Sunday, July 28, 2013

Child of "How Not to 'Retire and Teach'"

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

UnknownIn my last post, I mentioned the update to Memo to Lawyers:  How Not to Unknown-1 "Retire and Teach."  That was a short essay I wrote in 2006 and 2007 about the odd experience of being somebody who practiced for twenty-six years and only then set out to join a law school faculty as a tenure track professor.

This summer I've been working on the look back - Version 1.0 predates the "Great Retrenchment. I've reflected on that change as well as examples of my earlier naivete or "I didn't know what I didn't know" in "Retire and Teach" Six Years On, a draft of which is now up on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

This is a follow up to a 2007 essay I wrote about what it might take for a well-seasoned practitioner to join a law school faculty as a tenure track professor. Having now wended my way up (or down) that track for six years plus, my intended audience this time includes the original one, those seasoned veterans of the law practice trenches who may think but should never utter out loud the words “I would like to retire and teach,” but now also my colleagues in academia who are facing what looks to be the greatest reshuffling of the system in our generation. Much of what I said in the earlier essay still holds. This essay, however, includes (a) a more nuanced look at the strange hybrid creature that is the scholarly output of academic lawyers; (b) a more respectful appreciation of what it takes to become a good teacher, with some notes about what worked for me, and (c) an attempt to reconcile the interests in scholarship and the interest in teaching after the “Great Retrenchment” of the legal profession and legal education, with some brief thoughts about the opportunities that may bring for the aging but not ossifying academic aspirant.

I suppose I ought to dedicate it to the Chief Justice because it gave me a chance to talk about the influence of Immanuel Kant on evidentiary approaches in 18th century Bulgaria.

Photo credit (John Roberts):

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Most of our faculty members practiced law for more than 15 years before joining our faculty (some 325 practice years when taken together). We are very proud of the practical skill and wisdom we bring to class everyday. We know our students appreciate it, too.

I made the career switch after nearly 20 years in private practice. At the time, my career advisers told me I had little chance of entering the academy. They told me I was too old, had too few traditional law school publications, and had not graduated in the top ten percent of may class from a top-10 law school. They told me my practice experience would actually count against me because law school faculty would fear that my future scholarship would be too practical in orientation rather than purely theoretical.

I will start my 13th year as a law professor this August. I am sure glad I did not listen to all the folks who said I could not develop this career later in life.

Posted by: Paula Marie Young | Aug 2, 2013 5:56:02 AM

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