Higher Ed lateral

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Anonymous User
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Higher Ed lateral

Postby Anonymous User » Thu Apr 14, 2016 8:01 am

I'll be starting this fall in DE, but want to eventually go into higher education law. Anybody know how to get into higher ed law? Is it even possible to lateral into or do you just kind of "make it or not" starting out and that's that? I'm not opposed to going back for more schooling if it will help me land this.

Any advice much appreciated.

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A. Nony Mouse

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Joined: Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:51 am

Re: Higher Ed lateral

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:59 am

I looked into this a little, from the perspective of working for a college/university, and my understanding was that it was very much a position that you lateraled into after getting pertinent experience - biglaw would probably work, but maybe in-house also? Higher ed law has a lot of the same kind of stuff an in-house attorney deals with (AFAIK) - like employment and contracting - with the added interest of the constitutional issues (First Amendment) and dealing with things like student offenses. So that's why I say in-house might be a good background. But I also know people who have moved into it from state/local government jobs - higher ed law seems to entail a mix of quite a lot of things (which is why the people I talked to enjoyed it), so I would imagine you could spin a lot of experiences as relevant.

I should maybe qualify that a little - some of it may depend on the institution you go to. A lot of smaller schools seem to have a single GC, with probably some staff, but they look for people with maybe 8-10 years of experience, since the GC has a lot of responsibility. Larger university systems have more legal staff and seem to hire more entry level (or closer) people (for example, see here with biographical info for the attorneys: http://www.cu.edu/universitycounsel/attorneys-staff).

But I don't think it's at all like biglaw where if you miss it coming out of law school, you never get a shot - it's much more a field that rewards prior experience. You're probably familiar with this already, but http://www.nacua.org/ includes job postings that are free to non-members and you can see what kinds of qualifications schools are looking for.

(If you're more interested in suing universities/working for something like FIRE...no idea, though I would still be surprised if you could get into that field without pertinent experience.)

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