Business

Where Are The Best Corporate Law Professors Teaching?

Where Are The Best Corporate Law Professors Teaching?

Marco Ventoruzzo

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law; Bocconi University – Department of Law

November 27, 2015

Bocconi Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2696217

Penn State Law Research Paper

Abstract:

Are the best law professors teaching at the best law schools in the United States? And how can the best law schools around the world be evaluated in terms of the scholarship their professors produce?

This Essay contributes to addressing these questions by examining empirically a specific issue: whether the top-ranking law schools employ the most productive, authoritative and influential scholars of corporate law. In considering this matter, I will also discuss if it is possible, and if so how, to compare law faculties of different countries. This undertaking is generally considered too problematic because of the obvious apples-and-oranges problems raised by comparing legal scholarship and education from different national and cultural contexts.

In Part I I explain the data and the methodology. Part II considers the correlations between the ranking of 25 law schools in the U.S. and different measures of productivity, visibility and relevance of their corporate law professors such as number of publications, H-index, SSRN downloads, and Impact Factor of the journals they have published in, discussing critically the meaning of these and other bibliometric measures. Part III extends the analysis to law faculties in other countries, also exploring possible new approaches to compare the performances of legal researchers operating in different jurisdictions.

Where Are The Best Corporate Law Professors Teaching? – Introduction

Are the best law professors teaching at the best law schools in the United States? And how can the best law schools around the world be evaluated in terms of the scholarship their professors produce?

This Essay contributes to addressing these questions by examining empirically a specific issue: whether the top-ranking law schools employ the most productive, authoritative and influential scholars of corporate law. In considering this matter, I will also discuss if it is possible, and if so how, to compare law faculties of different countries. This undertaking is generally considered too problematic because of the obvious apples-and-oranges problems raised by comparing legal scholarship and education from different national and cultural contexts.

My interest in the topic was inspired by long, interesting, at times funny or frustrating, but always collegial discussions at the different institutions I work for or have worked for: Bocconi University Law School, Penn State Law School and, in the past, the Max Planck Institute in Luxembourg. In all these places, as surely also in others, there is a lively debate on the most proper approach to evaluate (and incentivize) scholarship, a debate simultaneously enriched and complicated by the perspectives of scholars from different fields (e.g. law, political science, mathematics, economics, finance, business administration), from different legal traditions and jurisdictions, or simply having different interests (more theoretically or practically inclined, more or less open to the international dimension of the legal discourse, etc.).

If there was an efficient market for law schools, law students, and law professors, the schools at the top of their game should hire and retain the most outstanding scholars. This is not always the case and, in fact, the market for law professors (or law schools or students) is hardly perfect, transparent, or efficient. There are of course excellent professors teaching at lower ranked institutions. They might have accepted a position for personal reasons, such as the desire or need to reside in a particular area for family reasons. They might have joined the school when it was ranked significantly better, and decided not to move notwithstanding a drop in the rankings. They might have lacked some credentials (such as certain judicial clerkships2) which the hiring committee at the posher schools considered a proxy for a brilliant and prolific scholar, which is not always the case.

On the other hand, you can find (I am sure lots of us have, in fact, found) terrible professors at great schools. Some may have been promising when hired or promoted, but their engagement with scholarship has dwindled. And it would be hypocritical to deny that hiring is occasionally guided by considerations different from pure meritocracy (offers to spouses to attract the real star in the couple, etcetera). Both these types of outliers, however, should be the exception.

I will examine the correlations between the ranking of twenty-five U.S. law schools and different measures of the relevance, visibility, influence and productivity of their full tenured corporate law professors. Several studies tackle this issue, and in fact a literature has developed on this question: an excellent example of an author active in this filed is Alfred Brophy.3 I focus, however, on a specific field of law research, use several different metrics, and introduce an international dimension to the analysis. Before reaching the merits, it is helpful to briefly describe my approach and its limitations.

Corporate Law

Corporate Law

See full PDF below.