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September 21, 2021


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Jason Yackee

Come on, adjuncting is the ultimate "no one is making you do this job" kind of job. The terms and conditions are knowable up front; and if you don't know, you will learn them pretty quickly. The pay sucks. You have no status or governance rights. There is no career path into a tenure track position. But so what? Take one of life's myriad other, better-paying paths.

The "adjuncts are exploited" line is even more idiotic as applied to law school adjuncts--who are people who have highly valued skills and knowledge that they can certainly sell on the legal labor market to paying clients. Which most of them do, or did. Adjuncting in law schools was never intended to be, nor should it be, a full time job. Most (all?) law adjuncts do it because they like teaching, are looking for something fulfilling to do in retirement, and/or because they think the "adjunct professor" line on their CVs will help out their (paying) legal practice.

Lubet would, apparently, prefer that we not let them teach for us, or that we blow up our budget (and charge our students more in tuition as the obvious consequence). But where's the sense in that? My school pays our adjuncts peanuts. Something like $3,000 a course. A yet we have what seems to be an inexhaustible supply of people who want the job. These aren't people living in tent cities and begging for your half-eaten Big Mac. They aren't mental nitwits or naifs. They are highly accomplished local lawyers who come into this game voluntarily. There's no deception, and no coercion. It's about as truly voluntary an arrangement as you can imagine.

Steve L.

That's pretty harsh, Jason. The erosion of tenure lines in humanities and social science is a serious problem for faculties, students, and adjuncts.

I agree this does not affect law school adjuncts. The author of this piece, however, teaches literature.

John Browning

Contrary to Jason’s belief, most adjuncts provide valuable ( and valued by students) instruction in more specialized and practice-oriented course offerings that simply can’t be taught by theory-focused full-time faculty who have little if any meaningful practice experience. Ever learn Intellectual Property from a professor who’s actually handled a Markman hearing or obtained trademark protection for a client? If you took my course, that answer would be yes. The same goes for learning PR from a professor who can imbue doctrinal instruction with real world practical perspective from representing clients in legal malpractice litigation and disciplinary proceedings ( me again). And yes, while most adjuncts like me do it out of a sense of service to the future of the profession, many of us have academic chops that might surprise you, including published scholarship. My 5 law books and 40 law review articles are more than many of the full time faculty at schools where I’ve served as an adjunct. Despite this, adjuncts remain the second class citizens of the law school faculty, undervalued and under appreciated.



It is a matter of social justice. How assets are distributed fairly. Legal academia is teaching us, by example, what that means.

Adjuncts could work at McD's if they don't like it. They choose.

Let them eat cake!


BTW, the notion of "equal pay for equal work" as enunciated by legal academia is truly exposed as risible here.

TO be sure, regular faculty have duties beyond teaching ("we let them teach for us"). Committee meetings (so onerous, no?), and, the big one, scholarship.

But, what are we to say of the commonly found tenured professor who never really wrote anything of consequence and now doesn't even try?

These folks work, usually, for two semesters, and grade papers. During the week, they might be found in their offices two days per week.

Other than these 30 or so weeks, they are not required to teach or even be on campus.

So, the work of the adjuncts, teaching just like they do, paid at a rate of 1/10 or 1/20 or even less?

Imagine the first year, first semester. A law school is making its first impression on its new enrollees. It sends in, to teach a doctrinal course, an adjunct, and pays that person 3K.

Any rationale person would say that the teaching function - some would say the core mission of a law school filled with professors whose scholarship is nil or close to it -- is not different when the adjunct teaches the course.

This is not to say there aren't numerous examples of the truly pernicious, intentional acts by the law schools to disadvantage the adjunct faculty. Courses are scheduled and distributed to avoid any adjunct gaining benefits.

As suggested by the post above, all manner of indignities are zealously heaped on adjuncts, are they not?

Really, it is a study in the ability of humans who exploit others, directly and intentionally, while boasting about their virtue.

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