what is required to be a college professor for a lawyer

by Holden McDermott 3 min read

  1. Get exceptional grades in law school. Regardless of your approach to becoming a law professor, a strong academic record is important.
  2. Work on a law journal to show your interest in legal scholarship. ...
  3. Practice law for 2 to 5 years before going back to school. ...
  4. Pursue a graduate degree in an academic area related to law. To take an interdisciplinary approach toward becoming a law professor, you need a Ph.D. ...
  5. Continue to publish in law journals while getting your graduate degree. ...
  6. Keep in touch with your old law school professors. As you work towards your graduate degree, continually reach out to old law school professors and maintain relationships with them.

A: As a starting point, you must have first earned an undergraduate degree, a Juris Doctorate degree from a law school, and have passed the bar examination. Law professors typically had excellent grades, or have established themselves as an authority in the field through their outstanding and successful legal practice.Jun 20, 2016

Full Answer

How do I become a law professor?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a master's degree is sufficient to teach in a 2-year school, like a community or junior college. Colleges also hire adjunct and part-time professors. These positions do not always require a Ph.D., which you need to advance to a tenure-track position ( www.bls.gov ).

What schools do law professors go to?

Nov 09, 2020 · For individuals committed to the idea of teaching and researching at a postsecondary level, proper planning beginning with your selection of an undergraduate institution is necessary. This is a field where elite credentials give candidates a leg-up in the pursuit of a tenure-track position.

What does a law professor do?

Jan 16, 2022 · Step 3: Get a High SAT/ACT Score. Since you'll need to go to graduate school to become a professor, it'll be helpful if you can get into a great college. To do this, you'll need to have an impressive SAT/ACT score. Ideally, you'll take your first SAT or ACT around the beginning of your junior year.

What are the prerequisites for a law degree?

Oct 07, 2019 · If you plan to gain a Ph.D. and then take your skills to the private sector, you may choose to be a college professor after gaining your Master's degree as a way to pay your way through the rest of your education. However, if your desire is to devote your life to teaching in academia, then you will need to focus on earning tenure at a university.


How to become a law professor?

2. Publish articles in practice journals and academic journals. Law schools typically look down on practice journals or trade magazines. However, if you're trying to become a law professor based on your experience, publication in practical journals helps bolster your reputation as an expert.

What do you want to do as a professor?

If you're considering being a professor based on your practical experience, you want to become an expert at whatever legal niche you practice. Professors hired based on their experience typically are clinical professors, but some also teach academic classes in niche subjects, such as entertainment law.

What percentage of your class should you be in law school?

At a minimum, you should rank in the top 25-30% of your class. The highest possible rank is always the best. Your class rank and grades will be more important to the law schools when you apply as a law professor than they will be when you apply for your graduate degree.

Do you need a law review to become a professor?

If you're taking the classical path toward becoming a law professor, you need to be a member of the most important law review at your law school. While most law schools have several journals that focus on a particular field of law, for the classical path, the main law review is the only one that matters.

Who is Jennifer Mueller?

Jennifer Mueller is an in-house legal expert at wikiHow. Jennifer reviews, fact-checks, and evaluates wikiHow's legal content to ensure thoroughness and accuracy. She received her JD from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2006.

Do all student notes get published?

Not all student notes are published. However, if you want to become a law professor, your note should be good enough to be published. In addition to your student note, start working on an article that you can submit to other journals for publication after you graduate from law school.

How long is a J.S.D. program?

These two- to three-year J.S.D. programs are research-oriented, and designed for future professors. Graduates typically exit with at least one piece of substantial academic scholarship. Some programs also let students to hone their teaching skills with short-term adjunct opportunities.

Is a law degree required to be a professor?

In the United States, for example, a doctorate or graduate degree isn't required to get a teaching job at a law school. This is because a J.D. is already considered a postgraduate degree, ...

Is an LL.M. a good pathway to teaching?

This is one reason why getting an LL.M. is not a common pathway to a teaching jobs in the United States.

Where is Bradley Wendel now?

W. Bradley Wendel, now at Cornell, finished his LL.M. and J.S.D. at Columbia University a decade ago. He suggests this experience was less about collecting two more degrees for his resume, but more about publishing and getting acclimated to the culture of legal academia.

Undergraduate Study

Because the Juris Doctor is a postgraduate degree, law schools generally require that you have completed (or be on track to complete) a 4-year bachelor’s degree. There are no prerequisite courses for prospective law students, though your degree must come from an accredited institution and your undergraduate GPA will be scrutinized.

Admissions Tests

Until recently, the requirement that law school applicants take the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) was nearly ubiquitous.

Letters of Recommendation

Law schools will want to see at least a couple of letters of recommendation. Although these generally carry less weight than grades and test scores, they can still be important.

Personal Statement

Most law schools will ask you to write a personal statement. It may be open-ended, or the school’s application may prompt you to respond to particular questions. Make sure to tailor your statement accordingly. Don’t write a cookie-cutter statement that is not responsive to the particular prompt.

How to Become a Lawyer

If your goal is to become a practicing attorney, you’ll need to earn a Juris Doctor degree (JD) and pass a State Bar exam.* The typical full-time JD program takes 3 years to complete, while part-time and online programs are generally structured over 4 years.

Get Ready to Work Hard

Have realistic expectations. Few law students have the nightmarish experience portrayed in films like The Paper Chase. Yet even those who found undergraduate study to be a breeze, or who excelled in other graduate programs, often report that law school was harder than anything they had encountered, particularly in the first year.

What do law professors do?

Like attorneys, law professors work within different disciplines of the law. Determine if you want to educate students in a hands-on or traditional academic setting. For example, clinical law professors educate students about hands-on courtroom criminal and civil law tactics.

What does an academic professor do?

Academic professors teach legal theory, and discuss contracts and constitutional application within the surroundings of a lecture hall or classroom. Some attorneys maintain a job at a law firm or in public service while teaching as an adjunct professor.

Why do attorneys open their own businesses?

With society becoming more litigious than ever, some attorneys are opening their own businesses as educators and consultants to educate the public on legal issues. For example, corporations hire a staff attorney to teach and advise employees and senior management on employment law issues.

What do law graduates do?

Many law graduates seek big money working in the legal department of large corporations or law firms. Other attorneys head for public service, toiling as public defenders and possibly aspiring to becoming a judge. Although practicing law is the norm for many attorneys, some lawyers choose to become educators and advisers so they can pass along ...

What are the courses that are taught outside of law school?

Courses pertaining to legal matters outside of law school need professors with strong legal backgrounds to teach courses in journalism, medicine, economics and philosophy. To teach subjects other than those offered in law school, applicants must have a certain number of credits or an undergraduate degree in a specific subject.

What is adjunct teaching?

Typically an adjunct teaching job is a supplemental position and does not provide opportunity for tenure or a full-time teaching position. Attorneys teach classes based on their legal concentration, such as immigration attorneys teach immigration law or public defenders teach criminal law.

What degree do you need to be a professor?

While colleges and subjects vary, the preferred degree for college professors is a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Students expect their professors to be masters of the subject material they teach. In some disciplines, such as music and psychology, you may be allowed to teach with just a master's degree. Each school states what degree they require in ...

What are the steps to becoming a tenured professor?

Many professors are expected to publish original research books and journal articles. Some colleges provide sabbaticals for professors to pursue research and continuing education credits. The BLS highlights four steps or tiers to becoming a tenured professor: instructor, assistant professor, associate professor and professor.

How much do professors make in 2020?

As of 2019, job opportunities were projected to grow by 9% from then until 2029. In May 2020, professors' mean annual salaries varied by field. Among the fields listed, the lowest-paying subject was vocational education at $53,690, while the highest paying subject was law at $137,430 ( www.bls.gov ).

What is a Ph.D. program?

This can usually be met in teaching internships or assistantships taken during your matriculation. A Ph.D. program will equip you with the necessities of working in a college setting. Along with classroom-based learning, you will study research and writing methodologies in preparation for your future field research.

Do I Need to Attend a Prestigious Graduate School?

More than ever before, prestige matters is the field of higher education. A recent study examined 19,000 tenure-track or tenured faculty at over 450 colleges and universities. They focused on three very different disciplines: computer science, history, and business and found several overarching conclusions about whether the prestige of your Ph.D.

Do I Need to Attend a Prestigious Undergraduate School?

Knowing that attending an elite PhD program significantly improves you chances of landing a tenure-track academic job, let’s examine the next logical question—do you need to attend an elite undergraduate school to get into an elite PhD program?

Earning a PhD is a Long Commitment

The average PhD takes over eight years to complete. Breaking this down a bit, a doctorate in the physical sciences averages just under seven years, a doctorate in the social sciences is just over seven, and a terminal degree in the humanities takes over nine years.

The Adjunct Reality

Since 1975, the percent of part-time professors in the United States has increased by 300%. Today, these part-timers known as adjunct professors make up over half of the total faculty members at U.S. colleges. They are typically paid between $2,000 and $6,000 per class.

Salary for Tenure-Track Professors

In 2019, the average annual salary for a tenure-track assistant and associate professor fell between $70-80k. Full tenured professors average right around $105k. There is, however, great variability across disciplines.

Job Outlook for Professors

Postsecondary education jobs are expected to grow 11% through 2028, however, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is careful to note that this includes both full-time and part-time positions.

Final Thoughts

Unlike other prestigious fields with arduous and costly paths to entry, entering academia does not offer a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. For individuals committed to the idea of teaching and researching at a postsecondary level, proper planning beginning with your selection of an undergraduate institution is necessary.

How do I become a college professor?

In order to become a college professor, you'll need to have some basic qualifications. These can vary slightly among schools and fields, but generally you should expect to need the following qualifications before you can become a college professor.

What is the salary of a law professor?

Law professors have the highest salary, with a median income of $113,530. On the opposite end, the lowest-earning field is criminal justice and law enforcement, whose professors make a median salary of $62,860—that's over $50,000 less than what law professors make. University of Minnesota Duluth /Flickr.

How much do professors make?

According to a recent study conducted by the American Association of University Professors, the average salaries for college professors are as follows: Full professors: $140,373. Associate professors: $95,382. Assistant professors: $82,508.

What is the projected growth rate for postsecondary teachers in 2019-2029?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the projected growth rate for postsecondary teachers in the years 2019-2029 is 9% —that's 5% higher than the average rate of growth of 4%. That said, most of this employment growth will be in part-time (adjunct) positions and not full-time ones.

Why is it important to sit down and observe your professors?

Since you're thinking of becoming a college professor, this is a great time to sit down and observe your professors to help you determine whether teaching at the postsecondary level is something you're truly interested in pursuing.

What does it mean to be a professor?

This means any experience with leading or instructing classes or students. Most college professors gain teaching experience as graduate students. In many master's and doctoral programs, students are encouraged (sometimes even required) to either lead or assist with undergraduate classes.

Why is it important to have a high number of publications?

A high number of publications is vital to landing a job as a professor. Since full-time college-level teaching jobs are extremely competitive, it's strongly encouraged (read: basically required!) that prospective professors have as many academic publications as possible.

What degree do you need to be a professor?

Tenured professors have at least one graduate degree and often acquire multiple graduate degrees. Earned doctorates are a minimum requirement for tenured college professors. 4 . Education: You should have a minimum of a doctorate (Ph.D.) from a reputable university in your educational field.

What is the best training for a college professor?

If your specific field of study sees value in practical graduate certificates, then they are highly recommended. Training: Formal training for college professors includes rigorous training in research and writing. The crowning achievement for college professors is completing and publishing a dissertation.

Why are college professors salary skewed?

Income data on college professors are slightly skewed because limited numbers of professors achieve tenure or full-time, established positions. 3  Many professors are hired for fellowships within universities, where they double as a teacher and a lab researcher. Some professors also teach while continuing their education.

How many hours do professors work?

Work Schedule. As a college professor, your hours may be slightly odd. Class schedules rarely accommodate professors looking for a typical 9-to-5 job. You may have a couple of hours of class in the morning and then one in the late afternoon.

How does teaching college differ from teaching younger students?

Teaching college courses differs from teaching younger students, in that it is less about the age difference and more about the purpose of a college education. Some professors are hired onto a tenure track, with the expectation of permanent employment. Others are employed as adjunct, visiting, or assistant professors for a limited time period.

What is college professor?

In addition to providing higher education, college is designed to provide a path for students to grow intellectually, and prepare for the workforce. 1  College professors are educators who provide undergraduate and graduate education to students.

Do tenured professors have job security?

As such, tenured professors have significant job security and are established experts in their field. Depending on the competitiveness of your educational field, you may have to teach as a non-tenured professor at more than one university before achieving tenure.

What happens if a student cannot resolve an appeal?

If it cannot be resolved with the professor, the student will need to appear before a grade appeal board. The board will be composed of faculty and students.

What is grade appeal?

A grade appeal is a formal challenge of your course grade. There are a typically a specific set of circumstances in which one can be filed. Many schools have a variation of the following grade appeal categories: A technical error in grading – Perhaps a test was improperly scored, a test question was unfair or unclear, ...

What does "capricious" mean in grading?

The grade was capricious – this means that the professor assigned a grade based on other factors outside of course performance. Discrimination – Unfair grading based on a professors opinion or other factors that were not based on course performance.

Is grade appeal final?

Typically no. Once you reach a grade appeal board hearing, the decision is final. Unless the board does not follow the procedure regarding hearings, the appeal board’s decision is final. You only get one shot. This is why I recommend hiring an education lawyer with grade appeal experience. I often help students write their written submissions and outline arguments to present in their appeal. These professionally crafted arguments and submissions will put students in the best position for success.Click here to read our practice area page on grade changes, appeals, and disputes. Richard Asselta is an award-winning education lawyer with offices in both Florida and New Jersey and offers services to students throughout the United States. He is experienced in writing student grade appeals and disputes at both the K-12 and college level. Call The Education Lawyers today for a free consultation and protect your educational future. (855) 338-5299 Click here to read what client’s are saying about Richard Asselta on AVVO, a lawyer review website.


Preparing to Be A Law Professor While in Law School

  • If you know you want to be a law professor when you are in law school (and I did), then you should absolutely make some choices that will pay dividends down the road: 1. First thing you should do is read the following book cover to cover: “Becoming a Law Professor”(ABA, 2010: Denning, Lips…
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Preparing to Be A Law Professor After Law School

  • After law school, you will need to continue to research and write. One of the best pieces of advice I got was from Professor Ernest Young (formerly at Texas Law, now at Duke) when I was in practice. He encouraged me to take six months and focus on reading in the area that I wanted to continue writing in. Basically, take a “night and weekend sabbatical” (on top of your day job). Thi…
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Vaps and Fellowships

  • Even if you follow all of this advice, you still may not be able to make it into legal academia without a fellowship or VAP (Visiting Assistant Professor). This is the new norm in legal academia: to go to a law school after some amount of practice experience, be in residence, and write and teach while aspiring. The majority of people who are now securing tenure-track jobs o…
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My Personal Experience as A Vap and on The Market

  • I first went on the teaching market in the fall of 2009. I was starting my fifth year of practice. I had written in law school and all through practice, had already published three pieces (two of which were really good placements), and been attending conferences. I also had a good work in progress. I thought I had a decent shot. I only received four interviews in Washington, DC (on-ca…
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