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Author Topic: legal academia...too difficult?  (Read 1525 times)

nate

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legal academia...too difficult?
« on: August 28, 2005, 06:36:03 PM »
it's a little early to be thinking about it at this point in my legal career, having just started my first year, but i was wondering if anyone had any opinions on exactly how difficult it is to break in to this field. i ask because i've always had an interest in academia in general, and i've seen that many professors around the country have "joint appointments" between one school within an university (ex. history, political science, business, education, etc.) and then act as adjunct faculty, or even resident faculty, at the university's law school.

but i've heard many people suggest that legal academia is basically reserved for those from YHS-CNC, and perhaps a few others. i've even heard that one might as well forget hoping for this type of job if they attend a school at the bottom of the top 14. so, should someone like me, attending a top 20 school, completely forget about it? do i basically have to rank first in my class if i ever hope to find a job as law professor?

i do plan on doing future graduate studies, and am quite familiar with the fact that there are many "alternative" ways in to the field nowadays, whereas it used to be reserved only for the best students from the best schools. but when looking at the faculty lists of those at even third tier schools, it seems that the best portion are from the top 10 or so schools. though, on the other hand, i also see that people from third or fourth tier schools do have these jobs as well.

so does anyone have any idea as to how difficult it is to get a job at a tier 3 or 4 law school?
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jacy85

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2005, 07:09:52 PM »
If you're not at any of the usual "feeder" schools for academia, I'd forget about trying to break in for a while.  I think there are lots of profs all throughout the law school "spectrum" that teach, but many not coming from HYS have built up impressive resumes, and it's this experience that makes them valuable professors.  There are quite a few profs at Emory that have incredible careers, and it's this experience and their "graduate" work that distinguishes them.

So graduate, make something of a name for yourself, and you'll likely find doors to academia opening for you.

yale05

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2005, 08:17:09 PM »

You can definitly do it, but it is going to take a lot of work without a top 5 education. It is still possible from the traditional top25 law schools, so if you attend BC, GW, ND, Min, etc you have a shot. It is going to be what you do with your life that will dictate your ability to get an academia position. A lot of hard work and publishing on the side will get you there even if you didn't attend a traditional T25 school, like say BU. It is definitly still possible, but it takes a lot of work to make yourself presentable as an expert in your field that will continue to publish papers and books.

nate

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2005, 08:25:18 PM »
thank you both. your answers are very helpful and inspiring. i'm a 1L at GW, so while i have always realized that academia is possible, i didn't know if it was only possible for the best students, law review members, etc.

the concept of "feeder" schools really bothers me, so it's nice to hear that hard work and a strong resume can get someone to the same place. while i realize that the top five are great schools, and would attend any of them in a split second, the idea that their grads automatically make the best law professors puzzles me. it almost seems to mean that a law professorship is dictated by one's ug gpa and lsat score, which of course have nothing to do with legal research or teaching ability.
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J D

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2005, 08:56:21 PM »
Co-sign.  Brian Leiter's blogs have a lot of great info and advice on this subject.  See here:

http://leiterlawschool.typepad.com/

http://leiterreports.typepad.com/

http://www.utexas.edu/law/faculty/bleiter/GUIDE.HTM
"I never think of the future.  It comes soon enough."--Albert Einstein

hidinginmontana

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2005, 01:42:02 AM »
those who can't do, teach? or is that false?  ;)

balki424

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2005, 01:59:53 PM »
There's always the option of teaching pre-law in undergrad schools.  The job title prestige may not be there, but if you want to teach, it'll be there.

nate

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2005, 03:07:19 PM »
There's always the option of teaching pre-law in undergrad schools.  The job title prestige may not be there, but if you want to teach, it'll be there.

how easy is this to do? i don't think the polisci department at my undergrad had any JD's teaching, and we had 2 separate polisci departments. i know there's always a pre-law advisor at schools, but do most universities really want a JD teaching undergrad classes on legal topics?
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balki424

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2005, 10:31:11 AM »

how easy is this to do? i don't think the polisci department at my undergrad had any JD's teaching, and we had 2 separate polisci departments. i know there's always a pre-law advisor at schools, but do most universities really want a JD teaching undergrad classes on legal topics?
Quote

I didn't go to a great undergrad, but we had some adjunct professors who were lawyers.  I took business law and the prof was a lawyer.  I had another prof who taught bus law 2, he was really in the business dept but he was going to law school at night.  But that wasn't really a good school, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. 

tacojohn

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Re: legal academia...too difficult?
« Reply #9 on: September 04, 2005, 10:53:20 AM »
I had two lawyers as instructors in undergrad.  One for business law was a pretty successful attorney with the DoJ, former DA for Indianapolis.  The other had a JD, and was getting a doctorate in sports management.  He taught my sports law class.