Law School Professor, Taking Questions

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drdolittle
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby drdolittle » Fri Dec 03, 2010 4:14 am

What are your thoughts on students working with/for faculty on research projects during the summer, and maybe during the year as well? Who benefits most in these arrangements? If you had the option of doing this v. anything else that's productive and law related for the summer, how would you decide what to do?

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sat Dec 04, 2010 12:44 am

drdolittle wrote:What are your thoughts on students working with/for faculty on research projects during the summer, and maybe during the year as well? Who benefits most in these arrangements? If you had the option of doing this v. anything else that's productive and law related for the summer, how would you decide what to do?


Working for a professor is an entirely respectable way to spend a summer, although more so for 1L summer than for 2L summer. The student's benefits are greatest when he or she plans to apply for a clerkship, or perhaps in a field within the professor's expertise -- it is great and very valuable to have a mentor in your field of interest.

The professor's benefits are varied. I've had great RA's and not so great RA's. As a general rule, I'd say that these relationships benefit more the students rather than the professors, unless the student is put to work entirely on mind-numbing tasks like bluebooking. For more substantive tasks, I've generally found that it takes more time for me to explain and guide the RA's work than it would take for me to do myself. Most law students, even the ones at the top of their classes, are incompetent researches. When I was in law school, I was similarly incompetent.

Law RA's are different from RA's in other academic areas, where e.g. the student is familiar with quantitative methods and can help the prof with a research project. For the type of research that I do, I can't expect the students to do an exhaustive job, so really the relationship is mostly about benefiting the students and our dean tells us as much. The one exception, as noted above, is bluebooking, where I'm eternally grateful for my RA's help.

For your 2l summer, I would encourage you to work in a traditional legal position rather than work for a professor. When you work for a professor, you won't handle client matters and practice law, as such.

NJcollegestudent
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby NJcollegestudent » Sun Dec 05, 2010 1:27 am

How involved are professors in clinic work? Do you take it as an opportunity to both teach and practice, or just to teach students?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 11:04 pm

NJcollegestudent wrote:How involved are professors in clinic work? Do you take it as an opportunity to both teach and practice, or just to teach students?


Most professors, including me, have virtually nothing to do with clinical work. Instead, clinics are staffed by professors who are hired specifically to run clinics.

I think clinical professors generally are more teaching-oriented than research professors and are excited to meet with students. If you go to a school that has more than 1 or 2 clinical programs, there's a good chance you can find a great mentor. Clinical professors are undervalued, in my view.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby NJcollegestudent » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:06 am

I have seen that some law schools use their faculty members to admit students. If your law school is one of those and you sit on a committee, what do you look for beyond numbers, or are you held to strictly the index numbers. If the question is too specific and you would not be able to provide a response, please feel free to ignore it.
Last edited by NJcollegestudent on Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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El_Gallo
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby El_Gallo » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:33 am

Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?

The Real Jack McCoy
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby The Real Jack McCoy » Wed Dec 08, 2010 1:35 pm

El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It doesn't just contradict conventional wisdom on TLS; it also contradicts the placement data collected by Prof. Solum, or at least the most obvious interpretations of that data. For instance, what would you make of Leiter's claim that Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago represent a distinct tier of schools in terms of academic placement:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml
http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2006 ... hing.shtml

I have a Harvard acceptance and have been told by a few professors to seriously consider Stanford over Harvard if I get in. So, how about Harvard versus Stanford?

My impression is that Harvard is often thought of as the better school for academics (on strength of faculty and alumni network) but Stanford has an edge in institutional support because of its small size (e.g. easier to make connections with faculty, much higher proportion of students make law review, etc.). Does this sound correct? Or do you think Harvard has additional advantages over Stanford and Chicago?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby quakeroats » Wed Dec 08, 2010 9:56 pm

The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It doesn't just contradict conventional wisdom on TLS; it also contradicts the placement data collected by Prof. Solum, or at least the most obvious interpretations of that data. For instance, what would you make of Leiter's claim that Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago represent a distinct tier of schools in terms of academic placement:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml
http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2006 ... hing.shtml

I have a Harvard acceptance and have been told by a few professors to seriously consider Stanford over Harvard if I get in. So, how about Harvard versus Stanford?

My impression is that Harvard is often thought of as the better school for academics (on strength of faculty and alumni network) but Stanford has an edge in institutional support because of its small size (e.g. easier to make connections with faculty, much higher proportion of students make law review, etc.). Does this sound correct? Or do you think Harvard has additional advantages over Stanford and Chicago?


After Yale, things don't seem to matter. Harvard, Stanford and Chicago are a distant second place, and all others follow.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby drdolittle » Wed Dec 08, 2010 11:54 pm

El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It's good to keep in mind that advice on TLS can be highly biased and ignorant of reality, despite good intentions, notwithstanding valuable contributors like the prof here.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby The Real Jack McCoy » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:14 am

quakeroats wrote:
The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It doesn't just contradict conventional wisdom on TLS; it also contradicts the placement data collected by Prof. Solum, or at least the most obvious interpretations of that data. For instance, what would you make of Leiter's claim that Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago represent a distinct tier of schools in terms of academic placement:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml
http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2006 ... hing.shtml

I have a Harvard acceptance and have been told by a few professors to seriously consider Stanford over Harvard if I get in. So, how about Harvard versus Stanford?

My impression is that Harvard is often thought of as the better school for academics (on strength of faculty and alumni network) but Stanford has an edge in institutional support because of its small size (e.g. easier to make connections with faculty, much higher proportion of students make law review, etc.). Does this sound correct? Or do you think Harvard has additional advantages over Stanford and Chicago?


After Yale, things don't seem to matter. Harvard, Stanford and Chicago are a distant second place, and all others follow.


I'm not sure what you mean. After Yale, things do matter quite a bit. This is what the placement numbers tell us. Leaving aside the difference between Harvard and Stanford/Chicago, the distance between HSC and the next tier is close to the distance between Yale and HSC. That itself is an important fact. And we also know what after the top eight or so schools, academic placement gets pretty grim. I'm just looking for more information as to why the schools differ with regards to academic placement power.

Some more data that suggests there are real differences among the schools:

http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... -2010.html
http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... eport.html

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby AreJay711 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:33 am

The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
quakeroats wrote:
The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It doesn't just contradict conventional wisdom on TLS; it also contradicts the placement data collected by Prof. Solum, or at least the most obvious interpretations of that data. For instance, what would you make of Leiter's claim that Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago represent a distinct tier of schools in terms of academic placement:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml
http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2006 ... hing.shtml

I have a Harvard acceptance and have been told by a few professors to seriously consider Stanford over Harvard if I get in. So, how about Harvard versus Stanford?

My impression is that Harvard is often thought of as the better school for academics (on strength of faculty and alumni network) but Stanford has an edge in institutional support because of its small size (e.g. easier to make connections with faculty, much higher proportion of students make law review, etc.). Does this sound correct? Or do you think Harvard has additional advantages over Stanford and Chicago?


After Yale, things don't seem to matter. Harvard, Stanford and Chicago are a distant second place, and all others follow.


I'm not sure what you mean. After Yale, things do matter quite a bit. This is what the placement numbers tell us. Leaving aside the difference between Harvard and Stanford/Chicago, the distance between HSC and the next tier is close to the distance between Yale and HSC. That itself is an important fact. And we also know what after the top eight or so schools, academic placement gets pretty grim. I'm just looking for more information as to why the schools differ with regards to academic placement power.

Some more data that suggests there are real differences among the schools:

http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... -2010.html
http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... eport.html


Cool links but I subscribe to this thread to see what the prof. has to say, not you guys. Ask questions, wait for answers: that's how it works :evil:

The Real Jack McCoy
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby The Real Jack McCoy » Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:53 am

AreJay711 wrote:
Cool links but I subscribe to this thread to see what the prof. has to say, not you guys. Ask questions, wait for answers: that's how it works :evil:


Well in case it wasn't clear I was just defending my original question (which was a variant of El Gallo's): can you elaborate on your claim that it is Harvard/Yale and then the rest of the t10 for academic placement? Where is Stanford (which continues to place well for its class size)?

I'll leave it at that, though, as I agree this shouldn't be a discussion thread.

LawProfessor123
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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:07 pm

El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


If you have some specific interests that relate to a particular school's strengths (e.g., L&E at Chicago), I'd go to the school with strength in that area. I'm doubtful that hiring committees view Chicago versus Virginia much differently.

Also, I say that ranking after HY is largely irrelevant for academia purposes. Clearly, ranking matters for most every other purpose.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:10 pm

I'm not sure that the placement data refutes my view. Harvard and Yale are clearly the monsters in academic placement:

See: --LinkRemoved--

After H and Y, there is a significant drop. In the last year, Berkeley, Michigan, NYU, Columbia, Stanford, and Chicago are all roughly in the same group.

Additionally, much more so than any other factor, publications -- not specific top law school attended -- are the name of the game. To the extent that, say, Columbia offers a bump over Michigan, that bump is easily negated and dwarfed by a stronger publication record by a Mich candidate over a Columbia candidate. See "The New Realities of the Legal Academy," http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm? ... id=1651166.



The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?


It doesn't just contradict conventional wisdom on TLS; it also contradicts the placement data collected by Prof. Solum, or at least the most obvious interpretations of that data. For instance, what would you make of Leiter's claim that Harvard, Stanford, and Chicago represent a distinct tier of schools in terms of academic placement:

http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2008 ... hing.shtml
http://www.leiterrankings.com/jobs/2006 ... hing.shtml

I have a Harvard acceptance and have been told by a few professors to seriously consider Stanford over Harvard if I get in. So, how about Harvard versus Stanford?

My impression is that Harvard is often thought of as the better school for academics (on strength of faculty and alumni network) but Stanford has an edge in institutional support because of its small size (e.g. easier to make connections with faculty, much higher proportion of students make law review, etc.). Does this sound correct? Or do you think Harvard has additional advantages over Stanford and Chicago?
Last edited by LawProfessor123 on Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:13 pm

I've never, ever been in a hiring committee meeting where someone looked favorably (or disfavorably) upon someone who e.g. went to Columbia as opposed to someone who went to Duke. Of course, there are a lot of different perspectives on the hiring process, and surely there is something out there who automatically favors a Columbia grad rather than a Duke grad. But once you have a degree from a top school, the publication record matters so much more than everything else that it's absurd to talk about getting an additional boost from a T6 Jd versus a T9 Jd.

Law schools do *not* make hiring decisions like BIGLAW or DOJ.


I'm not sure what you mean. After Yale, things do matter quite a bit. This is what the placement numbers tell us. Leaving aside the difference between Harvard and Stanford/Chicago, the distance between HSC and the next tier is close to the distance between Yale and HSC. That itself is an important fact. And we also know what after the top eight or so schools, academic placement gets pretty grim. I'm just looking for more information as to why the schools differ with regards to academic placement power.

Some more data that suggests there are real differences among the schools:

http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... -2010.html
http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/2 ... eport.html
Last edited by LawProfessor123 on Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:25 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:19 pm

The benefit that HY may have over Stanford is that HY have had, for many years, sophisticated machinery in place to get their grads teaching jobs. Stanford is obviously an amazing school which I would have given my left arm to have attended as a student (much less taught at!), but historically, H and Y have been much more aggressive about placing their students into the academy.

The effect of this may be muted somewhat by the trends discussed in the Solum article; until 20 years ago, getting a job had a lot more to do with who you knew and who was willing to make a call for you. H and Y were traditionally very good about helping their alums play this game. But as Solum points out, publications are the name of the game today.

Also, keep in mind that most law school hiring (except perhaps at the T20 and a handful of other schools) is done with high regard to curricular needs. A graduate of USC, for example, who specializes in tax or IP will have a much easier time getting a job than a Yale grad who wants to teach and write in civil rights law.

The Real Jack McCoy wrote:
AreJay711 wrote:
Cool links but I subscribe to this thread to see what the prof. has to say, not you guys. Ask questions, wait for answers: that's how it works :evil:


Well in case it wasn't clear I was just defending my original question (which was a variant of El Gallo's): can you elaborate on your claim that it is Harvard/Yale and then the rest of the t10 for academic placement? Where is Stanford (which continues to place well for its class size)?

I'll leave it at that, though, as I agree this shouldn't be a discussion thread.
Last edited by LawProfessor123 on Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:31 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby twert » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:19 pm

awesome thread, thanks for taking questions

In my experience (as a 1L) the professors that i find most interesting and effective went to lower tiered schools and have many years of practice experience. Do you think that a student really benefits from the scholarship of his or her professors? What would you change about the BS of academia you alluded to earlier in this thread?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:31 pm

I think a student benefits from a professor's scholarship when the professor writes in the field that she teaches in. A professor who is interested and engaged in an area will, I think, generally make for a better teacher than someone who has no interest in the subject matter being taught.

Many years of practice experience can be a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes, professors with many years of experience simply think that teaching involves standing up in front of the class and telling "war stories." And sometimes, professors with very accomplished careers scowl at the prospect of having to learn how to teach. After being a senior government official or senior partner, they are used to people below them having to learn how to change their styles to suit them, not the other way around. If this attitude carries through to the classroom, that is a very, very bad thing for the students.

But the general thrust of your comment, I think, is that people who teach law should have some experience practicing law, and it's unfortunate that so many new faculty members are hired each year with only a clerkship or less. I can't think of any quick fix to the problem, unless USNews adds "percentage of faculty with 4+ years experience" to its rankings formula.

twert wrote:awesome thread, thanks for taking questions

In my experience (as a 1L) the professors that i find most interesting and effective went to lower tiered schools and have many years of practice experience. Do you think that a student really benefits from the scholarship of his or her professors? What would you change about the BS of academia you alluded to earlier in this thread?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:38 pm

The reason that you and other TLS'ers may have a very hard time believing that small differences in rankings are *not* a big deal may relate to your career posture. For entry level jobs, small differences in rankings do matter a lot, so perhaps it's natural for you to assume that a Columbia grad has a materially stronger chance of getting a teaching job than a Penn grad. You guys are, after all, looking mostly at entry level jobs. And that's why you're probably also used to thinking that 1L grades control everything.

But law school hiring decisions are based only in part on where you went to school. Publications are by far the most important piece, not your law school or your law school grades. Of the 40 law schools I interviewed with, only 3 even asked for my law school transcript. This likely strikes someone currently in law school as unfathomable.

To think about it another way, when a large law firm decides whom to promote to partner, do you think the law firm will systematically favor Columbia grads over Duke grads? Or do you think the law firms will care about what the particular attorneys have done at the firm?

None of this is meant to suggest that law school prestige doesn't matter. Law is a very snobby profession, and legal academia is filled with snobs. Having a JD from outside of the "top 14" schools is likely going to be a drawback. Having a JD from a third tier school is almost always fatal. My point is only that small differences in the rankings of the most elite schools don't have a major effect on hiring decisions. I would not dare suggest that prestige doesn't matter for virtually every entry level job or that prestige is not very important in legal academia.

El_Gallo wrote:Interesting that you would say outside of HY, ranking in the top 10 is mostly irrelevant. That advice contradicts conventional wisdom here on TLS. What school would you recommend to a 0L, interested in academia, if he had the option between sticker at U of Chi or $$ at University of Virginia?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby drdolittle » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:02 pm

This might be tough to answer, but how do law professors view rankings in general? Are rankings viewed in a relatively consistent way (i.e. good, bad, necessary evil) by law school faculty? Is there a serious movement by faculty to reform the current system of having one dominant methodology (US News)? What could be done? I know Leiter's tried, but I'm not sure to what effect.

Inordinate emphasis on school rank seems to be a fairly new phenomenon. Before the US News ranking system started, I imagine there was a general understanding of where schools stood, but I doubt schools engaged in the kind of effectively meaningless jockeying that's going on today. Pandering to a single ranking methodology is not in the best interests of anyone, except US News at the moment, right?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:12 pm

Law professors, generally speaking, have the same attitude that law students have towards them: We know that they are not perfect, but since everyone looks at them, we care about them. And law professors offer one of the view tangible measures of their success -- law professors generally don't close deals, win awards, etc. Thus, law professors are left to the US News rankings to measure their own prestige and determine their own self worth, and to determine how "good" their most recent article is (was the article accepted by a T20 journal? all right!). It's sort of sad, really, but profs are generally even more rankings obsessed than law students.

And I generally agree with your second paragraph. Obsession with law school rankings also has unfortunate side effects. The transparency that USNews provides to students is good, except that everyone knows that law schools game the rankings (especially the employment numbers) and so USNews doesn't really provide much transparency in that regard.

drdolittle wrote:This might be tough to answer, but how do law professors view rankings in general? Are rankings viewed in a relatively consistent way (i.e. good, bad, necessary evil) by law school faculty? Is there a serious movement by faculty to reform the current system of having one dominant methodology (US News)? What could be done? I know Leiter's tried, but I'm not sure to what effect.

Inordinate emphasis on school rank seems to be a fairly new phenomenon. Before the US News ranking system started, I imagine there was a general understanding of where schools stood, but I doubt schools engaged in the kind of effectively meaningless jockeying that's going on today. Pandering to a single ranking methodology is not in the best interests of anyone, except US News at the moment, right?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby drdolittle » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:16 pm

LawProfessor123 wrote:It's sort of sad, really, but profs are generally even more rankings obsessed than law students.

:shock:

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby tea_drinker » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:17 pm

From previous posts, you indicated that you went into teaching a few years after practicing law. Do you know on a personal level any who goes straight into academia right after law school? Do you know if they have to involve in a different set of activities during law school or traditional LR, clerking, etc are it?

Thanks.
Last edited by tea_drinker on Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby LawProfessor123 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:25 pm

These types usually discovered a strong scholarly bent very early on, frequently stemming from some previous graduate work experience (e.g. in economics, health care, and so on). These students then wrote student notes, got to know professors, and co-wrote articles with professors. Thus, the "activity" these candidates were involved in was scholarly research. Of course, these types of candidates were invariably on law review and likely secured a prestigious clerkship or academic fellowship.

I think we'd all we better off if these types spent a few years in the real world, but what can you do.

tea_drinker wrote:From previous posts, you indicated that you went into teaching a few years after practicing law. Do you know on a personal level any who goes straight into academia right after law school? Do you know if they have to involve in a different set of activities during law school or traditional LR, clerking, etc are it?

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Re: Law School Professor, Taking Questions

Postby tea_drinker » Fri Dec 10, 2010 10:38 pm

If a student started out at a T50 law school, then transferred to a T14 school. Will this be looked upon unfavorably by hiring committees? Or it is the same?




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