Law School Professor, Taking Questions

(Please Ask Questions and Answer Questions)
LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:49 am

I think a lot of people are scared of even saying "Campos," for fear of some alleged guilt by association. Perhaps that is in itself telling of something seriously wrong.

I personally have not had a single conversation about Campos with a colleague, although I don't really go fishing for water cooler talk or the latest law school gossip. I think it's fair to say that Campos has gotten everyone's attention, though.

Perdevise wrote:Hello, thank you for this opportunity for TLS.

I am curious what you/the faculty at your law school/other junior professors you may network with think of Paul Campos, the scambloggers, and criticisms of legal academia. I completely understand if this is a little sensitive, but I would like to know what younger faculty think about the issue.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:50 am

Oh. I have no specific thoughts, not having any idea of who was a splitter when I was a student, and not having any idea of who a splitter is now that I am a professor.

YourCaptain wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:
YourCaptain wrote:Thoughts on splitters?


I don't know what that is. People who eat banana splits?


low gpa high lsat

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:58 am

I am not sure. Brian Leiter is probably the person who most closely tracks tiny changes in USNews rankings.

My impression is that rankings at or near the top tend to be fairly sticky but that there is a lot of movement between the lower tiers. This impression is based on the same information you have -- the TLS historical rankings chart.

My uneducated guess is that third and fourth tier schools will be considered as such for a long time. I even wonder, if Harvard's law faculty transported to Cooley, how much higher would Cooley go?

There are surely some third and fourth tier schools that have somewhat better scholarly reputations than others. Lower tier schools in big cities, in particular, perhaps have a better chance of building their reputations since their most productive faculty members have an opportunity to interact with and are often picked up by 2nd tier + schools in their home region. To be blunt, though, because I am not at a 3rd or 4th tier school, I have not monitored the activities of such schools. Perhaps that means I'm igorant but perhaps it also suggests that it's difficult for the lower tier schools to get the attention of persons at other schools.

All of that being said, I think being a law professor is a great gig, at any institution. But I think there are severe moral considerations to think about in working at an institution that charges students $150,000+ to attend a program that gives them little chance to find a job. Faculty at 4th tier schools would likely have a different take on that, though.

Nate895 wrote:First of all, I enjoyed reading through this thread since it was bumped, and I would to thank the professor for sharing his insights.

I have a question that concerns the prestige of third and fourth tier law schools. Particularly, how hard it is for a school to break out of those lower tiers once it has been there for quite some time. I know 25% of the USNews rankings are from how peer faculties assess other schools, and so that probably makes up much of the difference between the different tiers, and you might have some insight on how that works. How hard would it be for a fourth tier program to overcome and push itself into the T2 or lower T1?

The reason why I ask is because the UG I go to has an attached fourth tier program that was only recently accredited. Now, I have really enjoyed the experience I have had at my UG and have developed an affection for it, and I would have liked to go there for law school as well if it were not for the fact that job opportunities are exceedingly scarce for its graduates. I also find the quality of the faculty sub-par, and far too distracted with their political agendas (agendas which I happen to generally agree with, but that don't help their students find jobs). Therefore, I have decided to shoot for the top (or scholarship $, on balance) as far as law schools go in order to have more job opportunities.

I do also have some interest in academia. If I were to pursue a career in academia, it would probably be after several years of practice (which would, hopefully, be after a clerkship), and I might choose to go back home to my UG and help with their program. How feasible would it be to build up a program that already has a reputation as a fourth tier? It would seem to require a herculean effort, since all factors would seem to conspire against it.

Have you heard of any law school significantly improving its stature amongst law school faculties that wasn't at least somewhat respected to begin with? Would other legal academics notice if a lower-ranked school started hiring a respectable faculty, started attracting better quality students, and in turn started producing better quality lawyers? I am also interested in what your input might be on what makes a fourth tier law school a fourth tier law school and how such a school might go about legitimately improving its image and rising above.

These are just some things my fellow 0Ls at my UG and I have been talking about. I know it's a bit far-fetched, but I would like to know if it's at least possible to do that sort of thing.

Qwerty12345
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby Qwerty12345 » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:26 pm

Hello LawProfessor123. Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer all these questions. I first registered on this forum as a pre-college student, very excited to hear about law school, which seemed to combine intellectual rigor, challenge and precision with a rather wide range of career possibilities (academia, law practice in very diverse settings, public service, etc...). However, I was very disillusioned after getting from this forum the general vibe that lawyers are unhappy about their job and can only find happiness by being very aware of the 'dislikable' nature of their job and making sure their expectations match what they will actually experience, as well as make plans for other pleasant things in their lives. In addition, I learnt that law school is rather 'unfulfilling' (sorry, I realize that both these terms are not actual words but I could not find any better ones). I was wondering what you thought is the origin of this and what you personally think of it. Are you happy with your job? Were you happy in law school? Cam studying (as a student or a scholar) and practicing law really be that boring and unappealing? Can please share with us an experience that you've had with law that made you feel fulfilled? Thank you very much.

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Onthebrink
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby Onthebrink » Mon Jan 16, 2012 10:35 pm

Thank you very much once again for taking questions. I apologize if you have already answered this and if so just ignore this question and I will find the answer, but at what point in your law school career did you decide academia was for you? How would you compare your quality of life to that of your classmates?

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kalvano
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby kalvano » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:19 am

What's appropriate when it comes to letters of recommendation? At what point do you feel comfortable writing a student one? Is one class with an office visit or two and a good grade enough? Or does it need to be a more personal level than that?

And how do you prefer to be approached? Schedule an office visit, ask in an email, ask after class one day?

paradox
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby paradox » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:00 am

Law Prof -

What substantive concentrations do you believe will make a new law grad the most marketable on the job market in 3 or 4 years (for example, Intellectual property, health care law, environmental law, international law, or something else)?

Thanks for your answer.

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quakeroats
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:55 pm

How does focusing on empirical research affect getting an entry-level tenure-track position? If the focus was exclusive would it be enough to making getting a position difficult?

Geneva
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby Geneva » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:39 pm

tag

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:24 am

I think the origin relates to the doe-eyed nature of law school applicants. Applicants form an impression of legal work based on unreliable sources (TV, "what someone told them about law," a law school's flash website, and so on).

Law probably is not different from most other fields. Some good things, some bad things. I rather liked practicing law and miss it most days -- the academy can be lonely if you are concerned about the real world.

So, although I think the crisis in law school has many contributing factors, the absolutely unrealistic expectations of many students likely contributes to the eventual dissatisfaction experienced by a good number of lawyers.

Qwerty12345 wrote:. . . I was wondering what you thought is the origin of this and what you personally think of it. Are you happy with your job? Were you happy in law school? Cam studying (as a student or a scholar) and practicing law really be that boring and unappealing? Can please share with us an experience that you've had with law that made you feel fulfilled? Thank you very much.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:27 am

When I wrote my first article (as part of a seminar class), I realized "Hey, I like this!". But for that experience -- and my amazing mentor -- I never would have pursued academia.

I think I have a great quality of life, in terms of having control over my schedule, enjoying professional respect in the community, and a stable source of income. I surely make less money than many of my classmates and also do not get to interact with the real world most of the time. Additionally, law school politics can be even more petty than firm politics, depending on your institution ("Academic politics is the most vicious and bitter form of politics, because the stakes are so low."). Overall, I'm happy with my choice, but I think there are many great paths to follow in the law.

Onthebrink wrote:Thank you very much once again for taking questions. I apologize if you have already answered this and if so just ignore this question and I will find the answer, but at what point in your law school career did you decide academia was for you? How would you compare your quality of life to that of your classmates?

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:33 am

My single biggest qualm relates to student hesitancy to provide me with their transcript. Students will send me their resume and their cover letter (maybe), and then ask me if I need anything else. (Well, duh -- I need your transcript, too.)

I think students feel self-conscious about sharing their transcript, perhaps thinking that if I saw the C+ they received in Torts, I would think they were dumb. But I'm quite used to seeing grades and whatnot, and am just looking for information on the candidates strengths and weaknesses, so that I can frame the reference letter ("Yes, so and so got a C+ in Contracts, but that must have been unrepresentative; she clearly displayed smarts and legal acumen in my class.")

My best advice for requesting letters: make it *easy* on your recommender. Give the recommender specific informatoin on the job, why you are applying, your grades, your resume, and any other information. Do not cryptically ask for a generic recommendation and attach only your resume.

I would never refuse a recommendation from a student who received a strong grade in my class, unless something weird was going on. But the better I know you, the better your recommendation will be. If I barely know you and you send me little information, the recommendation letter will look largely canned and might not help you that much.

I prefer personal meetings. If a student emails me and asks for a rec, I always say that we need to meet in person. If they've since graduated, I request a phone call.

kalvano wrote:What's appropriate when it comes to letters of recommendation? At what point do you feel comfortable writing a student one? Is one class with an office visit or two and a good grade enough? Or does it need to be a more personal level than that?

And how do you prefer to be approached? Schedule an office visit, ask in an email, ask after class one day?

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:39 am

Hard for me to guess. Surely, the more doctrinal courses you take, the more likely you can express a credible interest in that field. For example, if you took courses in tax, IP, environmental law, and business law, you could go to employers in each of those areas and explain why you are a good fit for that particular area. If you take a bunch of seminars, that might be tougher.

paradox wrote:Law Prof -

What substantive concentrations do you believe will make a new law grad the most marketable on the job market in 3 or 4 years (for example, Intellectual property, health care law, environmental law, international law, or something else)?

Thanks for your answer.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:41 am

Not sure. Some schools (like Northwestern) seem to focus on empirical matters to the exclusion of all else. Others in the academy are skeptical of persons who can count but don't understand law. If you try to enter the academy, finding a mentor who can help you with these issues would be best.

quakeroats wrote:How does focusing on empirical research affect getting an entry-level tenure-track position? If the focus was exclusive would it be enough to making getting a position difficult?

Geneva
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby Geneva » Fri Mar 30, 2012 1:45 am

Would it be foolish to turn down an offer to Harvard or Stanford in order to go to a T10 school for $50,000-$100,000 less, assuming one isn't sure exactly how they want to use their law degree? Thank you for your help!

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:01 am

Go to Harvard or Stanford.

Geneva wrote:Would it be foolish to turn down an offer to Harvard or Stanford in order to go to a T10 school for $50,000-$100,000 less, assuming one isn't sure exactly how they want to use their law degree? Thank you for your help!

planeride
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby planeride » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:13 am

LawProfessor123 wrote:When I wrote my first article (as part of a seminar class), I realized "Hey, I like this!". But for that experience -- and my amazing mentor -- I never would have pursued academia.


Professor, could you talk about this a little more? 0L here wondering if academia might be for me. I feel reasonably sure that I would enjoy it, based on my experience with writing and legal research. Could you explain how you got from writing that first article to building a research agenda? Did you draw on a prior degree/experience, or did you mainly do it through seminar classes, student note, etc.?

If the latter, did you feel adequately prepared by this path? Can students really produce meaningful/substantive scholarship at the end of a 4-month course?

Thanks!

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nutella3000
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby nutella3000 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:23 pm

Like the others, I wish to thank you for this valuable thread. Like the poster above me, I am also curious about academia.

I know that Leiter makes reference to the prestige drop-off from Yale to Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago, then to other institutions, etc. So, I wonder if students from Columbia or NYU still have a feasible shot at becoming law professors.

Also, what are your thoughts on PhD+JDs in legal academia (e.g., in politics or philosophy)? Does it boost chances? Waste of time?
Last edited by nutella3000 on Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nshapkar
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby nshapkar » Fri Mar 30, 2012 3:30 pm

.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:35 am

I'm bumping this, although I haven't been good about checking this site. But with some down time this summer, I'm hoping to be available to candidly answer Q's.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:49 am

Yale seems to have a historical advantage at placing students, because that school has long been formal about placing its grads in academia and know the game. Yale is also known as a breeding ground for academics, irrespective of the specific efforts of its faculty.

But other elite schools have started to emulate Yale's practices. Anyone from Columbia or NYU should *not* have a chip on his or her shoulder. So much of the game has turned to publications. A Yale law student who writes on doctrinal matters will not get nearly the same response as a "law and" person at NYU.

Ph.D's generally are a plus, especially at elite schools. As you move further down the law school chain, a school is more likely to be concerned about a JD/Ph.D candidate's ability to understand the law and teach students the law. I believe I have spoken on this issue elsewhere on the thread.

nutella3000 wrote:Like the others, I wish to thank you for this valuable thread. Like the poster above me, I am also curious about academia.

I know that Leiter makes reference to the prestige drop-off from Yale to Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago, then to other institutions, etc. So, I wonder if students from Columbia or NYU still have a feasible shot at becoming law professors.

Also, what are your thoughts on PhD+JDs in legal academia (e.g., in politics or philosophy)? Does it boost chances? Waste of time?

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:51 am

I wrote a seminar paper in a field and then practiced in that field. My practice in the field gave me plenty of ideas for future articles. As I slogged away the hours in the big firm, I was always thinking of the "big picture" and was focused on broader issues that my client was not.

I don't think there's any formula for developing the scholarly mind. The best thing to do is expose yourself to many areas, and if one area just strikes you, really really strikes you, keeps you up at night, and so on, you may have an academic bent. If not, so what? You just might have to be a productive member of society rather than a legal academic.

planeride wrote:
LawProfessor123 wrote:When I wrote my first article (as part of a seminar class), I realized "Hey, I like this!". But for that experience -- and my amazing mentor -- I never would have pursued academia.


Professor, could you talk about this a little more? 0L here wondering if academia might be for me. I feel reasonably sure that I would enjoy it, based on my experience with writing and legal research. Could you explain how you got from writing that first article to building a research agenda? Did you draw on a prior degree/experience, or did you mainly do it through seminar classes, student note, etc.?

If the latter, did you feel adequately prepared by this path? Can students really produce meaningful/substantive scholarship at the end of a 4-month course?

Thanks!

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Wed Jul 10, 2013 10:52 pm

Thanks a lot for taking questions, good thread.

TLS often makes legal academia sound like the pipiest of pipe dreams. You're not presenting it quite that way. Seems like a combination of 1) publications 2) institutional support and mentorship 3) school prestige and 4) flexibility, in that order, gives someone a decent chance of finding work in legal academia.

So if someone were to attend a T10, garner good mentorship/guidance, focus on a note and other scholarly work, and maybe do a good year or two of clerkship or firm work, that person has a good chance of being hired?

If so, why is landing academia seen as nearly impossible? Is it that it's not the primary focus of most T14 students, or that publishing is difficult?

Just trying to get a decent handle on whether I'm reading your advice correctly and if so why the general attitude I've seen around here is what it is.

Thanks.

bruin91
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby bruin91 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:14 am

tag

JJ123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby JJ123 » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:01 pm

My undergraduate is in accounting and finance, and I would like to focus on tax law, with the goal of landing in academia eventually. Toward that end:

1. Do you think an LLM in tax/JD joint degree would make much difference compared to just taking tax classes in my JD program?
2. Would passing the CPA exam help?
3. What type of work experience would help in this regard? IRS attorney, big 4, big law, clerkships?
4. I understand that publishing is very important. What steps can I take as an undergrad/law student to get published?




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