Life as a tenured academic in an ivory tower sounds nice, right? You don't have the stress of billable hours, ungrateful clients, angry opposing counsel. Instead, you get to research the fascinating intricacies of eleventh century forest law while taking summers off.
If that sounds like a dream come true, well, you might want to think again. Turns out, teaching law isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The Unglamorous Life of a Law Professor
It's worth noting that most of those who think academics have an incredibly easy life aren't, well, academics themselves. Many of those on the inside of the ivory tower will happily tell you about the terrors of having to "publish or perish," the endless office politics, or the indignities of being an under-paid and over-educated adjunct.
Case in point: Stephen Williams' recently penned "An Apology to All Law Professors," which recounts his experience as part-time law school adjunct, teaching a course on health law from an in-house lawyer's perspective. "Rather foolishly given the gift of hindsight," Williams writes, "I thought it would be a walk in the park." Not exactly.
As the summer turned to winter, I realized in a few short weeks the spring semester would be upon us, and I set out to prepare my first class. Reading assignments, which I thought would be fairly easy to find, suddenly left me on a quest for the holy grail, seeking the perfect few. The PowerPoint I would use to supplement my lecture, which I had budgeted an hour, maybe two, to complete, took me nearly a week.
This job was not, he realized, just for "Biglaw wash-outs." And that was before the first class, where almost no student had a genuine interest in the subject matter and question periods were soon made superfluous by the student's resounding lack of questions.
There was one bright spot, though. The gunner:
His comments were sure to illicit eye rolls from his peers, and I would have hated him when I was a 3L, but his comments and questions became a welcome reprieve, giving me a break from the monotony of my droning voice.
So for those law students who hate the gunners and for those of you dreaming of a career teaching Con Law to inspired 1Ls, well, maybe reconsider.
- What Makes a Great Law Professor? (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- Law Students, Take a Look Into Your Professors' (Very Strange) Minds (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
- How to Get a Job as a Law School Professor (FindLaw's Greedy Associates)
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