The University of Texas at Austin   School of Law

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Academic Careers

Academia is a career path that interests many law students. Traditionally, law graduates who have served on the editorial board of Law Review and completed a federal judicial clerkship fill law faculty positions. However, due in part to the increasing emphasis on clinical programs in law school curricula and the expanding use of adjunct professors, law faculty are now drawn from a broader pool, and include full-time practicing attorneys.

Additional career possibilities in the realm of academia include legal writing instructor or law librarian. Some undergraduate institutions also hire law graduates to teach courses such as political science or legal history. These positions may require a masters or Ph.D. in addition to a J.D. Universities and colleges also employ law school graduates in a variety of administrative posts, such as assistant dean, director of admission, or director of career services. Lastly, most universities and colleges employ attorneys to represent the institution in a variety of matters including personnel, contracts, real estate and tax issues.

Paths to Teaching Law

Professor Willy Forbath is the UT Law faculty contact for students interested in careers in teaching law.

Former UT Law Professor Brian Leiter, who now teaches at the University of Chicago Law School, offers comprehensive advice for students interested in teaching law:

For students interested in the “Interdisciplinary Path (Path C)” discussed by Professor Leiter in his article, the following UT Law faculty can offer advice on appropriate Ph.D. programs:  Professors R. Markovits, Spindler, and Wickelgren for economics; Professor Deigh for philosophy; Professors Bracha and Forbath for history; and Professors Abramson, Franklin, Levinson, Perry and Powe for political science. See UT Law faculty profiles for contact information. Interested students might also consult the National Research Council report on graduate education.

Below are additional recommended resources:

  • Entering the Law Teaching Market (Yale Law School)
  • Becoming a Law Professor: A Candidate's Guide (Brannon P. Denning, Marcia L. McCormick, Jeffrey M. Lipshaw; foreword by Lawrence Solum; American Bar Association, 2010; available in the Tarlton Law Library). This book is a soup-to-nuts guide, taking aspiring legal academics from their first aspirations on a step-by-step journey through the practicalities of the Association of American Law School's hiring conference, on-campus interviews, and preparing for the first semester of teaching. This up-to-date resource reflects the changing nature and new realities of the legal academy. Until recently, entry into the legal academy was a function of credentials and connections. Today, your record of publication has become the primary portal into professorship. High-quality legal scholarship, in addition to solid credentials can give you the advantage you need to secure the best jobs available. (American Bar Association)
  • Becoming a Legal Scholar (Samuel W. Buell, Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law, Michigan Law Review, Vol. 110, No. 6, 2012)

UT Law Alumni Teaching Law

Since 1941, more than 120 UT Law alumni have gone on to become tenure-track professors at law schools across the country. Seven of these alumni have also become deans; see list of alumni sorted by graduation year from UT Law.

Law School Administrative Careers

Administrative positions at law schools and other higher education institutions include an array of possibilities, from admissions to career services, financial aid to student affairs, and more. For more information about obtaining an administrative career at Law Schools, please read NALP's "From Lawyer to Administrator" handout.