LawProf Taking Questions

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shortporch
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Sun Mar 06, 2011 9:39 am

adude wrote:we hear all the time about exit options from biglaw. how about academia? suppose you can't get tenure. what will you do then? can you jump back into biglaw or will you have to restart your career somehow, by grabbing an LLM for example?


I definitely will not go for an LLM. I won't worry about tenure alternatives until that happens. At my school, it's fairly rare not to make tenure, and I'll do everything in my power to make sure I'm in a position to get there.

The Real Jack McCoy
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby The Real Jack McCoy » Sun Mar 06, 2011 5:55 pm

notanumber wrote:
El_Gallo wrote:I asked this in a post before, but nobody seemed to have an answer. I realize that legal academia is extremely difficult to break into. However, if an individual does it, do top law schools' LRAPs count teaching as an acceptable form of employment? This is assuming that the teaching gig's salary is less than the law school's LRAP cap. Does it matter if the school is public or private? Do you know any professors that are still repaying their student loans?


I'll jump in here - I know for a fact that the LRAP at Harvard and Yale both apply towards teaching jobs and some lesser paying teaching jobs will trigger those benefits for graduates who took out very large loans.

OP: I imagine that this question is dependent on one's sub field, but are you able to professionally engage with the scholarship of academics outside of legal academia? In other words, does your department provide support and tenure consideration for legal publications in non-legal journals, conferences, and the like?


In addition to Harvard and Yale, Michigan covers academia for those in a low enough income bracket. If I'm not mistaken, all three include fellowships/VAPs as eligible employment.

The Real Jack McCoy
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby The Real Jack McCoy » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:13 pm

shortporch wrote:
crossingforHYS wrote:Would you suggest going to the best school possible if you want acedemia? meaning would a top 15-20 school be good enough to place into academia? particularly schools that are known for fellowships?

or would going to a lower school and doing clerkships, notes and getting a job after then academia be a better option?

Thank you for taking questions!


It's so difficult to break into academia, and often so randomized, that it's hard for me to say that you should go to X over Y simply because you want to teach. But if you're of a single-minded obsession to get into academia, and you don't care about anything else, then attending the "best" school is probably the best idea. But I can't possibly offer anything more specific without hearing the details about the alternatives. The dropoff from Yale to other schools is significant; and the question as to whether many schools below Yale are "worth it" over a "top 20" school is very particularized. But you can afford not to graduate with highest honors from Harvard to break into academia, where that luxury is rare from a "top 20" school. And perseverance pays off more than just coasting in with a fancy diploma.

In short, you probably should, but that's not always the case. As helpful an answer as it is.


Let's say Harvard (~75k need-based grants) v. Chicago (90k scholarship plus cheaper cost of living; they also might be willing to match the Columbia offer) v. Columbia (full scholarship plus faculty mentor)? Harvard would help pay my loans if I take a low-paying VAP/fellowship. (If I get the call from Yale I'll attend Yale.)

Assume a single-minded obsession. Any strong opinions?

Finally, thanks for taking questions.

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby skippy1 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 6:46 pm

shortporch wrote:
Bumi wrote:What traits correlate most strongly with success in law school? LSAT and GPA aren't the best indicators, but are they the best there is?


One factor that generally stands out: those who have been out of undergrad for a few years typically perform disproportionately poorly on first-semester exams. I think things even out over time, but for many non-traditional students, there's a steep learning curve to get back into "school mode" and an exam-writing mentality.
.


Very interested in this - as a non-trad who has been out of school for a while, this is exactly my biggest worry about starting school this fall. Can you please say more on this? Do you feel like these students are struggling with readings, understanding concepts? What do you recommend someone in this situation do to be more prepared for LS studies? Thanks!

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shortporch
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:43 pm

The Real Jack McCoy wrote:Let's say Harvard (~75k need-based grants) v. Chicago (90k scholarship plus cheaper cost of living; they also might be willing to match the Columbia offer) v. Columbia (full scholarship plus faculty mentor)? Harvard would help pay my loans if I take a low-paying VAP/fellowship. (If I get the call from Yale I'll attend Yale.)

Assume a single-minded obsession. Any strong opinions?

Finally, thanks for taking questions.


I don't even know what these numerical figures mean. Scholarships are meaningless; indebtedness at graduation is what counts. And I don't think many schools pay your loans for a one- or two-year low-paying VAP/fellowship, right? Maybe I don't know how LRAP works.

I don't have a strong preference among those schools. Hierarchically, it's a slight preference for Harvard, then Chicago, then Columbia. But if you're worried about debt, plus the risk that you may not get your dream in academia, then perhaps Columbia is a good option. But I can't answer much more than that, generally.

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shortporch
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Sun Mar 06, 2011 7:44 pm

skippy1 wrote:Very interested in this - as a non-trad who has been out of school for a while, this is exactly my biggest worry about starting school this fall. Can you please say more on this? Do you feel like these students are struggling with readings, understanding concepts? What do you recommend someone in this situation do to be more prepared for LS studies? Thanks!


I felt like the non-traditional students have done just fine when it came to reading assignments and class discussion. It's transitioning to a three-hour, sit-down, type-it-out final that is the difficult transition. The only thing I can recommend off the top of my head is preparing regularly with answering questions in essay format in a timed environment, on a regular basis before exams.

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shortporch
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:22 pm

Perhaps I'll over a broad outline at entering academia.

First, for all of you 0Ls about to enter law school, it's remarkable to me that so many of you are so intent on teaching law, when you've not only never sat through a law school lecture, but you've also never written, much less seen, a piece of scholarship, which is the bulk of your work. Additionally, for people so single-minded on academia, it's a little surprising that you haven't been pursuing PhDs.

But putting that aside, I can't emphasize enough how rare it is to break into academia. It's less rare than, say, becoming a Supreme Court clerk (about 35-40 each year), or a federal judge (40-60 each year). But there are in the area of 100-150 appointments each year. And that's all AALS hires--traditional, clinical, and legal writing. You simply can't enter law school with the expectation of obtaining one of these positions. And it's even a little difficult to pick a law school based on chances of getting into academia. And even if you enter a fairly elite school, it's not at all clear that you'll obtain good enough grades, or have the inclination to produce quality scholarship at the end of the day.

It costs about $500 or so just to submit an application for an interview. And these days, only about half of (the 1000 or so) applicants even get invited for an interview in the first place; and beyond that, many only get one or two interviews at the "meat market," making a visit to DC for the interviews of questionable value at best. Then, after the interviews, you have to hope for a job talk; and after that, even if they invited you to campus, there's around a 25% chance you get an offer at that point.

These days, competition has grown even more dramatic for a number of reasons. First, many schools are tightening their belts in light of the recession, and they're hiring fewer tenure-track professors, either making them teach larger classes, or using visitors or adjuncts or non-tenure-track professor, or whatever. Second, there's been an influx of PhDs as interdisciplinary scholarship has become popular, and PhD-JD combos are increasingly common. Third, publishing at least one, if not two, quality articles before you go on the market has become almost a requirement. It used to be that publishing was the exception rather than the rule; now, it's not only the rule, but it's becoming more difficult to set yourself apart with even just a single publication if it's not extraordinary. Multiple publications are becoming the norm, and should be the norm in 5 years.

The (now fairly) traditional path is to go to an exceedingly good school, perform extremely well, create a number of mentors who really want you to enter academy, clerk for an elite federal judge, work at an elite firm for a handful of years, publish an article or two in your free time, perhaps go teach as a Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP) or a fellow at some school for a one- or two-year trial run as a professor, then apply for the meat market and hope that your pedigree matches up and that your curricular fit meets the fit of another school and handle the social aspect well.

You can also see that this is, generally, a several-year commitment, and it can result in a number of moves (law school, to clerk city, to practice city, to possibly a VAP city, to teaching). And not that a lot of schools are off the beaten path (college towns, unusual geographic locations, etc.). You often can't be picky in selecting your school.

And while high-ranked schools usually outperform, recognize that folks from low-ranked schools can grab highest honors, elite journal position, an elite appellate clerkship, an elite firm job, and push out quality scholarship, then get a teaching position. It's just that all the chips have to fall in place (which can be rare), and then they have to have the drive to get there.

What a law professor does all day is mostly research with some teaching thrown in.

For many, if not most, schools, especially the higher-ranked or better-paying ones, scholarship and research is what's important. Scholarship is writing law review articles, in the range of 25,000 words, on something novel, not merely summarizing the law. It undergoes a process where you present it to your peers, where they spend a significant amount of time questioning your assertions; where you present it to law students, who edit it repeatedly; and then explaining it and defending it and interacting with it in the academy for years to come.

On the teaching side, it takes several hours to prepare for one class, but the preparation time gets easier with each class. If you teach at 9 am on a Monday, you will have a long Sunday night ahead of you. And if you teach two classes in a term, then it's a lot of your day. Teaching is exhausting work. Add to it answering student e-mails, office hours, writing letters of recommendation, and so on, and it can be very difficult to block out a chunk of time for serious scholarship, if one isn't careful.

Of course, I've put this all in a fairly negative light for a reason. It's a great job, and it's one I've wanted, pursued, and been fortunate enough to obtain. And even though it's a significant amount of work, I really enjoy it, because I enjoy writing scholarship and teaching.

But for the less-than-informed as to what goes into academia, I thought I'd give this summary, for whatever it's worth.

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby keg411 » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:38 pm

1) To worried non-trads, I've been out of school 5 years and did extremely well first semester. Maybe this isn't the norm, but it's not impossible.

2) To the law prof: what about teaching something classes like "Legal Research & Writing"? Even though those positions are usually non-tenured, are they as competitive as traditional legal academia and do they have the same type of publishing requirements?

socraticmethodman
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby socraticmethodman » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:42 pm

What are your thoughts on 0L prep?

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kalvano
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby kalvano » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:47 pm

Does it seem to other professors that Legal Research and Writing professors enjoyed pulling the wings off flies as children, and otherwise inflicting needless pain?

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby missinglink » Mon Mar 07, 2011 2:04 am

kalvano wrote:Does it seem to other professors that Legal Research and Writing professors enjoyed pulling the wings off flies as children, and otherwise inflicting needless pain?

:lol:

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:09 am

keg411 wrote:2) To the law prof: what about teaching something classes like "Legal Research & Writing"? Even though those positions are usually non-tenured, are they as competitive as traditional legal academia and do they have the same type of publishing requirements?


It depends on the school whether LRW is tenure-track or non-tenured. But I honestly can't even tell you what the qualifications look like. It's such a radically different system (in fact, I don't even think that they interview at the "meat market") that I've never been a part of that I can't really comment. That said, it might not be as "competitive" in terms of the high quality of applicants, but I imagine it's more competitive as it's far more accessible to, say, practitioners who've been in the field for several years who now want to teach students how to write. As for publications, it's fairly little, if at all, particularly for non-tenured.

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shortporch
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby shortporch » Mon Mar 07, 2011 10:10 am

socraticmethodman wrote:What are your thoughts on 0L prep?


Don't prep. Take a diverse amount of undergraduate courses, include a law class or two if you want. But courses like logic, statistics, American history, finance, and so on can help prepare you for the substantive stuff you'll need as a lawyer. Maybe read the Wall Street Journal or New York Times, or a couple of law blogs, on a consistent basis. But don't read any books about law school. You'll unlearn more than you'll learn in that first semester.

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby keg411 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:04 pm

shortporch wrote:
keg411 wrote:2) To the law prof: what about teaching something classes like "Legal Research & Writing"? Even though those positions are usually non-tenured, are they as competitive as traditional legal academia and do they have the same type of publishing requirements?


It depends on the school whether LRW is tenure-track or non-tenured. But I honestly can't even tell you what the qualifications look like. It's such a radically different system (in fact, I don't even think that they interview at the "meat market") that I've never been a part of that I can't really comment. That said, it might not be as "competitive" in terms of the high quality of applicants, but I imagine it's more competitive as it's far more accessible to, say, practitioners who've been in the field for several years who now want to teach students how to write. As for publications, it's fairly little, if at all, particularly for non-tenured.


Thanks :).

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby chup » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:00 pm

It appears this thread has been noticed (though not linked).

Care to refute?

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby skw » Sun Apr 24, 2011 6:56 pm

keg411 wrote:1) To worried non-trads, I've been out of school 5 years and did extremely well first semester. Maybe this isn't the norm, but it's not impossible.



Thanks for this -- I'm a non-trad out of school for 12 years and was very concerned at the idea that most non-trads do poorly on first semester exams. The prof's post was the first I'd heard of that. My expectation was that non-trads would have an edge considering that they potentially have a stronger work ethic (as in they've had an actual job and know how to work with demanding tasks and deadlines), but based on the prof's comments, this may be an erroneous assumption.

Do you have any advice about how you worked through your first semester and how you prepared for exams? Thanks so much for your thoughts.

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby gwuorbust » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:09 pm

chup wrote:It appears this thread has been noticed (though not linked).

Care to refute?


I love how everyone outside of TLS thinks of TLS as a "a pre-law discussioon board." That blogger is equally responsible for the '"the nonsense and misinformation" superhighway!'

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby abl » Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:35 pm

I'm a 2L at HYS applying for appellate clerkships this year. I think my grades/resume/recs are such that I have a pretty good chance of getting a clerkship, and a remote chance of getting a feeder clerkship (at least, that's what my recommenders and the clerkship advisor tell me). How much of a difference does it make for academia to clerk with a feeder judge versus a prestigious judge who is not a feeder (say, Wood), versus a great federal appellate judge who is neither a feeder nor well known? I understand that what clerkship you had is a relatively small factor in getting a spot in academia, but I want to get a sense for how my choices over the next several months are going to impact my hopefully future career as an academic. Thanks!

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby California Babe » Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:40 pm

gwuorbust wrote:
chup wrote:It appears this thread has been noticed (though not linked).

Care to refute?


I love how everyone outside of TLS thinks of TLS as a "a pre-law discussioon board." That blogger is equally responsible for the '"the nonsense and misinformation" superhighway!'


What an egregious error to refer to a message board made up of mostly pre-law discussion as a "pre-law discussion board." That type of misinformation cannot be allowed. It's not like the main page of TLS says something like this:

Top-Law-Schools.com was created to provide you with the necessary information to successfully navigate you through the law school application process and find the ideal law school, so that your next three years can be as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.

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gwuorbust
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby gwuorbust » Mon Apr 25, 2011 7:51 pm

California Babe wrote:
gwuorbust wrote:
chup wrote:It appears this thread has been noticed (though not linked).

Care to refute?


I love how everyone outside of TLS thinks of TLS as a "a pre-law discussioon board." That blogger is equally responsible for the '"the nonsense and misinformation" superhighway!'


What an egregious error to refer to a message board made up of mostly pre-law discussion as a "pre-law discussion board." That type of misinformation cannot be allowed. It's not like the main page of TLS says something like this:

Top-Law-Schools.com was created to provide you with the necessary information to successfully navigate you through the law school application process and find the ideal law school, so that your next three years can be as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.


and Apple was created to make a better computer and now they are in all kinda of consumer products. TLS was created for law school applicants. What it is now is much different. I would say that the forums for current law student are either as, or are more, active than the forums for prospective students. and I think the lounge leans more towards the "current law students" category, since that is mostly who hangs out there.

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California Babe
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby California Babe » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:59 pm

gwuorbust wrote:and Apple was created to make a better computer and now they are in all kinda of consumer products. TLS was created for law school applicants. What it is now is much different. I would say that the forums for current law student are either as, or are more, active than the forums for prospective students. and I think the lounge leans more towards the "current law students" category, since that is mostly who hangs out there.


If you consider only the parts of the message board that are actually about law school (and coincidentally, the only parts that show up on the main TLS page), the current student boards only make up ~15% of the posts on this board. Not to mention many posts on the current student boards are filled with pre-law type posts of 0Ls asking for advice.

(Even if you include the lounge and say it is 100% current students posts, pre-law still takes in 61% of the content.)

nymario
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby nymario » Wed Apr 27, 2011 6:52 pm

If you're still taking questions: When grading an exam, do you feel you (consciously or subconsciously) grade an exam with spelling and grammar errors differently than one that is substantively (and structurally) similar?

d34d9823
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby d34d9823 » Wed Apr 27, 2011 7:01 pm

nymario wrote:If you're still taking questions: When grading an exam, do you feel you (consciously or subconsciously) grade an exam with spelling and grammar errors differently than one that is substantively (and structurally) similar?

Pretty sure chup killed the thread. He's not gonna post here if there's a risk of being outed to his peers.

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chup
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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby chup » Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:51 am

d34dluk3 wrote:
nymario wrote:If you're still taking questions: When grading an exam, do you feel you (consciously or subconsciously) grade an exam with spelling and grammar errors differently than one that is substantively (and structurally) similar?

Pretty sure chup killed the thread. He's not gonna post here if there's a risk of being outed to his peers.

I killed the thread by being the first person to post in it in over a month?

GTFO.

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Re: LawProf Taking Questions

Postby JollyGreenGiant » Sat Apr 30, 2011 12:20 pm

chup wrote:It appears this thread has been noticed (though not linked).

Care to refute?

I'm pretty sure it was this thread: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=147854

More specifically: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=147854&p=4308772#p4308772




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