Thursday, November 14, 2013

Teaching Law in a Business School v. Law School

Last week, I attended and presented at my first legal studies in business school conference, the Southeastern Academy of Legal Studies in Business ("SEALSB") annual conference.  On this recent trip, I was able to meet a number of other professors who hold positions similar to mine at other business schools.  Most of the professors were from the southeast, but we also had professors from California, Michigan, Minnesota, and New York.

One of the new pieces of information I learned was that, while I was correct in my previous post stating that there is no “meat market” equivalent for legal studies in business school positions, the Academy of Legal Studies in Business (“ALSB”) does send out job postings, on occasion, to its members.  Also, more than one professor in attendance claimed to have obtained his/her current position by attending the ALSB annual meeting and networking.

In this post, I will discuss some of the differences I see between my current job as a professor teaching law in a business school and my previous job as a law professor in a law school.  I draw on my own experiences and conversations I have had with many professors across the country, at both types of schools.  That said, this is just anecdotal evidence, and I imagine experiences differ. 


  • Business school deans and colleagues usually require education on legal scholarship and law journals. Business schools are used to traditional peer reviewed journals (generally double blind) that are listed on Cabell’s.  That said, most business schools I know of, are accepting (at least some) law reviews as acceptable placements from their tenure track legal studies professors 
  • Business schools also tend to encourage, or at least not penalize, co-authored work, whereas it seems many law schools apply a significant discount to co-authored articles. 
  • Legal studies professors in business schools may have to struggle to obtain WestLaw access and legal research support.  Everyone I talked to at SEALSB had obtained access, though it seemed to require a bit more effort than at a law school. 


  • In law schools, very roughly speaking, the average teaching load seems to be 2/1 at research schools and 2/2 at the teaching schools.  In business schools, the normal teaching load seems to be either 2/1 or 2/2 at the research schools (with 2/2 appearing to be the norm), and 3/3 (or in some limited cases 3/4 or 4/4) at teaching business schools. Teaching loads seem to be a bit lighter at law schools, though this may be changing at some law schools given the financial challenges many are facing.   
  • Business school professors tend to give many more assessments than law school professors.  In law schools the norm still seems to be one major assessment per semester, though plenty of professors do more.  Most of the legal studies professors in business schools claimed to give at least three major assessments a semester, and sometimes as many as six or seven. 
  • The business school professors I spoke to tended to have smaller classes (20-50), at least smaller than the large section law classes (70-150).  That said, some of the professors from large state universities reported undergraduate classes as large (or sometimes much larger) than the average large section law school class.
  • Many legal studies professors I have met teach both undergraduate and graduate business law courses, though some only teach undergraduate.  Obviously, law professors only teach graduate students.  That said, the average MBA student likely has more work experience than the average law student. 


  • As far as I can tell, service requirements seem similar at law and business schools.


  • Compensation of law professors and legal studies in business school professors seems relatively close, at least if the business school has an MBA program, in addition to its undergraduate program.  The compensation seems a bit less uniform across business schools than across law schools, with a few business professors who would be outliers, on the low end, of current law school compensation. 

These are all obviously generalizations, and I am sure there are many exceptions, but I thought the rough sketch of the differences might be useful for those who are trying to choose between teaching law at a business school or at a law school.

Haskell Murray, Teaching | Permalink


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