Prof. Burke in DC

Today and Saturday I’m in DC for the annual national law school faculty hiring conference, otherwise known as the “meat market.”  Current and future law-profs descend upon the Marriot, hooking up for 30 minute interviews in which the first question is always, “So tell us about your current project,” and the last question is always, “What can we tell you about us?”  (OK, literally, the last question is then from the interviewee, who asks something like, “What support is there for junior faculty research?”)  Fortunately, we picked terrific people to interview so I learned a bunch of interesting stuff I didn’t previously know, the mark of a pretty good day.

But the entire process had me flashing back to that weekend eight years ago when I sprinted from hotel tower to hotel tower, repeating the short version of my job talk, answering questions both predictable and whack, and concluding with all the right questions.  Many of the memories are positive, like when the folks at Arkansas told me what the Clintons were like, or when the guy from Michigan told me my research was fascinating (didn’t get a callback, but, still, he was nice to say it), or when someone noticed the topic of my undergraduate thesis.  Unfortunately, it also brings back the bad memory of catching two profs at a top 5 school share a joint eye roll at my expense six minutes into a 30-minute interview.  Ouch!  
When people ask me about the pain of getting a first novel published, I always wonder if perhaps the process of starting my other professional life may have been worse.  In either case, I’m feeling extremely fortunate right now to be on the other side of the table.