ProfReader

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I will come back and answer the longer questions later, but with regard to adjunct teaching, there is no set path to get into that.  I taught as an adjunct three times before my
current position.  I taught twice in law schools and once in an undergrad program.  I can’t say enough good things about teaching as an adjunct in an undergrad program.  There are tons of opportunities (I’ve seen business law posted at Ryerson and many other schools, health law and human rights at York, various areas of law at OUIT, etc).  There are several advantages.  If it is your first time teaching, the students will be less Type A, the curve is less painful, and you don’t need to know the material in as much depth.  The pay is often better (depending, for example, on union arrangements).  For example, I believe that the pay for course directors at York (for undergrads) is now in the neighbourhood of around $8000, while last I heard the UofT law was closer to $4000 (depending on the number of credits for the course, etc.).  It is often easier to find postings for these positions, as the adjunct positions tend to be posted on the same spot on the website at the same time of the year (per union rules). 

 

In terms of qualifications, I believe that the position I applied to required a JD/LLB and then some mix of relevant practice experience or academic experience.  When I got my
position, I did not apply to an ad, but rather I was put into contact with the dean of the undergrad faculty by my LLM supervisor at the time.  I think no one was applying to the posting and so the dean reached out to a few law profs she/he knew in that area.  I didn’t have any sort of interview for that position, but rather we just spoke over email and the job was mine. 

 

It is rare that law schools actually advertise adjunct positions (it is more often the case that it happens informally, either by a former student saying he or she is interested in teaching there or a professor reaches out to contacts in his her area).  They are more likely to advertise limited term appointments (i.e. they want you to teach basically a full courseload but not as part of a tenure track appointment…I think UVic has something along these lines advertised right now).  If you are interested in an adjunct position, I might consider reaching out to your school or professors that you know that teach in your area.  I would aim to do that in April, as most schools seem to be making decisions for
the following year around that time.  In terms of qualifications, I think it depends on the particular area.  Although there is considerable variation among schools, I get the impression that there is a preference for more academic qualifications for the first year courses and perhaps the core upper year courses.  However, for many of the
more specialized courses and practical courses (civil trial practice, etc.), there seems to be some preference for practitioners.  However%

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Sorry about the formatting...also, I have no idea how the end of my answer got cut off.  Luckily, I wrote it in word, so here is the rest...

 

However, I am not sure if this is really a function of what the law school prefers, or whether due to the lack of advertising for positions, law schools tend to hire whoever comes along (as long as they seem relatively competent).  In terms of areas that there is trouble staffing, again that varies considerably from school to school.  Often if it is a very specialized course and they don’t have someone to teach it, they just won’t offer the course.  In terms of the more core courses, the curricular needs vary depending, for example, who is on sabbatical that year.

 

I had my first law faculty gig while I was doing my SJD.  Although it is rare for law schools to advertise, the school that I adjuncted at had posted a notice on their website saying that they were looking for adjuncts for the following year (they had several sabbaticals, retirements, etc that year).  They didn’t circulate the notice through the normal channels though (i.e. the job postings on SSRN), but rather just had it  on their website.  I did a phone interview and the gig was mine.  The third adjunct position that I had was at a law school that I had attended for one of my degrees.  A professor I knew was going on sabbatical and the school wanted the course covered (it wasn’t a core course but is a fairly standard elective that it would be weird for the school not to offer at all in a given year).  My professor recommended me to the academic dean (or whatever the title is/was at the time).  There was no interview, but rather we exchanged a series of emails and that was it. 


So, unfortunately, there is no real process for obtaining adjunct work, but rather it is very haphazard, with considerable variation depending on the school and subject matter.
 

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See my earlier posting (http://lawstudents.ca/forums/topic/31654-top-canadian-schools-vs-t14-for-academia/) for my more general thoughts on teure track hiring.  However, with regard to your specific questions...
 

It is not true that you require a doctorate from HYSCO before schools will consider you.  I can only assume that the panel you attended was at the UofT, where this may be true.  They seem to be increasingly trying to compete for candidates with the top US schools.  It may also be true for certain very competitive subject areas like constitutional law.  The law school I work at is interviewing several people this year and none of them have a degree from any of those institutions.  I do not have a degree from any of those institutions.  For some specialty areas, it wouldn’t make sense for you to have gone to those schools.  For example, if you want to teach tax law, I believe that NYU and Georgetown have much more well regarded tax LLMs than any of those schools, while I haven’t heard anything about Yale or Harvard’s tax expertise.  I can only imagine what a course at Yale on the theory of taxation would be like.

 

Yes, it is pretty much necessary to have a doctorate (either in law or a PhD in something else) these days.  I’m not sure I would say it is stupid (I’m not sure exactly what about it you think is stupid).  I think my doctorate served me well…it is difficult to say that you are an “expert” in something without some sort of extensive in depth analysis of it (assuming, of course, that you think that law schools should still teach from a more theoretical/academic standpoint rather than a practice-driven standpoint, which is a whole other question).  This is actually one of the things that I think is the most crazy about the US hiring process.  You go to Yale where you write a single student note as one of the law review editors, you clerk, and then you do a one year Visiting Professorship during which time you publish a single paper, and that makes you enough of an expert in a particular subject to teach it???  Having an SJD has also made the publication process much easier which, as you know, is integral to academic success.  I was able to spin my dissertation off into a series of papers (not obnoxious, redundant ones, but several legitimately different papers).  Also, it gave me a lot of background material for later work (i.e. if I want to make a particular argument I can mine my dissertation for citations or general discussions of those arguments).
 

I wouldn’t say that it helps to have a rare subject area or area of interest.  If your specialty is, say privacy law, you are relying on the fact that a school doesn’t have a course in that already and it is something they are interested in.  That’s why you generally have to have something in the first year curriculum/upper year core courses that you can teach in.  When I interviewed for tenure track positions, I had interviews for schools who were much more interested in my first year area of interest, but were willing to let me pursue my specialized interest for research/a seminar course.  However, I had other schools who wanted someone of my specialty and were much more focused on that.  If, however, your specialty is a high demand, low supply like tax, then it definitely helps.  As you suggest, there are some specialties that seem quite competitive (i.e. constitutional law).  Unfortunately, it is all just sort of a crapshoot and you have to be looking for jobs at the exact right time that a school is also looking in your area.

 

No clerkship=no job is completely untrue.  Although it is only one datapoint, my school interviewed several people this year, none of whom had any sort of clerkship.  The last three (or more…I didn’t look back that far) hires didn’t have one either.  For other datapoints, I can think of two friends of mine that just got hired (at two different schools), and neither of them clerked.



 

Edited by ProfReader

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Someone as helpful as Uriel helping Uriel. Now I've seen everything. :P

 

EDIT: Also - back off and get your own postings Uriel. *grrrr*.

Edited by Pyke
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This is immensely helpful, Prof, thanks.

 

I suppose I should clarify the 'stupid' remark.  :)

 

I was just starting my Ph.D. when I scooted off to law school, so I still have a lot of friends polishing off their dissertations and am only a branch removed from academia.  I was referring specifically to what seems to be a ridiculous amount of credential inflation.  If indeed you had needed an HYSCO degree to be competitive, then odds are you probably want to go to the U of T, which means you increasingly need an advanced degree just for the undergraduate legal degree.  (Is it more than 40% of applicants that have graduate degrees now?)

 

So, four years of undergrad, two years of a Master's, three years of law school, two more in an LL.M. and three to four in an S.J.D. is fifteen years.

 

Conversely, if you're going to be a subject matter expert, that's four years of undergrad, two years of a Master's, a year of coursework, a year of comps, four to seven years of dissertation, probably a year or two of post-doc, and then three more for a J.D. and possibly an LL.M., for a span of fifteen to twenty-two years of post-secondary education.

 

So after your 15-22 year span (age 18 to 33-40, assuming you've never worked), it's almost time to get on the market, but you're probably looking for conferences, grants and publications for a year or two first to get yourself lined up for a good first placement.

 

That actually suggests that if you're really diligent about legal academics from the start and never get called to the Bar or work to pay off any of what will likely be significantly more than $100,000 of student debt, then you'll be in line to enter the workplace between the ages of 35 and 42, with a small house to pay off before you can even think about starting a family.  Plus, to start, you're probably only making the Canadian average of $70,000-$80,000 if you hit the jackpot and get a tenured position.

 

That's all I meant.  It seems to be asking a lot.  I'd be perfectly comfortable with a B.A.-J.D.-LL.M. professor, and even a Ph.D.-J.D. professor seems to be asking a lot of sacrifice before allowing our academics to seek gainful employment.

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You are completely right that it is a long and painful route.  So yes, one might argue that someone is stupid to pursue the academic path, given the debt and the time and the uncertain job prospects.  I assumed that you meant that it was stupid for law schools to require such qualifications, which I don't think is stupid.  As long as there are people willing to put in the time to do the degrees, it is smart for law schools to demand those credentails (assuming that we do not want law school to become more practical in the way that they might be if it were taught by practitioners).  However, the financial situation isn't so grim.  During my SJD I was making around $25,000/yr in funding, about $8000 teaching a course, and another $10,000 or so in contract work.  If I recall, tuition was around $6000, leaving me with $37,000.  Not exactly the princely sum of a Bay Street associate, but I wasn't going into debt or going hungry and, of course, there are way fewer jerks in my apartment than on Bay Street and the work is (in my opinion) much more interesting.  In terms of the post-appointment salary, embarassingly I don't actually know what law professor salaries are like across the country (aside from a few anecdotal datapoints), but $70,000 seems really low.  Perhaps that is the salary for professors in general rather than law professors specifically?  And, of course, as a law professor there are lucractive contract opportunities.  In terms of your timeline, it isn't way off the mark, but it is a little bit too long.  Four years undergrad, only some students require an MA but let's assume 2 year MA, and 3 year JD.  However, an LLM is only 1 year and an SJD is generally only 3 years. 

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Got2B.  That is a difficult situation to explain in the abstract, although one that I run into very often with my students.  The students recite the law (sometimes in some detail) and quickly conclude whether the facts do or do not bring the situation within those facts without drawing on facts in the problem that might support or refute their argument.  As a concrete hint, you should always go back and read the introductory paragraph of a hypothetical.  It often seems like just background to set the stage, but it isn't.  It is usually very rich in facts that you can bring into your answer.  Asume that there are no sentences in the hypo that are just in there for no reason or for background.  Assume that every piece of information should be used to answer the question.  These are generally safe assumptions.  I can give you a more concrete example.  I am watching Monday's How I Met Your Mother right now.  In the episode, Barney breaks into Robin's apartment, goes through her room, finds her diary, reads her diary, and uses the information to get into touch with her exboyfriends.  Aside from the potential trespass issues (to chattel and to land), there are also potential privacy law issues.  Let's assume that you are in Ontario and know that the Court of Appeal (in Jones v Tsige) recognized the potential for a tort of invasion of privacy.  I have only read the headnote, so I will focus on the facts here rather than the specifics of the law.

At bare minimum, a student will say that looking in her diary is an intrusion to seclusion, as a diary contains private information.  A student who is really applying the facts might be more specific and talk about how her diary was not merely an account of her day but how she used it to speak about her innermost thoughts and feelings.   Someone might also seek to link the facts of this case to Jones, which also involved accessing an individual’s private written records (in that case, banking info).  Looking closely at the facts, we also know that Barney broke into her apartment. This is arguably also an intrusion on her seclusion (as it is her home and not, for example, a public place).  Many students will point this out.  However, we also know from the facts that he got the diary from her room.  Arguably, there is an even higher expectation of privacy in your room than your apartment generally because, for example, even when you invite people over they may not go in your room and due to the private activities that might occur in your room (i.e. changing clothing, etc.).  Many students won't have made this distinction, even though it is clear from the facts where her diary was located. 

 

Again, a student who carefully reads the facts might note that in using the information to locate Robin’s exboyfriends and ask them questions about her past, Barney likely disclosed some of the information he obtained from the diary to those individuals.  Arguably this may fall within another potential privacy tort, public disclosure of private facts.  A student who does more than just identify the potential tort might note that the individuals Barney disclosed the information to seemed to already be aware of the information, so that might call into question whether it can really be said that he was “disclosing” the information.  Also, the facts suggest that Barney only disclosed this information to a few persons, so this may not constitute “public” disclosure of facts.



 

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You are completely right that it is a long and painful route.  So yes, one might argue that someone is stupid to pursue the academic path, given the debt and the time and the uncertain job prospects.  I assumed that you meant that it was stupid for law schools to require such qualifications, which I don't think is stupid.  As long as there are people willing to put in the time to do the degrees, it is smart for law schools to demand those credentails (assuming that we do not want law school to become more practical in the way that they might be if it were taught by practitioners). 

Thanks again very much for the great info. Just in case I'm not being clear, and on reviewing my last post it appears I wasn't, I'm not at all knocking the decision to pursue the academic path; I thought very hard about it myself. It's the latter point that I do kind of get behind. It still seems too much to ask that the already arduous path to academia should have an additional three years pegged on to it for the purposes of legal scholarship. (Are two Masters' degrees really necessary? After having demonstrated graduate potential in another field, why can't we just wave a JD through to an SJD program?)

 

I read a lot --- a lot --- of old legal textbooks and treatises, and a huge majority of them are written by MAs or LL.B.s. There was a time when the credentials weren't the governing factor in your evaluation of preparedness to publish and teach class. Certainly the best profs currently teaching in Canadian law schools were able to begin their teaching careers without an advanced legal degree, and they turned out spectacularly. I'm just saying, the fact that people are willing to get the credentials isn't the best test of whether it's a good idea for the academy, the profession, the university or the student. (I mean, look at sessional teaching. In an intensely competitive environment, people will be willing to do all kinds of collectively counterproductive things for employment.) You're losing a lot of good, productive teaching years and crippling the prosperity of your professors by forcing them into middle age before they come into salary. Just my five cents.

 

As for average salary, I did a spot check of randomly selected newly-tenured law professors across Canada to see how many showed up on salary disclosure charts, and outside of the U of T and a few at Osgoode, none did. I asked about this anecdotally and came up with the lower figure. That does, of course, seem to reflect a Canada-wide figure that includes markets with a substantially lower cost of living.

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You are correct that excellent scholarship has been produced by many people with fewer qualifications.  I have no way of empirically measuring this, but perhaps now with people coming in with more writing/research experience and expertise in a particular area, they are able to produce that excellent scholarship earlier in their careers (although that doesn't really do them any good because they were leading the poor student lifestyle while getting to a position to write said excellent scholarship rather than doing so while already in a tenure track position).  I agree that the second masters degree (or even the LLM) may not be necessary.  I can definitely get behind the SJD or PhD to show expertise and research potential and to have a large written project such that you can spin it off into papers, but I agree that the MA is not necessary and do not really see why the LLM is either.  I'm not sure what the rules at all schools are, but an LLM is not necessary everywhere in order to get an SJD. I definitely have colleagues who began an LLM, rolled that work over into an SJD and graduated with just an SJD after 3 years (one of them definitely did this at the UofT...again, I don't know what the rules are elsewhere). I don't think it disadvantaged them on the job market either.  So I can accept that perhaps it would be more reasonable to expect a 4 year degree, 3 year JD, and 3 year SJD.  Unfortunately, the necessary credentials aren't about to change (if anything they will go in the opposite direction) since there are enough people with those credentials.

 

Of course, my situation is such that I think I required that extra LLM time (so perhaps that is why I do not feel particularly passionate about the credentials issue).  I got into law school after 2 years (you could still do that at most schools until at least the earl 2000s), finished my JD (then LLB) when I was 22, was called to the bar when I was 23, finished my LLM at 24.  I was in no way ready to be a law professor at that time, so I definitely needed the extra 3 (or what ended up to be more in my case) years.  If I hadn't done the LLM and was able to go straight into an SJD, I still don't think I would have been ready. 

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I know of a prof who makes over 300 grand at Osgoode.  Think contracts.....................

I assume you mean that he or she does contract work rather than teaches contracts.  I thought Uriel's figures were a little bit low for the base salary, but not by much.  If I had to guess, I would have said the starting salary is more in the neighbourhood of $85,000-$95,000, but I definitely trust his research.  When I got offered a job, I wasn't in a position to try to negotiate.  In terms of contrats, there is a lot of money to be made, especially for particular areas of the law, so I can see how your professor would get to $300,000.  However, for people who are pre-tenure and have to spend lots of time writing, it is often best to keep that to a minimum (or to only do contracts that you can use that research for a publication). 

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I know you mentioned that you have never sat on the admissions committee but in your expert opinion, ProfReader, what are the prospects of admission into Osgoode's JD program for those who have very low LSATs but have legitimate reasons (e.g., medical) and decent (but not great GPAs) and very strong ECs (multiple graduate degrees plus meaningful work experience)?  I am actually asking this question on behalf of a close friend who applied as an access applicant to a number of law schools (mostly out of town) but is concerned that Osgoode has now abolished categories such as access and special circumstances, etc. even though Osgoode (at least in theory) has a holistic admission policy (the question how holistic is also debatable, I supposed).  She also seems to think that the access category is limited to only aboriginal applicants although I personally disagree as I think that the category includes those who have experienced medical setbacks and unexpected circumstances that are of prolonged and continual nature.

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Nope, I mean to teach contracts.

 

That is definitely the exception, rather than the norm.  Even those most famous people at UofT tend to max out around $285,000 (and UofT pays higher than Osgoode).  If it is who I think you might be referring to, he wasn't getting paid this JUST to teach contracts, but rather had a fairly high ranking administrative position.

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You are correct that excellent scholarship has been produced by many people with fewer qualifications.  I have no way of empirically measuring this, but perhaps now with people coming in with more writing/research experience and expertise in a particular area, they are able to produce that excellent scholarship earlier in their careers (although that doesn't really do them any good because they were leading the poor student lifestyle while getting to a position to write said excellent scholarship rather than doing so while already in a tenure track position).  I agree that the second masters degree (or even the LLM) may not be necessary.  I can definitely get behind the SJD or PhD to show expertise and research potential and to have a large written project such that you can spin it off into papers, but I agree that the MA is not necessary and do not really see why the LLM is either.  I'm not sure what the rules at all schools are, but an LLM is not necessary everywhere in order to get an SJD. I definitely have colleagues who began an LLM, rolled that work over into an SJD and graduated with just an SJD after 3 years (one of them definitely did this at the UofT...again, I don't know what the rules are elsewhere). I don't think it disadvantaged them on the job market either.  So I can accept that perhaps it would be more reasonable to expect a 4 year degree, 3 year JD, and 3 year SJD.  Unfortunately, the necessary credentials aren't about to change (if anything they will go in the opposite direction) since there are enough people with those credentials.

 

Of course, my situation is such that I think I required that extra LLM time (so perhaps that is why I do not feel particularly passionate about the credentials issue).  I got into law school after 2 years (you could still do that at most schools until at least the earl 2000s), finished my JD (then LLB) when I was 22, was called to the bar when I was 23, finished my LLM at 24.  I was in no way ready to be a law professor at that time, so I definitely needed the extra 3 (or what ended up to be more in my case) years.  If I hadn't done the LLM and was able to go straight into an SJD, I still don't think I would have been ready. 

 

I completely agree --- if we could do away with the LL.M. and/or the increasing need for an M.A. to get into law school, I'd be 100% behind the industry-standard SJD or PhD for the reasons you state.

 

So, great!  It's decided.  The LL.M. is cancelled.  I'll call the American schools, you call the Canadian ones.  :)

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I know of a prof who makes over 300 grand at Osgoode

That would definitely be anomaly, if true. If you have a look at Ontario's sunshine list from last year, there are very few profs at York over $200,000,let alone $300,000.

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ProfReader,

 

Thank you so much for your feedback! I'll attempt to start applying it and do some practice exams for my profs to look over. Right now I'm just feeling rather lost and like I'm never going to "get it", especially since I thought I was getting it. Again, thank you. I really appreciate your feedback.

 

PS- I loved the HIMYM example

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Right now I'm just feeling rather lost and like I'm never going to "get it", especially since I thought I was getting it.

 

Law school exams are a skill that takes time for some people to develop.  You shouldn't feel that you are never going to get it.  Also, bear in mind that in upper year there are lots of classes you can take that don't involve the same sorts of hypotheticals that your first year classes generally involve.  There are trial practice/moot classes that involve oral advocacy and legal writing.  There are seminar classes with papers.  There are classes with essays on the exam that involve analyzing the law rather than applying it to facts (i.e. Over time, Canadian courts have shifted the law of defamation from a focus on protecting the individual's reputation to a focus on protecting free speech.  Do you think the courts have shifted the balance too far?).  There are classes with take home exams (if you think that the exam environment contributed to your difficulties).   

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I completely agree --- if we could do away with the LL.M. and/or the increasing need for an M.A. to get into law school, I'd be 100% behind the industry-standard SJD or PhD for the reasons you state.

 

So, great!  It's decided.  The LL.M. is cancelled.  I'll call the American schools, you call the Canadian ones.  :)

The US schools have received the message....although less arduous and time-consuming, they have their own equally ridiculous set of credentials.

 

Be on the law review while doing your JD at only Harvard or Yale.  Clerk for a well-regarded appeals court or the Supreme Court.  Do a one year Visiting Assistant Professorship/Fellowship.  Apparently the one "note" you write while on law review and the one paper you publish during your VAP qualify you to teach.

 

I interviewed at a few US schools and not a single one even asked me about my SJD research.  They did, however, ask me such important questions as "why did you go to [inset name of my JD school]?" (said in a judgmental tone) and "why weren't you on law review?" (I proceeded to explain that in Canada we have peer reviewed journals and so being a law review editor is much different here).

Edited by ProfReader

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Don't tell them that!  They think law review is my most impressive credential, suckers.

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