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Monday, December 10, 2012

Balancing scholarship and new course preps

Thanks to Dan for inviting me to blog on Prawfs, I am a long-time reader and I am excited to blog here in December. I plan to blog about a number of things, but with the semester just concluding right now I find myself thinking about how I could have managed my workload better this past semester. This Fall semester I undertook a new course prep: Torts. This was a big new prep for me, and I spent far more time than I had planned preparing for each class. Combined with serving on my faculty’s recruitment committee, this didn’t leave much, if any, time for scholarly endeavors.

My question for the Prawfs community is, then, how do you balance a new course prep and your scholarship? Do you negotiate less committee responsibilities in semesters when you have a new prep? Do you find that you get quicker as you undertake yet another new prep? Is this something that gets easier with seniority? I hope to get some advice I can utilize next time I undertake a new course prep!

Posted by Zoe Robinson on December 10, 2012 at 08:02 PM in Life of Law Schools, Teaching Law | Permalink


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The best advice on this point I ever received is that class preparation will soak up all of the time available. Especially with a new preparation, you will be aware of all the alleys along the way and, if you give yourself the time, you will run down them all. But as with everything else, there are diminishing marginal returns, and until you've taught a course, it's hard to know which alleys lead somewhere fruitful, and which ones are dead ends. So the key is to carve out some time for scholarship first, and then let your class prep fill in the rest.


P.S. FWIW I've taught nine different courses in the past 11 years, so I've had a new course prep almost every year.

Posted by: Jonathan H. Adler | Dec 11, 2012 7:21:20 AM

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