Careers in Academia for law grads

By Hillary Mantis

Ever think you would like to live the student life forever? The part where you spend your time on a beautiful campus, talking to students — but without the exams?
Maybe you can.

Working in a law school, or college, is one of the more popular alternative legal career choices. If you interact with anyone in the administration of your law school these days, chances are they are a lawyer. If you think you would enjoy working with, and helping students yourself one day, there are several potential career paths.

Law School Administration

There are many departments in which you could work: Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, the Alumni Office, the Career Planning Center, and Admissions, to name a few. If any of these departments sounds appealing, get to know the people who work there while you are still a student. Many schools like to hire alumni, when possible, since they are already very familiar with the way their school works. Some schools have volunteer opportunities for students in some of these departments. Many schools also offer work study positions.  For more information, and to check out the typical job listings, look at www.higheredjobs.com.

Law School Teaching

This is extremely competitive, especially if you are aiming for a tenure track position. There may be more opportunities teaching in the law school clinics, and the law school legal writing program. If you like to write, and did well in your writing courses in law school, this may be an option. At some schools, it is a full-time position, at others, a part-time position. For more information on law school teaching opportunities, check out the Association of American Law Schools (www.aals.org.)

Other Opportunities

Undergraduate Teaching: To be a professor at a college, you generally will need to have a PhD. There may be other opportunities, however. For example, undergraduate paralegal programs are growing quickly at some colleges. There may be opportunities to run and teach in those types of programs.
Continuing Legal Education: There are staff positions, usually held by lawyers, at the Bar Associations, to run the in house CLE programs. Also, some states have private sector companies that run large scale CLE programs for lawyers, also mainly staffed by attorneys. 

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Hillary Mantis consults with law students, pre-law students, and lawyers nationwide. She is the author of Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can write to Hillary at altcareer@aol.com.