Law Professor Answering Questions

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Borhas
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Borhas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:44 pm

thank you, sir

Hunch
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:03 pm

orphanarium wrote:
traficante wrote:What advice would you give to someone hoping to become a law professor, particularly someone entering law school (probably Yale/Harvard) with a PhD?

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and thanks to your student for thinking of this!


Same question, but coming from a student who will attend a non-HYS T14.



Let me try to take on the "how to become a professor" questions in one shot. First, I was lucky enough to get one of these jobs (and that's literally true, not false humility), so it's easy for someone like me to assume there's only one way (mine) to get in. There's not. I've chaired the hiring committee at my school for the last four years, just so you know I have a little background here.

I suspect (I could be wrong) that most profs who teach at HYS come from HYS. There's a ton of local favoritism going on at those places, especially Harvard, which loves to hire its own. So yeah, go to Harvard, impress the bejesus out of the faculty, get hired at Harvard, you're all set. But for the rest of the law schools, we hire with a little more latitude. But just a little. The incoming credentials of law profs at even third or fourth tier law schools are incredible. Again, legal education is good all over, and we are now entering the third decade of an extremely competitive market for law professors. Almost no one gets to be a law prof anywhere nowadays who doesn't fit the bill. Or if they don't, they're drummed out pretty quickly.

How much latitude? We love graduates from the more "serious" or "lawyerly" top ten law schools: Chicago, Northwestern, Virginia, Michigan, Stanford, Harvard. We look also at grads of course from the other top schools. Obviously we hire from Yale too, and I'm not disrespecting anyone left out; I'm just giving you my impressions from years on the committee. The sweet spot (certainly during the law and economics era, which continues) is Chicago, NWU and Virginia. I'm not saying you're hurt by going to Stanford, etc, (that would be stupid of me, so please don't read me as saying that), it's just that a top Chicago grad who wants to write/teach in law and econ style is going to get some serious attention from us.

As for going to a school outside the top ones: some people still make it. Just go get an LLM from Harvard or somewhere and parlay that into a teaching job. It's done pretty often, especially if you focus on a more specialized teaching area (like taxation).

Here's the real inside story of how this process works: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications for even one open spot. We cut the huge pile according to certain "brass rings": rank of law school attended, law review, published note while on law review or served as officer, graduation rank/coif, federal judicial clerkship, big firm practice, wrote article (or good, advanced draft) during practice years. After that cut, we still have a deep pile! PhD's can help (if in econ), but not all that much, at least not here, although we do have a few on the faculty with that credential. SCOTUS clerkship helps a lot, but stay tuned.

After the "less deep" pile is made, credentials don't matter much any further. We interview, and we're looking for two qualities. First, does that person have the personality/intellectual vigor to conduct a classroom full of bright students for an hour? Don't underestimate this criterion, especially at law schools outside the top ten. You'd be amazed how many very capable, incredibly well-credentialed applicants fail this test; they just don't have the personality or whatever it is to do it. (So, my advice here is don't kid yourself. Just because you scored high one morning on the LSAT doesn't mean you can carry an intellectual conversation for a solid hour. And please forgive my tone here, but many applicants are shocked when they don't make it past the first interview stage.) Second, does that person think of or deal with the law in an abstract, philosophical way? Does his/her thought reveal nuance and reflection? Basically we're looking for the promise of interesting scholarship. Again, many fail, even people walking out of SCOTUS clerkships, no kidding.

So, it's not so much where you went to school per se. It's are you (what we view as) professor material. You have to collect your brass rings on the way, of course. But you have to make a fair self-assessment. It's the rare applicant who makes it; it's fools gold to plan your life around it. I did, and made it, but in retrospect I was fortunate to say the least. Every year I turn away people who would probably be better at my job than I am.

Sorry for the speech.

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Philo38
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Philo38 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:06 pm

Would you mind speaking about the curve for a moment? There has been much negative sentiment expressed here and elsewhere regarding it obviously. As an 0L it is the source of a good deal of stress.

Basically, do you ever (or how often do you) find yourself giving a grade to an exam that you feel is lower than it deserves due to the need to satisfy the curve? Or do you think this occurs often?

Also, are you ever able to see a clear and dramatic difference in quality of students from one section to another, and does that mean that those who are in the stronger section's grade's suffer as a result--being that their work is judged by a higher standard? Or is any given section generally equal in its distrubution of good-poor students?

Thanks.
Last edited by Philo38 on Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

rando
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby rando » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:10 pm

Hunch wrote:
orphanarium wrote:
traficante wrote:What advice would you give to someone hoping to become a law professor, particularly someone entering law school (probably Yale/Harvard) with a PhD?

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and thanks to your student for thinking of this!


Same question, but coming from a student who will attend a non-HYS T14.



Let me try to take on the "how to become a professor" questions in one shot. First, I was lucky enough to get one of these jobs (and that's literally true, not false humility), so it's easy for someone like me to assume there's only one way (mine) to get in. There's not. I've chaired the hiring committee at my school for the last four years, just so you know I have a little background here.

I suspect (I could be wrong) that most profs who teach at HYS come from HYS. There's a ton of local favoritism going on at those places, especially Harvard, which loves to hire its own. So yeah, go to Harvard, impress the bejesus out of the faculty, get hired at Harvard, you're all set. But for the rest of the law schools, we hire with a little more latitude. But just a little. The incoming credentials of law profs at even third or fourth tier law schools are incredible. Again, legal education is good all over, and we are now entering the third decade of an extremely competitive market for law professors. Almost no one gets to be a law prof anywhere nowadays who doesn't fit the bill. Or if they don't, they're drummed out pretty quickly.

How much latitude? We love graduates from the more "serious" or "lawyerly" top ten law schools: Chicago, Northwestern, Virginia, Michigan, Stanford, Harvard. We look also at grads of course from the other top schools. Obviously we hire from Yale too, and I'm not disrespecting anyone left out; I'm just giving you my impressions from years on the committee. The sweet spot (certainly during the law and economics era, which continues) is Chicago, NWU and Virginia. I'm not saying you're hurt by going to Stanford, etc, (that would be stupid of me, so please don't read me as saying that), it's just that a top Chicago grad who wants to write/teach in law and econ style is going to get some serious attention from us.

As for going to a school outside the top ones: some people still make it. Just go get an LLM from Harvard or somewhere and parlay that into a teaching job. It's done pretty often, especially if you focus on a more specialized teaching area (like taxation).

Here's the real inside story of how this process works: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications for even one open spot. We cut the huge pile according to certain "brass rings": rank of law school attended, law review, published note while on law review or served as officer, graduation rank/coif, federal judicial clerkship, big firm practice, wrote article (or good, advanced draft) during practice years. After that cut, we still have a deep pile! PhD's can help (if in econ), but not all that much, at least not here, although we do have a few on the faculty with that credential. SCOTUS clerkship helps a lot, but stay tuned.

After the "less deep" pile is made, credentials don't matter much any further. We interview, and we're looking for two qualities. First, does that person have the personality/intellectual vigor to conduct a classroom full of bright students for an hour? Don't underestimate this criterion, especially at law schools outside the top ten. You'd be amazed how many very capable, incredibly well-credentialed applicants fail this test; they just don't have the personality or whatever it is to do it. (So, my advice here is don't kid yourself. Just because you scored high one morning on the LSAT doesn't mean you can carry an intellectual conversation for a solid hour. And please forgive my tone here, but many applicants are shocked when they don't make it past the first interview stage.) Second, does that person think of or deal with the law in an abstract, philosophical way? Does his/her thought reveal nuance and reflection? Basically we're looking for the promise of interesting scholarship. Again, many fail, even people walking out of SCOTUS clerkships, no kidding.

So, it's not so much where you went to school per se. It's are you (what we view as) professor material. You have to collect your brass rings on the way, of course. But you have to make a fair self-assessment. It's the rare applicant who makes it; it's fools gold to plan your life around it. I did, and made it, but in retrospect I was fortunate to say the least. Every year I turn away people who would probably be better at my job than I am.

Sorry for the speech.


This is one of the best assessments of how to get into legal academia that I have read. Thank you for your candid and thorough response.

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Lermontov
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Lermontov » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:17 pm

Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this. I might come by later with questions, though I'm sure other people will cover most of the obvious things by the time I get back here and actually think.

Hunch
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:19 pm

Lermontov wrote:Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this. I might come by later with questions, though I'm sure other people will cover most of the obvious things by the time I get back here and actually think.


You're welcome, everyone. Got to go for now, but I'll check back soon to pick up a leftover question or two. Sorry I couldn't respond to everyone.

forty-two
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby forty-two » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:26 pm

Lermontov wrote:Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to do this. I might come by later with questions, though I'm sure other people will cover most of the obvious things by the time I get back here and actually think.

+1, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions. Your responses have been very helpful.

lawgunner75
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Joined: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:47 pm

Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby lawgunner75 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:31 pm

I also just want to say thanks for doing this. We 0L's really, really appreciate it.

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Havaianas
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Havaianas » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:42 pm

I want to echo everyone else and say - Thanks!

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SwollenMonkey
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby SwollenMonkey » Mon Mar 15, 2010 7:55 pm

Your use of punctuation is turning me on. Give me more!

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Lermontov
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Lermontov » Mon Mar 15, 2010 8:35 pm

Okay, a small question but a specific one. I, like those posters above, am thinking of the professoriat. You mentioned schools that would be best, and mentioned some brass rings.

Would it be crazy, keeping those rings in mind, to take Georgetown (or someplace similar to Gtown if you'd care to expand) over Michigan (or someplace like it in the pecking order)?

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Luis Gomez
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Luis Gomez » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:12 pm

Thanks for the insight prof.

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PLATONiC
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby PLATONiC » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:20 pm

My father's a professor, and for the longest time, I've seen it as an honorable profession. I'd like to teach some day too (I'm actually a lot more interested in the researching and writing part of being a professor).

1. How do you think the blogosphere will affect how law professors are hired? (Tenure as well).
2. How difficult would it be in the future for a person who worked in private practice for ten years to become a faculty member at a law school?
3. Did you publish a couple of articles while in private practice? As a 3L?

Thank you so much!!!

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Knock
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Knock » Mon Mar 15, 2010 9:33 pm

Thank you so much for answering these questions!

Do law professors have any say in the admittance of an applicant?

What are some talking points a law professor would be interested in talking over lunch in regards to their school/ the admittance processl?

traficante
Posts: 27
Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:53 pm

Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby traficante » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:12 pm

Hunch wrote:
orphanarium wrote:
traficante wrote:What advice would you give to someone hoping to become a law professor, particularly someone entering law school (probably Yale/Harvard) with a PhD?

Thanks for taking the time to do this, and thanks to your student for thinking of this!


Same question, but coming from a student who will attend a non-HYS T14.



Let me try to take on the "how to become a professor" questions in one shot. First, I was lucky enough to get one of these jobs (and that's literally true, not false humility), so it's easy for someone like me to assume there's only one way (mine) to get in. There's not. I've chaired the hiring committee at my school for the last four years, just so you know I have a little background here.

I suspect (I could be wrong) that most profs who teach at HYS come from HYS. There's a ton of local favoritism going on at those places, especially Harvard, which loves to hire its own. So yeah, go to Harvard, impress the bejesus out of the faculty, get hired at Harvard, you're all set. But for the rest of the law schools, we hire with a little more latitude. But just a little. The incoming credentials of law profs at even third or fourth tier law schools are incredible. Again, legal education is good all over, and we are now entering the third decade of an extremely competitive market for law professors. Almost no one gets to be a law prof anywhere nowadays who doesn't fit the bill. Or if they don't, they're drummed out pretty quickly.

How much latitude? We love graduates from the more "serious" or "lawyerly" top ten law schools: Chicago, Northwestern, Virginia, Michigan, Stanford, Harvard. We look also at grads of course from the other top schools. Obviously we hire from Yale too, and I'm not disrespecting anyone left out; I'm just giving you my impressions from years on the committee. The sweet spot (certainly during the law and economics era, which continues) is Chicago, NWU and Virginia. I'm not saying you're hurt by going to Stanford, etc, (that would be stupid of me, so please don't read me as saying that), it's just that a top Chicago grad who wants to write/teach in law and econ style is going to get some serious attention from us.

As for going to a school outside the top ones: some people still make it. Just go get an LLM from Harvard or somewhere and parlay that into a teaching job. It's done pretty often, especially if you focus on a more specialized teaching area (like taxation).

Here's the real inside story of how this process works: we get hundreds and hundreds of applications for even one open spot. We cut the huge pile according to certain "brass rings": rank of law school attended, law review, published note while on law review or served as officer, graduation rank/coif, federal judicial clerkship, big firm practice, wrote article (or good, advanced draft) during practice years. After that cut, we still have a deep pile! PhD's can help (if in econ), but not all that much, at least not here, although we do have a few on the faculty with that credential. SCOTUS clerkship helps a lot, but stay tuned.

After the "less deep" pile is made, credentials don't matter much any further. We interview, and we're looking for two qualities. First, does that person have the personality/intellectual vigor to conduct a classroom full of bright students for an hour? Don't underestimate this criterion, especially at law schools outside the top ten. You'd be amazed how many very capable, incredibly well-credentialed applicants fail this test; they just don't have the personality or whatever it is to do it. (So, my advice here is don't kid yourself. Just because you scored high one morning on the LSAT doesn't mean you can carry an intellectual conversation for a solid hour. And please forgive my tone here, but many applicants are shocked when they don't make it past the first interview stage.) Second, does that person think of or deal with the law in an abstract, philosophical way? Does his/her thought reveal nuance and reflection? Basically we're looking for the promise of interesting scholarship. Again, many fail, even people walking out of SCOTUS clerkships, no kidding.

So, it's not so much where you went to school per se. It's are you (what we view as) professor material. You have to collect your brass rings on the way, of course. But you have to make a fair self-assessment. It's the rare applicant who makes it; it's fools gold to plan your life around it. I did, and made it, but in retrospect I was fortunate to say the least. Every year I turn away people who would probably be better at my job than I am.

Sorry for the speech.


Thanks for the response, very helpful.

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MissCongeniality
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby MissCongeniality » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:15 pm

Just adding my voice to the notes of gratitude you've received thus far. The insight into academia was extremely helpful.

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quickquestionthanks
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby quickquestionthanks » Tue Mar 16, 2010 4:33 am

bump --- cool thread, should be on the main page

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fixer
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby fixer » Tue Mar 16, 2010 12:56 pm

Another 0L question...

While I have not started Law School, and I intend to get a comprehensive legal education, I am interested in learning about the business of law. How the legal industry works as well as how the firm operates, develops clients, evaluates potential cases and clients, creates profitable business relationships and alliances and maintains structure, policies and practices that foster growth or increase efficiency (based on the firm's goals) and specific to the practice of law.

Are there professors or schools who offer this type of coursework or are known for their expertise in this regard? Assuming the market becomes more and more competitive, will efficiency and profitability concerns drive this type of coursework or does the legal industry (lawyers) leave this to the MBA/consultant crowd?

I assume coursework outside the law school (B-School) is an option.

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saltoftheearth
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby saltoftheearth » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:31 pm

Good questions, great answers

nycparalegal
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby nycparalegal » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:11 pm

This thread needs to be stickied. It was very informative.

spearnreel
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby spearnreel » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:22 pm

tag

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T14_Scholly
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby T14_Scholly » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:27 pm

Lermontov wrote:Okay, a small question but a specific one. I, like those posters above, am thinking of the professoriat. You mentioned schools that would be best, and mentioned some brass rings.

Would it be crazy, keeping those rings in mind, to take Georgetown (or someplace similar to Gtown if you'd care to expand) over Michigan (or someplace like it in the pecking order)?


I'm pretty sure he just told you that you don't have a chance in hell of getting a law professor job, no matter where you go.

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Panther7
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Panther7 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:35 pm

what is your opinion (as a professor) about Washington and Lee's new 3L program?

Littlebunny
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:56 pm

Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Littlebunny » Tue Mar 16, 2010 7:55 pm

Hi,
Would like to pass the LSAT and get into a Law school in Canada. All this test system sound a little bit strange for me coming from an other continent but I want to pass it.
I just read different type of topics over this forum and I am lost between the posts.
Can anybody be so kind to describe what steps do I have to follow to be able to pass the LSAT with success?
Which are the necessary books what I have to study? I mean the best ones. How many books do I have to study to be prepared for the LSAT? What do you mean about “bible”( I saw under different posts, how many bibles? And which books are these?)
Is anyone know how already pass the LSAT how are the questions, are they the same from year to year? And are they the same what I should find in the books? Let say if exists 10 books and I am studying all of them what is the chance to receive the exactly same questions from the studied material?
Is anything else to obtain the LSAT behind writing the test ? The LSAT is just testing or are they asking for something else history, comprehension in different kind of topics etc.?
Usually how long it takes to be prepared, if you are studying 24/7 ?

Hunch
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:15 pm

Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:58 pm

PLATONiC wrote:My father's a professor, and for the longest time, I've seen it as an honorable profession. I'd like to teach some day too (I'm actually a lot more interested in the researching and writing part of being a professor).

1. How do you think the blogosphere will affect how law professors are hired? (Tenure as well).
2. How difficult would it be in the future for a person who worked in private practice for ten years to become a faculty member at a law school?
3. Did you publish a couple of articles while in private practice? As a 3L?

Thank you so much!!!


Yes, it's a great job, as I'm sure your father will tell you. Your questions:
1. Not sure what you're asking here, but certainly a number of professors blog. I don't think it adds or subtracts from a body of work, so blogging doesn't really count in any respect.

2. Very tough. Every year we get numerous applications from the veteran judge or law firm partner who wants to transition to the academic life. In my experience these applications are summarily rejected. (Sometimes people who fit this bill get hired into administrative posts, like a deanship. I find that odd, since most reputable schools would not hire them to the faculty.) The reason for the rejection is probably pretty close to age discrimination, but it reflects a view that a productive scholarly career has to begin at an earlier age. The typical academic candidate clerks for a year after law school, practices law for two or three, and comes on the market. It's not uncommon for the senior partner at the large law firm being beaten out for the academic job by the second-year associate down the hall, much to the former's surprise.

3. Not exactly. Wrote a student note for publication and wrote a finished draft during practice, ready to go for job talks.




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