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#251 BortSimpson

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Posted 20 August 2016 - 11:52 PM

How difficult is it to get a cross-appointment with another faculty? I guess that's kind of difficult to answer in the abstract. I've always had a very deep passion for my undergrad major (history) but now that I'm doing a JD, if I went into academia I'd likely pursue something law and history related.



#252 ProfReader

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Posted 21 August 2016 - 06:37 AM

Yes, it is a bit difficult to answer in the abstract--it is somewhat institution dependent and faculty dependent. But it isn't generally that hard. You can push for one when you hired, which is a bit more tricky, or you can attend faculty workshops and other events in the other department and get to know those researchers such that they are supportive of a cross-appointment.

#253 setto

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 11:19 AM

I'm curious about the path to becoming a law professor. I've had some that left a firm immediately after articles for an LLM and then a PhD, but I'm interested in how others have pulled off getting an LLM/PhD. Do these people work in the field for years and pursue studies part time or do they simply drop out of practice and pursue graduate studies? The latter seems like such a risky move considering how competitive academia is.



#254 ProfReader

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 01:16 PM

Yes, some article or practice for a few years and then do an LLM/PhD, although I would say it is about as common now to never practice (but maybe get called through clerking) before beginning an LLM/PhD.  It is quite rare for people to practice for any length of time before going into academia.  In terms of part-time studies, that happens occasionally in the LLM program because some schools have part-time LLMs, but not in the PhD program.  It may seem risky to drop out of private practice, but most of the people I know in academia/people I know who dropped out of academia would never go back to/never work in private practice.  Most do something policy-oriented or occasionally practice in the public sector, which isn't as difficult a transition from academia (as compared to transitioning to private practice).


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#255 theycancallyouhoju

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Posted 24 August 2016 - 10:27 PM

It is quite rare for people to practice for any length of time before going into academia...It may seem risky to drop out of private practice, but most of the people I know in academia/people I know who dropped out of academia would never go back to/never work in private practice.  Most do something policy-oriented or occasionally practice in the public sector, which isn't as difficult a transition from academia (as compared to transitioning to private practice).

 

When I was in law school this frustrated me a great deal. Even acknowledging that my dream of law school as a professional school will never happen, it was very troubling to me that commercial law classes were taught by people who didn't practice, and that someone with both interests was effectively barred from academia. Since beginning to practice, I would say I haven't found senior lawyers to be any less interested in or capable of thinking through policy - quite the contrary, they tend to know the issues that actually matter to people and have an impact on real lives better than my Corp 101 prof did. Much better, in fact. Things we spent a month discussing in business law-related classes in school literally never come up, and it's not as if business law doesn't have interesting issues.

 

A few of the professors I did research for asked near the end of 3L whether I intended to pursue academia. When I said I wanted to practice for a few years and see how it went they told me that would almost certainly foreclose any chance in the academy. That still seems preposterous to me. I appreciate that three years of doing securities transactions isn't particularly helpful to becoming a prof/scholar of international water rights law, but maybe it is to becoming a prof/scholar of securities law. There appeared to me a strangely militant insistence among the academy that no one who has practiced a body of law has any additional insight to provide into what students (the majority of whom will practice, not become scholars) might want to learn about that law, or what issues might be germane for the academy to treat.

 

So, I guess my q is, why dat? And are there voices that internally speak out against that? Does anyone who has influence in the matter think that maybe a school charging money to future practitioners has a responsibility to help them become practitioners?


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#256 ProfReader

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 12:08 PM

"[I]t was very troubling to me that commercial law classes were taught by people who didn't practice, and that someone with both interests was effectively barred from academia...When I said I wanted to practice for a few years and see how it went they told me that would almost certainly foreclose any chance in the academy. "

Many schools have a variety of commercial classes that are taught by practitioners, so practitioners aren't barred from academia entirely.  There is absolutely no reluctance to hire someone who has practiced (and, all other things being equal between two candidates, that might even help).  However, the problem is that a doctorate has basically become a requirement for a full-time faculty appointment and there are very few practitioners who would like to go back to school for another five-ish years to get a doctorate to have a shot at an academic job.  So it isn't that law schools don't want to hire people with practical experience, it is the lack of candidates with both practical experience and a doctorate.  

 

"a strangely militant insistence among the academy that no one who has practiced a body of law has any additional insight to provide into what students"

I totally disagree with this.  While we could certainly debate whether practical experience is valued enough in law school hiring and curriculum planning, I have never encountered a single colleague who is resistant to people who have practiced or who believe that those who have practice have no additional insights.  When we have panels of speakers or conferences, we sometimes include practitioners.  When we invite guest speakers to our classes, we sometimes invite practitioners.  Etc.  

 

"Does anyone who has influence in the matter think that maybe a school charging money to future practitioners has a responsibility to help them become practitioners?"

These debates come up, but increasingly less so.  People want to hire other people who are like themselves--they like familiarity.  Now that law schools are more academic and less professional, the faculty members hire people who are like themselves--who have doctorates and who took an academic path.  Those new hires come in with more publications and grant writing experience, and are socialized to fit into an academic environment.  That is familiar, and thus appealing, to other law profs, and those are the credentials that they generally value most.  This shift also gives law faculties more credibility among university administration and colleagues in other faculties.


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#257 theycancallyouhoju

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 08:42 PM

"a strangely militant insistence among the academy that no one who has practiced a body of law has any additional insight to provide into what students"

I totally disagree with this.  While we could certainly debate whether practical experience is valued enough in law school hiring and curriculum planning, I have never encountered a single colleague who is resistant to people who have practiced or who believe that those who have practice have no additional insights.  When we have panels of speakers or conferences, we sometimes include practitioners.  When we invite guest speakers to our classes, we sometimes invite practitioners.  Etc.  

 

"Does anyone who has influence in the matter think that maybe a school charging money to future practitioners has a responsibility to help them become practitioners?"

These debates come up, but increasingly less so.  People want to hire other people who are like themselves--they like familiarity.  Now that law schools are more academic and less professional, the faculty members hire people who are like themselves--who have doctorates and who took an academic path.  Those new hires come in with more publications and grant writing experience, and are socialized to fit into an academic environment.  That is familiar, and thus appealing, to other law profs, and those are the credentials that they generally value most.  This shift also gives law faculties more credibility among university administration and colleagues in other faculties.

 

I appreciate that a doctoral degree has become a norm, but that's sort of a way to avoid the question rather than answer it. Why that? Of course it's easier to judge people who walked the same path I did - I appreciate that people like to hire other people who look like them. But you folks are the academy. You can easily both recognize why that's going to lead to a homogeneous faculty and why homogeneity of thinking patterns is a questionable good at best. You have an ethical obligation to society and to your students and I know the academy takes itself seriously on both points. It's at least a reasonable argument to consider that the academy may, as part of its role in society, be obligated to prepare students for the challenges they will face out of school.* Why not acknowledge that hiring only post-docs as full tenured faculty means a structurally ensured absence of people who think about law in a different way and who would focus on inculcating different skills in students? I feel like 'these are structural features designed to increase the power of a single social class arguably at the expense of the interests of the constituency paying that class and that's bad' is the sort of argument the academy is pretty good at making.

 

*I think the CNN talking point response to this was always, "We teach you how to think about law in a way that will let you argue for new readings of law". Great, we're all going to be appellate court litigators I suppose, then. 


Edited by theycancallyouhoju, 25 August 2016 - 08:45 PM.


#258 ProfReader

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 09:24 PM

I think the movement towards requiring a doctorate wasn't necessarily a conscious decision made by law schools who thought out the consequences of that decision, but rather it was something that sort of crept in over time as doctorates in law became more commonplace.  As I noted above, university administration and faculty members from outside the law school also fully embraced this trend, thereby reinforcing it.  I don't see the current system as doing an ethical disservice to society or our students.  With regard to society, I think that the scholarship being produced by legal scholars (which informs policy-making and judicial decision-making) is much, much stronger now that law has become more academic.  With regard to students, I don't think your "CNN talking point" lacks as much credibility as you do.  We are teaching students how to think about the law, how to develop analytical skills, etc.  The practical part comes from both articling and a plethora of opportunities in law schools to take courses from practitioners, do moots, do clinics, etc.  Lawt schools also give students opportunities to develop practical skills like writing memos, facta, etc. through the legal research and writing program.  

 

I disagree that the current system results in a "structurally ensured absence of people who think about law in a different way and who would focus on inculcating different skills in students."  First, there are loads of courses taught by practitioners and I am not certain that it would make a significant difference if they were full-time faculty members.  If anything, they would likely become increasingly academic and out-of-touch with the realities of practice.  Second, I am not convinced that those practitioners would furnish students with different skills as you suggest.  I have obviously been in many classes taught by practitioners.  They tend to use the same textbooks as the classes taught by full-time faculty, injecting that material with anecdotes from practice and war stories.  



#259 theycancallyouhoju

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Posted 25 August 2016 - 09:41 PM

Well, I was taught how to think about the law in the sense that I was taught to read case law and discern principles. I wasn't taught anything a solicitor is concerned with except in the one transaction class available to us - to be fair, the school had two, but you were only allowed credit for one of them. In three years there were two courses relevant to becoming a solicitor and we were allowed to take one.

 

Current practitioners teaching classes is great, and I enjoyed some of those courses. But they obviously face time constraints that ensure they will establish courses that require the least possible amount of remaking the wheel. I think that's where it might make a difference to encourage full tenured faculty be open to former practitioners who, in my experience, are more likely to think that reading cases and writing one long paper at the end of the year is less instructive and helpful than law school could be. 



#260 ProfReader

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Posted 26 August 2016 - 05:58 AM

I don't see cases as being so irrelevant to the work of a solicitor.  Many cases are about statutory interpretation or contractual interpretation, which is certainly relevant to solicitors.  I can't speak to the curriculum at your law school specifically, as I don't know where you went, but law schools generally have many upper year courses for students interested in corporate work--tax, securities, corporate finance, mergers, etc.

 

I still don't buy that bringing on practitioners would cause much change.  Above, I had talked about the tendency to reinforce the way that law school is already taught through practitioners using existing materials.  Here, you add evaluation methods and attribute it to time constraints.  With regard to preparing materials, I'm not convinced that even as full-time faculty members they wouldn't just use materials that are ready to go and that all of their colleagues are already using (i.e. it is the path of least resistance).  With regard to evaluation methods, there is nothing at all stopping practitioners who come in as adjuncts from using evaluation methods other than a paper.  It isn't really much work to design an assignment.  And, as I mentioned above, if you appoint practitioners as full-time faculty, they will start to look less like practitioners and more like academics over time, and will likely become out of touch with practice quite quickly.  

 

I don't think your criticism with law schools as insufficiently practice-oriented is necessarily invalid, but I disagree that hiring practitioners as full-time faculty members will change much.


Edited by ProfReader, 26 August 2016 - 05:59 AM.

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#261 theycancallyouhoju

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Posted 28 August 2016 - 07:16 PM

I don't think cases are irrelevant to a solicitor, but I also don't think they're literally the only good thing. Aside from the one practical course available, all of my classes consisted of academic articles, the statute and cases. So the argument would have to be that these are the exclusive goods - otherwise, it seems to me a problem that for three years these are essentially the only materials students are (forced to be) exposed to. It's not a coincidence these are the materials academics spend the most time engaging.

 

Yes, we of course had the gamut of business related classes. I indeed learned how to parse cases and uncover which security interest ranks ahead of which other security interest. I read Salomon v Salomon and I still think it's neat that I know the old-timey context in which corporations got their personhood. But that's not what a solicitor thinks about during most of the day. We encounter unanswered or unlitigated legal questions sometimes and the litigator-friendly training at law school helps. Still, that accounts for a small minority of our time. U of T offered no classes on how to draft. Drafting takes up an awful lot of our day and there was simply no way to acquire a skill related to it in law school. 

 

One of the reasons I think drawing from a different talent pool could change that is because of how very hostile the academy was to the suggestion of a more applicable education. Professors scoffed at the idea, feigning as if they were being asked to teach us how to conduct due diligence or compile closing checklists. At the same time, firms and other employers often complain that students arrive unready for practice. So one class scoffs at the idea of reform and the other pleads for it. I admit that letting in a few practitioners may just make academics out of the practitioners, and I acknowledge that I care more about law school becoming a helpful stage in becoming a lawyer than I do about any particular class of people being employed by the schools. 

 

Still, I think you're unfairly reframing the original question. The trend to only hire those who have doctorates - and therefore not practitioners - is an exclusionary one. What benefit does the exclusion bring? The problem of doctoral candidates/post-docs not necessarily being very good teachers/not being educated in how to teach is widely acknowledged. So the SJD doesn't control for quality of instruction. What does it control for aside from publishing capacity? And if just publishing capacity, how does that translate to making better lawyers out of law students in a way that forecloses the usefulness of any other background?


Edited by theycancallyouhoju, 28 August 2016 - 07:38 PM.


#262 Chipmunk

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 08:03 PM

Generally speaking, do Canadian professors test policy on the exam?

I find that I can make a policy argument (for the losing side) by saying that law should be 'this way because of ...,' for every issue, with the policy argument still being very relevant to the facts, each side and theories discussed in class.

This creates an additional paragraph to every issue I talk about.

Is this too much? Will profs think it's irrelevant?

When do you REALLY know whether policy is needed or not?



#263 ProfReader

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Posted 03 October 2016 - 08:29 PM

It depends.  Most law school exams are mostly or entirely made up of hypothetical questions, which are focused on what the law is (and applying it to a set of facts) rather than what the law ought to be.  Some professors will have a policy question that is generally worth fewer points than the hypothetical question(s).  But these are just generalizations.  You should wait until your professors talk about the exams (i.e. in a review class) or provide sample exam questions/answers and bring this up at that time (if they don't do so themselves).



#264 Ryn

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Posted 04 October 2016 - 07:45 AM

Generally speaking, do Canadian professors test policy on the exam?

I find that I can make a policy argument (for the losing side) by saying that law should be 'this way because of ...,' for every issue, with the policy argument still being very relevant to the facts, each side and theories discussed in class.

This creates an additional paragraph to every issue I talk about.

Is this too much? Will profs think it's irrelevant?

When do you REALLY know whether policy is needed or not?

 

 

As a supplement to what ProfReader said, my experience has been that between 1/2 to 1/3rd of the exam will focus on policy. It will be obvious that the question is asking you to discuss policy. An example question might be, "Fuller and Perdue argued that the normal remedy of expectation damages may be the best doctrine to (a) protect full recovery for reliance interests, including those for lost opportunities; and (b) encourage reliance on contracts as a beneficial tool of social planning, especially in a complex modern society. Discuss why the courts should or should not continue to use expectation damages in calculating remedies, or whether one of the alternative damage calculations is more appropriate." (NB: this is not an actual exam question as I just made it up, but it's similar enough to a real question in my experience).

 

The other portion of the exam will be a fact pattern, in which you will generally not be expected to argue policy; instead, you're to discuss the law as it applies to the facts and make an argument for one of the parties (or discuss what the court would likely say given the facts).



#265 auroraborealis

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 01:26 PM

Do you think going to law school at the same university as undergrad is a bad idea or would it be better to move around and experience different cities? My first choice for law school is the same university as my undergrad but I'm wondering if staying in one place would have any negative effects.



#266 Jaggers

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 01:43 PM

It's not a bad idea, and there are no negative effects. There is something to be said for moving, though. I've done it a few times, and it's nice to be in different places.



#267 maximumbob

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 02:45 PM

I'm with Jaggers on the merits of variety. I mean, it'll depend on the school and your circumstances, but there is something to be said to moving to a different environment. Still, it's not a bad idea.

#268 ProfReader

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Posted 29 October 2016 - 09:59 PM

This is more of a personal question than an academic question when you are talking about undergrad and law school.  This advice is only really given academically when talking about undergrad/masters or, even more so masters/PhD or PhD/post-doc.  When given under those circumstances, the advice is about cultivating relationships with more than one mentor, etc.  However, as between undergrad and law school there is no real academic benefit to attending two different institutions.  When it comes to personal factors, there are advantages and disadvantages.  In terms of advantages, there is something to be said for broadening your horizons and exposing yourself to another city.  Furthermore, you may develop closer relationships with your law school colleagues if you move away from your undergrad friends.  However, staying in the same place also has advantages.  You are familiar with the environment and may not have to move, both of which can cause stress at the start of law school.  Second, as you may have seen elsewhere on this site, it is very common advice to go to law school where you want to practice.  In some cases (I'm not sure if this includes you), the city where you do your undergrad is the city where you will want to end up, in which case it would be an advantage to go to law school in that city.