I attended a lunch organized by Debevoise & Plimpton for its summer associates, on a panel of Debevoise alumni of various kinds who’d gone into academia. There I heard a question that I know students have at NYU and Georgetown, and I’m sure elsewhere: Given the dominance of Yale grads among law professors, what should I do if I’m interested in teaching?
NYU has several initiatives to inform and encourage its graduates to teach, including the Furman Fellowship, and Georgetown has some similar endeavors (fellowships, seminars for working on publishable writing, etc.). But here are two key points: (1) Yale grads, while vastly overrepresented in law teaching purely on the numbers, are not even a majority. The modal law professor may be a Yalie (I haven’t checked the statistics recently) and certainly is either a Harvard or a Yale alum, but that leaves a lot of slots to fill. (2) Every single fulltime professor from whom a law student has taken a class knows how to find a law teaching job. There are caveats: a senior professor who isn’t much involved in hiring won’t be a great guide. Because of what Yale is, information about how to get a teaching job transmits from all the professors more by osmosis than explicit instruction, though even Yale has formal policies. Nonetheless, students at any law school who are interested in teaching should be able to find some professors they liked to consult.
No post on this topic would be complete without mention of Brian Leiter’s excellent and honest guide.