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Law Professor Misery Roundup:

Paul Caron of Taxprofblog has a roundup of the extensive commentary(including two of my own posts) stimulated by his post arguing that law professors tend to be "miserable." He also seems to modify his original claim somewhat:

Much of the commentary argues that law professors have a great job and that most are happy with their jobs. I agree with both points -- my modest question is that, given how great this job is, why are some law professors so unhappy?

The answer, I think, is that some people in virtually any job are unhappy. There are people in all walks of life who are unhappy for reasons having little or nothing to do with their jobs. For example, I'm somewhat unhappy right now because I'm recovering from ankle surgery and can't walk; that has nothing to do with being a lawprof. And even the best jobs are going to have some incumbents who are unhappy because they are temperamentally or otherwise unsuited to them.

Loyola 2L (mail):
Can I ask you law professors a question?
While you sit on your tush, in one of the most cush jobs ever, where you earn well over six figures for a few hours of work a week, and one paper a year . . . do you ever wonder why no one else in society gets such an easy life? Do you know of anyone else who does jack all day and makes six figures?
do you ever ask who has to sacrifice to pay for this largesse?
I'm in $150,000 of debt, and after three years of hard work all I have to look forward to is the job below. All that stuff you "taught" me - preparing motions, interrogatories and so on - is worth a whopping $14 an hour. I paid a fortune in tuition to learn a skill no one wants to pay for. So while you're depressed about your anonymity and immeasurement, know that the people you taught are depressed because they don't know how they're going to eat.

...........................
Employer Name:
Contact Name: x
Address: x
City:
Telephone: x
Facsimile: x
E-Mail: x
Description: HOURS: Part-time (20hrs/week) SALARY: $11-$14 per hour. STUDENT LEVEL: 2L, 3L JOB DESCRIPTION: Small Monrovia automobile accident defense law firm looking for part-time law clerk to primarily assist in preparation of discovery responses. Responsibilities will include communicating with clients, preparing draft interrogatory and document request responses, and limited research and motion preparation work. HOW TO APPLY: Please fax resume to 626-471-1094.
Date Entered: 12/20/07
Job ID: 421929
12.31.2007 12:39pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Brian Leiter, for example, is unhappy because the entire world simply refuses to recognize him as the True leader.
12.31.2007 1:04pm
Recent JD:
(repost from old comment thread)

We don't need any more law professors or law schools, the legal market is over saturated beyond belief. You see an increasing number of law students and even unlicensed JDs taking "unpaid internships" with firms just to get experience. Your salary is the value the market places on you, your training and your education. When the market determines your salary is worth zero, the market has also determined that your degree is worth zero. Academia is a safe refuge. I don't see how any professors, much less law professors, can be miserable. You guys have it better than ninety nine percent of those who work in the legal industry.
12.31.2007 1:06pm
rew (mail):
Like they say, the best of all monopoly profits is an easy life.
12.31.2007 1:13pm
Carbozo (mail):
Law professors are overpaid, overachievers, and overexposed. The only explanation for their "unhappiness" is narcissism, egomania, and other personality defects. These defects are best addressed by a competent psychologist rather than the participants in this forum. The real issue is, as Loyola 2L continually points out, the massive fraud that second- and third-tier law schools are perpetrating on their students. Law professors are complicit in this fraud by not speaking out, so I have difficulty empathizing with their "plight."
12.31.2007 1:21pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Caron's initial idea was just nuts. If some law profs are miserable, I'd imagine they'd be miserable just about anywhere. For a non-celebrity occupation I'd imagine law professors is one of the best types of jobs to have. I have a JD/MBA/LLM graduate degrees from Temple University and am a full time tenure track community college professor. Our contact hours are 15 a semester (not 6 like a law prof) and we tend to teach overloads as well. We make modest 5 figure salaries (not 6-figures like law profs) but have very flexible schedules, summers off and the like. And despite not being nearly as desirable as a law prof job these positions are absolutely coveted. Any time a full time position opens up we will be flooded with JDs who'd love to teach full time even at this level.

Even in the position that I am in I'd consider my quality of life to be better than 90+% of "real world" private sector jobs. Though I don't make as much $$ I would in the real world. Law profs, however, make 6-figures with only 6 contact hours. I can't see what more law profs could ask for.
12.31.2007 1:40pm
Guy in Gorilla Suit:
If law professors are miserable, maybe they ought to take a look at the careers and lives of most recent grads.
12.31.2007 2:43pm
Pliny, the Elder (mail):
Ignoring the financially truly strapped, the reason many lawyers are unhappy is the belief, perhaps irrational, that they were meant for better things. The deputy prosecutir thinks she should be the DA. The DA thinks that she should be a judge (or the AG). The trial judge is convinced she belongs on the court of appeals. If there exist a non-trivial number of unhappy law professors I would speculate it is becasue thye believe they should be judges, deans, or at least professors at better schools. I only know a few law professors and all seem pretty happy, and rightfully so for reasons alluded to above.
12.31.2007 2:54pm
OrinKerr:
Loyola2L,

I can't speak for every lawprof, but I think we realize being a law prof is an incredibly cool job. That's why we worked so hard to get the position (it's great to have, but super-hard to get). Oh, and on another note, congrats on your being the WSJ Law Blog Lawyer of the Year.
12.31.2007 3:19pm
Mercer Law Sucks:
Wow. I cannot believe law professors are complaining like this. I don't have much more to add to L2L's comment except that all professors have to do is look at the job prospects of all the students in the classes they teach. Only 10% of them will have the investment pay off. They are contributing to the misery to the rest of the 90%. Many people will have their lives ruined by paying the professor's salary.

Being a law professor the only occupation where you work 6 hours a week in class, a bit more out of class, and get paid 6 figures. It's the biggest scam I have ever seen.
12.31.2007 3:36pm
Mercer Law Sucks:
Wow. I cannot believe law professors are complaining like this. I don't have much more to add to L2L's comment except that all professors have to do is look at the job prospects of all the students in the classes they teach. Only 10% of them will have the investment pay off. They are contributing to the misery to the rest of the 90%. Many people will have their lives ruined by paying the professor's salary.

Being a law professor the only occupation where you work 6 hours a week in class, a bit more out of class, and get paid 6 figures. It's the biggest scam I have ever seen.
12.31.2007 3:36pm
brian leiter's adorable new puppy:
congrats to L2L on his new job
12.31.2007 4:10pm
Houston Lawyer:
Don't law professors still get to sleep with their students?
12.31.2007 4:22pm
wfjag:
"Houston Lawyer:
Don't law professors still get to sleep with their students?"

No. They have to go to the park and take their chances like everyone else. See http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/story?id=4022717

Still, sounds like a great hypothetical for a crim law seminar, if you get to play the tape.
12.31.2007 5:35pm
Jason F:
These posts haven't done much to shed light on whether law professors are unhappy, but they've provided a lot of clarity on whether law professors are defensive about their happiness.
12.31.2007 8:54pm
footnote (mail):
Being a law professor seems like an isolating job with little chance to gain the immediate fellowship and recognition of your peers, or to see real, measurable results from your work. Unless you really like working with students (which few profs do, I think, because there are just too many of them and they're all too annoying) then what kind of satisfying things to do you get to do as a prof? You're just stuck in your office researching and writing, and your only chance for recognition is twice-yearly article publications and maybe promotion to a full professorship. No matter how enamoured you are of your subject, this is an isolating and depressing state of affairs.

On the contrary, in my short experience, being a "real" lawyer is immensely satisfying, as long as you have reasonably humane hours. I get to interact daily with my clients and my very smart superiors and colleagues. I have a fast-paced practice, so I can easily see the fruits of my labors when a case settles quickly. I get good results for my clients and I feel like my firm provides them an excellent service at reasonable prices. In short, I feel like the work I do actually matters and that I am constantly improving my lawyering skills.
1.2.2008 12:30pm