Do you aspire to become a law professor?

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typodragon
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Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby typodragon » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:42 pm

I notice that there are some people who talk about going to law school with the hope of becoming a legal professor. This translates to me as roughly equivalent to "Having never spoken a word of chinese in my life, I think it would be fun to learn chinese and then teach it to american high school kids."

I understand that legal academia has less than 1/1000th the requirement for actual scholarly contribution to anything at all of something like physics or economics or underwater basket-weaving, so maybe you're thinking that since you weren't at the top of your underwater basketweaving program at harvard undergrad that your tenure odds are much higher in law than in your original area. I get it. It's a lifestyle decision. What I don't understand is what would make a person who obviously doesn't actually want to be a lawyer spend 150 thousand dollars (no merit aid at yale) for a lottery ticket that just might possibly lead to the sugarcandy mountain of teaching something they have yet to ever study but has a much greater likelihood of leading to either debtor's prison or 65 hour workweeks.

Seriously, what's going on here? I'm baffled.

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kevsocko
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby kevsocko » Thu Feb 07, 2008 10:45 pm

do you aspire to come up with shitty threads?

USCtrojan86
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby USCtrojan86 » Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:10 pm

Boo. This was either terrible flame, terrible new shtick, or a genuinely dumb thread.

Allow me to deconstruct for you:

If someone attends a school that will give them a legit shot at making "professor" (which, realistically, is pretty much HYSChi and Columbia/NYU to a much lesser degree), they hardly need to be worrying about debtors prison. Ever. (Unless they lied on their application, or kill a man and rape his sister during 2L. Then they might not pass the bar.)

So what if Yale doesn't give merit aid? It's FREAKING YALE. Even graduating "low" in your class (which is of course relative rather than set because Yale has no numerical grades or rankings), you've still written your own ticket to V10 in whatever major market you want...at which point you suck it up and pay off those LS debts in a few short years while making a ludicrous salary and working terrible hours, and then move on with your life and do something else if you hate law. Wost case scenario, you break even. This same goes for H/S, and even the bottom of the class at CCN is hardly headed for the paupers house...maybe they'll have to settle for V50 or (gasp) V100 instead of V10....only $110k a year starting instead of $160. Oh noes! How will they survive? :roll:

So yeah. That, my friend, is why this thread is egregiously retarded. But thanks for playing.

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nonunique
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby nonunique » Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:19 pm

Some of us have been teaching for a while, but not in the field. Rather than with biology or chemistry (for instance), everyone here has some visceral experience with the law...and many of us have even more than that. The law isn't something taught exclusively in law schools. In fact, many "law" professors have no JD. Finally, most of us (partially evidenced by our presence on these boards) are capable of research and critical thinking. To suppose that people just walk up and go "huh...it says here that there are such things as law professors. I wonder what the hell that's like. K'hyuk!" is ludicrous.

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themillsman22
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby themillsman22 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:07 am

Yea, I'm not really sure I even follow the logic of the OP. If you get into HYSC (and to a lesser extent CNP), aiming to become a legal professor is a great career goal. Even if you never become a professor, as Trojan notes, you're still a grad from one of those schools and have great career prospects in general. It's certainly not "debtor's prison." It's not law professor or bust. If you're talented enough, or lucky enough, and become a professor, then you get the associated lifestyle. I don't see a major downside.

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nonunique
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby nonunique » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:11 am

Incidentally, although the schools now standardly referenced in regards to professor track certainly have substantially higher than "average" placement rates, none of them is even close to a 50/50 shot. Becoming a law prof at any level is very difficult. With that in mind, the fact that you don't/didn't go to HYSC(CN) (P is an outlier here) shouldn't keep you from trying...it's an EXTREMELY uphill battle anywhere...even at Yale.

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brokendowncar
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby brokendowncar » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:37 am

I would love to be a professor, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be a lawyer. I will enjoy it either way, teaching is just an option I will consider if I happen to be lucky enough to end up with that choice.

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themillsman22
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby themillsman22 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:45 am

I would love to be a professor, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be a lawyer. I will enjoy it either way, teaching is just an option I will consider if I happen to be lucky enough to end up with that choice.


My feelings exactly.

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:49 am

Incidentally, although the schools now standardly referenced in regards to professor track certainly have substantially higher than "average" placement rates, none of them is even close to a 50/50 shot. Becoming a law prof at any level is very difficult. With that in mind, the fact that you don't/didn't go to HYSC(CN) (P is an outlier here) shouldn't keep you from trying...it's an EXTREMELY uphill battle anywhere...even at Yale.


At my school, a Yale law grad who had great credentials (Yale's law Journal -- federal clerkship -- 10 articles published previously) candidate just got the ding stick. My school is WEAK. How's that for the state of legal academia. That shit is competitive.

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themillsman22
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby themillsman22 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:54 am

At my school, a Yale law grad who had great credentials (Yale's law Journal -- federal clerkship -- 10 articles published previously) candidate just got the ding stick. My school is WEAK. How's that for the state of legal academia. That shit is competitive.


Ouch.

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nonunique
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby nonunique » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:11 am

Exactly the point. Graduates from all kinds of schools (generally at least T1) make it in small numbers. Graduates from the best schools don't make it in huge numbers. So just do what you do. You'll obviously be better off at Yale rather than Loyola...but there are heavily credentialed Yale grads struggling more than Loyola grads out there.

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:23 am

Seriously, what's going on here? I'm baffled.


I just read the original post and the OP is a fool. Legal scholarship is on par with other disciplines as far as output. Law prof gigs are just as competitive, probably more so, than regular professor gigs. It's a whole another set of scholars at law school. I go to a lower-ranked T1 and every professor I've had is at the top of their game. Legends. You read their books. They've clerked for all the big names. They're the real deal.

I saw this phenomenon in one other place: Conservatory. That's the only place you can go and find similar difficulty of placement because of the entrenchment of the greats.

Nobody seriously considering academia in law thinks they have a good shot of getting it. It's a long process and it's super competitive the whole way. The proposition that law students are trying to shirk and saunter into a field that has less "actual scholarly contribution" (a dubious claim) thereby backdooring themselves into the ivory tower is ridiculous.

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nonunique
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby nonunique » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:25 am

In OP's defense (though he/she may not deserve it) the fact that law is one of the few fields where "scholarship" isn't even peer reviewed makes it a step below virtually every other. Fortunately for us hopefuls, the pay appears to exactly opposite. ;)

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:29 am

It's not peer reviewed in the traditional sense, but I think that's because legal issues are very fresh and need to be published quickly while a subject is ripe. It's not a product of legal academia slacking off, it's a practice of a) training those on law review to publish b) allowing a quicker method to publication to better address ripe subjects.

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nonunique
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby nonunique » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:35 am

It's not a product of legal academia slacking off, it's a practice of a) training those on law review to publish b) allowing a quicker method to publication to better address ripe subjects.


I (and others...read prawfsblog or moneylaw) beg to differ. Given the finite, small number of schools, journals, and ultimately articles, there could be academic peer review. The fact of the matter is that those academics are too busy researching and writing to review. Regardless, having the keys to publishing in the hands of students who haven't even completed a legal education (much less done substantial research on any given subject) is a little ridiculous. The empirical evidence is fairly convincing that they choose authors at appropriate institutions rather than authors with appropriate writing/subject-matter.

The timeframe argument isn't as meaningful given the small number of cases on the SCOTUS dockets and the inanity of many a LR article.

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 3:16 am

The fact of the matter is that those academics are too busy researching and writing to review.


Then this also cuts against the OP's original contention that law professorship is the cloak and dagger method of obtaining tenure in an academic institution.

Also, I read prawsblog and moneylaw and it seems their main criticism isn't the method of publication by law professors, but rather that law profs are poorly selected and given tenure based on crappy indicators - one or two "in progress" papers and a classroom visit. As you might imagine, I really like Jeff Harrison's views on the subject.

Second, the institutional bias would still remain even if students weren't selecting articles. Blind selection of articles is what's needed -- not dissolving of the current law review system.

I can think of several other reasons for why the law professors don't need peer review. Law isn't a science, no matter how many times people try to cram the deductive reasoning crap down our throats. It's an art. Peer-review has much less utility when there is less of a roadblock to getting the free exchange of ideas out there.

One point you and I agree on here is that unexperienced law review members may not be able to select "the best" articles for publication. Oftentimes, that's why they revert to signaling devices (degree granting institution, where taught, etc) to pick for them. I don't think that's in the best interest. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I think that the way law reviews work now provide an excellent opportunity for those members, and it would be a shame to see such a tradition dissolved.

Lastly, most law review articles are not keyed to SCOTUS decisions. Maybe student note cases, but rapidly developing areas in the law (chill-effect of Cease-and-Desist letters; Taxable Warcraft Characters?) may never see the docket of the High Nine. The timing issue is still relevant and the law review process as it stands now provides an effective outlet for this scholarship.

Thanks nonunique, now I'm up past my bedtime and I'll be tired. If I get a B this semester - I'm driving to Chicago and punching down walls Rampage style.

typodragon
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby typodragon » Fri Feb 08, 2008 8:24 am

a few points, if I may.

1) I appreciate that an industrious graduate of yale will not be wanting for food in all likelihood. My point about debtor's prison was merely a bit of hyperbole. You will note that I mentioned the alternative, which is working 65 hour weeks. Since law professors work like 6 hour weeks, that's basically the complete and total opposite of the lifestyle spectrum.

2) So you've been teaching middle schoolers and it was fun. Or maybe you got your masters in something that you found out was worthless (financially or however), but you really enjoyed the aspect of bossing around undergrads. This does not explain to me why a person would pick a totally new field, one which has immense barriers to entry, and hope to become a teacher in that field before having any experience in it at all. Maybe some people will have somehow worked in law or something close to it, so they'll have some insight, but I can't believe that this is anything but a minority. Watching Law & Order is not insight.

3) My understanding, from listening to both pracitioners and a few law professors, is that legal scholarship and competitiveness is an absolute joke. No practitioner remotely cares what the professors have to say; they're actually quite vocal about the totally useless nature of legal scholarship. And this is before you get to interdisciplinary work, which is rather in vogue. Though this may be changing, I understand that it tends to be of substantially lower quality than work that would have been acceptable in the original non-legal discipline. Additionally, tenure is allegedly almost assured at most institutions so long as you don't screw up. There is no real tenure review in place at almost all schools. You go there, and you make some friends, and don't piss people off. Boom, 4 years later you're tenured. Indeed, it was the institution of some sort of tenure review that has caused northwestern to experience an exodus of some faculty over the last few years because they realized that they were seeing an end to the dole. The only thing legitimately "competitive" about it is that so many people realize that it sounds like a really great way to get paid a fortune to do nothing that people who don't go to yale get shafted irrespective of any quality to their work, which of course is almost nothing because these people are basically selected on the basis of their grades and maybe a note or two.

4) I am merely trying to point out the irrationality in going to law school with the aim of becoming an academic. I expect that many people are going with the notion that they would be fine being an academic but would be perfectly happy as a divorce lawyer. I have zero problem with this. My problem is with anyone going into it without any actual interest in being a lawyer.

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:33 am

I am merely trying to point out the irrationality in going to law school with the aim of becoming an academic.


I'd agree with you here. My personal view that people who attend law school and have no aspirations of practicing are ridiculous. Who attends dental school and wants to be a florist.

Luxor
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby Luxor » Fri Feb 08, 2008 9:35 am

I understand that legal academia has less than 1/1000th the requirement for actual scholarly contribution to anything at all of something like physics or economics or underwater basket-weaving


As someone who majored in two of those subjects, with strong undergraduate research in both, I can guarantee you that >95% of academic research in those topics is an insane waste of time and money, especially in physics. Many of us budding academic researchers got out of the game before, during, or even after getting a PhD and moved to law (and law professorships), medicine, finance, et al. because we didn't like the prospect of spending a lifetime measuring Planck's constant to yet another decimal point.

So, when one's inclinations are theoretical and academic, and the choice is between becoming a law professor who can teach people relevant things and do research on relevant topics versus a lifetime in research whose result will probably be of little consequence to anything, it's hard to ignore the calling of the former.

Ulfrekr
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby Ulfrekr » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:37 pm

Luxor, you majored in physics and underwater basket weaving? Solid.

USCtrojan86
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby USCtrojan86 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 1:44 pm

I just read the original post and the OP is a fool. Legal scholarship is on par with other disciplines as far as output. Law prof gigs are just as competitive, probably more so, than regular professor gigs. It's a whole another set of scholars at law school. I go to a lower-ranked T1 and every professor I've had is at the top of their game. Legends. You read their books. They've clerked for all the big names. They're the real deal.

I saw this phenomenon in one other place: Conservatory. That's the only place you can go and find similar difficulty of placement because of the entrenchment of the greats.


TITMFCR 180.

The more I learn/hear about law school and the legal profession, the more parallels I find myself drawing with competitive music conservatories/programs and the classical music profession.

Shit is ruthless, unbelievably competitive, high stakes, and only the very top of either profession really makes the $$$ associated with "prestigiousness" like being a performing classical musician or having "Esquire" after your name on your business card.

I remember when a low pay, low power, low prestige teaching job (in the "keyboard skills" department, not even as a private teacher) opened up here at 'SC. The line of insanely qualified applicants (Having a Doctorate in Performance at a highly reputable university was a given, and if you didn't have previous high level teaching experience and strong showing at numerous national/international competitions, you didn't even get to audition) was literally out the door: and in the end, they ended up hiring no one and assigning a current member of the staff to do double duty as "interim" advisor.

So yeah. Music and law...who'da thunk it?

(Bonus trivia: both Schumann and Tchaikovsky originally studied to be lawyers because they were pushed into it by their parents.)

Ulfrekr
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby Ulfrekr » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:28 pm

For what it's worth, I've never spoken a word of Chinese in my life, and I think it would be hella fun to learn it and teach it to American high school kids.

Okay, that's a lie. My Chinese-speaking friend taught me how to say "Shut up, bitch," and, "I am an American. Will you be my American bride?" But other than that, I've never spoken a word.

06072010
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby 06072010 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:31 pm

I remember when a low pay, low power, low prestige teaching job (in the "keyboard skills" department, not even as a private teacher) opened up here at 'SC


It's the same for skills professors in law school (writing, legal research, trial practice); they're all ridiculously qualified, but just not the same caliber as the tenured.

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brokendowncar
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby brokendowncar » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:32 pm

Ulfrekr wrote:Okay, that's a lie. My Chinese-speaking friend taught me how to say "Shut up, bitch," and, "I am an American. Will you be my American bride?" But other than that, I've never spoken a word.

Those could both be pretty useful. I need a fluent friend.

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themillsman22
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Re: Do you aspire to become a law professor?

Postby themillsman22 » Fri Feb 08, 2008 2:36 pm

4) I am merely trying to point out the irrationality in going to law school with the aim of becoming an academic. I expect that many people are going with the notion that they would be fine being an academic but would be perfectly happy as a divorce lawyer. I have zero problem with this. My problem is with anyone going into it without any actual interest in being a lawyer.


Now that I can agree with.




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