A student writes:
I am a recent graduate of [a top law school that produces a good number of law professors] and will be clerking next term for [a Circuit Court of Appeals judge]. I have recently learned that a position has opened up in a very good state school in the areas that I am interested in teaching.
I have no doubt that I want to go on the market in the near future, but I was wondering your thoughts on the timing of entering the market. I currently have 2 publications (my note and a forthcoming Essay in a reputable specialty journal from a good school) and have 2 near completion.
I was wondering whether I would be in a good position to enter the market now, or whether a lack of legal experience would be detrimental to my candidacy at the AALS.
Also, from the view of faculty hiring committees, is clerking for two Circuit judges a positive, negative or no effect.
Final question (I promise), there seems to be an increasing trend towards some form of fellowship before entering law teaching and I am curious as to your perception of these programs. Specifically, I am thinking of Columbia's Associates in Law program, Chicago's Bigelow Program, the Visiting Assstant Professor Program at Northwestern (have I left out any of the major ones?). Is one of these better than the others.
I appreciate the thoughts and advice. Please feel free to disclose these questions on your blog.
My thoughts, briefly: (1) practice experience almost always helps; (2) one could contact directly the school of interest, without going through the AALS and without going on the teaching market generally; (3) a key question is what your faculty mentors and recommenders think--if they encourage you to go now, do it; if they hesitate, then wait; (4) on multiple Circuit judge clerkships, my guess would be "no effect," but it does depend on the judges--some Circuit judges have a lot of influence on teaching job placement; (5) Visiting Assistant Professor programs are proliferating, and their terms of employment differ from place to place; in addition to Chicago, Northwestern, and Columbia (though I was under the impression that Columbia's was a degree program, where students only taught legal research & writing--Chicago's Bigelow program may be similar), there are now programs like this at Texas, Florida State, maybe NYU (can someone confirm?). Are there others?
Comments are open. I invite readers to agree/disagree with my comments, and to provide supplemental information and perspectives.