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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

More Mundane Matters: What Currency Do You Pay Your RA's in?

Question for you folks teaching at law schools:

Does your law school give credit to research assistants in lieu of pecuniary compensation?

Do they give an option or only one or the other? If they do pay, what do they pay (roughly)?

As far as you know, have there been any problems in administering the "credit" option, perhaps as a matter of quality control? Is the credit given as a grade or a SAT/UNSAT?

Thanks. (FWIW, at FSU, my understanding is that we only pay RA's and I think they get 11 or 12 bucks an hour.)

Posted by Dan Markel on May 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink

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Comments

A few years ago at HLS, the going rate was something like 10.50 or 11.50 per hour. Credit wasn't formally an option, but some profs ran a kind of racket where they would call RA-ing or TA-ing an "independent study," which is typically a one-credit graded course. Ridiculously, some students were given one credit of an A+ for this work. Amazing that this could happen in a system of generally real grades.

Posted by: anon | May 23, 2012 1:23:32 PM

Some interesting reax to this questions from friends on FB:
a)
If someone coauthors a piece with me as their "note" project, and writes a big chunk of the piece themselves, they deserve credit for it. If someone bluebooks my paper, they don't. In between there's a spectrum of case-by-case situations.

b) I believe we allow students to choose: $9.50/hr or credit, with credit coming from having to write up their research in some sort of memo. I think it is only for 1 credit, and if I ever had a student do this (only one has raised the prospect and ultimately chose chose not to do so) I think I would select the projects carefully so that the research had some sort of coherent theme to it (to avoid the just-bluebooking problem, or the memo-of-unrelated-bullet-points one).

c) We have an either/or choice. Our research budgets are small enough, though, that paying for research assistance gets out of hand fast. I haven't done that since I discovered the for credit option. In theory, the credit option requires more attention to creating a good/logically coherent research"experience". But I (foolishly) worried about that just as much when I was paying them, so for me they have been functionally indistinct. I just have the students write me a memo or series of memos or something similarly analytical, which is generally what I had them do anyway.

Posted by: Dan Markel | May 23, 2012 3:41:58 PM

We have either/or. It's around $11-12/hour here for any sort of RA work (including the most mundane stuff). Credit is an option only for RA work that involves "serious independent analysis" by the student and, I believe, a written work product of some kind (a paper, a set of memos, etc.)

When I think the work is substantive enough to qualify for credit, I just leave it up to the student. Most would rather be paid, but every so often, there's somebody who looks at the courses they plan to take and the number of credits required to graduate and decides they'd rather have credits than money.

Posted by: Joey Fishkin | May 23, 2012 6:59:11 PM

I will make my friends who teach in American law schools feel better about hiring RAs (or worse, I guess, if they're really hard-core lefty types). At Melbourne Law School, we have three rates for RAs, with the cost escalating depending on the complexity of the work: $24/hour, $27/hour, and $32/hour.

Posted by: Kevin Jon Heller | May 23, 2012 9:29:26 PM

Many American law school GRADUATES may be headed to Melbourne after Keven's post!

Posted by: Rick Bales | May 24, 2012 8:17:20 AM

Here's a link to a google document started by Cheryl Nyberg at the University of Washington compiling RA wages and benefits information from several law school. Feel free to add or update.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1P3d4nKnnLUiryzGnuKUi3pGZ8Hm-c72nqZ_1MBtD9JM/edit?hl=en_US

Posted by: Patrick Flanagan | May 29, 2012 9:01:26 AM

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