BigLaw to College prof?

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BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Anonymous User » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:07 pm

Anyone have experience moving from
law to a college professor position that is at least tangentially related to law (like history, philosophy, etc.)? I don’t think I have the creds to be a law professor, but the idea of being a college prof even at a significant pay cut down to 60-80k eventually sounds pretty sweet.

nixy

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:15 pm

Do you have a PhD in any of those fields? Have you taught at the college level? Have you published in those fields?

Getting a job as a college professor, especially in any of the law-adjacent fields, is insanely competitive. You’ll be competing with people who have PhDs in the subject with multiple publications and significant teaching experience.

Community colleges won’t generally be so interested in publications, but academia is so difficult to enter, you’ll still be competing with people who have PhDs, or at least MAs with lots of teaching experience. You will occasionally come across JDs working at community colleges, but it’s less common than it used to be because there’s a huge oversupply of PhDs (and MAs) in the pertinent fields.

You probably have better creds to be a law prof than a non-law prof.

(It’s also a usually a much crappier job than most people expect, although admittedly compared to biglaw it’s probably somewhat better.)

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by anon121 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:18 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:07 pm
Anyone have experience moving from
law to a college professor position that is at least tangentially related to law (like history, philosophy, etc.)? I don’t think I have the creds to be a law professor, but the idea of being a college prof even at a significant pay cut down to 60-80k eventually sounds pretty sweet.
I don't have any experience with this, but my brother-in-law is a college professor. To be honest, the job market is pretty abysmal in terms of tenure-track positions. He went to a top 10 political science program, and most of his peers landed at tiny liberal arts schools in the middle of nowhere or adjunct/lecturer jobs at larger universities. With that said, I bet you would be competitive for adjunct/lecturer jobs. You could probably pick up an adjunct job at a university and then teach classes at community college, which might put you at $60K.

nixy

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 18, 2020 3:31 pm

It might. But pay per adjunct course, according to a report earlier this year, ranges from less than $2,000 to over $7,000 (about 5% of adjuncts in the study made $7000+ per course). This is frequently without health care or other benefits. You have to get rehired every semester or at most year. And putting together courses at multiple institutions is pretty miserable.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by crazywafflez » Wed Nov 18, 2020 4:18 pm

Hey, I'm an adjunct prof in history/poli theory. Academia is super competitive. The JD won't really net you anything except for in the legal field or adjacent- most places require a PhD now or the equivalent to teach except CCs. There are still spots for MAs but those are few and far between.
I have a few friends who received credentials from top 10 programs (and if you want to teach in humanities you'll need this nowadays- plus publications etc) and most are being shoveled around. They'll get a couple credit course loads on a 2 year stint and be shipped up somewhere else in the country. It is insanely tough to get tenured.
I've been really lucky, I just teach the same two classes. I basically got my gig through connections and publications.
My pay is basically nothing (I get about 3k per 3 credit course). I receive no benefits. If I were doing a full course load I do think I'd be offered benefits. A full course load is 4-5 classes and yours may vary depending on research intensive/ publication demands etc. I've never heard of someone teaching just a couple classes and getting 80k for non-tenured lecturer position- this could happen at top research Us though (I teach at a pretty small college and most of the fulltime non assoc profs make about 50). I do this on the side while going to law school. Not sure I'll be able to continue the practice once I finish, although my firm seemed willing if I didn't cut too much into work time.
Feel free to pm me if you've got any questions; i'm not in competitive R2s or anything so can't really help you there.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Iowahawk » Wed Nov 18, 2020 6:27 pm

Humanities academia is probably the most competitive professional career path in the U.S. Unless you were a J.D./Ph.D. it will be very hard to make a living at. Even if you had one (I assume you don't or you wouldn't be asking TLS this) it would still be very hard and you'd likely have to move across the country. Maybe consider just teaching high school history or debate or something? If you're more into teaching than research many districts pay in the vicinity of your requirements and it's a much less competitive and more stable career. There are many one-year teacher licensure programs and districts will value your professional experience.

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Definitely Not North

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Definitely Not North » Wed Nov 18, 2020 7:41 pm

100% anecdote but i know someone from my LS class who did this a year or two ago. Picked up an associate (or assistant, whatever the bottom tenure track one is) professor position teaching hirstory/poli sci/something like that at their decently prestigious undergrad school (where i imagine they knew a lot of the faculty) after 3 years or so in biglaw.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by PrinterInk » Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:53 pm

Consider this: teaching AP US history at a top high school, your students will be smarter and more intellectually engaged than the people you would run into at whatever shit college you’d have a chance at getting an adjunct job at. You could get paid your $60-80k per year and have way better job security and benefits than an adjunct. Plus, maybe people hiring at a fancy high school will be impressed by your JD, whereas no college poli sci or history department will.

I went to a fancy HS and my AP US history teacher published books that had decent readership and spoke at conferences, so it’s not like it’s any more of a dead end than the average non-tenure college teaching job.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:04 pm

Yeah, I agree that if you're in it for the teaching, teaching at a good high school is often going to be a better experience. I have a number of PhD friends who do this.

If you're interested because it just looks like a cool gig, there's a shitload of (often very boring) work behind the scenes that students don't see.

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Lacepiece23

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Lacepiece23 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:18 pm

Might be easier to just teach at a law school. I know three people that did it. My one close friend published before and while in biglaw. He then did a clerkship. Then, he snagged a prof at a T70. He currently is tenured after about four years of teaching.

He’s also pretty driven and kind of a unicorn.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by 2013 » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:35 pm

PrinterInk wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 10:53 pm
Consider this: teaching AP US history at a top high school, your students will be smarter and more intellectually engaged than the people you would run into at whatever shit college you’d have a chance at getting an adjunct job at. You could get paid your $60-80k per year and have way better job security and benefits than an adjunct. Plus, maybe people hiring at a fancy high school will be impressed by your JD, whereas no college poli sci or history department will.

I went to a fancy HS and my AP US history teacher published books that had decent readership and spoke at conferences, so it’s not like it’s any more of a dead end than the average non-tenure college teaching job.
A lot of nicer areas pay teachers with advanced degrees close to or above $100k after a few years of teaching, and many teachers in those districts have PhDs (and most have masters degrees).

I think it’d be a pretty great outcome for someone who wants a laid back teaching job.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by nixy » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:46 pm

Lacepiece23 wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:18 pm
Might be easier to just teach at a law school. I know three people that did it. My one close friend published before and while in biglaw. He then did a clerkship. Then, he snagged a prof at a T70. He currently is tenured after about four years of teaching.

He’s also pretty driven and kind of a unicorn.
Yeah, I think if you have a JD and want academia, legal academia is actually easier than non-legal.

It's still not *easy* at all, but easier.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Sackboy » Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:03 pm

nixy wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:46 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:18 pm
Might be easier to just teach at a law school. I know three people that did it. My one close friend published before and while in biglaw. He then did a clerkship. Then, he snagged a prof at a T70. He currently is tenured after about four years of teaching.

He’s also pretty driven and kind of a unicorn.
Yeah, I think if you have a JD and want academia, legal academia is actually easier than non-legal.

It's still not *easy* at all, but easier.
Grabbing legal academia is definitely significantly easier.

In regular academia, you go through 5-7 years of making $30,000-$40,000/yr. at a top 10 PhD institution in your field and probably have less than a 30% chance in most fields of having your first job be a TT job. Most likely, you'll roll through a post-doc paying $50,000/yr. and then a non-TT position for a few years before you can land a TT gig, and your TT gig might be in the literal middle of nowhere.

In contrast, you can go to a top 14 (or maybe even top 20 law school), which is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to do, spend only 3 years in school (and have a great scholarship if you're the same type of candidate that could land a top 10 PhD program), move into BigLaw for 2-3 years making $190,000+, spend a year clerking, which would be about $100,000/yr. after 2-3 years of experience, and then go VAP for $70,000-$80,000/yr. At that point, you should have enough time to get some 22-25 year olds to accept 2-3 publications in decent law reviews and will be very competitive for a TT-job somewhere. Unlike other places, very few law schools are in the middle of nowhere, so you're going to land at a good place, and many TT assistant professors of law make as much as FULL professors in the humanities or associate professors in many other fields. You also get tenured and the full professor title and pay in 5 years (tenure can take 10 years and full professor can take 20 years in many other disciplines).

Yeah, you jump through more hoops for law, but your income and quality of life is significantly better and if you don't make it you can still have a great legal career making good money instead of landing in adjunct or non-TT hell.

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Pomeranian

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Pomeranian » Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:14 pm

Unless you have a PhD from a top 10 program, it's highly unlikely you will ever be able to land a tenure track job in academia.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Anonymous User » Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:28 am

Sackboy wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:03 pm
nixy wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:46 pm
Lacepiece23 wrote:
Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:18 pm
Might be easier to just teach at a law school. I know three people that did it. My one close friend published before and while in biglaw. He then did a clerkship. Then, he snagged a prof at a T70. He currently is tenured after about four years of teaching.

He’s also pretty driven and kind of a unicorn.
Yeah, I think if you have a JD and want academia, legal academia is actually easier than non-legal.

It's still not *easy* at all, but easier.
Grabbing legal academia is definitely significantly easier.

In regular academia, you go through 5-7 years of making $30,000-$40,000/yr. at a top 10 PhD institution in your field and probably have less than a 30% chance in most fields of having your first job be a TT job. Most likely, you'll roll through a post-doc paying $50,000/yr. and then a non-TT position for a few years before you can land a TT gig, and your TT gig might be in the literal middle of nowhere.

In contrast, you can go to a top 14 (or maybe even top 20 law school), which is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to do, spend only 3 years in school (and have a great scholarship if you're the same type of candidate that could land a top 10 PhD program), move into BigLaw for 2-3 years making $190,000+, spend a year clerking, which would be about $100,000/yr. after 2-3 years of experience, and then go VAP for $70,000-$80,000/yr. At that point, you should have enough time to get some 22-25 year olds to accept 2-3 publications in decent law reviews and will be very competitive for a TT-job somewhere. Unlike other places, very few law schools are in the middle of nowhere, so you're going to land at a good place, and many TT assistant professors of law make as much as FULL professors in the humanities or associate professors in many other fields. You also get tenured and the full professor title and pay in 5 years (tenure can take 10 years and full professor can take 20 years in many other disciplines).

Yeah, you jump through more hoops for law, but your income and quality of life is significantly better and if you don't make it you can still have a great legal career making good money instead of landing in adjunct or non-TT hell.
This is not accurate. Legal academia has gotten much much more competitive than it used to be.

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Re: BigLaw to College prof?

Post by Sackboy » Sat Nov 21, 2020 2:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Sat Nov 21, 2020 8:28 am
Sackboy wrote:
Thu Nov 19, 2020 11:03 pm

Grabbing legal academia is definitely significantly easier.

In regular academia, you go through 5-7 years of making $30,000-$40,000/yr. at a top 10 PhD institution in your field and probably have less than a 30% chance in most fields of having your first job be a TT job. Most likely, you'll roll through a post-doc paying $50,000/yr. and then a non-TT position for a few years before you can land a TT gig, and your TT gig might be in the literal middle of nowhere.

In contrast, you can go to a top 14 (or maybe even top 20 law school), which is SIGNIFICANTLY easier to do, spend only 3 years in school (and have a great scholarship if you're the same type of candidate that could land a top 10 PhD program), move into BigLaw for 2-3 years making $190,000+, spend a year clerking, which would be about $100,000/yr. after 2-3 years of experience, and then go VAP for $70,000-$80,000/yr. At that point, you should have enough time to get some 22-25 year olds to accept 2-3 publications in decent law reviews and will be very competitive for a TT-job somewhere. Unlike other places, very few law schools are in the middle of nowhere, so you're going to land at a good place, and many TT assistant professors of law make as much as FULL professors in the humanities or associate professors in many other fields. You also get tenured and the full professor title and pay in 5 years (tenure can take 10 years and full professor can take 20 years in many other disciplines).

Yeah, you jump through more hoops for law, but your income and quality of life is significantly better and if you don't make it you can still have a great legal career making good money instead of landing in adjunct or non-TT hell.
This is not accurate. Legal academia has gotten much much more competitive than it used to be.
Legal academia has gotten more competitive. It's still a significantly easier grab than regular academia in almost every field, and it leaves plenty of viable $$$ earning options on the table while you try your hand in the teaching market every cycle.

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