Though supervising SJD students is an intensive and demanding exercise, it is one I am happy to undertake because I view it as central to the fulfillment of the scholarly mission of my own school, and of the legal academy more generally. I therefore am open to reviewing SJD applications of interested candidates, and I generally do so within one to two weeks of receiving them.
However, I only consider applications that are directed to me. This means applications that include (i) a cover letter than describes how my own work dovetails with the work of the student in question, (ii) a proposal dissertation that cites my own work in the context of the dissertation proposal (negatively is fine, but it must engage my work) and (iii) a bibliography that is reasonably thorough and includes my work. The mass mailed application that reaches me and dozens of other faculty members in identical form will be swiftly discarded by me.
This is not an ego trip, in fact the generic descriptions that seem to accompany each application of how brilliant the prospective student finds me can be omitted. Feel free to think something I’m written is completely and embarrassingly wrong. But if I am going to spend the extensive time and effort necessary to supervise a student, I need to know that the student is aware of my work, finds it in some way useful and responsive to their own project and is willing to describe to me the connection they have identified. If I find the connection equally interesting and responsive, it’s probably worth my time, and the student’s.
Of course, I must also find the proposal compelling and worthy of the time necessary to supervise it, and very few applications meet that standard. I presume that is a matter of which all candidates are aware.