Rankings and Academia

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laanngo

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Rankings and Academia

Post by laanngo » Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:21 pm

  • If you graduate from a school outside the t6, are you seen as unqualified to be a professor, or just not in the priority queue? How far down the rankings do you have to go for the quality of your legal training to fall into question? 15? 20? 26?
  • Besides econ, what other PHDs are useful to have to get a law professorship?
  • In short, why are Yale law grads so coveted as professors?

ExpOriental

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by ExpOriental » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:40 pm

laanngo wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:21 pm
  • If you graduate from a school outside the t6, are you seen as unqualified to be a professor, or just not in the priority queue? How far down the rankings do you have to go for the quality of your legal training to fall into question? 15? 20? 26?
  • Besides econ, what other PHDs are useful to have to get a law professorship?
  • In short, why are Yale law grads so coveted as professors?
lmao, is there a single person in the legal institution who actually thinks like this? Everyone knows it's an exercise in prestige whoring. Marketable schooling = marketable professors = marketable schools. There's no shortage of Yale-educated professors putting dogshit "scholarship" out there that is either entirely perfunctory, or little more than political soapboxing covered the thinnest veneer of analysis. Look up Richard Epstein for an absolutely stunning example of just how dumb some of this stuff is.

Also, since when did "legal training" have anything to do with academia? Lord knows how many prominent academics have literally never practiced law outside of internships etc. in law school.
Last edited by cavalier1138 on Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

nixy

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by nixy » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:45 pm

laanngo wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:21 pm
  • If you graduate from a school outside the t6, are you seen as unqualified to be a professor, or just not in the priority queue? How far down the rankings do you have to go for the quality of your legal training to fall into question? 15? 20? 26?
  • Besides econ, what other PHDs are useful to have to get a law professorship?
  • In short, why are Yale law grads so coveted as professors?
I mean, why is Yale the hardest law school to get into? It has the highest admissions standards.

It also promotes a very academic culture, and among people who want to be academics, those who can will almost always self-select into Yale.

In any case, it's not either you're in the t6 or you're dogshit. What really makes you competitive for academic jobs is your published research. It's just that the very top schools have the greatest support/resources for students to publish, and the most famous profs who can support your applications and network for you.

Academia's also just incredibly competitive, so there has to be some way to pick candidates. It's pretty dumb that law school rankings matter as much as they do, but they do.

As for what PhD fields help, go look at law faculty and see what degrees they have. If you google law prof hiring, you should also find lists of who's been hired by year and what degrees they have (Brian Leiter usually keeps track of this stuff). Other common fields are sociology, psychology, political science, and maybe philosophy, but I've seen people with PhDs in literature, and I bet statistics would be cool b/c most lawyers suck at math.

(But don't get a PhD b/c you want to be a law prof. Get a PhD b/c you want to get a PhD.)

soft blue

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by soft blue » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 pm

Please do not go to law school if you want to be a professor but have no interest in practicing.

1.) The downside case is real. Legal academia is brutal to get into generally and getting a job at a "good" school requires truly extraordinary credentials, good research, and a whole lot of luck.

2.) The upside case is bad for the rest of us. Law professors should be people with a genuine interest in law, not people with PhD's in econ / sociology / stats that couldn't get jobs in their "true" departments so they end up doing second-rate work in law schools or people who want to be professors and find even the concept of the practice of law appalling.

laanngo

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by laanngo » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:04 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:40 pm
lmao, is there a single person in the legal institution who actually thinks like this? Everyone knows it's an exercise in prestige whoring. Marketable schooling = marketable professors = marketable schools. There's no shortage of Yale-educated professors putting dogshit "scholarship" out there that is either entirely perfunctory, or little more than political soapboxing covered the thinnest veneer of analysis. Look up Richard Epstein for an absolutely stunning example of just how dumb some of this stuff is.

Also, since when did "legal training" have anything to do with academia? Lord knows how many prominent academics have literally never practiced law outside of internships etc. in law school.
I actually think hiring committees at law schools might think like this. Yale has no grades and great job guarantees for its students which give students the opportunity to explore their interests (research, even if it's not yet in the publishing phase), whereas the worst law schools have a mandatory bar review course. Lower down the rankings, your ability to produce knowledge is probably questioned, even though all ABA schools should give you the basics to practice law.
Last edited by cavalier1138 on Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:55 am, edited 1 time in total.
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namefromplace

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by namefromplace » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:21 pm

At my non-T-14 law school, where most professors are from throughout the T-14 but a plurality are from Yale, I get the impression that hiring is based primarily on research and networking. As has been mentioned previously, people who want to be law professors will self-select into Yale and the institution provides great support to help people be professors. There's also a strong network there of other people who want to be professors and, after becoming professors, are placed on hiring committees and can help push for their former classmates to join the faculty.

As a side note, most of my professors (even the ones who went to Yale) practiced law for a few years before becoming professors. The ones who didn't have PhDs.

A word on PhDs: If you really want to get a PhD to help you be a law professor (which is an odd, risky proposition), get a PhD in something you are genuinely interested in and would also like to teach. Many fields intersect with law in some capacity--philosophy, econ, history, literature, finance, political science, etc.--and if you're interested in both law and the discipline you get your PhD in, you are more likely to write good articles that get you published. I also will second the previous advice to get some statistical training: lawyers that are good at math are rare, and empirical studies can make for compelling articles.

laanngo

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by laanngo » Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:03 pm

soft blue wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 pm
Please do not go to law school if you want to be a professor but have no interest in practicing.
What about Yale?
soft blue wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 pm
1.) The downside case is real. Legal academia is brutal to get into generally and getting a job at a "good" school requires truly extraordinary credentials, good research, and a whole lot of luck.
What would you say is the worst jd credential you could have and still get hired at a reputable law schol?
Last edited by cavalier1138 on Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

ExpOriental

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by ExpOriental » Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:31 pm

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:04 pm
I actually think hiring committees at law schools might think like this. Yale has no grades and great job guarantees for its students which give students the opportunity to explore their interests (research, even if it's not yet in the publishing phase), whereas the worst law schools have a mandatory bar review course. Lower down the rankings, your ability to produce knowledge is probably questioned, even though all ABA schools should give you the basics to practice law.
I'll grant you that the members of the academy may delude themselves into this position, but I don't think it's the actual metric that anyone cares about in the aggregate.

And don't take this a slight, because you're not really the source of the fantasy, but the notion that law professors are "producing knowledge" is completely laughable in 99% of instances. Even when someone actually reads their work - which is rare - it's mostly pointless garbage.

Much worse than that, though, is the imprimatur of authority that some of these chodes get from their status as legal academics. I mentioned him already, but please turn your attention to Richard Epstein's commentary on coronavirus policy if you want a just spectacular example of this arrogance in action. It's apparent that the Trump administration actually relied on Epstein's pants-on-head "models" in formulating its equally pants-on-head coronavirus response. John Yoo is another great example of this shit run amok.

Don't get me wrong - I don't have anything personal against the vast majority of professors; I had several that I liked quite a bit, and a few that have been actual mentors to me. But there's a reckoning coming for almost all of them when people fully realize that 1. they don't actually teach anyone to practice law, and 2. the vast, vast majority of their scholarship isn't worth the paper it never actually gets printed on. Even with the new (and IMO, usually misplaced and misapplied) trend of empiricism within legal academia, the institution as a whole is ludicrously outdated. I'm preaching to the choir at this point, but I don't like seeing people grant legal academia more respect than it deserves - that is, almost none.

And I'll posit again, it all comes back to marketing. A Harvard J.D. is valuable because it says Harvard on it, not because anyone out in the world gives a shit about what some windbag Harvard professor has to say about federalism.

I'll get off my soapbox now.
Last edited by cavalier1138 on Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Outed for anon abuse.

nixy

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by nixy » Sat Jul 25, 2020 12:31 am

Anonymous User wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:03 pm
soft blue wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 pm
Please do not go to law school if you want to be a professor but have no interest in practicing.
What about Yale?
Pretty sure the point isn't about the school that you go to, but that students who want to go into legal practice benefit from having profs who actually understand legal practice. That's probably true even at Yale, where most people are still going to go into legal practice, even if in a lot loftier gigs than many other grads' jobs.
soft blue wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:55 pm
1.) The downside case is real. Legal academia is brutal to get into generally and getting a job at a "good" school requires truly extraordinary credentials, good research, and a whole lot of luck.
What would you say is the worst jd credential you could have and still get hired at a reputable law schol?
This is super super super contingent on all kinds of factors.

It depends on what you consider a reputable school.

It depends on what other credentials you bring to the table (did you get a PhD? from where and in what field? do you have any other graduate degrees? have you published? do you have some kind of relevant experience, like if you want to teach environmental law, have you actually litigated environmental cases, or advised big corporations on how to comply with environmental regulations, or lobbied for new environmental legislation?).

It depends on what field of law you want to research . Everyone and their dog wants to do sexy things like con law or maybe criminal law, so that's going to be incredibly tough.But if you want to publish about tax, or many kinds of transactional corporate law where the top jobs offer way more money than profs get paid, or some other field that fewer people want to work in, you may have better odds.

It depends on who you know. If you go to a slightly lower ranked school but that school has one of the top profs in field of study X, and you RA for that prof and co-write an article with them and they push to help you get a fellowship/visiting assistant prof gig, you may well do better than someone at a higher ranked school who fails to make a strong connection with their profs.

Most of all, it depends on whether you can place articles in highly-ranked law reviews. And that depends on the name on your transcript, the support and training you can get at that school, and your own ability to produce highly-regarded scholarship. (Law schools aren't actually very good at training you to do this.)

The bulk of profs come from Harvard and Yale (Stanford maybe a little less just because they're smaller than Harvard and a lot of academic types will self-select into Yale), but there are profs from all over the T14. There are even profs from below the T14. I'm not going to say that going to Harvard or Yale doesn't improve your odds - it absolutely does - but it's also possible to go into academia from other schools.

What is impossible is to give some kind of cut off and say that "this is the lowest possible JD you can have." Like sure, clearly you shouldn't go to Cooley or Thomas Jefferson School of Law if you want to be an academic (really, probably at all), and obviously, the higher ranked school, the better. It's going to get progressively harder outside of HYS and definitely outside of the T14. But it's really hard for people at those schools, too. It's a tough field. Anyone interested in going to law school to be a prof should have a realistic backup plan that they're genuinely willing to follow.

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Sackboy

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by Sackboy » Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:54 am

Go to Lawsky's Entry-Level Hiring Report on PrawfsBlog. It has all the information that you would want.

TL;DR - Using the 2011-2020 data, Yale is preferred over all by a good margin. Harvard/NYU also place a lot (though less than Yale), but they're also massive. Stanford/Chicago/Columbia do similarly as Michigan/Berkeley, and then the rest of the T14 do marginally worse. 83% of new hires have fellowships, 58% have clerkships, and 49% have doctorate degrees (PhD, DPhil, SJD, JSD). Overall, 92% had either a doctorate or a fellowship, or both (aka 92% of people intentionally spent time creating publications). For PhD subjects, Law (only offered at Yale), Economics, Political Science, and JSP (only offered at Berkeley) were the most popular (all having 5+ hires).

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cavalier1138

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:57 am

Stop abusing anon, people.

I'm also moving this to the proper sub-forum, since the OP is a 0L, and the Legal Employment forums are for law students/graduates.

The Lsat Airbender

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:03 am

laanngo wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:21 pm
  • If you graduate from a school outside the t6, are you seen as unqualified to be a professor, or just not in the priority queue?
Graduating from a certain law school, alone, does not make anyone unqualified to be a professor.
  • How far down the rankings do you have to go for the quality of your legal training to fall into question? 15? 20? 26?
This has been correctly identified upthread as a stupid question. It presupposes things which are false, and it isn't really relevant to the "how to become a law professor" concern.
  • Besides econ, what other PHDs are useful to have to get a law professorship?
Any field that has a reasonable connection to legal scholarship. A litmus test would be "how likely is my PhD thesis to ever be cited in a law-review article?"
  • In short, why are Yale law grads so coveted as professors?
Mainly because Yale admits people who otherwise look like they'll become successful professors. It's also great that they let people hang out for 3 years writing scholarship and networking, but you can do that lots of places.

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by ExpOriental » Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:42 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:57 am
Stop abusing anon, people.

I'm also moving this to the proper sub-forum, since the OP is a 0L, and the Legal Employment forums are for law students/graduates.
I was anon because I was crapping on specific professors by name who are, for some godforsaken reason, actually fairly influential. As unlikely as it is that anyone sees or cares about my post,I didn't want to leave even the slightest possibility of blowback. I've probably been guilty of "anon abuse" in the past, but I really don't think it applies here.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by cavalier1138 » Sat Jul 25, 2020 2:32 pm

ExpOriental wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 1:42 pm
cavalier1138 wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:57 am
Stop abusing anon, people.

I'm also moving this to the proper sub-forum, since the OP is a 0L, and the Legal Employment forums are for law students/graduates.
I was anon because I was crapping on specific professors by name who are, for some godforsaken reason, actually fairly influential. As unlikely as it is that anyone sees or cares about my post,I didn't want to leave even the slightest possibility of blowback. I've probably been guilty of "anon abuse" in the past, but I really don't think it applies here.
Anon is to protect your identity when you disclose personal information, not when you disclose that you think Richard Epstein is a moron or that John Yoo is an amoral bastard. No one knows who you are, because you haven't given any information aside from your opinions.

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by laanngo » Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:39 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:57 am
Stop abusing anon, people.
I'm a new user and don't know how to use the forums correctly, sorry.
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:03 am
Graduating from a certain law school, alone, does not make anyone unqualified to be a professor.
Yes, but if you went to an unranked school you would probably be seen as not qualified to be a professor by virtue of poor training? Sorry should have worded op correctly.
The Lsat Airbender wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 11:03 am
This has been correctly identified upthread as a stupid question. It presupposes things which are false, and it isn't really relevant to the "how to become a law professor" concern.
I'm also interested in the functional cutoff, which I have suspected is t6. It seems the vast majority of hires go to T6, and the vast majority of the remainder goes to T15?
ExpOriental wrote:
Fri Jul 24, 2020 11:31 pm
And don't take this a slight, because you're not really the source of the fantasy, but the notion that law professors are "producing knowledge" is completely laughable in 99% of instances. Even when someone actually reads their work - which is rare - it's mostly pointless garbage.
Would you say this is true for academia in general or particularly for law?

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by ExpOriental » Sat Jul 25, 2020 4:28 pm

laanngo wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:39 pm
Would you say this is true for academia in general or particularly for law?
I won't speak on academia outside of law, because I'm not nearly as familiar.

By the way, you shouldn't take my criticisms as a recommendation against entering academia. As already noted elsewhere, it's intensely competitive, but if you do make it, it's one of the best jobs in the industry. It's not a personal goal of mine, and I'd personally rather practice, but I'd also love to be a (tenured/tenure track) law professor. You're reasonably well compensated for an incredibly easy and secure job, and your only real pressure is to continually nerd out over legal theory, which I assume you want to do anyways if you're pursuing academia. But that desirability is a large part of what makes the job so exceptionally difficult to obtain.

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by The Lsat Airbender » Sat Jul 25, 2020 5:17 pm

laanngo wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:39 pm
Yes, but if you went to an unranked school you would probably be seen as not qualified to be a professor by virtue of poor training? Sorry should have worded op correctly.
No, because the "training" one receives in law school is almost completely unrelated to what it takes to succeed as an academic.

Hypothetically, if a world-renowned philosopher or economist, with an Oxbridge PhD and a long CV of publications, went to NYLS for some reason, they'd still be in a reasonable position to get hired by a law-school faculty somewhere. The TTT degree doesn't really add much for them, but it's not a scarlet letter either. A lot of rockstar law professors don't even have J.D. (see Martha Nussbaum).
I'm also interested in the functional cutoff, which I have suspected is t6. It seems the vast majority of hires go to T6, and the vast majority of the remainder goes to T15?
There isn't a "functional cutoff," though. It helps a lot to go to YLS, obviously, and then the rest of the T6 are Diet YLS, and then after that it gradually tails off.

nixy

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Re: Rankings and Academia

Post by nixy » Sat Jul 25, 2020 6:26 pm

laanngo wrote:
Sat Jul 25, 2020 3:39 pm
Yes, but if you went to an unranked school you would probably be seen as not qualified to be a professor by virtue of poor training? Sorry should have worded op correctly.
It's not really about poor training (in part because no law school really trains you well to be an academic and do research, it's a professional degree intended to train people to practice in a specific profession). All accredited law schools teach the same material, because all law school grads have to take a bar exam to enter the profession, so the degree is designed (in theory) to prepare you to do that. You can take all the same classes at any law school across the country and they all cover (roughly) the same material.

It's true that in practice lower-ranked schools tend to teach more black-letter law and higher-ranked schools tend to be a bit more theoretical/philosophical/jurisprudential - a bit more academic. But it's a sliding scale, not some kind of cutoff.

The real difference between schools is the (for lack of a better word) quality of students who are admitted. Top ranked schools have students with stellar GPAs/LSATs, and then there's a steady decline as you go down the ranks (keeping in mind, of course, that GPA/LSAT aren't an infallible measure of intelligence/ability to do well in law school/ability to be a good lawyer, and you can have incredibly intelligent people at lower-ranked schools as well as people at higher-ranked schools who are frankly kind of dunces except in their ability to get good grades/test well). Since the primary qualification for academia is academic brilliance, students at schools that are harder to get into are going to look like better candidates that students at schools that aren't as hard to get into (in addition to the better resources for academic training at top schools).

So I wouldn't recommend going to an unranked school if your passion is to enter legal academia. But that's not because the school provides bad training.

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