Publication Title

Hōgaku kyōkai zasshi


law schools, law professors, law teachers, legal education, experience, graduate degrees, advanced degrees, clerkships

Document Type



As the process of legal education reform in Japan, centered on the establishment of a new tier of professional graduate schools in law, moves forward, one issue that has arisen is how law professors will be trained in coming years. In that connection, I am frequently asked what the typical route is for training law school professors in the US. Based in part on an examination of the backgrounds prior to entering law teaching for over 500 law professors at eight US law schools and on personal experiences (including serving for three years on the appointments committee at the University of Washington (UW) School of Law), this article seeks to answer that question.

The paper's discussion is based on an analysis of the curricula vitae (education, employment and other factors) prior to entering teaching of 521 professors hired between 1929 and 2001 at eight US law schools. The eight schools consist of four public and four private schools, with one private and one public law school each from the Top Ten, Top Twenty-Five, third tier (schools ranked from 91 through 135), and fourth tier (the lowest tier, containing schools ranked 136 and lower), according to the rankings contained in the 2003 Best Graduate Schools special edition of US News and World Report (the most widely used set of graduate school rankings in the US). The data on professors and their careers prior to teaching were drawn from the 1987-88 edition and the 2001-02 edition of the AALS Directory of Law Teachers.

Note: This paper was translated into Japanese and published as Beikoku rō sukūru no uchigawa: kyōin no gakureki/shokureki tō no tōkei bunseki wo tsūjite [An Inside View of U.S. Law Schools: Based on an Empirical Profile of Law Professors] in Hōgaku kyōkai zasshi, vol. 121, pp. 1285-1377 (2004).



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