Questions about becoming a law professor

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JimmyTheGreek
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Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:08 pm

Hey ya'll,

I came to law school wanting to do litigation, but after going through trial ad/app ad/pretrial lit, I have soured on the whole prospect. It is so much work and so time consuming, and is overall very frustrating. Same feeling towards transaction work. However, I have joined our student-tutoring program and have really liked teaching 1Ls how to be successful in the classroom. This made me come to my current position of wanting to graduate and be a law professor. However, I could really use some advice about how to go about this.

Some general questions I have are:

1) Do you have to go to the one of the T14 schools to even have a shot at being a professor?

2) Do you have to get an LLM?

3) How much practice experience do you need after law school? Or is there a way to get straight on the professor track?

Some information about me:

1) I am a 2L at a T2 school probably ranked 80-90. It is a regional school that places extremely well in the region

2) I do very well in my classes. Probably in the top 20% of the class. Not on LR or Moot Court, but I'l planning to write on for Law Review for my 3L year. With my GPA, it is pretty likely I'll be accepted.

3) My 1L summer I worked at a solo practitioner's office doing a lot of different types of work. 2L summer I'm not sure yet. Struck out on OCI's and am looking for jobs around here. I don't think I'm going to look for legal jobs this summer, just something that will pay the bills.

4) Money is an issue with my mobility at the moment. It is one of the reasons I didn't go very deep into the job hunt after I struck out at OCIs. Just didn't have the ability to go somewhere else unless the salary would make up for keeping my apartment in the town I currently live in. Couldn't pay double rent, so after OCI's I just kind of looked at jobs within driving distance and found nothing that interests me there.

5) I am prepared to and probably will get my LLM after I get my JD.

Any and all feedback is appreciated

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usernotfound
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby usernotfound » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:15 pm

Academia is probably one of the few hardest if not the hardest post-law school goals. Even from a T14 it is extremely difficult. To have a shot, most people say you need to be top 5-10% of your class at HYS or top few students at a T14, then go on to do very prestigious work such as COA clerk or SCOTUS clerk, or something like that. At a school ranked 80-90, eh, you're climbing Mt. Everest with no legs. It's hard.

JimmyTheGreek
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:18 pm

Thank you for the response!

What about the option of going to a good LLM after I graduate? I know some of my professor's didn't go to T14 law schools, but did get LLMs from Harvard, Yale, Duke, etc.

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OutCold
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby OutCold » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:27 pm

PhD would be a lot better than an LLM. But either way the chances are minimal if you aren't coming from YHS, and it would be foolish to pursue extra degrees with that being the sole goal.

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UnicornHunter
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby UnicornHunter » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:30 pm

Chicago's guide for its alums who are interested. TL:DR: forget about it. But if not, publishing+ getting a PHD is your best shot.

JimmyTheGreek
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:39 pm

Thanks everyone for the responses.

However, I am a bit skeptical of the whole "must go to a T14 to be a law professor" thing. The people in those schools no doubt do have a great shot and that's the easiest path, but there are over 200 law schools and they all have mostly full faculty. I can't believe that there are enough T14 students interested in being a professor to fill a majority of those positions. Same with clerking at SCOTUS or on a COA. It just seems like everyone says these jobs are only available for a select few people, but there are enough filled positions for every law school in America. There has to be other people able to get jobs.

TL;DR: It seems like the amount of law professor jobs currently filled is way bigger than the amount of people who want to teach coming from T14s or with SCOTUS/COA clerking experience.

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BlueLotus
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby BlueLotus » Sun Mar 29, 2015 6:50 pm

Are clinical teaching jobs at law schools as competitive as traditional tenure-track faculty?

thatsnotmyname
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby thatsnotmyname » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:02 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thank you for the response!

What about the option of going to a good LLM after I graduate? I know some of my professor's didn't go to T14 law schools, but did get LLMs from Harvard, Yale, Duke, etc.


Have you spoken to any of your professors about getting into academia, how difficult it is, and how to get there? I'd imagine they would be your best source of information.

JimmyTheGreek
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:05 pm

thatsnotmyname wrote:
JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thank you for the response!

What about the option of going to a good LLM after I graduate? I know some of my professor's didn't go to T14 law schools, but did get LLMs from Harvard, Yale, Duke, etc.


Have you spoken to any of your professors about getting into academia, how difficult it is, and how to get there? I'd imagine they would be your best source of information.


I have, but they all say "with your grades, you have a great shot" and then get kind of vague. Either way, I try not to take any advice from people who get their salary from my tuition money.

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baal hadad
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby baal hadad » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:20 pm

LLM won't help

If you get a phd and/or publish shit that people actually want to read you may have a nonzero chance

Also keep in mind that being a law prof is actually about publishing masturbatory articles

It's not about teaching

TooOld4This
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:26 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thanks everyone for the responses.

However, I am a bit skeptical of the whole "must go to a T14 to be a law professor" thing. The people in those schools no doubt do have a great shot and that's the easiest path, but there are over 200 law schools and they all have mostly full faculty. I can't believe that there are enough T14 students interested in being a professor to fill a majority of those positions. Same with clerking at SCOTUS or on a COA. It just seems like everyone says these jobs are only available for a select few people, but there are enough filled positions for every law school in America. There has to be other people able to get jobs.

TL;DR: It seems like the amount of law professor jobs currently filled is way bigger than the amount of people who want to teach coming from T14s or with SCOTUS/COA clerking experience.


Sorry, but you are way off base on this. Academic hiring has shrunk dramatically and it was never particularly robust. There are far more HYS and top T14 grads than positions.

JimmyTheGreek
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:40 pm

TooOld4This wrote:
JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thanks everyone for the responses.

However, I am a bit skeptical of the whole "must go to a T14 to be a law professor" thing. The people in those schools no doubt do have a great shot and that's the easiest path, but there are over 200 law schools and they all have mostly full faculty. I can't believe that there are enough T14 students interested in being a professor to fill a majority of those positions. Same with clerking at SCOTUS or on a COA. It just seems like everyone says these jobs are only available for a select few people, but there are enough filled positions for every law school in America. There has to be other people able to get jobs.

TL;DR: It seems like the amount of law professor jobs currently filled is way bigger than the amount of people who want to teach coming from T14s or with SCOTUS/COA clerking experience.


Sorry, but you are way off base on this. Academic hiring has shrunk dramatically and it was never particularly robust. There are far more HYS and top T14 grads than positions.


I don't mean to disagree and I do this with all respect, but that isn't what I'm seeing. I've been looking up faculty for law school's (just random ones) and there's always 3-4 professors who didn't go to a T14 but either worked for a year and got in or got a good LLM and then went into teaching. Some are actually quite young, too. Heck, some schools hire a lot of people that graduated from there. I'm not trying to teach at HYS, but even a very low ranked school is fine as long as I'd be in academia.

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baal hadad
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby baal hadad » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:45 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:
TooOld4This wrote:
JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thanks everyone for the responses.

However, I am a bit skeptical of the whole "must go to a T14 to be a law professor" thing. The people in those schools no doubt do have a great shot and that's the easiest path, but there are over 200 law schools and they all have mostly full faculty. I can't believe that there are enough T14 students interested in being a professor to fill a majority of those positions. Same with clerking at SCOTUS or on a COA. It just seems like everyone says these jobs are only available for a select few people, but there are enough filled positions for every law school in America. There has to be other people able to get jobs.

TL;DR: It seems like the amount of law professor jobs currently filled is way bigger than the amount of people who want to teach coming from T14s or with SCOTUS/COA clerking experience.


Sorry, but you are way off base on this. Academic hiring has shrunk dramatically and it was never particularly robust. There are far more HYS and top T14 grads than positions.


I don't mean to disagree and I do this with all respect, but that isn't what I'm seeing. I've been looking up faculty for law school's (just random ones) and there's always 3-4 professors who didn't go to a T14 but either worked for a year and got in or got a good LLM and then went into teaching. Some are actually quite young, too. Heck, some schools hire a lot of people that graduated from there. I'm not trying to teach at HYS, but even a very low ranked school is fine as long as I'd be in academia.

Go through the stats for the previous few yrs

barely anyone gets hired as a tenured law prof

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/getting_a_job_on_the_law_teaching_market/

there are basically no jobs and unless you can publish something worth reading, there certainly wont be prof jobs for pepople like you

TooOld4This
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:47 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:
TooOld4This wrote:
JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thanks everyone for the responses.

However, I am a bit skeptical of the whole "must go to a T14 to be a law professor" thing. The people in those schools no doubt do have a great shot and that's the easiest path, but there are over 200 law schools and they all have mostly full faculty. I can't believe that there are enough T14 students interested in being a professor to fill a majority of those positions. Same with clerking at SCOTUS or on a COA. It just seems like everyone says these jobs are only available for a select few people, but there are enough filled positions for every law school in America. There has to be other people able to get jobs.

TL;DR: It seems like the amount of law professor jobs currently filled is way bigger than the amount of people who want to teach coming from T14s or with SCOTUS/COA clerking experience.



Sorry, but you are way off base on this. Academic hiring has shrunk dramatically and it was never particularly robust. There are far more HYS and top T14 grads than positions.


I don't mean to disagree and I do this with all respect, but that isn't what I'm seeing. I've been looking up faculty for law school's (just random ones) and there's always 3-4 professors who didn't go to a T14 but either worked for a year and got in or got a good LLM and then went into teaching. Some are actually quite young, too. Heck, some schools hire a lot of people that graduated from there. I'm not trying to teach at HYS, but even a very low ranked school is fine as long as I'd be in academia.


What are these positions? Tenure track jobs at even low ranked schools go to graduates from top schools with impressive clerkships/PhDs/top firm experience.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:48 pm

Not that TooOld4This needs my validation, but in case it's helpful to see someone else agree, he's completely correct that the academic market is very very VERY small. It's true that not every single law prof is from the T14, but just go look at the faculty directories for your school and random representative schools - most profs will be from very highly-ranked schools with top of the class credentials and resumes. The ones that aren't from the T14 (or higher) tend to have even better credentials to compensate. As you go down the food chain, some schools do also hire their own grads (usually from the very top of the class), but that's going to be a very small pool of jobs to be looking for.

It is possible to break into legal academia from wherever if you publish articles in highly-ranked law reviews, but it's going to be extremely difficult, in part because the top-ranked schools have more resources for helping students write the articles that will get them into academia - and, to be blunt, a HYS JD on a resume gets your articles looked at more closely than a JD from a lower-ranked school (doesn't make the articles automatically better, but they get looked at). This is also why a PhD in a related field (and to a lesser degree a LLM) is useful, because it gives you the opportunity to get training and mentorship in publishing and to get articles out before you go on the market.

Also, keep in mind the difference between tenured/tenure-track profs, and legal writing/clinical faculty. The latter are not tenured at most schools, are usually paid less, and often occupy a kind of second-class citizen status. That's not to say that these aren't good positions, and if you want to teach rather than publish, these are the positions you want, because that's what the job entails - lots of teaching/student contact. But you have to know what you're getting into with these kinds of positions. And since they are practice-oriented, you need practice experience before you can be competitive for these. However, what school you attended is generally much less important than having that experience. Make sure the people you're identifying in the directories aren't legal writing/clinical profs.

JimmyTheGreek
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:52 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:Not that TooOld4This needs my validation, but in case it's helpful to see someone else agree, he's completely correct that the academic market is very very VERY small. It's true that not every single law prof is from the T14, but just go look at the faculty directories for your school and random representative schools - most profs will be from very highly-ranked schools with top of the class credentials and resumes. The ones that aren't from the T14 (or higher) tend to have even better credentials to compensate. As you go down the food chain, some schools do also hire their own grads (usually from the very top of the class), but that's going to be a very small pool of jobs to be looking for.

It is possible to break into legal academia from wherever if you publish articles in highly-ranked law reviews, but it's going to be extremely difficult, in part because the top-ranked schools have more resources for helping students write the articles that will get them into academia - and, to be blunt, a HYS JD on a resume gets your articles looked at more closely than a JD from a lower-ranked school (doesn't make the articles automatically better, but they get looked at). This is also why a PhD in a related field (and to a lesser degree a LLM) is useful, because it gives you the opportunity to get training and mentorship in publishing and to get articles out before you go on the market.

Also, keep in mind the difference between tenured/tenure-track profs, and legal writing/clinical faculty. The latter are not tenured at most schools, are usually paid less, and often occupy a kind of second-class citizen status. That's not to say that these aren't good positions, and if you want to teach rather than publish, these are the positions you want, because that's what the job entails - lots of teaching/student contact. But you have to know what you're getting into with these kinds of positions. And since they are practice-oriented, you need practice experience before you can be competitive for these. However, what school you attended is generally much less important than having that experience. Make sure the people you're identifying in the directories aren't legal writing/clinical profs.


I understand and thanks for the great advice. I think the LW/Clinic path is something I'd like. It just sucks because I love teaching and I love the philosophy of the law. I just want to teach and I'm not the biggest fan of writing (average LRRW grades). I guess I'll write on to law review and hope to get something publishable. I really, really do not want to practice, especially doing litigation.

xiao_long
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby xiao_long » Sun Mar 29, 2015 7:59 pm

I'm not trying to teach at HYS, but even a very low ranked school is fine as long as I'd be in academia.

Yeah, just get an LLM from a top school, work your butt off, and I'm reasonably confident you'll land a professorship at one of the 205 ABA approved law schools. There's only so many H/Y/S graduates gunning for academia, right? :P

If worst comes to worst and you "strike out" of academia, you can always teach paralegal studies at a community college. That way, you can still call yourself a "law professor" when people ask you the eternally annoying question, "so, what do you do for a living?"

lawschoolftw
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby lawschoolftw » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:11 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Not that TooOld4This needs my validation, but in case it's helpful to see someone else agree, he's completely correct that the academic market is very very VERY small. It's true that not every single law prof is from the T14, but just go look at the faculty directories for your school and random representative schools - most profs will be from very highly-ranked schools with top of the class credentials and resumes. The ones that aren't from the T14 (or higher) tend to have even better credentials to compensate. As you go down the food chain, some schools do also hire their own grads (usually from the very top of the class), but that's going to be a very small pool of jobs to be looking for.

It is possible to break into legal academia from wherever if you publish articles in highly-ranked law reviews, but it's going to be extremely difficult, in part because the top-ranked schools have more resources for helping students write the articles that will get them into academia - and, to be blunt, a HYS JD on a resume gets your articles looked at more closely than a JD from a lower-ranked school (doesn't make the articles automatically better, but they get looked at). This is also why a PhD in a related field (and to a lesser degree a LLM) is useful, because it gives you the opportunity to get training and mentorship in publishing and to get articles out before you go on the market.

Also, keep in mind the difference between tenured/tenure-track profs, and legal writing/clinical faculty. The latter are not tenured at most schools, are usually paid less, and often occupy a kind of second-class citizen status. That's not to say that these aren't good positions, and if you want to teach rather than publish, these are the positions you want, because that's what the job entails - lots of teaching/student contact. But you have to know what you're getting into with these kinds of positions. And since they are practice-oriented, you need practice experience before you can be competitive for these. However, what school you attended is generally much less important than having that experience. Make sure the people you're identifying in the directories aren't legal writing/clinical profs.


I understand and thanks for the great advice. I think the LW/Clinic path is something I'd like. It just sucks because I love teaching and I love the philosophy of the law. I just want to teach and I'm not the biggest fan of writing (average LRRW grades). I guess I'll write on to law review and hope to get something publishable. I really, really do not want to practice, especially doing litigation.


I can't believe I'll be the first to say this, but OP, If this is really true, you may want to reconsider completing law school and saving yourself a years worth of tuition. You have almost no shot at tenure track law prof positions and the positions you would have a shot at (e.g., clinical) require being an excellent practitioner, which you just said you have no interest in doing. If you want to teach, get your masters in education and teach. I know this sounds harsh, but law school is too expensive if you don't want to, you know, practice law.

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J9ofDiamonds
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby J9ofDiamonds » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:13 pm

If you don't love writing, you wouldn't like being a professor. Baal Hadaad was on point; being a professor is mostly about writing masturbatory articles. The "teaching" is secondary

TooOld4This
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby TooOld4This » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:15 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:
A. Nony Mouse wrote:Not that TooOld4This needs my validation, but in case it's helpful to see someone else agree, he's completely correct that the academic market is very very VERY small. It's true that not every single law prof is from the T14, but just go look at the faculty directories for your school and random representative schools - most profs will be from very highly-ranked schools with top of the class credentials and resumes. The ones that aren't from the T14 (or higher) tend to have even better credentials to compensate. As you go down the food chain, some schools do also hire their own grads (usually from the very top of the class), but that's going to be a very small pool of jobs to be looking for.

It is possible to break into legal academia from wherever if you publish articles in highly-ranked law reviews, but it's going to be extremely difficult, in part because the top-ranked schools have more resources for helping students write the articles that will get them into academia - and, to be blunt, a HYS JD on a resume gets your articles looked at more closely than a JD from a lower-ranked school (doesn't make the articles automatically better, but they get looked at). This is also why a PhD in a related field (and to a lesser degree a LLM) is useful, because it gives you the opportunity to get training and mentorship in publishing and to get articles out before you go on the market.

Also, keep in mind the difference between tenured/tenure-track profs, and legal writing/clinical faculty. The latter are not tenured at most schools, are usually paid less, and often occupy a kind of second-class citizen status. That's not to say that these aren't good positions, and if you want to teach rather than publish, these are the positions you want, because that's what the job entails - lots of teaching/student contact. But you have to know what you're getting into with these kinds of positions. And since they are practice-oriented, you need practice experience before you can be competitive for these. However, what school you attended is generally much less important than having that experience. Make sure the people you're identifying in the directories aren't legal writing/clinical profs.


I understand and thanks for the great advice. I think the LW/Clinic path is something I'd like. It just sucks because I love teaching and I love the philosophy of the law. I just want to teach and I'm not the biggest fan of writing (average LRRW grades). I guess I'll write on to law review and hope to get something publishable. I really, really do not want to practice, especially doing litigation.


Nonny gave you a much more complete answer than I did. I'm afraid you have put yourself is a bad spot. Teaching is not the focus of academia. Writing is, along with resumes that pack a serious punch. Classroom time is the focus at the clinical, LRW, and adjunct positions. These positions are slightly softer on the prestige requirements, but job security and pay are considerably lower and real world experience requirements are much higher.

If you are serious about this, you need a specialty that isn't popular, excellent work experience, and a prolific publishing record just to have a chance. Of course, luck can put you in the right place at the right time, but that isn't a plan.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:19 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:I think the LW/Clinic path is something I'd like. It just sucks because I love teaching and I love the philosophy of the law. I just want to teach and I'm not the biggest fan of writing (average LRRW grades). I guess I'll write on to law review and hope to get something publishable. I really, really do not want to practice, especially doing litigation.

I think the person who just suggested going into an education program might be on to something. The kinds of teaching-focused jobs available at law schools tend to involve the things you've just said you don't like - legal writing (for LRW teaching - you would have to like/be good at writing to do this kind of job) and litigation (for clinics, which are overwhelmingly litigation-focused - there are some transactional-focused clinics, but they're much less common that the standard criminal defense/civil litigation/family law clinics out there).

But the other thing to remember is that there is a lot of legal practice that has nothing to do with litigation.

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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby JimmyTheGreek » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:23 pm

Thank everyone for the responses.

Also, will not having a 2L summer job totally kill any (small) chance I have of being a law professor?

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rinkrat19
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby rinkrat19 » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:33 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thank everyone for the responses.

Also, will not having a 2L summer job totally kill any (small) chance I have of being a law professor?

Not having a legal job 2L summer may very well kill your shot at ever being employed as a lawyer at all, let alone in academia.

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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby lawschoolftw » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:36 pm

rinkrat19 wrote:
JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thank everyone for the responses.

Also, will not having a 2L summer job totally kill any (small) chance I have of being a law professor?

Not having a legal job 2L summer may very well kill your shot at ever being employed as a lawyer at all, let alone in academia.


Yeah, you should at least be a research assistant or something this summer.

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rpupkin
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Re: Questions about becoming a law professor

Postby rpupkin » Sun Mar 29, 2015 8:39 pm

JimmyTheGreek wrote:Thank everyone for the responses.

Also, will not having a 2L summer job totally kill any (small) chance I have of being a law professor?

In case the previous posters weren't sufficiently clear, you basically have no chance of becoming a tenure-track law professor. This is not a realistic option for you. Forget about it.

Your lack of a 2L summer job really isn't a factor one way or the other. However, I think it's fair to say that some of the factors that have made it difficult for you to land a 2L summer job are the same factors that make it effectively impossible for you to enter legal academia. There isn't a causal relationship, but there is some correlation.




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