Finding the Goldilocks Zone: Negotiating Your First Employment Offer in Legal Academia

Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming

49 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2019 Last revised: 30 Mar 2020

Date Written: October 2, 2019


This WIP is for individuals, particularly women, who are about to negotiate their first employment offers in legal academia (whether tenure-line or non-tenure-line). The goal is to hit the "Goldilocks Zone" where you negotiate to strike the best balance to meet your needs and your law school's needs.

The paper begins with information about why women are less likely than men to negotiate employment offers and offers strategies to consider as they negotiate with their potential dean.

The paper then explains more than two dozen potential terms of an entry-level offer, with advice about what may or may not be typical or reasonable under the circumstances. Examples include starting date and bridge summer compensation, base salary, course packages, teaching load, credit toward tenure, and spousal hires.

The remainder of the paper explains how to hit the "Goldilocks Zone" in your specific negotiation. Topics include understanding your negotiating partner (i.e., understanding the dean's role, perspective, and restrictions), conducting research (e.g., how do you find out more about salary ranges), identifying your needs and establishing your priorities, and developing your BATNA.

Keywords: Legal Education, Hiring, Tenure, Tenure-Track, Law Professor, Negotiating, Negotiations, Legal Academia, Pink Ghetto, BATNA

Suggested Citation

Dickerson, Darby, Finding the Goldilocks Zone: Negotiating Your First Employment Offer in Legal Academia (October 2, 2019). Journal of Legal Education, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Darby Dickerson (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

3050 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90010
United States

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