Going to Law School to Teach

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wehman
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Going to Law School to Teach

Postby wehman » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:14 am

I know that the T14 are obviously the schools to shoot for because they traditionally place JD's into teaching positions. However, I was talking with a Professor the other day who said that, sure, the top schools place you into other top schools but going to a decent school can place you into an equally decent, or worse school. The debt of law school would be worse than the starting pay as a law professor but usually, law professors make pretty good money in comparison to other starting professors.

I am very interested in living the professorial life and teaching. Unfortunately, getting into a top PhD in Philosophy and then actually finding a job at a college with it is unbelievably difficult. Therefore, I have considered law school as a means to teaching. I know I would probably need to practice for a few years -- that makes sense. If I could get a degree at an okay school, practice for a few years regionally, and then teach at a TTTT school like College of Charleston, I could confidently say I was living a happy life. I'm more interested in my profession and location than I am the paycheck.

I was wondering if any of you could confirm this advice from my professor? That it is not impossible to get into a teach position at a law school at these lower ranked law schools so long as you go to a better school?

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vanwinkle
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby vanwinkle » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:22 am

No.

1) There are enough folks from the T14 who want to be professors and can't find work. The teaching market is insanely saturated.

2) Hiring of academics is, in part, prestige-oriented. There are plenty of T6 grads who will be eager to take any open spots, and all other things being equal, they're going to do better than you. Schools just like being able to advertise that their professors were trained at Yale, or Harvard, or etc.

3) To be fair, it's not impossible. Yes, there's a chance. But that chance is so small as to be meaningless when making a decision, especially since the things that are going to be required of you just to get your foot in the door (a high GPA, demonstrated excellent publishing ability) are things you can't predict that you'll be one of the very few in a position to even have a chance at this.

duckmoney
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby duckmoney » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:23 am

Take a look at the faculty of these lower tier schools.

Take Stetson, for instance, a T3 school.

The first professors that come up went to:

Emory (Yale LLM)
Columbia
Franklin Pierce
Texas
UVA
Emory
Rutgers

I'd say it looks like you could make it from some mid-range schools, but you have a much better chance from the top programs based on this.

Drop down to a T4 school, FIU:

Harvard
Harvard
Florida
Georgetown
Harvard
Yale

Again, there are some people from not great law schools, but the majority went to the top ones. I'd say you could theoretically make it into academia from a lower school, but I wouldn't risk $200,000 of debt on it. Or $1000, for that matter.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby Anonymous Loser » Tue Apr 19, 2011 10:25 am

wehman wrote:I was talking with a Professor the other day who said that, sure, the top schools place you into other top schools but going to a decent school can place you into an equally decent, or worse school.
I was wondering if any of you could confirm this advice from my professor? That it is not impossible to get into a teach position at a law school at these lower ranked law schools so long as you go to a better school?


While it's not impossible, it's extraordinarily unlikely you'll be hired as a law professor without exception academic credentials. Entry-level hiring data is readily available; the handful of new professors hired that lack a T14 pedigree typically have substantial work/clerking experience and/or a Phd/MA/LLM in a desirable field. Your professor is poorly informed.


See: http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblaw ... hread.html

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Wholigan
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby Wholigan » Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:16 pm

It would be a very poor idea to go to law school as a means to "living the professorial life." (What is that exactly? Being able to grow a beard and smoke a pipe all the time?)

wehman wrote:Unfortunately, getting into a top PhD in Philosophy and then actually finding a job at a college with it is unbelievably difficult.

Doing the corresponding thing with law school is probably exponentially more difficult. Approximately 20,000 doctoral degrees per year are awarded per year in the U.S., with approximately 3,200 new professorships opening each year. (Source = The Economist)

On the other hand, there are 45,000 JDs awarded each year. How many new tenure-stream law faculty positions do you think there are every year? I couldn't find the answer, but I would guess that it's somewhere between 200-400 (each law school appointing one or two per year on average). Do the math. Which one seems more "unbelievably difficult" to you??

ETA: I didn't notice the previous poster's link to 2011 entry level hiring. I'm not sure if it's a comprehensive list, but it only shows 121 new hires, which is even less than I estimated.

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby YaSvoboden » Fri Apr 22, 2011 4:32 pm

Wholigan wrote:ETA: I didn't notice the previous poster's link to 2011 entry level hiring. I'm not sure if it's a comprehensive list, but it only shows 121 new hires, which is even less than I estimated.


It looks like self-reported data, so I doubt it is complete, but it is a pretty good indicator that should have a J.D. from a top school if you are interested in teaching at a law school and enjoying the professor's life.

I am also interested in the academia path, but I really can't say if I would like it at a law school (I've never been, how would I know.) I think I would be pretty happy teaching taxation in an accounting or business school though and it seems like the JD/LLM route works well for this. Can anyone comment on the possibility of that (I know a couple professors that have done this and looked at school's web sites and it seems doable, but not too commonplace.)

I am also considering an accounting PhD, or even both, but that is a lot of school and I would like professional opportunities besides teaching, which the PhD doesn't really give.

OP, looking at the data, if you go to a lower end school hoping to teach, it seems like you will need to go get that PhD anyway to have a decent chance at landing a job.

keg411
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby keg411 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:09 pm

Most of the people from lower ranked schools end up teaching fall into one of three categories:
1) LRW - usually after significant work experience
2) Clinical - usually after significant work experience
3) Adjuncts - usually still working in their field

I'd say the same goes even for those that go to Yale -- you need to actively DO something to get into academia (mostly PUBLISH, PUBLISH, PUBLISH, but a significant number profs have BigLaw experience as well).

bhan87
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby bhan87 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:20 pm

I'd only count on teaching if I were going to Yale.

The typical path for a law professor seems to be: COA clerkship -> Significant WE -> Professorship

Although, a pretty significant amount go COA clerkship -> SCOTUS Clerkship -> Significant WE -> Professorship

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vanwinkle
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby vanwinkle » Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:27 pm

bhan87 wrote:I'd only count on teaching if I were going to Yale.

The typical path for a law professor seems to be: COA clerkship -> Significant WE -> Professorship

Although, a pretty significant amount go COA clerkship -> SCOTUS Clerkship -> Significant WE -> Professorship

This.

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vamedic03
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby vamedic03 » Sat Apr 23, 2011 6:20 pm

Typical path is becoming more like:

HYS(or top of class at T10) -> COA -> 2-3 years at top Big Law -> 1-2 year fellowship (or VAP) -> Tenure Track

Bumi
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby Bumi » Mon Apr 25, 2011 11:59 pm

Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?

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king3780
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby king3780 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:13 am

Just thought I'd chime in to say that I go to a school in the 80s and other than one alum of the school, in two years here the lowest ranked school any of my profs went to was Penn.

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king3780
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby king3780 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:18 am

Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?

I think that's b/c the perception is being a partner or judge is really difficult and time consuming and that being a prof is a walk in the park. I think law school profs teaching the same courses for 30 years and have a good publishing routine (or don't have to publish anymore b/c they're tenured) have a pretty sweet gig. For newer profs, it seems like a crazy job. I worked as a research assistant this year for a first-year prof and he's working on three journal articles, has meetings to go to, classes to teach and spends a ton of time on class prep since he's obviously never taught these classes before.

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YaSvoboden
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby YaSvoboden » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:30 am

Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?


The perceived sweet life that king wrote about is definitely part of the desire to be a professor. But, I would also say that most people that express interest in big law have some interest in becoming a partner, the path seems a lot more obvious to me. Get big law, don't wash out or choose to leave, ????, profit. That could be off, but I would imagine not by much.

All I know about being a judge is that you get to wear a robe and carry a hammer. That does appeal to me, but I figure there is more to it than that and maybe after interacting with them for a few years it would seem like an option that's really worth looking into.

I really think this comes from the fact that 0Ls have been around professors enough to have a real idea of what it is like, but don't know much about those other prestigious career-end goals.

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birdlaw117
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby birdlaw117 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:38 am

Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?

Those are the three options that appeal to me most (duh). But it seems like becoming a judge or a partner (read: biglaw) is so small its not very worthwhile to discuss. I'll definitely try and work toward those things, but part of the reason is because if I aim for those paths and fall short, I can still be pretty successful. But yeah, I think people don't always talk about some of those options because they are so far down the road and there are a lot of pre-requisites before they even become remotely realistic.

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vamedic03
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby vamedic03 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 7:43 am

birdlaw117 wrote:
Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?

Those are the three options that appeal to me most (duh). But it seems like becoming a judge or a partner (read: biglaw) is so small its not very worthwhile to discuss. I'll definitely try and work toward those things, but part of the reason is because if I aim for those paths and fall short, I can still be pretty successful. But yeah, I think people don't always talk about some of those options because they are so far down the road and there are a lot of pre-requisites before they even become remotely realistic.


You're probably more likely to become a big law partner than a Top 25 (or even 50) tenured law professor.

aliarrow
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby aliarrow » Tue Apr 26, 2011 8:23 am

wehman wrote:I know that the T14 are obviously the schools to shoot for because they traditionally place JD's into teaching positions. However, I was talking with a Professor the other day who said that, sure, the top schools place you into other top schools but going to a decent school can place you into an equally decent, or worse school. The debt of law school would be worse than the starting pay as a law professor but usually, law professors make pretty good money in comparison to other starting professors.

I am very interested in living the professorial life and teaching. Unfortunately, getting into a top PhD in Philosophy and then actually finding a job at a college with it is unbelievably difficult. Therefore, I have considered law school as a means to teaching. I know I would probably need to practice for a few years -- that makes sense. If I could get a degree at an okay school, practice for a few years regionally, and then teach at a TTTT school like College of Charleston, I could confidently say I was living a happy life. I'm more interested in my profession and location than I am the paycheck.

I was wondering if any of you could confirm this advice from my professor? That it is not impossible to get into a teach position at a law school at these lower ranked law schools so long as you go to a better school?


Get the PhD if you're set on teaching. It may be difficult, but but it'll be easier than becomming a law professor.
Look into Psych if you just want to teach, my UG was T50 and every psych professor just went to random state schools for their PhDs

tycho_brahe
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby tycho_brahe » Wed Apr 27, 2011 3:47 pm

some of this pessimism is a little over the top. it is much harder to get into academia without a top degree, but this can be overcome by publishing quality work. i think if you're serious about it, and start working towards the goal from day one at law school, it can be achieved (though you might have to get an LLM or something afterwards). this means connecting with your profs and letting them know you want to teach, and graduating with two quality publishable articles. this, plus great grades, gives you a shot.

also, all non-T14 law schools are not created equal, some are much more well respected than others. the usnews rankings are a good indicator, but also look at Brian Leiter's faculty ratings, as well as considering the overall research strength of the university (i.e. Big 10 schools might have an edge over similarly ranked schools that are more undergrad-focused, but this is just a hunch and probably biased).

all that said, lots of people would like to be legal academics, but really don't have the intellectual ability or interest to do so. if they went to a top school, they might still get a job, but otherwise they have no shot. research and publishing are the most important aspects of a law profs job and make up the bulk of their work. if you don't want to do that, and would like to just teach, then don't plan on becoming a law professor. look for an adjunct gig down the line instead.

source: conversations with numerous law profs on the topic.

wehman
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby wehman » Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:49 pm

I want to teach. I like Philosophy, especially Philosophy of Law and Moral Theory. These two components can be applied to Law in some form or another. Not to mention, Law has Philosophical characteristics.

I want the "professorial life" because I like the idea of helping people. I am less concerned with making loads of money and more concerned with financial security. This level of security can be easily achieved by Professors of Law. In addition, there is much more vacation time, much more theoretical writing, and flexibility.

I figured there would need to be work experience after the degree. I respect all of your comments but I still think the element of publishing is being underestimated. Those paths everyone suggested only fit a very small percentage of Law graduates. I know people have looked up the faculty of certain schools but surely the professors at schools 75-Cooley are not all T14 grads. I think more often than not, people like the idea of teaching, get work experience, enjoy their salary, develop a lifetsyle around that pay check, and then do not want to take a cut in pay to become a Professor. On the other hand, if you knew it is what you wanted to do all along, I am sure strategically I could figure it out, even if I wasn't coming from Yale. Undeniably though, Yale would make things a hell of a lot easier.

whymeohgodno
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby whymeohgodno » Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:50 pm

wehman wrote:I want to teach. I like Philosophy, especially Philosophy of Law and Moral Theory. These two components can be applied to Law in some form or another. Not to mention, Law has Philosophical characteristics.

I want the "professorial life" because I like the idea of helping people. I am less concerned with making loads of money and more concerned with financial security. This level of security can be easily achieved by Professors of Law. In addition, there is much more vacation time, much more theoretical writing, and flexibility.

I figured there would need to be work experience after the degree. I respect all of your comments but I still think the element of publishing is being underestimated. Those paths everyone suggested only fit a very small percentage of Law graduates. I know people have looked up the faculty of certain schools but surely the professors at schools 75-Cooley are not all T14 grads. I think more often than not, people like the idea of teaching, get work experience, enjoy their salary, develop a lifetsyle around that pay check, and then do not want to take a cut in pay to become a Professor. On the other hand, if you knew it is what you wanted to do all along, I am sure strategically I could figure it out, even if I wasn't coming from Yale. Undeniably though, Yale would make things a hell of a lot easier.


Look up those professor jobs. Why wouldn't they be from T14 shcools? They offer financial security and a great lifestyle sought by many.

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acrossthelake
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby acrossthelake » Wed Apr 27, 2011 4:59 pm

Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?


I'd like to be a judge, but the odds are long so I'm not going to worry about it yet.

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vanwinkle
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby vanwinkle » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:02 pm

wehman wrote:I want the "professorial life" because I like the idea of helping people.

How, exactly, does becoming a law professor "help people"?

(I ask as someone who used to think along the same lines myself, until I realized there was no good answer to that question.)

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DeeCee
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby DeeCee » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:05 pm

I like research. OP do you want to teach to do research, or just mainly because you want to "help people"? Not to derail too much, but vanwinkle, what types of law professions involve publishing or research besides being a professor?

aliarrow
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby aliarrow » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:06 pm

vanwinkle wrote:
wehman wrote:I want the "professorial life" because I like the idea of helping people.

How, exactly, does becoming a law professor "help people"?

(I ask as someone who used to think along the same lines myself, until I realized there was no good answer to that question.)


I don't know how well this applies to legal scholarship, but I'd consider expanding the scope of current knowledge as helping society.

firemed
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Re: Going to Law School to Teach

Postby firemed » Wed Apr 27, 2011 5:07 pm

Bumi wrote:Does anyone else think it's funny that every 0L wants to be a professor, but nobody wants to be a partner or a judge?



I want to be a judge.

I also thought professor would be kewl... but TLS killed that quicker than a squirrel on an interstate gets turned into redneck dinner.


Also, OP: If you get a PhD to go into the "professorial life" you have about the same chances as a grad from a T2 and below at getting there... but you won't have $200K in debt at the end if it doesn't work out. Think about it.




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