Academia

Positions for Law Graduates in Academia

UW law school graduates find a variety of positions in the academy:

  • Faculty positions in law schools, either on the tenure track or on contract
  • Faculty positions in other departments, such as business schools, either on the tenure track or on contract.
  • Administrative positions
  • Many practitioners teach part-time as “adjunct” faculty, because they love teaching. These positions pay a small stipend and are not typically a direct gateway to a full-time teaching position.

What Law Graduates Do in Academia

Tenure Track Positions

  • Primarily teach, research and write scholarly books and articles in “publish or perish” circumstances, and
  • Provide service to their schools and communities.
  • Balance of these duties varies among schools, higher ranked schools often emphasize research over teaching.

Contract Positions

  • Typically teaching focused, without an expectation to produce scholarship.
  • Often hired in legal writing or clinical law programs
  • Security of position is often a key issue; while they do not offer tenure, many do offer renewable multi-year terms

Administration

  • Law school student support programs, such as career, academic, student and public service offices, hire law school graduates, as do admissions and advancement offices and specialized research centers.
  • Many university departments hire attorneys, including areas such as Human Resources, Labor Relations, and Risk Management.
  • Central university administrations employ law graduates, all the way up to college or university presidents

Credentials Needed for Academic Positions

Tenure Track

Tenure track positions historically require:

  • Top grades
  • A judicial clerkship
  • Law review experience
  • Strong faculty recommendations, often through working as a research assistant
  • A scholarly research agenda (increasingly, especially at higher ranked schools, a significant record of 2-3 articles published or in draft form is expected)
  • Many schools now place significant emphasis on either practice experience or interdisciplinary expertise

Many schools offer post-graduate fellowships, or Visiting Assistant Professorships, which provide mentoring and an opportunity to amass a publication record and a scholarly research agenda.

Contract Positions

  • Contract teaching positions require legal experience and devotion to teaching.
  • Legal writing positions may require a judicial clerkship but many programs now seek broader practice experience.
  • Clinical teaching positions require significant practice experience and may prefer completion of an LL.M. focused around clinical teaching.

Administration

Credentials required for administrative positions vary:

  • Often include both legal practice experience and skills related to the specific position.
  • High level academic positions usually require coming up through the tenure track faculty ranks.

Pathway for Tenure Track Academic Positions

Define your substantive interests and pursue them in some depth. Consider developing interdisciplinary expertise:

Knowledge Base

Knowledge Fundamentals

Pathway Knowledge

For clerkships:

Professional Skills

Professional Skills Fundamentals

Real Life Lawyering

Clinics

Externship

Beyond Classrooms and Credits

  • Participate in a journal, preferably the Washington Law Review, and take a leadership position, as editor-in-chief, or articles editor
  • Be a research assistant for a faculty member

Last updated 10/20/2014