Careers in Law Teaching

Eric Goldman

Marquette University Law School

Last updated 2/21/2005


This web page provides resources and advice for becoming a law professor (specifically for getting a job as a full-time tenure-track professor at a law school).




Here are some resources that can help you evaluate and pursue a career as a law professor.


Uncloaking Law School Hiring: A Recruit's Guide to the AALS Faculty Recruitment Conference

This article remains the seminal piece on the AALS process.  A must-read.


Breaking Into the Academy: the 2002-2004 Michigan Journal of Race & Law Guide for Aspiring Law Professors

This guide is updated biennially, so check for the latest version.  Although nominally oriented towards minority candidates, this guide expands on and updates the AALS article above and has good discussion on the alternative paths available to get into the profession.


Advice from Various Schools

Many schools provide support to their alumni applying for law teaching jobs.  While some of these materials have school-specific aspects, they usually have more general applicability.

Columbia:  See also






Resources from Brian Leiter and Lawrence Solum

In addition to other resources at, Prof. Leiter prepared a chart of where new tenure-track law professors went to law school.  Prof. Solum did a similar analysis of entry level hiring for 2004-05 (obviously Yale and Harvard dominate, but the diversity of schools represented is interesting) and a time-series analysis showing consolidation of hiring from a very limited number of schools.  Prof. Leiter critiqued political biases in the hiring process.


The Big Rock Candy Mountain: How to Get a Job in Law Teaching

A very helpful perspective from Brad Wendel


Faculty Fellowship Programs That Lead To Law Teaching, by Patricia A. Cain and Faith Pincus

Description of programs that you can use to get onto a law teaching career track (this particular file appears to be a few years out-of-date)


Law School and Beyond

An exhaustive work discussing every aspect of the process of becoming a law school academic from law school application all the way to the on-campus interview for a full-time legal position.


Richard E. Redding, “Where Did You Go To Law School?” Gatekeeping for the Professoriate and Its Implications for Legal Education, 53 J. Legal Educ. 594 (2003)

A very detailed statistical study of the credentials of new law teachers.  This should help you assess how your credentials stack up, but remember that there’s an exception to every rule (I broke a few “rules” myself).  For additional data, see Association of American Law Schools Statistical Report on Law School Faculty and Candidates for Law Faculty Positions 1999-2000,


David W. Case, The Pedagogical Don Quixote de la Mississippi, 33 U. Memphis L. Rev. 529 (2003)

Describing the author’s 12 year quest to get a law teaching job, which required an LLM, 2 judicial clerkships, a PhD and three trips to the AALS conference [congratulations David!].


Kevin H. Smith, How to Become a Law Professor Without Really Trying: A Critical, Heuristic, Deconstructionist, and Hermeneutical Exploration of Avoiding the Drudgery Associated With Actually Working as an Attorney, 47 U. Kan. L. Rev. 139 (1998)

A satirical (?) description of the process of deciding and applying to become a law professor.



A site with more links to relevant materials.


Other General Articles

Gordon Smith’s blog post on AALS interviews,

Mike Madison’s blog post,

NY Lawyer Crossroads,

JURIST, on Women Law Professors,

So You Want to Be a Law Professor?,

Chronicle of Higher Education, (not specific to law, but a good general article; subscription required)




Rankings always generate a lot of debate.  US News and World Reports is the standard-bearer for rankings, but no one likes them.  For alternative rankings, consider Brian Leiter’s analysis (weighted towards the “top” schools) and the Internet Legal Resources Guide to law school rankings.  If you want to dictate the components that factor into rankings, try this customizable ranking tool.


Job Listings


It’s pretty much impossible to get accurate information about what schools are hiring and for what.  When you sign up for the AALS conference, you’ll get a few editions of their Placement Bulletin.  Other places to check are the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jurist and  Evaluate any published listings with healthy skepticism. 


A Few Tips of My Own



After You Get the Job


I haven’t yet seen any websites listing articles specifically addressing the transition to a new doctrinal law faculty position, so here are some suggestions:


R.H. Abrams, Sing Muse: Legal Scholarship for New Law Teachers, 37 J. Legal Educ. 1 (1987)

Susan J. Becker, Advice for the New Law Professor: A View from the Trenches, 42 J. Legal Educ. 432 (1992)

Cheryl Hanna, The Nuts and Bolts of Scholarship,

M.K. Kane, Some Thoughts on Scholarship for Beginning Teachers, 37 J. Legal Educ. 14 (1987)

Eric L. Muller, A New Teacher’s Guide to Choosing a Casebook, 45 J. Legal Educ. 557 (1995)

Douglas K. Newell, Ten Survival Suggestions for Rookie Law Teachers, 33 J. Legal Educ. 693 (1983)

Madeleine Schachter, The Law Professor's Handbook: A Practical Guide to Teaching Law Students (2003)

Kent D. Syverud, Taking Students Seriously: A Guide for New Law Teachers, 43 J. Legal Educ. 247 (1993)

Donald J. Weidner, A Dean's Letter to New Law Faculty About Scholarship. 44 J. Legal Educ. 440 (1994)

Douglas J. Whaley, Teaching Law: Advice for the New Professor, 43 Ohio State L.J. 125 (1982)


There’s an extensive literature about law teaching generally.  See the AALS and University of Iowa bibliographies about law school teaching.   Another bibliography (a little skewed to bankruptcy topics) and another.