Sai Prakash (constitutional and administrative law, securities regulation) at the University of San Diego School of Law has turned down the senior offer from Northwestern University School of Law. This is the second time in recent years that San Diego has beat Northwestern in head-to-head competition: Steven Smith (constitutional law) also turned down an offer from Northwestern, in favor of San Diego, when he was leaving the University of Notre Dame a few years back.
At the risk of making the Weekly Sedition again, I must note that this does raise real questions about Northwestern's position in the lateral market for top faculty (and, consequently, the law school's long-term status). Last year, for example, Northwestern lost head-to-head with Vanderbilt for Tracey George (law & social science) (who was then at Northwestern) and Chris Guthrie (behavioral law & economics) (at Vanderbilt). The only successful lateral recruitment in recent years was of a faculty member from a top 20 business school.
All this is during a time period when Northwestern's immediate competition has been far more active, and successful, in the lateral market for top law faculty: Duke, for example, has added Curtis Bradley (international law, foreign affairs law) from Virginia and Erwin Chemerinsky (constitutional law) from USC, among others; Penn has added Paul Robinson (criminal law) from Northwestern and Chris Sanchirico (evidence, law & econommics) from Virginia, among others; Texas has added Bernard Black (corporate law, law & economics) from Stanford and Ronald Mann (commercial law) from Michigan, among others; and UCLA has added Mark Grady (torts, law & economics) from George Mason and Katherine van Wezel Stone (labor law) from Cornell, among others. The only place where Northwestern has continued to hold its own is in the market for top junior faculty, though the real issue, of course, will be retaining them long-term.