Academic Careers

Suggested Courses for Students Potentially Interested in Legal Academia:

This document should give you a rough sense of the steps you should take during law school if you have an interest in legal academia. For more information, please visit the Academic Careers Program website or attend an Academic Careers Program workshop.

1L Year

Hiring committees consider three main things when evaluating a candidate for a teaching position: academic records, references, and writing. Students interested in academia should work hard to do well, establish relationships with faculty members in their field, and focus on writing original scholarship while in law school.

As 1Ls, students should focus on their courses and try to do their best to develop a strong academic record. Students should prioritize doing well in their courses over pursuing extra curricular activities. Students should also participate in class and ensure that professors get to know them.

In addition, students should also do the following during their first year:

  • Register with the Academic Careers Program and attend the presentation “Careers in Legal Academia” in January.
  • Work as a faculty research assistant during their first summer. Participating in a research project will provide a valuable learning opportunity and enable students to develop close mentoring relationships with faculty. In addition, faculty that know students in this context are able to write more informative and meaningful letters of recommendation to judges (for clerkship applications) and hiring committees (for job applications).
  • Participate in the journal writing competition and join a journal. When selecting a journal, Law Review is most valued by hiring committees.

2L Year

Students should take the following courses:

  • An advanced seminar in a field of interest. Students should plan on writing their Note or A paper while taking a seminar under the guidance of a faculty member. Ideally, students should try to publish this article in a journal. This will ensure that students have a solid writing sample to submit with their clerkship applications.
  • A colloquium in their field of interest. Colloquia are the single best way to learn about academic writing and academic life.
  • Students should take a broad range of courses. Still, students might want to take courses with faculty whom they would like to have as a mentor or reference.

In addition, students should attend the “Preparing for a Career in Law Teaching” program in fall.

The 2L summer job should be a position you will find interesting and challenging– there is no one "right" job. There are terrific options in public interest, government, and private law.

Students should also try to secure a Judicial Clerkship.


3L Year

Students should try to write or begin writing another substantive paper while in law school and seek to publish it after graduation. The following courses should help students achieve that goal:

  • Take the Research Seminar for Future Academics taught by Professor Marotta-Wurgler or the Legal Scholarship course offered by Professor Nelson. Both courses are designed to help students write a publishable draft by the time they graduate.
  • Register for another seminar.
  • Register for a colloquium.

Students should also attend "Scholarship Camp," a program sponsored by the Academic Careers Program, held in the fall.


Clinical Teaching

NYU Law has a large number of graduates teaching as clinical faculty across the country. In addition to satisfying the demands outlined above, students interested in becoming clinical professors should take at least one clinic while in law school. Since some full year clinics will consume one half of the year’s credits, students will need to plan your 2L and 3L schedules well in advance. Because of the increasing emphasis on scholarship in clinical hiring, students should plan to write at least one scholarly work while in law school.