bolster the school’s presence in that speciality.  But cluster hiring as it is described here seems to have the additional dimension of explicitly seeking co-authors, potential co-authors, or colleagues that would produce synergies even if not through co-authorship.  Are there historical examples of law schools making “cluster” hires?  if so, how’d it work?  Is this a good strategy for law schools?  Or if this a less feasible strategy for law schools because co-authorship is looked upon, let’s say, less favorably than in other fields?