ITT We Talk About Academia

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Detrox
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ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Detrox » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:23 pm

So what are the requirements for any real shot at legal academia? Obviously top grades and writing with a strong preference to attending HYS(C?), preferably a prestigious clerkship etc. But I wonder if people can create something like a baseline set of requirements.

Also curious as to breaking down the requirements to enter academia at various levels. For example, my impression from research is that a hypothetical person w/ stats: Lower T-14, top 10%, secondary journal + published article, district court clerkship isn't getting a teaching job at most T1 schools without doing/writing something groundbreaking; but at what point is he/she likely to land an assistant professor position at some lower tier law schools?

I know clinical experience and stuff has effect on this as well, but let's assume for simplicity that this is ignoring speciality fields/technical knowledge or PhD/other advanced degrees.

AspiringAcademic
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby AspiringAcademic » Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:46 pm

To some extent, you're asking the wrong people. Most of what people on TLS (including myself) know about academic hiring comes from reading sources like these:
http://www.law.uchicago.edu/careerservi ... awteaching
http://ww3.lawschool.cornell.edu/facult ... aching.htm
http://www.ericgoldman.org/Resources/be ... fessor.htm

Talking to your own professors might also be useful, but you may find the responses somewhat idiosyncratic. A slightly more objective approach would be going to the faculty lists of the schools in question and pulling up the CVs of their recent hires.

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Detrox
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Detrox » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:04 pm

AspiringAcademic wrote:To some extent, you're asking the wrong people. Most of what people on TLS (including myself) know about academic hiring comes from reading sources like these:
http://www.law.uchicago.edu/careerservi ... awteaching
http://ww3.lawschool.cornell.edu/facult ... aching.htm
http://www.ericgoldman.org/Resources/be ... fessor.htm

Talking to your own professors might also be useful, but you may find the responses somewhat idiosyncratic. A slightly more objective approach would be going to the faculty lists of the schools in question and pulling up the CVs of their recent hires.


I guess yea. I mean I've read my own school's resources on these along with some basic internet research. Just thought that with TLS having so much knowledge on what it takes to get to Biglaw (on the aggregate), and even having the breakdowns of what it takes to hit the various V100 spots, that there was at least decent hope for some level of experience and expertise on the academic market. Problem with alot of the school sources is that they stay deliberately vague so as to not suggest that legal academia is a near impossible route for most students who dont have the 4.0/COA clerkship/law review publications. Instead they say that "grades are but one factor, but extremely important so good grades makes it easier while bad grades will need to be overcome with better writing" etc. etc. on that level of useless generality.

Anyway, I figured it'd be worth at least something to gather any knowledge TLS may have here, even if it's just anecdotal/opinion based.

sebastian0622
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby sebastian0622 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 5:15 pm

I figure you either need to be at least median at Yale or one of the top five students at a t-20, with varying cutoffs in between. Obviously journal is a big factor as well, as would be a PhD or LLM. This is nothing more than a slightly educated guess based on the backgrounds of professors that I see.

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NoleinNY
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby NoleinNY » Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:11 pm

Here's a snapshot of a few professors from a T14 and my T2 that illustrates the different paths to academia (chosen at random):

T14:
Guy-Uriel Charles (Civ Pro / Con Law): UMich-> LR / Founder of a Journal-> CoA Clerk -> Journal

Tom Metzloff (Civ Pro): Harvard -> SCOTUS Clerk -> Private Practice -> Academia

Paul Haagen (Contracts): Rhodes Scholar -> PhD Princeton/Yale JD -> LR -> CoA clerk-> Private Practice -> Academia

Dan Chen (Contracts): JD Harvard/PhD MIT -> scholar at Oxford -> Academia

Neil Siegel (Con Law): Top of Class Berkeley + PhD -> LR -> SCOTUS + multiple CoA clerk -> SG fellow -> Academia

T2:
Ted Seto (Tax / Property): Harvard -> LR ->COA clerk -> BigLaw-> academia

Laurie Levenson: (Crim): UCLA -> LR -> CoA clerk -> Fed Prosecutor -> Academia

Allan Ides (Civ Pro / Con Law): Top of class at LLS -> LR -> SCOTUS clerk -> Academia

Lauren Willis (Contracts): Stanford -> LR -> SG clerk -> CoA clerk ->DoJ -> FTC -> Big Law -> Academia

Stan Goldman: Top of Class LLS -> PD ->Argued in front of SCOTUS -> Writing ->Academia

zomginternets
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby zomginternets » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:58 pm

One caveat to the "Must go to HYS" rule is that a lot of schools like to hire their own alum.

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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Sat Oct 15, 2011 10:43 pm

Recognizing that law professorships are limited to the HYS + 5% crowd; what about business law jobs at b-schools? A lot of those people were lawyers in my undergrad and MBA program.

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tww909
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby tww909 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:18 am

this thread seems to be too focused on credential accumulation and is really missing the key point. what matters more than anything mentioned ITT is scholarship. anyone attempting to break into tenure-track academia from any school regardless of credentials absolutely must have a developed and articulable scholarly agenda. at the end of the day the demonstrated ability to produce publishable work and a commitment to continuing to do so matters much more than grades, clerkships, or any of the other credentials mentioned here.

obviously that is not a bright line rule - the credentials do matter - but anyone who tells you that top of the class a HYS + LR + supreme court clerkship is a lock for academia is just wrong. without the scholarly agenda, existing publications and future publishable work, even the most "qualified" candidates will not find a tenure track position at a school of any real quality if at all.

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tww909
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby tww909 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:26 am

sebastian0622 wrote:I figure you either need to be at least median at Yale or one of the top five students at a t-20, with varying cutoffs in between. Obviously journal is a big factor as well, as would be a PhD or LLM. This is nothing more than a slightly educated guess based on the backgrounds of professors that I see.


i think this might seem to be the case, but it actually confuses correlation with causation.

at SLS, our career services office has a publication --LinkRemoved-- which dispels the theory that one must have a certain set of grades to get academia from HYS. regardless, one should recognize that the students most likely to go into legal academia will, on the whole, likely have relatively strong grades not because students with worse grades are getting culled by GPA cutoffs, but because the most academically interested and inclined students with a strong interest in the law self select toward academic careers.

to reiterate my earlier point, what matters is publications. a median student with several excellent publications will have a much easier go of finding a tenure track position than a even significantly higher ranked student without a strong publication record and future scholarly agenda.

AspiringAcademic
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby AspiringAcademic » Sun Oct 16, 2011 11:12 am

tww909 wrote:obviously that is not a bright line rule - the credentials do matter - but anyone who tells you that top of the class a HYS + LR + supreme court clerkship is a lock for academia is just wrong. without the scholarly agenda, existing publications and future publishable work, even the most "qualified" candidates will not find a tenure track position at a school of any real quality if at all.

This is my understanding as well. Also, if you look around for the records of recent hires, you find more and more people who look like this:
http://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/twilkins/cv.pdf
Never clerked, never practiced, not T6. Extensive publication record>that, apparently.

Omerta
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Omerta » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:25 pm

Although I have no interest in academia, a professor went into it when we had our combo clerkship/academia meeting. The professor mentioned one thing that people don't consider when judging difficulty is field of expertise. Structural Con law is way more of a bitch to get recognition and a position in than some other fields -- she specifically mentioned how hard it was to find good IP and Bankruptcy professors.

bdubs
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby bdubs » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:36 pm

AspiringAcademic wrote:
tww909 wrote:obviously that is not a bright line rule - the credentials do matter - but anyone who tells you that top of the class a HYS + LR + supreme court clerkship is a lock for academia is just wrong. without the scholarly agenda, existing publications and future publishable work, even the most "qualified" candidates will not find a tenure track position at a school of any real quality if at all.

This is my understanding as well. Also, if you look around for the records of recent hires, you find more and more people who look like this:
http://www.law.upenn.edu/cf/faculty/twilkins/cv.pdf
Never clerked, never practiced, not T6. Extensive publication record>that, apparently.


I don't think that anyone ITT denied that JD->PhD->Fellowship->Academia was a common track to a faculty appointment. The discussion seems to be focused more on what is required of candidates without doctorates. As far as I know very few fellowships will take on students who have just graduated and do not already have a doctorate.

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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:49 pm

Omerta wrote:Although I have no interest in academia, a professor went into it when we had our combo clerkship/academia meeting. The professor mentioned one thing that people don't consider when judging difficulty is field of expertise. Structural Con law is way more of a bitch to get recognition and a position in than some other fields -- she specifically mentioned how hard it was to find good IP and Bankruptcy professors.

I'm at a T-14, so I don't know if that makes a difference, but we have a lot of very narrow courses where the professors all but say they designed the course from scratch. There usually are no casebooks, just photocopies or case lists. How hard is it to get a job teaching a course like that compared to a standard Nutshells course like Remedies or Patents?

zomginternets
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby zomginternets » Sun Oct 16, 2011 2:05 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Omerta wrote:Although I have no interest in academia, a professor went into it when we had our combo clerkship/academia meeting. The professor mentioned one thing that people don't consider when judging difficulty is field of expertise. Structural Con law is way more of a bitch to get recognition and a position in than some other fields -- she specifically mentioned how hard it was to find good IP and Bankruptcy professors.

I'm at a T-14, so I don't know if that makes a difference, but we have a lot of very narrow courses where the professors all but say they designed the course from scratch. There usually are no casebooks, just photocopies or case lists. How hard is it to get a job teaching a course like that compared to a standard Nutshells course like Remedies or Patents?


You can't only teach something like that; they won't hire you just to teach some obscure area of the law. You also need to teach at least one common course (or at least say you're willing to teach a common course) like remedies, evidence, crim pro, any 1L course, etc. Even then it varies from school to school on whether they will approve an obscure course to be taught. I'd imagine they are more willing to approve it at a T-14 than at lower tier schools--they further down the ranks you go, the more students are really only interested in taking courses that have some practical relevance.

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tww909
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby tww909 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:21 pm

Omerta wrote:Although I have no interest in academia, a professor went into it when we had our combo clerkship/academia meeting. The professor mentioned one thing that people don't consider when judging difficulty is field of expertise. Structural Con law is way more of a bitch to get recognition and a position in than some other fields -- she specifically mentioned how hard it was to find good IP and Bankruptcy professors.


this is credited as well. there is definitely a difference in the relative competitiveness by field. the sexy stuff like structural (or even civil rights/civil liberties) con law is more competitive.

tax is another field i've heard people say is, all things being equal, easier to break into than others.

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tww909
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby tww909 » Sun Oct 16, 2011 4:30 pm

zomginternets wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:
Omerta wrote:Although I have no interest in academia, a professor went into it when we had our combo clerkship/academia meeting. The professor mentioned one thing that people don't consider when judging difficulty is field of expertise. Structural Con law is way more of a bitch to get recognition and a position in than some other fields -- she specifically mentioned how hard it was to find good IP and Bankruptcy professors.

I'm at a T-14, so I don't know if that makes a difference, but we have a lot of very narrow courses where the professors all but say they designed the course from scratch. There usually are no casebooks, just photocopies or case lists. How hard is it to get a job teaching a course like that compared to a standard Nutshells course like Remedies or Patents?


You can't only teach something like that; they won't hire you just to teach some obscure area of the law. You also need to teach at least one common course (or at least say you're willing to teach a common course) like remedies, evidence, crim pro, any 1L course, etc. Even then it varies from school to school on whether they will approve an obscure course to be taught. I'd imagine they are more willing to approve it at a T-14 than at lower tier schools--they further down the ranks you go, the more students are really only interested in taking courses that have some practical relevance.


this is accurate. the SLS academia publication i referenced earlier discusses how to present your teaching interests in the initial interviews:

You should be ready to say what your “dream” load of four courses would be, but also indicate flexibility in accommodating the school’s needs. In this regard, it is helpful to most schools if you are willing to teach at least one first-year course.

It is not necessary that each teaching interest be related to your research interests, but it is important not to appear too scattered. You should aim ultimately for a coherent intellectual agenda, but not all your teaching fields must also be research fields.


this is also in an article reprinted in the publication called "Uncloaking Law School Hiring: A Recruits Guide to the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference" 38 J. Legal Ed. 3 (1988).

When seeking entry-level faculty, hiring committees are usually looking for good generalists who have the potential to teach in several of the "bread and butter" first-year and large advanced courses. ... Unless you are quite rigid on only teaching certain subjects, give yourself flexibility and rule out very little. If you insist you can only teach Advanced Health Law or Chinese Environmental Law, your chances of employment are slight to nonexistent.

anongoodnurse
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby anongoodnurse » Mon Oct 17, 2011 11:38 am

But I wonder if people can create something like a baseline set of requirements.


Publishing. Possibly setting aside SCOTUS clerks, the academic market these days generally requires candidates to publish one or more law review articles if they want a fighting chance of getting an entry-level job. Numbers vary on a school-by-school basis, but a very general rule of thumb is that you'll need one LR article if you are a "classical" candidate (HSYC* or elite grades from the remainder of the T14, LR, COA clerkship, 2-4 years of practice at an elite firm or US government job); two if you are slightly off that beaten path (say "only" a DC clerkship or merely very good grades from a non-HSYC school); and three or more if you are a big outlier. In terms of placement quality, the general sentiment is that T1 and T2 schools really like to see mainline LR placements that are as good or better than their own USNWR rank; T3 and T4 schools like to see top 100 placements (though not too high, or you'll be deemed an unacceptable flight risk).

(By the way, add another publication or two to the above if you want to teach con law, civ pro or federal courts, or if you have say 6+ years of practice experience.)

* For the purposes of academic hiring, Yale is by far the most prolific. Harvard, Stanford and Chicago are roughly comparable, at least on a per capita basis. The remaining schools lag way behind.

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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:37 pm

anongoodnurse--

Any sense for how a LR note factors into the publications. Would a HYS LR note "count" as one of those publications?

anongoodnurse
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Re: ITT We Talk About Academia

Postby anongoodnurse » Mon Oct 17, 2011 12:50 pm

Any sense for how a LR note factors into the publications. Would a HYS LR note "count" as one of those publications?


My impression is that a law school note or comment might be a small plus, but it won't count as a LR publication for hiring eligibility purposes. There are a few reasons for this. First, purely logistically, assume that the author clerks for the COA for a year, then goes to a big firm or the government for (say) 3 years, going on the academic market in the third year. At that point, the student work is at least 4 years old, which is probably about the point that the publication starts to lose value. Second, a student work doesn't have to go through the LR submission process, so it doesn't say anything about how others value the work (which is why people care about placement in the first place). Third, my understanding is that the main reason for the publishing requirement is to show that the candidate has a track record of writing and publishing (which makes sense -- the school pedigree and clerkship and all of the other credentials are mostly just proxies for this), and the fact that somone wrote a comment many years ago in law school is just not as good as a post-law school article.

All of that said, there are probably exceptions to this -- I'm mostly thinking of people that go on the market right after their clerkships, or student works that are exceptional (i.e., heavily cited by courts and commentators). But the former probably aren't going to have much success in any event (SCOTUS clerks and freaks who publish a ton in their clerkships aside), and you can't really plan for the latter.




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