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May 26, 2008

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FutureProf

Any thoughts on the effect that starting an academic career in a B-school would have on ultimately transitioning to a law school? Would law schools still consider a candidate seriously if s/he has a strong publication record during his/her time at the B-school? Or does going down the B-school road largely foreclose the possibility of a law school appointment?

Also, how realistic are the chances that one could slowly transition their way into a co-appointment at both a university's B-school and law school?

Thanks.

WCS

I think you are correct when you say: "If it's the teaching part, look in places beyond law schools--like business schools and even community colleges." But, isn't that insane? Why aren't law schools about teaching law students? I once had an interview with the chairperson of a law school hiring committee during which I offered copies of teaching evaluations. She waved them off and would not take them, saying: "We're not interested in hiring a good teacher. We're looking for a person whose scholarly writing will enhance the national reputation of our school." Other than the idea that a better reputation enhances marketability, why is that not just WRONG? We don't care whether our students learn the law and are prepared to be capable lawyers, as long as we get some publishing credits? And, how come every time I make this argument, many professors act like I am some kind of subversive?

Alfred

Hi FutureProf,

All most important questions. There is certainly movement of faculty between B-schools and law schools and there might be a lot more opportunities, if more profs wanted to move. (My sense is that B school profs teach more, write somewhat less, and are paid somewhat better than law profs--though this may be an artifact of my limited observations. There are certainly a lot of people with more knowledge on this score than me.)

My guess is that once a prof's spent a bunch of time in a B school, she may not want to switch over to full time law teaching. My sense is that in a lot of ways a lawyer teaching in a B school can have more of an impact on students than in a law school. B students take one or two courses in law--most of what they learn about law comes from that professor or two, whereas in a law school each student will have perhaps two dozen faculty over her three year career. But if one wanted to move and wrote scholarship that was relevant to law schools, I bet there are a lot of options to move to a law school. (Or vice versa.)

Moving to a joint appointment within a university is certainly more than possible, though it's pretty rare for someone to move from one "home" department to another. (Though I've seen it done, to move from a b school to a law school within the same university.)

In history, the allied area I know best, it's unusual for someone to move from a history department to a law school in the same university--however, there are some notable cases of people with fantastic publication records moving from history departments to law schools in different universities. My guess is that's more common at the top tier schools, which hire more to fill an intellectual than a curricular gap. Also, there's some movement of senior faculty from law schools to arts and sciences departments, though this is rarer. Actually, that's probably worth a post at some point, talking about movement of senior faculty from arts and sciences to law schools and vice versa. (I'm going to call it the "super generalist.")

My advice to people who're interested in teaching is to think broadly about potential employers. There are lots of jobs out there outside of law schools that can be really rewarding and allow you to get the joys of teaching, as well as research. Those jobs are by no means limited to people with degrees from a handful of elite institutions. Moreover, no matter what type of schools you target, I'd strongly urge developing an interest in teaching and research in areas that are in demand--like commercial law and regulatory law.

I wrote about some related issues in February:
http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2008/02/trend-spotting.html

Alfred

Hi WCS--thanks for joining the conversation.

Law schools are, of course, about teaching. And as I talked about last February, I think teaching is increasingly important in law schools. Here's a brief discussion of this:
http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2008/02/trend-spotting.html

There's a lot more to say on the importance of teaching.

However, there are other places--and I'm thinking here first of community colleges--where the job is pretty much solely teaching. So if what really interests a candidate is teaching (and research is less of an interest), there are some great jobs out there that are reachable by lots of people.

What I'm trying to add to the discussion is the reminder that there are lots of employers and lots of rewarding careers beyond the 180 or so law schools.

FutureProf

Thanks Al, that was very helpful.

Joey

Any thoughts on how the B-school hiring process differs from the law school hiring process? There doesn't seem to be a lot of information on the web regarding the B-school process. Can one expect an initial interview (perhaps by phone), and then a call back with a ~20 minute job talk followed by ~40 minutes of Q&A, along with 30 minute interviews the rest of the day?

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