JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

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JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:28 pm

Hey all,

I'm a current 1L JD-PhD at a T13 school about halfway through my first semester. I've gotten some feedback on assignments/midterms, and I'm pretty decidedly a median law student. I was near the top of my class in undergrad, but I'm not too surprised at my median performance in law school, because most of my classmates were also excellent students. Of course, I know I still have half a semester to turn it around. Still, I'm wondering how important my JD grades are for employment at a law school in the future? For my primary PhD field, I know grades aren't all that important and networking + publications are king. I just wanted to check in and see if publications would be king at law school too. While legal academia isn't my primary goal, the job market is tight all around, and I want to leverage my dual credentials into applications to as many different departments as possible. I want to secure a job when this is all over.

I would appreciate any and all feedback.

Thanks!

P.S. - Anon because I do post on TLS form time to time + many posters know where I go to school + there are very few JD-PhDs at T13s.

sparkytrainer
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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby sparkytrainer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:32 pm

If you aren't at Yale, your chances already are pretty bad. If you aren't at YSH, your chances are even worse.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby SolemnMan » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:47 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Hey all,

I'm a current 1L JD-PhD at a T13 school about halfway through my first semester. I've gotten some feedback on assignments/midterms, and I'm pretty decidedly a median law student. I was near the top of my class in undergrad, but I'm not too surprised at my median performance in law school, because most of my classmates were also excellent students. Of course, I know I still have half a semester to turn it around. Still, I'm wondering how important my JD grades are for employment at a law school in the future? For my primary PhD field, I know grades aren't all that important and networking + publications are king. I just wanted to check in and see if publications would be king at law school too. While legal academia isn't my primary goal, the job market is tight all around, and I want to leverage my dual credentials into applications to as many different departments as possible. I want to secure a job when this is all over.

I would appreciate any and all feedback.

Thanks!

P.S. - Anon because I do post on TLS form time to time + many posters know where I go to school + there are very few JD-PhDs at T13s.


The market is tight for HYS grads and near impossible for everyone else.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:57 pm

I'm hoping to do the JD/PhD track (working on my PhD now, applying to JD now as well) and the feeling from talking to knowledgeable folk is, essentially, it's Yale or GTFO.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:04 pm

I understand that is conventional wisdom for JD only academic hires, but I'm asking about how my PhD will affect the requisite JD grades. I don't go to YHS. I'm in the CCNMVPDNC bunch. I will presumably have a decent amount of scholarship under my belt by the time I finish my dissertation. I'm also skeptical of the HYS or bust approach, because the recent entry level hiring for TT positions indicates that candidates from my school with JD/PhD have been placing better than Stanford, on par with Harvard, and only slightly worse than Yale in recent years (on a per capita basis).

So, are the PhD + publications helping pull above weight for my peers or what's going on there?

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby sparkytrainer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:05 pm

KENYADIGG1T wrote:I'm hoping to do the JD/PhD track (working on my PhD now, applying to JD now as well) and the feeling from talking to knowledgeable folk is, essentially, it's Yale or GTFO.


Its Yale + a PHD in a field people want right now. It used to be economics, but the hiring market is seeing a rise in phds in stuff like sociologists using empirics on criminal law stuff. Seems to be the rage. But something like over 50% of all new hires are Y grads and another 30%+ are HS grads. The last 10-20% are made up from the top kids at NYU, Columbia, Chicago, etc who have useful phds and have supreme court type resumes.



To the post that just happened: The vast majority of good new hires have a PHD. So no, its not an advantage. I hope your phd is also in a field that people want. If its not heavily empirical, its essentially worthless. It also matters where you are getting a phd. If you have a Chicago phd in economics, that will at least be not hurtful. You have a degree in philosophy from Iowa state? LOL. Thats kind of how this plays out.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:15 pm

I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby sparkytrainer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:17 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


I have also heard the entry level this year is incredibly thin. But this might be a one off. Last year was much more competitive.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:23 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
KENYADIGG1T wrote:I'm hoping to do the JD/PhD track (working on my PhD now, applying to JD now as well) and the feeling from talking to knowledgeable folk is, essentially, it's Yale or GTFO.


Its Yale + a PHD in a field people want right now. It used to be economics, but the hiring market is seeing a rise in phds in stuff like sociologists using empirics on criminal law stuff. Seems to be the rage. But something like over 50% of all new hires are Y grads and another 30%+ are HS grads. The last 10-20% are made up from the top kids at NYU, Columbia, Chicago, etc who have useful phds and have supreme court type resumes.



To the post that just happened: The vast majority of good new hires have a PHD. So no, its not an advantage. I hope your phd is also in a field that people want. If its not heavily empirical, its essentially worthless. It also matters where you are getting a phd. If you have a Chicago phd in economics, that will at least be not hurtful. You have a degree in philosophy from Iowa state? LOL. Thats kind of how this plays out.


Let's not be so quick to rag on philosophy PhDs (saying nothing about those who get them from Iowa State LOL)! My two cents: I don't think you *have* to be doing an empirical-heavy PhD yourself. The important baseline here is that, no matter your disciplinary home, you can engage with empirical work at the very least (which is how I'm approaching my studies as a philosopher--at some point may do some cogsci but that's a pipe dream right now) Alright I'm rambling, back to reading...

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:23 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
sparkytrainer wrote:
KENYADIGG1T wrote:I'm hoping to do the JD/PhD track (working on my PhD now, applying to JD now as well) and the feeling from talking to knowledgeable folk is, essentially, it's Yale or GTFO.


Its Yale + a PHD in a field people want right now. It used to be economics, but the hiring market is seeing a rise in phds in stuff like sociologists using empirics on criminal law stuff. Seems to be the rage. But something like over 50% of all new hires are Y grads and another 30%+ are HS grads. The last 10-20% are made up from the top kids at NYU, Columbia, Chicago, etc who have useful phds and have supreme court type resumes.



To the post that just happened: The vast majority of good new hires have a PHD. So no, its not an advantage. I hope your phd is also in a field that people want. If its not heavily empirical, its essentially worthless. It also matters where you are getting a phd. If you have a Chicago phd in economics, that will at least be not hurtful. You have a degree in philosophy from Iowa state? LOL. Thats kind of how this plays out.


Let's not be so quick to rag on philosophy PhDs (saying nothing about those who get them from Iowa State LOL)! My two cents: I don't think you *have* to be doing an empirical-heavy PhD yourself. The important baseline here is that, no matter your disciplinary home, you can engage with empirical work at the very least (which is how I'm approaching my studies as a philosopher--at some point may do some cogsci but that's a pipe dream right now) Alright I'm rambling, back to reading...


Why did I anon myself? ^ that's me lol

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:26 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I understand that is conventional wisdom for JD only academic hires, but I'm asking about how my PhD will affect the requisite JD grades. I don't go to YHS. I'm in the CCNMVPDNC bunch. I will presumably have a decent amount of scholarship under my belt by the time I finish my dissertation. I'm also skeptical of the HYS or bust approach, because the recent entry level hiring for TT positions indicates that candidates from my school with JD/PhD have been placing better than Stanford, on par with Harvard, and only slightly worse than Yale in recent years (on a per capita basis).

So, are the PhD + publications helping pull above weight for my peers or what's going on there?


For me, it doesn't hurt to build networks with advisors and attend conferences (sidenote: if you go to the school I think you go to, I'll be there in a couple of weeks for a conference). My program as experience placing people in the law teaching market, so if I double down on a JD where I'm at I would be okay. That being said, still shooting for a HYS.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:39 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


Thanks for the insightful comment! I figured I wouldn't find much useful advice here, but I thought it was worth a shot.

EDIT: Also, thanks to KENYA for some interesting posts.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:40 pm

sparkytrainer wrote:
KENYADIGG1T wrote:I'm hoping to do the JD/PhD track (working on my PhD now, applying to JD now as well) and the feeling from talking to knowledgeable folk is, essentially, it's Yale or GTFO.


Its Yale + a PHD in a field people want right now. It used to be economics, but the hiring market is seeing a rise in phds in stuff like sociologists using empirics on criminal law stuff. Seems to be the rage. But something like over 50% of all new hires are Y grads and another 30%+ are HS grads. The last 10-20% are made up from the top kids at NYU, Columbia, Chicago, etc who have useful phds and have supreme court type resumes.



To the post that just happened: The vast majority of good new hires have a PHD. So no, its not an advantage. I hope your phd is also in a field that people want. If its not heavily empirical, its essentially worthless. It also matters where you are getting a phd. If you have a Chicago phd in economics, that will at least be not hurtful. You have a degree in philosophy from Iowa state? LOL. Thats kind of how this plays out.


Speaking of empirics, this is just demonstrably false. If you took the time to look up the actual numbers you would see that A) Of the 80 hires recorded last year, YLS accounted for ~9. B) No more than a few had a Supreme Court clerkship. C) Most had Ph.Ds.

http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... ng-report/

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:48 pm

Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


This is pretty on the mark in my view, but it's interesting to hear about recent YLS placement. I'm curious: might there be fewer YLS grads on the market? Thanks in advance!

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 9:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


Thanks for the insightful comment! I figured I wouldn't find much useful advice here, but I thought it was worth a shot.

EDIT: Also, thanks to KENYA for some interesting posts.


*pumps fist*

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:03 pm

KENYADIGG1T wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


This is pretty on the mark in my view, but it's interesting to hear about recent YLS placement. I'm curious: might there be fewer YLS grads on the market? Thanks in advance!


I don't know to be perfectly honest. I think the main explanatory fact is the rise of programs like the Furman and Penn's joint History Ph.D / Law degree program, along with the rise of fully funded JDs for JD/Ph.D students at Harvard, Chicago, and a handful of other schools, all of which take away students that might previously have gone to YLS. Moreover, given the current hiring trends, it makes sense that YLS's grip on the market would decline as publications came to be the determining factor, rather than pedigree. No doubt YLS will remain at the top of the pile for producing scholars, given its admissions process and culture. But I think that schools like NYU, Penn, Michigan, and Virginia will give YSH a run for their money as they develop internal programs to produce scholars, and make them attractive to potential students with fully-funded degrees and opportunities to work closely with top faculty from day one.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:07 pm

It's not like going to HYS ever hurts an academic candidate, but I think your chances will be based much more on your PhD and what you do with it than with your school per se. If you can identify a a strong research agenda and put out good publications, that's much more important than pedigree in a vacuum (especially given that you will have a pretty respectable JD as it is). I can't say law school grades won't still matter - for instance, law review publishing isn't blind reviewed (or even peer-reviewed) and so law review boards will see your c.v. and may care about your grades when deciding what to publish, if you publish in law reviews. And law school hiring committees may still care, in part because they'll probably have lots of other candidates who also have excellent grades. But I think they will matter more the fewer publications you have, and matter much less the more actual research output you have.

It's also early in the semester to conclude you're median. Lots can happen between now and exams.

(Also not sure why anyone brought up a PhD from Iowa State when the OP said they're doing a JD/PhD at a T13, which Iowa State was not, last time I checked. There are also lots of fields that could fruitfully be combined with a JD.)

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby KENYADIGG1T » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:49 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
KENYADIGG1T wrote:
Anonymous User wrote:I don't think you're going to find useful advice here, as the above comments make clear. Even a half-hearted glance at recent hiring would illustrate that Yale placed fewer applicants in recent years than several schools that aren't YSH (and I say that as a YLS student). The hiring market is changing, and it's far more driven by publication record than pedigree. Yes, it's still tight, but this is shaping up to be the best year in some time (~500 applicants for 70+ jobs).

As to your question, my anecdotal understanding is that grades play little to no role in hiring decisions these days. What matters is quality publications, good recommendations (on the merits of your research agenda) from scholars in your field, and a top job talk paper.

But honestly, talk to young scholars at your school or members of your school's hiring committee -- they will be able to give you reasonable guidance. TLS will not.


This is pretty on the mark in my view, but it's interesting to hear about recent YLS placement. I'm curious: might there be fewer YLS grads on the market? Thanks in advance!


I don't know to be perfectly honest. I think the main explanatory fact is the rise of programs like the Furman and Penn's joint History Ph.D / Law degree program, along with the rise of fully funded JDs for JD/Ph.D students at Harvard, Chicago, and a handful of other schools, all of which take away students that might previously have gone to YLS. Moreover, given the current hiring trends, it makes sense that YLS's grip on the market would decline as publications came to be the determining factor, rather than pedigree. No doubt YLS will remain at the top of the pile for producing scholars, given its admissions process and culture. But I think that schools like NYU, Penn, Michigan, and Virginia will give YSH a run for their money as they develop internal programs to produce scholars, and make them attractive to potential students with fully-funded degrees and opportunities to work closely with top faculty from day one.


That's some really good insight; thanks again. :D

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Oct 09, 2017 11:19 pm

I'm currently going on the academia job market, so I think I can clear up some of the confusion.

First, your current school matters a ton. It is absolutely true that there's a big difference between Y and SH and then a bigger difference between SH and the rest of the T14 (and no, people don't differentiate between Cornell and Georgetown in these circles). There are a number of reasons for this--really too many to get into in this post--but institutional support, clerkships, and prestige (justified or not) are probably the big three. That said, it doesn't sound like you're considering transferring (and with median grades, you probably can't transfer to HYS), so this is fairly baked in. I don't know where you're getting your stats, as I've never seen stats of the success rates of Stanford JD/PhDs (or almost any recent stats about the job market that aren't self-reported), and so I'd be very suspicious about your data source. Are you looking at one year of data or multiple? In any event, if your school is truly performing, on a five-year average, comparably with HYS, then you should feel encouraged--but still not overconfident. Basically all of my non-clerkship advice below would apply with 95% force if you were at HYS.

Second, and relatedly, note that a number of the advantages that HYS confer--including institutional support and clerkships--are things that you can influence with your grades right now. So, ignoring the direct impact that your grades will make on your candidacy (and I'll get to that later), they make a significant indirect impact. Having your professors go to bat for you in the process is immensely helpful--and is debatably necessary--to getting a tenure track position. That's unlikely to happen if you're just skirting by. So although your overall GPA may not matter for this criteria, killing it in enough classes to have some professors willing to make calls on your behalf is borderline essential. Relatedly, if you were a median student at HYS, you'd probably be competitive for some Article III clerkships. Not so from your school. Having a clerkship isn't a necessary component of a successful application, but it is very, very, very helpful. (And for clerkships, you probably need to have a strong overall transcript, and not just a couple of really impressed professors.)

Third, where did you get your PhD from? And what is your PhD in? And how does your PhD research relate to your legal area of interest (assuming you have one)? And when you talk about publishing well, do you mean that you've published a couple of articles in respectable places (admirable) or that you've published in your field's equivalent of Science or Nature? These questions are all critically important to evaluating your chances of going on the market with middling grades from your T14. If your PhD resume is currently not impressive enough for you to get a tenure-track job in your specialty and your specialty doesn't integrate pretty perfectly with a legal field (ideally a sought-after one--e.g., not conlaw) and that integration doesn't lead to a polished and exciting draft of a law review article, you're not likely to be a competitive candidate on the legal market without some other hook (like a sparkling legal cv--which requires good grades).

Probably the most important way that you could help yourself out is to land a fellowship/VAP after law school. The problem you're going to run into is that although tenure track jobs don't care a ton about your law school grades (some do care a bit), fellowships care. (Fellowships/VAPs also care about clerkships.) It's becoming more and more standard--even for PhDs--to do fellowships before going on the tenure track market. And being an above average PhD graduate of an above-average PhD institution who goes to a T13 school and does about average is, without more, not going to get you into a fellowship/VAP.

So, if your scholarship is brilliant and interesting (think: will your scholarship would put you in the top ~15 or so of the market candidates nationally in your year--most of whom are 3-7 years out of law school), your law school grades aren't going to matter much. The other posters here aren't wrong in pointing out that publications are easily the most important part of getting a tenure track job. The problem is that the market is currently so tight, and everyone is currently so impressive, that having merely good publications alone is probably not going to be enough. I'd wager that there are roughly 10-15 or so folks who get hired every year on the strength of their publications alone. Then, there are about another ~40 folks who have very good publications and are hired because their publications + their pedigree combine to excite schools. There is probably an equal number of folks who have comparably good publications--sometimes even marginally better--but lack the pedigree and don't get hired. Then, there are usually ~20 or so folks, many of whom are hired by third-tier schools, who have a strong local connection, strong practice experience, or something else of that nature. That's why Yale hires generally only constitute around 10% of the national total--a sizable of hiring schools disfavor elite (including T13) grads in favor of other factors.

Finally, legal academia is by far the most competitive segment of the legal market. It's not impossible, as a PhD, that you'll strike out on the market for practitioners and land a job in legal academia--but it is highly, highly improbable. That should not be your plan. And given the current state of the academic job market, I'd strongly encourage any wannabe professor these days to strongly consider alternatives.

tl;dr: It is entirely feasible that your grades won't matter at all in getting a law school job. But it's likely that your chances will be significantly impacted by the grades that you get.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:05 am

Thanks for your long and informative post! My PhD prepares me to enter about five different academic departments (one being law), so I'm pretty lucky that it's a flexible degree to an extent. I'm partial to teaching undergraduates, but I wanted to explore the idea of teaching at a law school, because, as many have pointed out, the market for all academic positions is tight right now and you really have to take what you can get.

Again, thanks for all the great responses from everyone.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:22 am

Anonymous User wrote:Thanks for your long and informative post! My PhD prepares me to enter about five different academic departments (one being law), so I'm pretty lucky that it's a flexible degree to an extent. I'm partial to teaching undergraduates, but I wanted to explore the idea of teaching at a law school, because, as many have pointed out, the market for all academic positions is tight right now and you really have to take what you can get.

Again, thanks for all the great responses from everyone.


I'm the current academic candidate (anon @ 10:19pm).

To be clear, that's not what I meant when I asked about your PhD. And, because I think this might be a perception that you have, a PhD in an area closely related to law (like polisci or philosophy or criminology) is not necessarily more helpful than one in an area that has fewer immediate connections (like neuroscience or women's and gender studies). The question isn't whether you could plausibly teach law school with just your PhD; it's whether your legal studies and your non-legal studies combine to yield interesting scholarship. If you're looking to mostly rest on the quality of your PhD work--which it seems like you might be--then it becomes highly relevant how strong that work is. To help contextualize things, your competition is going to be a lot of folks who got PhDs from top 5 programs, who went to HYS, and have at least one T100 law review publication. "Strong" in this context is more than being an above average PhD student (with similarly above-average publications) in the #15 school in your field.

Have you ever published in a law review? If not, you should look into it: law professors are generally not that good at evaluating the quality of non-legal publications. (And so your publications in the seventh best journal in your field aren't likely to count for much, even if an equivalent publication in law would be very helpful.) Unless you're publishing in the unambiguously #1 journal in your field (or unless your field is one that has a couple of recognizable journals), your PhD work might not be as helpful to your legal academic career as you might want it to be. Without law review publications, your PhD work better be (a) really, really good; and (b) directly inform on questions that law professors find interesting.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby malibustacy » Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:48 am

The ridiculous circle jerking cycle of HYS feeding top clerkships/top academia posts, who then in-turn hire like-minded HYS paper churners who haven't practiced a day in their lives has poisoned the legal academia well. If anyone wants to reform the law school system, it should start with the faculty.

Paul Campos
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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Paul Campos » Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:24 am

The legal academic hiring market is currently both insanely competitive and extremely idiosyncratic.

The latter feature is a product of the fact that you really have two very different hiring models which are getting blended together.

The traditional hiring model, meaning that which was in place from about the 1970s-80s until ten years ago or so, was: top grades at a top school, preferably Yale or Harvard, federal appellate clerkship (SCOTUS was a huge plus), followed by anywhere from one to five years in a high status legal job (top firm, DOJ, etc.). If you had already published an article -- and this meant a law review article -- before hitting the market that was good but far from essential. In this model, recs from profs were really critical, because a lot of people, comparatively speaking, have those credentials.

The new model is: JD from an elite school but with less emphasis on Yale and Harvard, Ph.D., clerkship, VAP, and a significant publication record in what law professors consider impressive venues. Now the thing about that is that the vast majority of law professors have no idea what the top journals are in other fields. This leads to some confusion in evaluation. What's more impressive, an article in the American Sociological Review or the Harvard Law Review? If you're trying to get a tenure track job anywhere in academia other than a law school, the former is more impressive by a mile (academics in other fields remain shocked and/or amused that the top journals in law are edited by law students. This is considered a totally bizarre practice for a supposedly academic discipline to maintain). But in the law school world, most profs have never heard of the ASR, or its equivalents in other fields.

In terms of current hiring decisions, you get a lot of debates between people who are still trying to hire on the old model, in which a SCOTUS clerkship is way more impressive than an article in Nature, and the new model, in which the opposite is true.

Also, because there are so few jobs, the criteria within the two models have been jacked up accordingly, and there's even quite a bit of hybridization (people want a Harvard magna with a SCOTUS clerkship and a PhD and a ton of impressive publications, and significant legal practice experience. Also, please be a minority who is passionate about secured transactions. You had better be willing to move to Alabama too. Just sayin).

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:13 am

malibustacy wrote:The ridiculous circle jerking cycle of HYS feeding top clerkships/top academia posts, who then in-turn hire like-minded HYS paper churners who haven't practiced a day in their lives has poisoned the legal academia well. If anyone wants to reform the law school system, it should start with the faculty.


This might have been true ten years ago but it’s become far less true today. To the extent that folks are hired with little-to-no practice experience these days, it’s because they have PhDs. And even so, it’s becoming more and more the norm for even those PhDs who got hired these days to have experience in practice.

Law is an interesting field as it has both academic and pre-professional sides that, as your post illustrates, are often in tension. Increasingly, though, law schools are looking to “have it all” in hiring—so for better or for worse, that’s rapidly changing. I’d expect the best law schools to continue to dominate. Credentials creep doesn’t usually advantage folks with less prestigious resumes. But law school hiring isn’t this sort of fancy persons club anymore (and probably won’t ever be again) that you seem to think it is.

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Re: JD/PhD Prospects in Legal Academia

Postby Anonymous User » Tue Oct 10, 2017 11:10 am

Academic hiring in law is less "YLS or bust" now than it used to be (and its never been "HYS or bust," that's sort of a TLS thing), although obviously the institutional support at Yale is incredibly valuable. But that's an ex ante consideration. If you already have that support from your environment, then it doesn't matter for your purposes that Yale offers it to a greater swathe of its students than another school. What matters is the value of your publications and scholarship, especially in empirical research. If you can publish interesting law review material (not your law school note, something serious), head to a VAT after a nice clerkship and some practice without other graduate degrees, great. If you can't, maybe you need to tack on another degree to give you time to publish. Or maybe legal academia won't be your thing, and going to a different law school wouldn't change that.

Bottom line, people on TLS who have never entered the academic market or tried to enter it or have any idea what it would be like to enter it typically overemphasize law school name to the detriment of the other crucial qualities of a successful teaching fellowship or tenure track candidate. The standard advice that Yale and Harvard are best for legal academia is obviously true--as a matter of opportunity for an 0L without much else to speak for them. It does not follow that people who hold other JDs that do possess excellent academic credentials and publish serious work are locked out.




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