Reproduction of Hierarchy? A Social Network Analysis of the American Law Professoriate


As its structure offers one causal mechanism for the emergence of and convergence upon a collective conception of what constitutes a sound legal rule, we believe the social structure of the American law professoriate is an important piece of a broader model of American common law development. Leveraging advances in network science and drawing from available information on the more 7,200 tenure-track professor employed by an ABA accredited institution, we explore the topology of the legal academy including the relative distribution of authority among its institutions. Drawing from social epidemiology literature, we provide a computational model for diffusion on our network. The model provides a parsimonious display of the trade off between “idea infectiousness” and structural position. While our model is undoubtedly simple, our initial foray into computational legal studies should, at a minimum, motivate future scholarship.

Journal of Legal Education
Jon Zelner
Jon Zelner
Associate Professor