Law Professor Answering Questions

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Hunch
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:02 pm

Knockglock wrote: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?


No say in the admit decision, at least not at the better schools. The admissions committee are insulated pretty well from faculty influences, for obvious reasons.

It's easy to get a law prof to talk (see the length of my posts). You could ask the prof the questions that are on your mind: why did you decide to attend law school, why the school you attended, happy with career, future of law practice, future of legal education, importance vel non of clinical education, etc.

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Knock
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Knock » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:10 pm

Hunch wrote:
Knockglock wrote: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?


No say in the admit decision, at least not at the better schools. The admissions committee are insulated pretty well from faculty influences, for obvious reasons.

It's easy to get a law prof to talk (see the length of my posts). You could ask the prof the questions that are on your mind: why did you decide to attend law school, why the school you attended, happy with career, future of law practice, future of legal education, importance vel non of clinical education, etc.


Thank you so much for answering my questions! :)

Hunch
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:15 pm

Philo38 wrote: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.


Grades are always given on a curve, whether that curve is explicit or not. There's a strong comparative element to assigning a grade. Mandatory curves favor the better students; they can distinguish themselves more easily, as curves in the main make us friendly professors give out bad grades when we'd rather keep everyone happy.

I've never quite had the dilemma you describe about being forced to give bad grades. Exams can always be distinguished in a substantive way. I usually find myself forced to give out a couple of extra high grades. (Yes, I'm a mean one.)

As for section-to-section differences, I'd go further. I've taught at several law schools and am dubious even of school-to-school variations. Law students are (almost) uniformly smart and dedicated, everywhere. In the admissions process, law schools (and maybe applicants) make huge distinctions among students on criteria that may not mean very much. For instance, there's little evidence that apparently substantial differences in LSAT score translate into anything we might care about, such as law school grades or future earnings. Any LSAT above average (above 150, I guess) suggests the applicant is smart enough to handle the complexity of legal education, and that real success (grades, income) will depend on other factors, such as diligence, thoroughness, organization, etc. It's because of the USNews that law schools are now crazy over meaningless differences in scores.

So to answer your question, no, I don't see differences, but maybe other professors would have a different view.

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zapper
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby zapper » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:22 pm

Hello,

Thank you so much for all of your helpful feedback.

In the interview with Brian Leiter on this website, Leiter mentions that certain schools outside of the top 14 are better regarded in academic circles than their US News rankings might suggest, e.g. Florida State, Chicago-Kent, Fordham, San Diego, George Mason, BU, Cardozo, Brooklyn.

Do you have any further insight into this subject? In light of the "brass ring" reality, do you think it would make any difference in terms of academic hiring if a candidate came from one of these schools?

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Knock
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Knock » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:27 pm

zapper wrote:Hello,

Thank you so much for all of your helpful feedback.

In the interview with Brian Leiter on this website, Leiter mentions that certain schools outside of the top 14 are better regarded in academic circles than their US News rankings might suggest, e.g. Florida State, Chicago-Kent, Fordham, San Diego, George Mason, BU, Cardozo, Brooklyn.

Do you have any further insight into this subject? In light of the "brass ring" reality, do you think it would make any difference in terms of academic hiring if a candidate came from one of these schools?


This brings me to another question, what schools do you think are overrated and underrated?

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nick637
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby nick637 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:31 pm

Professor,

Let me join the ranks of curious 0L's in thanking you for your posts. They have been both insightful and inspiring.

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NUMB3RFIFTY
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby NUMB3RFIFTY » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:17 am

Hunch wrote:Questions other than identity. I teach at a school that drifts between the first and second tiers.


So you teach at Boyd... Welcome hahaha

Hunch
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Hunch » Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:21 am

Knockglock wrote:
zapper wrote:Hello,

Thank you so much for all of your helpful feedback.

In the interview with Brian Leiter on this website, Leiter mentions that certain schools outside of the top 14 are better regarded in academic circles than their US News rankings might suggest, e.g. Florida State, Chicago-Kent, Fordham, San Diego, George Mason, BU, Cardozo, Brooklyn.

Do you have any further insight into this subject? In light of the "brass ring" reality, do you think it would make any difference in terms of academic hiring if a candidate came from one of these schools?


This brings me to another question, what schools do you think are overrated and underrated?



After this one I'm done. Again, good luck to all. It's a great profession and I loved every day I spent in practice as I do in academia.

As to schools and their rankings, I've already identified San Diego as having one heck of a faculty and therefore underrated. But in one sense I'm wrong in the same way Brian is wrong: both he and I like San Diego (and for sure Fla State has a faculty far better than its ranking) but we're assessing the schools along the dimension that matters to us: faculty scholarship. We have no idea how well these professors perform in the classroom. Students (and the local faculty) know better on that score than we do. So for me to say a school is over- or underrated reveals my bias: it's underrated if faculty scholarship were the only thing that mattered. Of course it isn't, and indeed scholarship matters relatively little from a student's perspective. So perhaps San Diego is properly rated along all the dimensions that should matter to students, including instruction, placement, financial aid, etc. I really don't know.

But back to the academic world and the other question raised: as I tried to suggest previously, faculty hiring preferences are pretty rigid. We expect people who want to be a professor to attend the schools that we customarily look to for new hires: Yale, Virginia, Harvard, Stanford, Northwestern, Chicago, Columbia, maybe NYU, maybe one or two others. If you're not going to one of these, you could plan on an LLM (just a year) and that should help a little. (Also an LLM is basically a year to get a good article done so it's a winner all around.) Or you could just plan on not becoming a professor.

I suggest some caution in organizing your entire legal education to pursue the single dream of an academic job. That dream might lead you to turn away great opportunities and substantial financial aid packages in what could easily turn out to be a vain attempt. I've tried (in a previous post) to describe a little of what faculty hiring committees look for in terms of credentials and personal qualities. On both counts the bar is set very high. Accumulating the credentials requires literally years of steadfast dedication just to make yourself eligible, to make that second pile. And then you might not even get an interview, anywhere! There are never more than a small number of jobs open nationwide. Failure happens regularly; people are shocked that their years of careful compilation of a "professor-eligible" resume doesn't produce a single call-back interview. So my basic goal here is to throw a little water on everyone's law prof fire, to suggest you make a frank self-assessment to decide if you have what it takes and are willing to pursue it relentlessly. One word of warning: don't pursue the job for the lifestyle; you have to love the work itself. A desire to improve one's lifestyle will not sustain you over the years of effort it takes.

One final observation: I just looked at the website of a bottom-tier law school where a classmate of mine is on the faculty. I examined the credentials of their untenured or recently tenured faculty, in other words, the newest hires. These young professors graduated from the following law schools: Virginia, NYU, Yale, Yale (with PhD too), Harvard, Harvard, Northwestern, and Michigan. All were law review; all but one had COA clerkships; one was SCOTUS to boot; all but one (the PhD person) worked for major law firms. And that's at the "bottom of the pile" school. See how incredible even the bottom tier faculties are (and why you will get an outstanding legal education even there)? And see how narrow is the path to a prof job?

Best wishes to all.

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zapper
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby zapper » Wed Mar 17, 2010 8:24 am

Again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.

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Philo38
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby Philo38 » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:13 am

zapper wrote:Again, thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.


Second

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JusticeHarlan
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby JusticeHarlan » Wed Mar 17, 2010 10:15 am

Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions and share your thoughts.

slider
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Re: Law Professor Answering Questions

Postby slider » Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:59 pm

I am bookmarking this thread. It is fantastic.




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