If you are currently a JD student, you have a number of years to work towards becoming a strong law teaching candidate. And, fortunately, almost everything that you do to strengthen your candidacy will help you become an excellent lawyer, should you decide that law teaching is not for you.
As you progress through law school, you should keep in mind what matters in academic hiring – writing, references, and your record (e.g., grades, journal membership, clerkship). Many of these factors are somewhat interdependent. For example, good grades and law journal membership will help you secure a prestigious clerkship.
So, what should you focus on now?
- First, don’t forget to register with ACP! Once you register on our website, you will be included in our database and will receive regular notifications about events, deadlines and job openings.
- Make sure to do as much academic writing as possible. Students interested in law teaching should write and publish a note, and possibly write a second academic article with the goal of publishing it during or soon after law school.
- Develop relationships with faculty members. Law school is the perfect time to get to know future faculty recommenders. Your relationship with faculty should center on scholarship. Try to get to know faculty members in as many ways as possible: class, office hours, TA positions, directed research, etc. Serving as an RA is an excellent way of deepening your relationship with faculty, and gives you an insider’s view on the process of scholarship.
- Take as many classes and colloquia in your field of interest as possible. Seminars and paper-writing courses are better than large lecture classes and will make it easier for professors to assess your writing skills and academic potential. It is also important to participate in class, because it gives your professors an opportunity to get to know you better. If you are interested in clinical teaching, you must take a clinic while in law school.
- Start thinking about scholarship. One of the best ways to do this is simple: read scholarship in your field of interest, including articles written by faculty members you hope to get to know. Also, attend colloquia, symposia and conferences to hear how academics talk about scholarship and gain an understanding of the types of issues that are interesting to academics.
- Focus on getting good grades. While not the only factor, a strong academic record in law school can be important to academic hiring. Further, strong grades can help you land a prestigious clerkship or job after law school, both of which can help you with a future career in academia.
- Strongly consider joining a journal. Being a member – or even better, an editor – of an NYU Law journal can be helpful on the academic market. Not only is it a prestigious credential that is valued by hiring committees, but it can provide you with insight into how journals choose articles to publish, which can inform your own writing.
- Join a reading group or ask a faculty member to assist you with starting a new reading group in their area of interest. The faculty member can help put together a list of articles to read that are foundational to that area.
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