As a member of academia, I periodically get inquiries from other law schools asking if I'm interested in lateraling. This is quite flattering, though I know full well that such messages aren't only being sent to me and that there is a long road from "email of interest" to actually getting a job offer.
Recently, though, I've noticed that the schools making such inquiries of me are disproportionately located in deep red, southern states. It could be a statistical artifact, of course -- I don't get so many solicitations so as to negate the possibility of random clustering. But it does make me wonder if the decaying political climate in those states means that these schools are experiencing more pressure in terms of faculty outflow, which they're trying to replace via laterals.*
Both the specific anti-academia initiatives (crusades against "controversial topics"; attacks on tenure), and the broader threat to political and civil rights (abortion bans, threats to democracy) that are characteristic of these states make working there -- and to be clear, I hold the universities in question in the highest esteem -- a far less attractive proposition. And from the other side of the fence, serving on our school's appointments committee this year it did seem to me like we were getting an uptick in "red state refugee" lateral applications -- though again, that's just an impression, and I have no data to back it up. For another bit of anecdotal evidence, see Sapna Kumar's recent interview explaining why she elected to leave Houston Law for the University of Minnesota.
I'm curious, though, if others are noticing this pattern as well. Other junior law professors -- are you getting disproportionate interest from "red state" schools? Any other sense that these schools are indeed facing faculty outflow pressure?
For what it's worth, I'm very happy in Portland and at Lewis & Clark, and have no interest in decamping anywhere. My wife and I have bought a house, we've settled down, I like my students and my colleagues, I've got the course package I want -- life is good and I see no need to mess with a happy status quo.** But my wife and I have also decided that, even beyond any generic inertial resistance, we're in particular not interested in moving to schools in places where our basic rights don't feel secure. We're at the phase of life where we're thinking of starting a family, and doing that in a place where pregnancy turns my wife into a vessel for the state would be horribly unfair to her. And for my part, I teach constitutional law -- a course that, rumor has it, sometimes veers into "controversial topics". I don't want to go to jail because some yahoo right-wing prosecutor decides I'm teaching Roe and Dobbs wrong.
* It might say something about my professional self-esteem that I assume the only reason these schools would be interested in the likes of me is that they're in the midst of a political crisis.
** All that said, I want to be very clear that if Harvard Law School wanted to entice me to move to Cambridge by tripling my salary, they can feel free to mess away.