Academic Careers Program

Choosing An Academic Career

Florencia Marrotta-Wurgler
First Person

"I find law teaching and legal academia to be the best job in the world: I have the opportunity to deepen my understanding and write on questions that interest me, while being part of a vibrant intellectual community."

—Professor Florencia Marotta-Wurgler '01 

Law teaching is a terrific job. Law professors think about interesting ideas, work in stimulating and collegial environments, and enjoy significant autonomy and flexibility.

Before you start down the path towards academia, consider whether you are cut out for the job:

  • Think about whether you are truly interested in scholarship and the life of an academic, or whether you seek to move out of another position you find uninspiring. There are many demands on the time of law professors–both teaching and high quality scholarship takes a substantial amount of time. You will gain greater control over your schedule and the content of your work, but your overall work hours will not necessarily be reduced.
  • At the vast majority of law schools, a professor’s primary job is to produce legal scholarship. Teaching is very important but a distant second.
  • The market for law teaching is highly competitive. Even for those candidates with strong credentials, there is no guarantee that you will receive offers from schools ranked highly or near your preferred city or region.
  • Your income, particularly if you are currently at a law firm, likely will be substantially reduced.

These caveats are not offered to deter you; rather we want you to be realistic about the costs and challenges associated with pursuing a career in law teaching.

How to Know if Law Teaching is Right for You 

  • Are you truly excited by addressing unanswered questions and difficult problems and working to find answers and solutions?
  • Do you love to write?
  • Do you enjoy spending significant amounts of time alone with your research?
  • Do you enjoy discussing and defending your ideas in front of others?
  • Are you willing to invest the time and energy to learn to use new analytical tools and incorporate new perspectives in your work?

If your answer to each of these questions is yes, you may find a career in law teaching both rewarding and satisfying.