Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Was Obama A "Real Law Professor"

Obama_2  ABC News Blog ran an interesting story on March 31, 2008 entitled "Political Punch' by Jake Tapper. In it, he reports that the Clinton campaign has questioned whether Obama was a "real" law professor when he taught at the University of Chicago Law School. The Clinton March 25, 2008 Press release is available here. Mr. Tapper reproduces the statement from the school about Obama which provides:

"The Law School has received many media requests about Barack Obama, especially about his status as "Senior Lecturer." From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Barack Obama served as a professor in the Law School. He was a Lecturer from 1992 to 1996. He was a Senior Lecturer from 1996 to 2004, during which time he taught three courses per year. Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors, although not full-time or tenure-track. The title of Senior Lecturer is distinct from the title of Lecturer, which signifies adjunct status. Like Obama, each of the Law School's Senior Lecturers have high-demand careers in politics or public service, which prevent full-time teaching. Several times during his 12 years as a professor in the Law School, Obama was invited to join the faculty in a full-time tenure-track position, but he declined."

In other words, Obama never held the title of professor but he "served as a professor." He was a lecturer, then a senior lecturer. "Senior Lecturers are considered to be members of the Law School faculty and are regarded as professors," says the law school.

In my view, Obama was a "real" prof. He taught students and he taught regularly for a number of years. I also note that University of Chicago Law School is one of the finest law schools in the country. Perhaps, the Clinton campaign should disclose that!

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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