Professor of Law Pathway

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En03l

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Professor of Law Pathway

Post by En03l » Mon Jan 13, 2020 10:34 am

I am curious about making a pathway to become a professor of law. I have heard that its very difficult if you were not a HYS or at least a T13 graduate. I plan to be a practicing attorney early in my career. Eventually, however, I would love to teach law as research and teaching are more of my passion. Is there any likely route for someone outside of HYS or T13 to become a professor of law?

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papermateflair

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by papermateflair » Mon Jan 13, 2020 11:04 am

It sounds like you haven't started law school yet, so I guess I would say that if your passion is teaching and research, then becoming a lawyer may not make sense. Professor jobs are few and far between, and they are very competitive - you usually need to have both attended a top school AND had a prestigious clerkship, followed by a series of fellowships/visiting lecturer roles. I don't think it's impossible to land a job as a professor from outside the top 20 schools, but getting that type of job from ANY school is far from guaranteed, and if you are truly, truly passionate about teaching then you are probably better off pursuing a teaching career in secondary education. If it's tenure-track faculty at a law school or bust for you, then I would not recommend attending a law school outside of the top 15 or 20.

On the other hand, if you want to supplement your legal career by teaching a class or two on the side while you practice (so, not a tenure track job), then you'll want to become one of the experts in your field in your location, and then make the appropriate connections with the school and other local practitioners. There are folks at my firm who teach a class a semester at one of our local law schools, and they really enjoy it, but they aren't trying to write/publish or become tenure-track faculty.

I think this advice from UT on becoming a professor is really realistic/helpful as well: https://law.utexas.edu/career/paths/aca ... professor/

FND

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by FND » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:12 pm

Couple things worth noting:

The main job of a full-time law professor is to publish articles. You need to love researching and writing articles, as you'll be expected to publish regularly. Teaching is almost a secondary function.
An adjunct, on the other hand, only needs to teach.

If you didn't go to HYS, it's a lot easier to work in a tertiary market that happens to have a law school. I'm not talking Cleveland, I'm talking places like Laramie WY, Jackson MI, Norman OK or Grand Forks ND. It shouldn't be too hard to network with law school faculty, and if they need to hire an adjunct, there's not a lot of competition.

Of course, finding a job in one of those markets might be the hardest part :cry:

En03l

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by En03l » Tue Jan 14, 2020 10:35 am

Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I am not dead set on being a tenured law professor, but having the ability to do some teaching on the side would be great. Becoming a lawyer is my primary goal, but still considering options for years down the road.

I am an 0L and know very little about the variety of legal career paths that can be followed, which is why I am asking this sort of question.

FND

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by FND » Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:21 pm

En03l wrote:Thanks for the thoughtful replies. I am not dead set on being a tenured law professor, but having the ability to do some teaching on the side would be great. Becoming a lawyer is my primary goal, but still considering options for years down the road.

I am an 0L and know very little about the variety of legal career paths that can be followed, which is why I am asking this sort of question.
Legal career paths:

1) law professor. Unless you get into HYS, probably not gonna happen.
2) biglaw. Must get into the T14 to have a reasonable chance. Attrition rate of 16% per year, so out of a starting class of 100 half are gone within 5 years, and only a third survive long enough to even be considered for partnership (better odds than I expected)
3) midlaw. the best way to get there is to start in biglaw and lateral to a firm offering marginally better hours for a fraction of the salary. The harder way is to start somewhere smaller and work your way up
4) sh-tlaw. Insurance defense, low level criminal, cheap divorces, basic wills. 50/50 chance of making more than the interest on your student loans if you go sticker
5) IP. Must have a solid science degree. Most attorneys have no idea what IP does, neither do I, so I can't comment on it.
6) Prosecutor. I'm sure you've seen law & order. How hard it is to get depends on the location and the office. Federal prosecutor in NY is much harder than county prosecutor in b-ttf-ck Iowa
7) Judge. Best way to get there is to be a prosecutor, or maybe a defense attorney, and suck the right political *&*&, so they'll appoint you when there's an opening
8) Government lawyers (non-prosecution). Probably the cushiest job in law. But also the most mind-numbing.
9) In-house. Working for a corporation. There are just about no starting positions in-house. Get some experience doing corporate work for a law firm for a few years. The more impressive the corporation, the more impressive the law firm you needed to work for.
10) JAG. No matter what branch of the military, they're quite selective. Note that JAG is military, with all the pros and cons that come with it. I've been told that Marine JAG has a non-negligible chance of being selected for combat duty.
11) Public interest. like being in-house , but for less money
[+] Spoiler
Note: I didn't list Tax separately, because tax attorney can run the gamut

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QContinuum

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by QContinuum » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:44 pm

A terrific post, FND. I'll add some comments on IP. IP, like Tax, can run the gamut. At the high level, IP transactional work (drafting/negotiating licensing agreements, research/joint venture agreements, etc.) and IP litigation are generally under the "biglaw" umbrella these days. At the low level, there is some IP litigation work that is under the "sh-tlaw" umbrella - this would be things like repping patent trolls and the odd adult website and such (there really isn't much IP transactional work outside of "biglaw"). And then there's patent prosecution, the process of drafting and obtaining (via an administrative process known as "prosecution"; don't ask me why they chose that term) patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office and its international counterparts. This is generally done by IP boutiques (it isn't really done in "biglaw" anymore). At the top level, IP boutiques can pay "biglaw" salary (and work "biglaw" hours) or close, and the clients are F500 companies. There are also IP boutiques that would probably fit under the "midlaw"/"sh-tlaw" umbrellas.

There's also some IP work in-house; see point 9 in FND's post. As with other in-house positions, IP in-house positions are typically limited to those with relevant experience. There's IP work in government, e.g., trademark examining attorneys at the USPTO. See FND's point 8. And there's even IP work as judges, either as administrative law judges (ALJs) at the USPTO or full-fledged Article III judgeships on the Federal Circuit. Judgeships are certainly not something anyone should count on in deciding whether to go into law.

laanngo

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by laanngo » Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:13 am

FND wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:21 pm
8) Government lawyers (non-prosecution). Probably the cushiest job in law. But also the most mind-numbing.
What makes it mind numbing?

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by objctnyrhnr » Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:48 am

laanngo wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 3:13 am
FND wrote:
Tue Jan 14, 2020 8:21 pm
8) Government lawyers (non-prosecution). Probably the cushiest job in law. But also the most mind-numbing.
What makes it mind numbing?
At the state level, it’s not something that truly intellectually hungry people typically enjoy doing for more than a few years. For people who like learning how to do something though and getting good at doing just that and doing it over and over again, however, it’s a great gig.

Think about doing your first OUI jury trial, then your second. Seems awesome to a 0L, right: your own jury trial! Now think about doing it 20 times in a row over a period of 2 years.

nixy

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by nixy » Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:43 am

That’s not a non-prosecution job, though. (Also in state prosecution you do move on to more complex cases over time.)

I assumed FND was talking about something more like working on veterans’ appeals or social security or the like.

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Sackboy

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by Sackboy » Sun Aug 02, 2020 1:00 am

objctnyrhnr wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 6:48 am

At the state level, it’s not something that truly intellectually hungry people typically enjoy doing for more than a few years. For people who like learning how to do something though and getting good at doing just that and doing it over and over again, however, it’s a great gig.

Think about doing your first OUI jury trial, then your second. Seems awesome to a 0L, right: your own jury trial! Now think about doing it 20 times in a row over a period of 2 years.
I worked at a federal agency in my area of the law for about six months. I went from handling multi-million- and multi-billion-dollar biglaw matters to handling an endless cycle of litigation ranging from $5,000 to $50,000. Each case was like the last, and your mind went numb after about the fifth one. I could churn out about one or two of the government's replies a day, depending on how numb my mind was. I was fantastic at it, but I don't know how some of the folks did it in that office for thirty years, some from HYS. Interesting work (i.e. Court of Appeals/SCOTUS) about half a dozen times a year, and a random attorney would be selected to handle the matter or liaison with/act as the subject-matter expert for the SG if it was SCOTUS. The odds that it would be you were very low. I know a federal pension and work-life balance is nice, but...

objctnyrhnr

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Re: Professor of Law Pathway

Post by objctnyrhnr » Mon Aug 03, 2020 10:42 pm

nixy wrote:
Tue Jul 28, 2020 7:43 am
That’s not a non-prosecution job, though. (Also in state prosecution you do move on to more complex cases over time.)

I assumed FND was talking about something more like working on veterans’ appeals or social security or the like.
Sorry I totally misread the prompt

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