Academia really all that elite?

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BNA
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Academia really all that elite?

Postby BNA » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:16 pm

Can someone explain why it's repeatedly stated that to be in legal education you have to have been top of the class at Yale or Harvard. I just spent a few minutes looking at the staff profiles at about a dozen (random) T1/T2 schools. I counted 11 out of probably ~100. Not trying to start a shitty argument, but the numbers aren't adding up.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Capitol_Idea » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:19 pm

Did those 11 become tenure-track academics in the past several years? I'm guessing not.

There are people who become professors at lower schools. There are also people who get Supreme Court clerkships at lower schools. But the chance at either is so ludicrously remote that gunning for it is almost certainly foolish. ESPECIALLY given that the sweet law school money isn't flowing like it used to - less money means less hiring into tenure track positions when adjuncts will do at a fraction of the price.

Does anyone have solid data on academia hiring?

Hutz_and_Goodman
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Hutz_and_Goodman » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:19 pm

The past does not = the present

To give you an idea, it is easier to become a tenured law professor than to become a scotus clerk, but easier to become a partner at a big law firm in a major market than to become a tenured law professor
Last edited by Hutz_and_Goodman on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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rpupkin
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:20 pm

BNA wrote:Can someone explain why it's repeatedly stated that to be in legal education you have to have been top of the class at Yale or Harvard. I just spent a few minutes looking at the staff profiles at about a dozen (random) T1/T2 schools. I counted 11 out of probably ~100. Not trying to start a shitty argument, but the numbers aren't adding up.

First, who says that?

Second, there is a significant difference between "be[ing] in legal education" and having a tenured (or tenure track) faculty position.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Capitol_Idea » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:27 pm

rpupkin - Your second point answers your question: to be in legal academia in a job that actually pays and has some kind of future, you really want a tenure track professorship, not an adjunct or visiting position that has extremely low pay and no guarantee of continued employment.

To get that job, you really have to have top qualifications because so many people are competing for it.

Here's some data (probably not complete) that PrawfBlog has compiled:

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... ation.html

If we look at this year's hiring data thus far, we see 54 people hired. Of those, all but 23 have additional degrees outside of a J.D. Of the remainder, all but 11 went to Harvard. And of the remainder, only 4 didn't go to a t14 school.

Edit: Looking at 2013 data, I see 117 jobs total, of which only 53 didn't have additional degrees, of which 33 didn't come from Harvard/Yale, of which 11 didn't come from t14. It's not exclusively H/Y but it's still a grim picture for the aspiring academic.

toothbrush
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby toothbrush » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:35 pm

zacharus85 wrote:rpupkin - Your second point answers your question: to be in legal academia in a job that actually pays and has some kind of future, you really want a tenure track professorship, not an adjunct or visiting position that has extremely low pay and no guarantee of continued employment.

To get that job, you really have to have top qualifications because so many people are competing for it.

Here's some data (probably not complete) that PrawfBlog has compiled:

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... ation.html

If we look at this year's hiring data thus far, we see 54 people hired. Of those, all but 23 have additional degrees outside of a J.D. Of the remainder, all but 11 went to Harvard. And of the remainder, only 4 didn't go to a t14 school.

Edit: Looking at 2013 data, I see 117 jobs total, of which only 53 didn't have additional degrees, of which 33 didn't come from Harvard/Yale, of which 11 didn't come from t14. It's not exclusively H/Y but it's still a grim picture for the aspiring academic.

In addition, many new hires have 1-2 clerkships, which are only a *realistic* goal coming from HYS. So to OP, the combined factors as displayed in recent hiring is why people say academia is elite.

Also, looking at the past to conclude about the future is bad.

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rpupkin
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:39 pm

zacharus85 wrote:rpupkin - Your second point answers your question: to be in legal academia in a job that actually pays and has some kind of future, you really want a tenure track professorship, not an adjunct or visiting position that has extremely low pay and no guarantee of continued employment.

Yeah, but, as your post acknowledges, most of the recently hired legal academics didn't go to Harvard or Yale. And of those that did, at least some weren't near the top of their classes. (I know this because I literally know a couple of these people.) The OP's question is based on a faulty premise.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Capitol_Idea » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:45 pm

I think we're talking at cross-purposes: you're right that academic hiring isn't limited to H/Y elites. BUT it is the H/Y elite that stand the best chance of getting hired. First, because law school prestige (this is esp true in administration - almost all t14 deans went to Yale). Second, these students get the best crack at other things that boost their chances like S. Ct. clerkships.

It's advice based on the numbers. H/Y hired 36 of the 106 positions in 2013: that's a solid third. So it is overblown to say it's the only way, but it is the best way to have a shot.
Last edited by Capitol_Idea on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:49 pm

Yeah, define "staff profiles." OP, are you looking at tenured/tenure-track professors, or all people who work at a law school? Those are very different things. When people say legal academia, they usually mean TT profs. There are some comfy interesting jobs at law schools apart from being a TT prof, admittedly, but they're not really the same thing. (Also not paid the same.)

I'm not saying it's literal that you must attend Harvard or Yale. But it's also such a hard field to enter that if you want to hang your hat on legal academia, HY (and S) will probably provide the biggest boost that any school is going to provide (which is limited regardless because academia requires a lot more than just a pedigree).

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Capitol_Idea » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:52 pm

Interestingly enough NYU is next after H/Y. Significant drop after that.

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rpupkin
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby rpupkin » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:52 pm

zacharus85 wrote:I think we're talking at cross-purposes:

For the record, I was just responding to what the OP wrote, and I think you were responding to a variation of the OP's argument.


you're right that academic hiring isn't limited to H/Y elites.

Mostly agree. I think it has less to do with "H/Y" prestige than people think, though. A lot of aspiring academics self-select into those schools (especially into Y). If someone at Stanford or NYU or Chicago or Berkeley or Columbia goes to school with an academic interest and a focus on research and publishing in a specific field, I don't think they'll be at a significant disadvantage in the academic market compared to a Yale or Harvard grad.

But I think we can all agree that the market for legal academia is brutal right now. That goes for graduates of all law schools.
Last edited by rpupkin on Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Capitol_Idea
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Capitol_Idea » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:54 pm

The self-select question is an interesting possibility, but sadly untestable so who knows.

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yomisterd
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby yomisterd » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:56 pm

op you probably aren't going to be a law professor.

now prove me wrong.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:01 pm

rpupkin wrote:Mostly agree. I think it has less to do with "H/Y" prestige than people think, though. A lot of aspiring academic self-select into those schools (especially into Y). If someone at Stanford or NYU or Chicago or Berkeley or Columbia goes to school with an academic interest and a focus on research and publishing in a specific field, I don't think they'll be at a significant disadvantage in the academic market compared to a Yale or Harvard grad.

Yeah, I agree with this. I think it's more about what the aspiring academic brings to the table than the school (at least when you're looking at all these elite places). But I think the self-selection probably creates at least a little of its own momentum, if that makes any sense, through alumni networks and school culture.

BNA
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby BNA » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:19 pm

Thanks for the insight everyone. I was simply counting those listed as "professor," so I didn't factor in their term relationship to the university. I'm not an aspiring educator, just curious after reading through another thread with a kid getting (reasonably) hammered for approaching that option while at a low T2.

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Frayed Knot
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby Frayed Knot » Tue Apr 14, 2015 10:40 am

zacharus85 wrote:Looking at 2013 data, I see 117 jobs total, of which only 53 didn't have additional degrees, of which 33 didn't come from Harvard/Yale, of which 11 didn't come from t14. It's not exclusively H/Y but it's still a grim picture for the aspiring academic.

BNA wrote:Can someone explain why it's repeatedly stated that to be in legal education you have to have been top of the class at Yale or Harvard.

As Zacharus's data shows, a more accurate version might be "if you want to be a law professor, you have to go to Yale/Harvard or get some non-JD advanced degree." The part about other degrees gets left off a lot on TLS because most of us don't want to spend the years it would take to get another degree, especially while servicing law school debt. Plus, many law students don't meet the entry requirements for other degrees (not enough math for an econ PhD, not enough chem for bioethics, etc.)

So for most TLSers not at Y/H, legal academia is about as much of a pipe dream as a SCOTUS clerkship.

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jbagelboy
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Re: Academia really all that elite?

Postby jbagelboy » Tue Apr 14, 2015 12:36 pm

Every professor I've had in class or researched with has attended Yale (7), Columbia (3), or Harvard (4), with one Stanford and one Chicago, for law school. Every one. They all also attended one of those schools or a school like them for undergraduate. There may be faculty who did not attend YHSCC here but I haven't run into them. At premier law schools, hiring is extraordinarily elite (not just HY, but within five or six schools).




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