Notre Dame Law School hosted 10 aspiring legal scholars last week for a two-day workshop about the competitive path to becoming a law professor.
The workshop, called “Preparing for the Legal Academy,” provided opportunities for participants to meet with Notre Dame Law School faculty to discuss research topics, present their research and receive feedback, and participate in mock interviews. Faculty also spoke about publishing in law reviews, tips for curricula vitae, and what to expect during the process of applying for teaching jobs at law schools.
Nicole Stelle Garnett, the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law, said the workshop was designed to help a group of promising law school graduates prepare for what law schools expect when interviewing and hiring candidates.
“It’s a complicated process, and it’s also pretty opaque,” she said. “It’s a difficult market.”
Garnett said the idea for the workshop came up while the Law School’s appointments committee was talking about entry-level hires this year.
“The question came up, as it inevitably does: How do we identify young scholars who are going to be interested in the mission of the university and the Law School, add diversity to our faculty, or – ideally – both,” she said. “We decided to try to do something like this as service to the legal academy, but also as a way to know who’s going to be on the market in the next few years.”
The group of 10 participants at the workshop included law school graduates currently serving in clerkships, practicing with law firms, and teaching as fellows at law schools.
“It was a lot of fun. It was a great group of people, and I think we were able to help everyone who participated,” Garnett said.
Marcus Gadson, a 2015 Harvard Law School graduate who is now an associate at Steptoe & Johnson LLP in Washington, D.C., said the workshop was very helpful.
“I’ve received paper topics, I’ve received feedback on how to frame arguments, information on publishing,” Gadson said. “It’s been so informative.”
Kathryn Campo-Bowen, a 2016 graduate of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, said the workshop was a valuable opportunity to meet peers who are going through the same process. Campo-Bowen, who is currently a law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in northern California, said the event was also a way to reconnect with academia.
Courtlyn Roser-Jones, who earned her juris doctor at Notre Dame Law School in 2013, is currently a teaching fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School. She said the workshop helped her think about what she needs to do to be ready for her next step.
“Applying to be a law professor is a long process. It’s unlike any other job I’ve ever applied for,” she said. “This opportunity has been invaluable.”
Garnett said this type of workshop is useful to the university as a proactive way to identify potential professor candidates, but it’s also a service to the academy of law schools as a whole.
“Most of these people, or perhaps all of them, won’t come teach at Notre Dame,” she said, “but they will teach somewhere, and they will contribute.”