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Monday, May 02, 2005

Teaching market advice

As promised, I wanted to post some thoughts about the law teaching market.  Both Brian Leiter and Brad Wendel have done an outstanding job providing general advice for job seekers, so rather than just repeat their advice I want to focus on a couple of specific areas.

1.  Don't be afraid to go on the market more than once if it does not work out the first time for you.  I know many, many people who went on the market 2 or 3 times and ended up securing a terrific job.  If you are going to go on a second time, however, I would strongly suggest having something new to add to your package, preferably another publication.

2.  One of my pet peeves about the market is the perception that you are not as attractive a candidate if you have been out of school for more than 5 years or so.  As someone who had been out of school for ten years when I went on the market, I definitely encountered this issue.  It can obviously be overcome, but be aware the issue is out there and be prepared to explain why you have waited to go on the market (you always wanted to teach but thought you would be a better scholar and teacher with some practice in your field under your belt, etc.)  For people who have been out for a while, I think post-law school publications and a clearly defined research agenda are incredibly important -- you have to prove you can switch from being a practicioner to a scholar.

3.  Keep an open mind.  Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine when I went on the teaching market that I would end up in a small city in North Carolina.  But now that I am here I cannot imagine a better or more supportive place to begin my career and raise a family.  I have been blessed with wonderful colleagues, wonderful students, and a wonderful community, and those things can be found in many places other than the major East or West Coast urban areas (which I had always thought were the only places to live!)  If there is a chance you would take the job, go on the callback -- you may be very pleasantly surprised.

Posted by Jennifer Collins on May 2, 2005 at 09:57 AM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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Comments

Here's a question: Post law school publications... how? (Especially if you, by choice, don't work in some major firm/institution.) It seems like people who are in actual practice don't have much cred with journal types, at least insofar as very few articles by people other than professors and students actually appear in journals.

Is there a trick to getting legal scholarship published from practitioner-land? (And what DOES one put in that author footnote? "Joe Schmo is an associate at Unheardof Law Firm?"

Posted by: Steamed Lightning | May 2, 2005 1:51:49 PM

It is definitely possible to get published as a practitioner, although perhaps not in a top 20 journal (although even that is possible). I published the article I wrote in practice in one of of the top specialty criminal law journals (and got more than 10 offers for the article overall). Other people might have other ideas, but I would suggest being sure to circulate broadly, especially to any relevant specialty journals. Topic selection is critical -- be sure to pick something that will have broad appeal. In the author footnote, I put my undergrad and law schools, which a lot of people seem to do, and that I was currently an AUSA (because my topic was a criminal one, I hoped that might convey I knew what I was talking about). If you are a securities associate at a big law firm and are writing an article about securities law, put that in! Also try to have some law profs read it so you can thank them in the author footnote -- I think student editors take that as a signal that the piece has been subject to some vetting.

Posted by: Jennifer Collins | May 2, 2005 2:02:36 PM

SL,
I have been fortunate that notwithstanding the absence of an academic position until now, the journals have read my stuff. Indeed, I bet the savvier of the journals know that they're likely to get better material (or perhaps at least better-edited material) from young hungry academics (and would-be academics) than otherwise. (Minnesota seems to have done a good job on this front in the last couple years, having picked up strong pieces by a few friends of mine recently). There are other ways of signaling you are bright in the author footnote besides where you work right now. Additionally, I understand it makes increasingly good sense to accompany your piece with a CV. If you explain in the cover letter to your submission that you are going on the market too, then that will give you a wee bit more credibility. Of course, the piece should be good too.

Posted by: Dan Markel | May 2, 2005 2:04:17 PM

Steamed,

I'll second Dan. I've gotten published in American and Wisconsin as a practitioner; for both articles, my byline was "Associate, [firm]; Law Clerk to [judge], 2001-02."

For practitioners, it's crucial to send out a lot of submissions and get picked up on expedite.

I did a write-up of the process, which is online at http://www.law.columbia.edu/careers/law_teaching/Law_Rev_Publish . I haven't read Volokh's book myself, but it also has a good reputation as a guide on how to get your writing published.

Posted by: Kaimi | May 2, 2005 2:15:04 PM

Thanks y'all: that's quite reassuring.

Posted by: Steamed Lightning | May 2, 2005 4:08:39 PM

I guess the next question is where do those practitioners too ethical to convert their employers' (limited, anyway, and non-journal-inclusive) westlaw accounts conduct research? Public law libraries, I suppose. Hmm...

Posted by: Steamed Lightning | May 2, 2005 4:49:27 PM

Dan,

Yes, we do look at who read your piece. How newbies get treated varies from editor to editor, not just journal to journal.

For Steamed: The advice you get here is fine. Honestly, I rarely look at CVs. Include an abstract; if you do, I'll be more likely to see what your article's about, rather than resorting to silly proxies like "who you are".

Posted by: Heidi | May 2, 2005 5:02:35 PM

Steamed,

I've dealt with this myself. It's not easy. A few things to try:

1. Hein Online.
2. Free days from Lexis / Westlaw.
3. Libraries.
4. Your alma mater's library, if they'll let you in as an alum to do research.
5. Favorite professors at your alma mater, who may be able to find you a WL/lexis ID for research.
6. Whatever your employer will let you do, of course. That varies from employer to employer.
7. Free resources like Findlaw.com and google.

Posted by: Kaimi | May 2, 2005 5:45:39 PM

If you are able to find the time to teach for a semester as an adjunct, the law school may give you a Westlaw and/or Lexis number, and you can use that to do your research. Plus, you get some teaching experience on your CV and have even more credibility in explaining why you're switching from practice to teaching. Both of these aspects of adjunct teaching were helpful to me.

Posted by: KT | Nov 10, 2005 1:24:53 AM

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