Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Incompetent Form Of Legal Education Today

What They Don’t Teach Law Students: Lawyering, a Nov. 19, 2011 NY Times article, is a must read. It highlights just how incompetent most legal education is today. It highlights the fact that law schools teach little practical skills and factual scholarship is often only read by other faculty.

As I noted in a comment to the article, the fundamental reason for this is that law schools are only, and I mean only, in hiring faculty with stellar academic backgrounds. Nevermind that they may never have practiced law or represented a client. What is more imporant is that they got a law review article published in Yale.

Readers who are not familar with this might be stunned to know that law professors are "legal scholars"-not highly skilled lawyers. Many may not even be a a member of the bar. As the article points out, law schools frown on lawyers with experience.

Additionally, in most schools the most important and practical classes (legal writing and legal research) are taught by non-tenure track professors who are also the lowest paid.

Don't believe me. Check out the background of any FT non-clinical faculty member highered at any ABA approved law school in the last 10 years. If you can get a hold of their CV, you will see that some even list summer associate experience on it because their legal experience is so light.

This is indeed a said state of affairs. 

Mitchell H. Rubinstein


November 20, 2011 in Appointment Information, Adjunct, Appointment Information, Full Time, Film, Law Schools | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Important Law Review Article On the Current State of The Legal Academy And The Lack of Emphasis on Training Lawyers

Preaching What They Don't Practice: Why Law Faculties' Preoccupation with Impractical Scholarship and Devaluation of Practical Competencies Obstruct Reform in the Legal Academy is an interesting law review article by Adjunct Professor Brent Newton (Georgetown Law School). This appears to be a must read for anyone interested in the legal academy. The abstract provides:

In response to decades of complaints that American law schools have failed to prepare students to practice law, several prominent and respected authorities on legal education, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, recently have proposed significant curricular and pedagogical changes in order to bring American legal education into the twenty-first century. It will not be possible to implement such proposed curricular and pedagogical reforms if law schools continue their trend of primarily hiring and promoting tenure-track faculty members whose primary mission is to produce theoretical, increasingly interdisciplinary scholarship for law reviews rather than prepare students to practice law. Such impractical scholars, because they have little or no experience in the legal profession and further because they have been hired primarily to write law review articles rather than primarily to teach, lack the skill set necessary to teach students how to become competent, ethical practitioners. The recent economic recession, which did not spare the legal profession, has made the complaints about American law schools’ failure to prepare law students to enter the legal profession even more compelling; law firms no longer can afford to hire entry-level attorneys who lack the basic skills required to practice law effectively. This essay proposes significant changes in both faculty composition and law reviews aimed at enabling law schools to achieve the worthy goals of reformists such as the Carnegie Foundation.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

August 11, 2010 in Adjunct Information in General, Appointment Information, Adjunct, Appointment Information, Full Time, Law Review Articles | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ever Wonder What Professors Make?

The Chronicle of Education just published a chart of average faculty salaries across disciplines. Remember these are average salaries and it is not clear that the reflect law school professor salaries whom work at law schools-as opposed to B Schools. The chart can be found here.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

June 20, 2010 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Preliminary Entry Level Hiring Report of Law School Faculty

Professor Solum's annual entry level hiring preliminary report of law school faculty is out. Readers interested in a career as a full time prof will want to take a look at this report.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 15, 2010 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Does Being An Adjunct Help You Get A FT Law Professor Job

In a word. NO. An excellent article discussing this issue published by AALS is available here. I know this does not make sense, but it is what it is.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

March 24, 2010 in Appointment Information, Adjunct, Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Institutional Age Discrimination In The Legal Academy

I am sorry to say that most professors realize that there is institutional age discrimination in the faculty hiring process.Schools prefer candidates with just a few years of practice. They advertise for specialists in particular fields, but prefer newly minted P.h.D's. Proving this is another matter as the faculty that is hired always has steller credentials.

Now, one lawyer is trying. The August 20, 2009 National Law Journal reported on a a Michigan attorney who  hit the University of Iowa College of Law with a discrimination lawsuit charging that the school passed him over for a faculty job in favor of younger contenders.

I, of course, no nothing about this case. However, I am sure that law schools around the country are watching it-as they should.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein 

August 24, 2009 in Appointment Information, Full Time, Employment Discrimination, Law Professors, Law Schools, News, Lawyer Employment, Lawyers | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Law Professors and P.hd's

As we all know, there is a trend in the academy to hire new profs with advanced degrees. To my dismay, years of legal practice is not considered valuable. In fact, I have been recently been told by a Dean at a major law school (not where I teach) that law schools rarely hire anyone with more than 5 years of experience.Professor Wu over at Concurring Opinions has a very interesting April 4th posting which criticizes this practice entitled  Who Could Be Hired Today?

As Professor Wu states:

While it is better that those of us whose research cross over into other fields (as mine does) are trained formally, rather than dilettantes (as I am), I have a concern that we will see this new breed of law professor not as one of many valuable types an institution should recruit and nurture but rather as the best and the only type that matters -- to the exclusion of those with substantial practice experience, those who would teach in clinical programs, and those who produce the sort of doctrinal analysis that was perfectly respectable a generation ago and valuable to judges and lawyers today still. It does a disservice to our students, among others, if we become so enamored with our own speculations and engrossed in impressing one another with our citations to Wittgenstein (and, yes, I know enough about Wittgenstein to distinguish between the earlier and the later) that we forget we earn our keep by training individuals who by and large become advocates and counselors for causes and clients. Some of us should do work that is of greater interest to sociologists, but some of us also should do work that is of greater interest to the bench and the bar; others of us will try our best to do a little of each. These are all worthwhile contributions.

It is a common observation among us that “I couldn’t be hired today,” certainly those of us who have no better than a naked J.D. Curiously, we treat this development as if it were a force of market dynamics. However, it is very much within our collective control. Faculty governance is at its strongest in the decisions about who to invite to join the body, and all it takes is a few members of an Appointments Committee to point out the strengths of the applicants who would have been the norm only a short while ago.

Professor Wu is right on the money. If you ask law students what they value more, good research or good teaching, we all not what the answer is. If you also ask what is good teaching, most students would say they are interested in learning about practical issues that they might find useful when they become lawyers. As Professor Wu states, its high time for Law Professors to recognize that they earn their keep by teaching, not writing articles that no one other than other law professors read.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 29, 2009 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So You Want To Be A FT Law Professor

Legal Scholarship Blog has an excellent biography with links concerning how to get a FT law school teaching job, the AALS meat market, Fellowships and more.

Unfortunately, if you did not go to top 20 school and clerk for at least a circuit judge your going to be pretty much out of luck, unless you also have a Ph.d from one of those same 20 or perhaps 10 schools. Does this make much sense to law schools who train lawyers? I think not, but it is what it is.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

September 25, 2008 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

So You Want To Be A Law School Professor

New Law School Programs Give Lawyers a Shot at Teaching Law School Programs Give Lawyers a Shot at Teaching is an interesting June 27, 2008 National Law Journal article via (registration required). It's about the increasing hiring of visiting professors who, unlike tenure track professors, have significant practice experience. The idea is that these visitors will have the time to develop and publish which they could then use when they go on the FT job market. The pay is about $ 60,000 for 9 months work-but the article does not mention that full timers work those same "9 months." As the article states:

Law schools that have initiated or expanded VAP programs in the past few years include Cornell Law School, Duke Law School, the University of Texas School of Law and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.

"We used to call them 'visitors from nowhere,'" said Michael Herz, vice dean of Cardozo Law. When the VAP concept was formalized roughly five years ago, he added, a "population of potential professors who were not quite sure of what they wanted to do" outside law practice were assisted by their campus colleagues in "becoming stronger candidates" in the academic market.

"But far and away the most important piece of this is allowing the future professor to do some writing - in a setting where they have the time and mentoring and the culture to do it effectively," Mr. Herz added.

Professor Robert A. Hillman of Cornell Law, chairman of his school's faculty appointments committee, said most of the VAPs at his campus have been young lawyers not yet in practice, and mostly Ph.D. candidates.

"Rather than taking assistant professor positions without tenure, this is a good way for them to get their feet wet at a law school with plenty of time to produce published articles," said Mr. Hillman, who noted that U.S. law schools "seriously" prize faculty members with strong publishing backgrounds.

From the standpoint of his own campus and others, said Mr. Hillman, the VAP program, which draws worldwide applicants, is "another pool to draw from in creating a more diverse faculty."

With respect to the law school academy, you got it backwards. Your training lawyers. Your students pay your salaries- not your law reviews. You should seek professors with real practical experience who can share their insights with students.

Additionally, a VAP is not practical for most lawyers. Since the job is only for 2 years and the full time law school market remains so kean, many of these VAP are not going to be able to land jobs or at least jobs in locations where they are willing to teach. Then what?? Your only going to get a certain class of people applying for these VAP programs who can afford not to work.

Wouldn't a far better plan be for these attorneys to publish now while practicing. If they want to get teaching experience, they could Adjunct.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

June 26, 2008 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

FT Law Professor Laterals

Professor Paul Secunda (Mississippi) recently posted an excellent Essay on SSRN entitled   Tales of a Law Professor Lateral Nothing. Profs who are thinking about making a move will want to check this excellent essay out. Paul's Abstract provides:

This Essay seeks to uncover the mysterious world of the law professor lateral hiring market, which has become increasingly important in the last number of years as law schools seek to build their reputations in this U.S. News & World Report world through the hiring of prominent faculty members.

Although the advice and guidance given in this essay are sometimes written with tongue firmly in cheek, I do attempt to accomplish two important objectives here. First, there has been scarcely anything written about the lateral hiring market for law professors, as opposed to the cottage industry that has been devoted to the entry-level law professor hiring market. This essay methodically takes the lateral-to-be professor through every step of the lateral process from the first-person perspective of one who has been on the market for three years and successfully lateraled this past year.

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I want to contribute to the process of bringing back to legal academic writing the form of the first-person narrative. Like my colleague, David Case, I believe that, "the narrative voice is an important, and perhaps underutilized, tool in deconstructing the arbitrary processes of the legal academic hiring market." See David Case, The Pedagogical Don Quixote de la Mississippi, 33 U. Mem. L. Rev. 529, 530 n.2 (2003).

We frequently cite Paul as he is one of the editors at Workplace Prof Blog.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

April 6, 2008 in Appointment Information, Full Time, Law Professors | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, March 21, 2008

Updated posting on available fellowships for transitioning into full-time law teaching

Paul Caron (TaxProf) has posted an updated piece on available fellowships that can provide a path for practitioners to transition into full-time teaching.  The post also contains a very useful bibliography of articles on going into the law school teaching market.


March 21, 2008 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

How Long After The Meat Market Should You Hear Something?

Brian Leiter's Law School reports is running an interesting posting and discussion about how long it should take appointment committees to get back to law professor candidates. For those in the market, it is a worthwhile read. As Brian states:

My impression is that schools will contact the candidates they are most interested in within the first two weeks after the AALS hiring convention, and, more ofthen than not, within the first week.  Schools will often have some candidates "on hold" beyond this period of time:  e.g., because they are reading more work by the candidate, or collecting references, or waiting to see how they fare with their top choices.  So it is quite possible to get call-backs beyond the two-week window.  Schools tend to be much slower in notifying candidates they are no longer in contention (you might not hear for a month or more). 

Schools higher in the "food chain" in general do move at a somewhat more, shall we say, "leisurely" pace, and schools lower in the "food chain" are more likely to have tiers of candidates they remain interested in, on the theory that they are likely to lose their first-round choices.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

November 14, 2007 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Article About FT Faculty Appointments

There is an interesting article in the Oct. 18, 2007, Harvard Law Record about becoming a law school professor.  That article is available here.  What I find most interesting is Professor Levinson's conclusion that virtually all Harvard Law School applicants manage to land a FT position. As the article states in its question and answer section:

Q: So how easy is it to get a job as a law professor?

A: There are two ways to read the numbers. The discouraging interpretation is that out of 1,000 applications for teaching positions last year, 150 were hired. On the other hand, out of that 1,000 you can automatically throw out about half because they didn't go to a top 20 law school (that's just how the academic world works), and you can throw out another twenty-five percent because they didn't attend this presentation and have no idea what it takes to be a law professor - maybe they think they like teaching, but not scholarship, or maybe they've been practicing for a long time and think it would be nice to retire into a professorship. So when you look at the pool of viable, serious candidates, and the students in that pool who graduated from Harvard Law, virtually all of those applicants got academic positions of some sort.

Come on guys. While I have respect for Harvard and the other "top schools," does that piece of paper really mean that your a better scholar, a better teacher or even a better lawyer? I work as an adjunct at two non-top 20 schools and I do not believe for one second that the education our students get is materially different than students from the top schools. Its time for the legal academy to step off its ivory tower and into the real world.

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

Hat Tip: Legal Ethics Forum

November 10, 2007 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Columbia Law:Program on Careers in Law Teaching

Columbia Law School maintains an excellent web site called "Columbia Law: Program on Careers in Law Teaching" which is an absolute "must read" for anyone considering a career as a law school professor. Columbia appears to have a wonderful program which supports its graduates quest to enter the academy.

My view is that there is a problem, however, with web sites like this one in that the advice becomes "canned" and aspiring professors might view this as gospel. Though frankly, I am not in a position to give out advice as I have not entered the academy as a full-time professor. However, this web site is worth checking out carefully. It is maintained by Professor Sanger and  Professor Dorf

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

August 17, 2007 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law Professor Appointment Information

Columbia Law School Professor Michael Dorf just posted an important article on his blog entitled  "So You Want to Be a Law Professor Part 1: Writing" where he discusses picking a law review topic as well as the importance of publication. As Professor Dorf explains:

There is no single answer to what makes a good law review article, but certainly it helps to have an original idea that you describe in engaging and persuasive prose. Some of the best articles argue for counterintuitive conclusions because ideas that are counterintuitive are more likely to be original than ideas that conform to most people’s intuitions. Of course, many counterintuitive ideas are simply wrong. (E.g., “Repeatedly poking yourself in the eye with a sharp stick improves your vision.”) The main point here is that you want to make a contribution to the scholarly literature by saying something that’s original, interesting, and at least arguably correct. Absolute claims tend to be indefensible. (E.g., “Because the process by which the Reconstruction Amendments did not comply with Article V of the Constitution, courts should treat them as illegal.”)

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

August 17, 2007 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Law Review Article-How To Not Retire and Teach

For those lawyers out there who dream about retiring from the practice of law and then becoming a full time law  professor Suffolk Law School Professor Jeffrey M. Lipshaw's Essay entitled Memo to Lawyers: How to 'Retire and Teach' is an absolute "must read." Prof. Lipshaw is also a Editor of the Legal Professor Blog which is another blog the Law Professor Blog Network which I watch every day.

Professor Lipshaw's central theme is that just about the worst thing a prospective full time professor who has the opportuntity to retire from practice can say is "I think I would like to retire and teach" This is because law schools are not looking for good lawyers. They are looking for scholars and not just any scholars. Law School today are interested in scholarship about legal theory.

Professor Lipsaw also gives tips about the AALS meat market and describes how he used blogsphere to make law school contacts. He also discusses how his two visiting professorships helped him obtain a full-time professorship.

I venture to guess that this important essay is going to become one of the top downloaded essays on SSRN very shortly.

Hat Tip:

Professor Paul Caron, Tax Prof Blog

Mitchell H. Rubinstein   

June 14, 2007 in Appointment Information, Full Time | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)