Sogui wrote:LawProfessor123 wrote:mst wrote:Do law professors at schools outside of the top 14/top 30 really differentiate between the caliber of schools within the t14 (excluding the obvious Harvard, Yale, and maybe Stanford)? To elaborate, if you sat down in the lounge and started discussing the t14 schools with fellow professors also at t50ish schools, do you think they would for the most part agree that there is very little distinction in quality between schools like Columbia/NYU/Chicago and schools like Georgetown/Cornell/Northwestern? Or is the profession (outside of the super-competitive top schools) generally :"aware" that there is a big difference between a Chicago and a Duke?
Sorry if that's confusing. I'm basically just trying to get a handle on whether the profession seems to divide the t14 up so distinctively (HYS/CCN/BMVP/DNCG) like the members of this board do, or if they just generally see it as: (HY/CCNBMVPDNCG) or something along those lines... Please keep in mind that I'm not looking for the viewpoint of super-academics who could name every professor at every school in the t14.
I don't think law professors make distinctions as fine as you make them, especially because professors are comparing faculties, rather than student bodies. HYS undoubtedly stand out among the pack, but beyond that, the schools don't break down in the same ways that law students break them down (e.g. "CCN" v. "MVP"). To most professors, Georgetown is far more prestigious than, say, Duke or Michigan because of its location and (because of its location) it attracts many more heavyweight scholars than the more isolated schools.
So, to answer your question, I don't think law professors break law schools down in the same way that students do.
This makes sense, but I'd imagine when this generation's law students end up as Deans and other such roles, that things will quickly change. My experience (as a student) has been that schools either want someone who is individually prestigious or if they don't have a reputation, at least comes from a school that is as equal or more prestigious. At CLS nearly all the professors are from HYS, with a handful from Columbia or NYU. Anyone else is an "expert" in some "hot" sub-category, and only teaches that area. My K professor was a great example of this, one of the few profs with a state school (non-Cali) undergrad but went to Chicago for his JD and ended up clerking for Judge Posner.
The situation with current faculty is that they only had a rough idea of where a school might fall. One heavyweight scholar with a big presence at a law school might make an otherwise mediocre school seem much more prestigious. That's still a factor, but it won't move a #13 school any farther than a rank or two above its current position in our current generation's minds.
I'm always wondering if I could go back and at least lecture for my alma mater or another similarly ranked school someday. I had a "business law" lecturer who was also went to undergrad and law school at UT-Austin, just like my K professor it was such an easy topic to teach. You get to talk about funny cases, do some Socratic questioning, play "hide the ball" and generally the class loves it. Even better is that unlike the prof, our lecturer only had to "grade" a few multiple choice exams. He just developed a "script" over the years that was highly entertaining and thus he ends up collecting a low six-figure salary plus another 30k-100k in teaching awards every so often since he is always near the top of the rankings in course evaluations.
Your perceptions will change if and when you enter academia. I think there's little chance that schools will gravitate towards hiring sloths (publication-wise) who graduated from Yale and held SCOTUS clerkships. Too many schools have already been burned by hiring these types of folks, without regard to scholarly potential. I seriously doubt legal academia will regress to systematically favoring a graduate of a school ranked #7 over #9 , and I seriously doubt professors will ignore publication records of faculty members in considering the strength of a school.
Keep in mind that the vast majority of professors do not work at T20 schools. To a TLS'er, a school like SMU or Florida State may be a rancid toilet, but for something in the academic area, those are pretty damn good schools to find a job at.