Retiring into academia.

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eric922
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Retiring into academia.

Postby eric922 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:41 pm

Is this still common anymore? I want to practice law, but I like academia and 30 or 40 years down the road I could see myself enjoying a semi-retirement in academia teaching law. I mentioned this to a professor of mine and he said the days of lawyers going into semi-retirement in academia are pretty much over. According to him schools are starting to prefer pure academics with multiple degrees as opposed to lawyers who have actually practiced for many years. He also mentioned that he was the only professor at the law school that only has the J.D. he said all the other professors there had PHDs. I was just wondering if what he told me was accurate? Can lawyers still "retire" into teaching or do you have to gun for academia from the very beginning to have a reasonable shot?

Purely from a student standpoint I'd much rather have someone with some real world legal experience teach me than someone who has spent their lives int he academic world. Pure academics are fine for teaching things like history, English Lit., etc., but since law school is a professional program I would think someone with actual experience in the profession would be a better teacher.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:11 pm

Your professor is absolutely correct. You could probably have a regular gig teaching practical stuff as an adjunct (say, one class a semester), but you won't get a permanent tenure-track/tenured position. Law school is weird because it's a professional program, but there is no "pure law" department anywhere else, so profs view themselves as scholars and reward those engaging in legal scholarship, some of which sometimes has some practical application, but is generally focused on theory and engaged in for scholarship's sake. Writings by practitioners for practitioners are not valued at law schools (generally). This is why legal writing profs and clinical profs are generally "adjunct" profs or "lecturers" or the like, may not be eligible for tenure, and don't generally play the same role in faculty governance as doctrinal profs. (The justification for this is that such profs are not "expected" to publish in their fields.)

I could ramble some more, but really, your prof is absolutely completely correct.

KidStuddi
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby KidStuddi » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:27 am

Your professor is dead on.
My question is why would you think you could project 30-40 years from now based on the trends of today? If you asked this question 40 years ago they would have told you that you have no shot unless you're a white male. Pretty much the only thing you can bank on is that things will be different by the time you retire.

Ti Malice
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Ti Malice » Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:44 am

eric922 wrote:He also mentioned that he was the only professor at the law school that only has the J.D. he said all the other professors there had PHDs.


I find this hard to believe. What school is this? Even here at YLS, a large portion of the faculty does not hold PhDs. This includes towering figures like Bruce Ackerman, Akhil Amar, Robert Ellickson, Bill Eskridge, Owen Fiss, Harold Koh, Judith Resnik, Roberta Romano, Alan Schwartz, and Reva Siegel. It is true, however, that PhDs are increasingly common among recently hired profs across legal academia.

Younger Abstention
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Younger Abstention » Sat Jan 26, 2013 5:59 pm

Legal academia is pretty much going in a Ph.D centric direction, your professor is right. Further, the legal academy frowns on those who have been in practice for longer than a few years as somehow tainted. That being said, I know someone who made the transition from biglaw partner to legal academic just last year, so it does still happen at least rarely.

bigbang
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby bigbang » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:41 pm

How hard is it to get a clinical teaching job? Is this possible from a top school, with several years public interest experience? I'm sure it's super competitive, but just curious how difficult it is compared to getting a more traditional academic position.

jarofsoup
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby jarofsoup » Sat Jan 26, 2013 6:46 pm

What you are saying is that you want to work in the filed and then become and adjunct. I think that this is common since they have adjuncts.

I think some have research fellowships for a single project. But most never get tenure tract.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:01 pm

bigbang wrote:How hard is it to get a clinical teaching job? Is this possible from a top school, with several years public interest experience? I'm sure it's super competitive, but just curious how difficult it is compared to getting a more traditional academic position.

I'm not sure it's quite as competitive, based on the qualifications of my school's clinic profs (which is NOT knocking them - they were all great - but they don't have to have the kind of academic qualifications that tenure track professors have). At my school, most of the clinical profs were locals who transitioned into overseeing the clinics, and the criteria for hiring was practice experience in the field of the clinic (ideally in the local jurisdiction, I think). No fancy schools or PhDs or publications necessary. The issue is probably more that there aren't a lot of clinical openings in any given year, and also, clinical profs are sort of second-class citizens in the law school hierarchy (not necessarily on a personal level - I think the doctrinal faculty at my law school treated all the clinical profs well) - they aren't always tenured, they don't always get a say in faculty governance, they are frequently paid less. (Sometimes there are endowed chairs that oversee clinics, which might be a different situation.) That's not to say it's not a good gig, it's just that in a very snobbish profession, it can be seen as less than other academic positions. (Also, it's gotta be a crapload of work compared to a lot of academic positions!)

(oh, and it's tenure TRACK. Not tract.) (not you, the previous comment)

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dextermorgan
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby dextermorgan » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:04 pm

eric922 wrote:I mentioned this to a professor of mine and he said the days of lawyers going into semi-retirement in academia are pretty much over.

I'm going to venture that he knows more about this than a bunch of law students on an anonymous message board.

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:12 pm

Ti Malice wrote:
eric922 wrote:He also mentioned that he was the only professor at the law school that only has the J.D. he said all the other professors there had PHDs.


Younger Abstention wrote:Legal academia is pretty much going in a Ph.D centric direction, your professor is right. Further, the legal academy frowns on those who have been in practice for longer than a few years as somehow tainted. That being said, I know someone who made the transition from biglaw partner to legal academic just last year, so it does still happen at least rarely.


To address the above two posts: I believe most law schools have a majority of their faculty with just JDs. PhDs have become more and more common, but I don't think there is any real significant push to have the academic legal hiring shift to concentrate only on JDs+PhDs or just PhDs. Some faculty members don't actually like the potential new hires having only spent most of their adult life in the academia bubble with little to no legal work experience. Admin law faculty might prefer candidates with applicable government work in DC, Crim law faculty might want people who have actually practiced for a few years, ditto for tax, etc. That's not to say that PhDs don't have value for academic legal hiring--they do. But the model isn't requiring (or even heavily emphasizing) PhDs at most law schools (though former Dean Z at Northwestern tried).

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:16 pm

dextermorgan wrote:
eric922 wrote:I mentioned this to a professor of mine and he said the days of lawyers going into semi-retirement in academia are pretty much over.

I'm going to venture that he knows more about this than a bunch of law students on an anonymous message board.


His professor was right, but your point about a law professor having the most knowledge about academic legal hiring isn't necessarily true. If the professor regularly serves on faculty hiring committees, then sure he or she will know a ton. But if the professor hasn't been involved in the process in forever, then the professor might not know the current situation very well. (Just like partners at firms, who aren't involved in hiring, might not have the best advice to give about what schools to attend or how to get a legal job.)

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Shmoopy
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Shmoopy » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:19 pm

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Last edited by Shmoopy on Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:23 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:
eric922 wrote:He also mentioned that he was the only professor at the law school that only has the J.D. he said all the other professors there had PHDs.


Younger Abstention wrote:Legal academia is pretty much going in a Ph.D centric direction, your professor is right. Further, the legal academy frowns on those who have been in practice for longer than a few years as somehow tainted. That being said, I know someone who made the transition from biglaw partner to legal academic just last year, so it does still happen at least rarely.


To address the above two posts: I believe most law schools have a majority of their faculty with just JDs. PhDs have become more and more common, but I don't think there is any real significant push to have the academic legal hiring shift to concentrate only on JDs+PhDs or just PhDs. Some faculty members don't actually like the potential new hires having only spent most of their adult life in the academia bubble with little to no legal work experience. Admin law faculty might prefer candidates with applicable government work in DC, Crim law faculty might want people who have actually practiced for a few years, ditto for tax, etc. That's not to say that PhDs don't have value for academic legal hiring--they do. But the model isn't requiring (or even heavily emphasizing) PhDs at most law schools (though former Dean Z at Northwestern tried).

I don't think this is necessarily true. Some faculty members may not like this, but they tend to be from an earlier generation where people actually did get hired for their practice experience. It may also vary according to where a school falls in the legal food chain - anecdotally, TTTs and TTTTs are supposed to focus much more on black letter law and preparing students to practice, and therefore may value people with practical experience more than some of the more elite schools. (The catch-22 there is if you want to "succeed" in legal academia you de facto want to aim for elite schools...)

I think the problem is that while there may not (yet) be a majority PhD/JDs, and there may never be, if someone is trying to make themselves the strongest candidate for legal academia that they can, getting a PhD is one way to stand above other candidates and signal intellectual seriousness (so it's sort of self-reinforcing). Because while there are lots of arguments against faculty having limited practice experience, and debates about it in the legal academy, it's undeniable that people who've been in practice longer than a certain amount of time (3 years? 5? 7?) have a harder time than those who went to H/Y/S, clerked for a COA/SCOTUS, worked for 3 years at Skadden (or wherever), and placed a couple of articles in high-ranking law reviews. Adding a PhD also helps, especially because it gives someone the opportunity to produce a lot of research and get those articles out there.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:23 pm

Wormfather wrote:
Shmoopy wrote:I think it also depends on what kind of place you want to teach at. The above discussion seems mostly geared towards good law schools with a high end faculty. If you wanted to teach somewhere TTTT as fuck, or teach undergrad classes somewhere, you would probably have a much easier time. I graduated from undergrad two years ago and only have a BA, but I am a professor at a community college. No joke.


This is great, I actually want to go back and teach at my CC someday. Some talented kids there who just need good advice.

How easy it is to do this depends a LOT on what field you're in.

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suralin
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby suralin » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:25 pm

Shmoopy wrote:I think it also depends on what kind of place you want to teach at. The above discussion seems mostly geared towards good law schools with a high end faculty. If you wanted to teach somewhere TTTT as fuck, or teach undergrad classes somewhere, you would probably have a much easier time. I graduated from undergrad two years ago and only have a BA, but I am a professor at a community college. No joke.


Wait really? Holy shit. Mind sharing the story?

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Richie Tenenbaum
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Richie Tenenbaum » Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:43 pm

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
Richie Tenenbaum wrote:
Ti Malice wrote:
eric922 wrote:He also mentioned that he was the only professor at the law school that only has the J.D. he said all the other professors there had PHDs.


Younger Abstention wrote:Legal academia is pretty much going in a Ph.D centric direction, your professor is right. Further, the legal academy frowns on those who have been in practice for longer than a few years as somehow tainted. That being said, I know someone who made the transition from biglaw partner to legal academic just last year, so it does still happen at least rarely.


To address the above two posts: I believe most law schools have a majority of their faculty with just JDs. PhDs have become more and more common, but I don't think there is any real significant push to have the academic legal hiring shift to concentrate only on JDs+PhDs or just PhDs. Some faculty members don't actually like the potential new hires having only spent most of their adult life in the academia bubble with little to no legal work experience. Admin law faculty might prefer candidates with applicable government work in DC, Crim law faculty might want people who have actually practiced for a few years, ditto for tax, etc. That's not to say that PhDs don't have value for academic legal hiring--they do. But the model isn't requiring (or even heavily emphasizing) PhDs at most law schools (though former Dean Z at Northwestern tried).

I don't think this is necessarily true. Some faculty members may not like this, but they tend to be from an earlier generation where people actually did get hired for their practice experience. It may also vary according to where a school falls in the legal food chain - anecdotally, TTTs and TTTTs are supposed to focus much more on black letter law and preparing students to practice, and therefore may value people with practical experience more than some of the more elite schools. (The catch-22 there is if you want to "succeed" in legal academia you de facto want to aim for elite schools...)

I think the problem is that while there may not (yet) be a majority PhD/JDs, and there may never be, if someone is trying to make themselves the strongest candidate for legal academia that they can, getting a PhD is one way to stand above other candidates and signal intellectual seriousness (so it's sort of self-reinforcing). Because while there are lots of arguments against faculty having limited practice experience, and debates about it in the legal academy, it's undeniable that people who've been in practice longer than a certain amount of time (3 years? 5? 7?) have a harder time than those who went to H/Y/S, clerked for a COA/SCOTUS, worked for 3 years at Skadden (or wherever), and placed a couple of articles in high-ranking law reviews. Adding a PhD also helps, especially because it gives someone the opportunity to produce a lot of research and get those articles out there.


To clarify: When I was referring to legal experience, I usually meant something along the lines of 2-4 years (not including clerkships). And I agree that I've heard this from earlier generation faculty members or faculty who themselves have a few years of experience (but these members still shape what the model is, through hiring committees and overall tenure faculty voting power). I would agree that one of the biggest advantages about doing a PhD is the extra time to research and pump out quality articles.

Maybe I should have qualified more and said something like the following: A PhD can help aspiring academics to beef up a potentially weaker resume and it can allow extra time to produce good publications. A PhD may be helpful to the Princeton UG, YLS grad who went on to clerk for a well known circuit judge, but the main way it helps this applicant is by giving extra time to produce good publications (which can be also be done via VAPs and other fellowships or, if the person is awesome enough, while in the real world doing actual legal work).

rad lulz
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby rad lulz » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:27 pm

Ti Malice wrote:This includes towering figures like Bruce Ackerman, Akhil Amar, Robert Ellickson, Bill Eskridge, Owen Fiss, Harold Koh, Judith Resnik, Roberta Romano, Alan Schwartz, and Reva Siegel.

Yeah I dunno about "towering"

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Shmoopy
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Shmoopy » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:30 pm

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Last edited by Shmoopy on Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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suralin
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby suralin » Sat Jan 26, 2013 8:50 pm

Shmoopy wrote:
Suralin wrote:
Shmoopy wrote:I think it also depends on what kind of place you want to teach at. The above discussion seems mostly geared towards good law schools with a high end faculty. If you wanted to teach somewhere TTTT as fuck, or teach undergrad classes somewhere, you would probably have a much easier time. I graduated from undergrad two years ago and only have a BA, but I am a professor at a community college. No joke.


Wait really? Holy shit. Mind sharing the story?


Before I got hired, I had about 18 months experience writing math textbooks for a small company that works with charter schools in urban areas. I write books covering mostly algebra 1 and pre algebra for grades 6 to 9, though i also had one project that was used in a pilot program in a certain state's community college system. The program prepared adults to earn a GED. I also had experience student teaching at a middle school while in undergrad, as well as about a year of writing practice exams for a fairly large test prep company. It is also worth mentioning that I have a double major in math and philosophy from an Ivy League UG, though I only had a 3.3.

Anyway, I did get a little lucky. A family friend is the director of the online program at this community college, and put me in touch with the director because they were looking for people to teach remedial summer classes. They needed someone pretty quickly and I'm in a rural area where there probably aren't that many good candidates around, so they let me teach a few summer classes, both online and in classrooms. I got good student reviews, so they let me stick around. These summer classes were actually English classes, and I now teach a mix of math and English. I am not tenure-track.

I'm something of an anomaly without any sort of grad degree, but I think the prestigious UG makes up for that somewhat. The faculty here is nothing special. There are people with graduate degrees from online programs, as well as grad degrees in completely unrelated fields. For example, there is a guy with a JD who teaches accounting, and I don't think he has any real accounting experience. There is another guy who is an alum from this undergrad with a JD from some TTT who works as a local solo and also teaches some prelaw classes.

It's also a very funny classroom dynamic because I am 23 and most of my students are people in their 30s and 40s returning to school for vocational degrees, generally in medical technology. So I've got students who were factory workers, receptionists, cashiers at Walmart, waitresses, etc. studying to become physical therapist assistants, dental hygienists, nurses, surgical techs, etc. Some of the students can't spell simple words or write in complete sentences, and there are also a few in each class who are very intelligent.

It's quite a mix of students. I had one student write a term paper on euthanasia that I thought would have probably been A material at my UG, and I also got a paper for this same assignment (the assignment was to create an argument -- basically to have a specific thesis and support it) that was literally organized as a list of pros and cons of "kids playing sports." During an algebra class a few days ago, this guy asked me what the biggest number I know is. I said it was a googolplex, and explained what that meant, and he was all impressed. He said, "My brother in law teaches math in high school. I wonder what's the biggest number he knows. Cuz that's a pretty big one." Something about the idea of judging my knowledge of math by the biggest number I can name really made me lol.


That's fascinating, honestly, and a great opportunity (and story!), especially at 23. How's the pay?

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Shmoopy
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby Shmoopy » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:09 pm

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Last edited by Shmoopy on Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:38 pm

Richie Tenenbaum wrote:To clarify: When I was referring to legal experience, I usually meant something along the lines of 2-4 years (not including clerkships). And I agree that I've heard this from earlier generation faculty members or faculty who themselves have a few years of experience (but these members still shape what the model is, through hiring committees and overall tenure faculty voting power). I would agree that one of the biggest advantages about doing a PhD is the extra time to research and pump out quality articles.

Maybe I should have qualified more and said something like the following: A PhD can help aspiring academics to beef up a potentially weaker resume and it can allow extra time to produce good publications. A PhD may be helpful to the Princeton UG, YLS grad who went on to clerk for a well known circuit judge, but the main way it helps this applicant is by giving extra time to produce good publications (which can be also be done via VAPs and other fellowships or, if the person is awesome enough, while in the real world doing actual legal work).

Sorry, I thought you meant more legal experience than that - mostly because I don't think of 2-4 years of legal experience as very much, and I kind of assumed therefore legal experience meant actually developing a practice and working 8-15 years or something (my bad). I agree that a PhD without even the 2-4 years experience would be problematic and a lot of profs would see that as a problem.

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contrapositive1
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Re: Retiring into academia.

Postby contrapositive1 » Sat Jan 26, 2013 10:43 pm

I think it is best not to retire into academica




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