University of Texas' Emerging Scholars Program part of law school trend by LawCrossing


Article On University Of Texas Emerging Scholars Program Part Of Law School Trend, In Response To The Changing Landscape Of Legal Academia, The University Of Texas At Austin School Of Law School Launched Its Emerging Scholars Program Two Years Ago, Giving Recent Law School Graduates And Practicing Lawyers.

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University of Texas’ Emerging Scholars Program part of law school trend
[by Erica Winter]
In response to the changing landscape of legal academia, the University of Texas at Austin School of Law School launched its Emerging Scholars Program
two years ago, giving recent law school graduates and practicing lawyers a way to get their feet wet—and a way to become more competitive—in the legal
teaching job market.

Texas’ Emerging Scholars Program (ESP)             put candidates out on the market before            are more like those for hiring professors in
is a two-year fellowship paying $60,000 per        they have had a chance to do any writing. So       other academic disciplines. Gradually, more
year, in which the fellow teaches a half load      they do not benefit the candidate’s pursuit of     and more academics in history, English,
of courses at the law school and works on          scholarly publication.                             economics, and other areas of study started
his or her scholarship and pursues publica-                                                           to get J.D.’s while they were pursuing their
tion. ESP is similar to other visiting assistant   Aside from temporary positions in teaching         Ph.D.’s. These academics would go on the job
professorships at other law schools, with one      legal writing, Texas’ ESP may be the only          market, and some would pursue law teaching
key difference: Texas’ program is twice the        two-year temporary professorship out there         jobs. With the writing and publishing clout
length of most others.                             right now, says Berman. The program has            behind them, these Ph.D.’s had a leg up on
                                                   started off with one fellow, who is now in his     J.D.’s, who did not have the same kind of
Having a two-year (instead of a one-year)          second semester. The ESP will start with hir-      paper trail.
program “is critical for us,” says program         ing two fellows per year and possibly expand
chair and Professor Mitchell Berman. “We           as the program continues. A 10-member              Seeking more information and academic
want people to be immersed here for a              committee reviews applications, including          work backing up their new professors, law
while,” says Berman. With a primary goal of        a candidate’s work so far, and references.         schools started to look for scholarship when
allowing the fellows to build up their scholar-    Texas recently made offers to two more fel-        they vetted teaching candidates, says Ber-
ship, having a two-year program is central         lows to start in the fall. Both Texas alumni       man. Traditional applicants—those just out
to that goal because of the way in which law       and graduates of other schools are encour-         of law school or coming out of years of law
professors are hired.                              aged to apply, says Berman.                        practice—found themselves at a disadvan-
                                                                                                      tage to those with publications to back them
Like a casting call for a large Broadway mu-       Recent growth in visiting assistant profes-        up.
sical, new law professors are hired through        sor and similar positions stems from a
a centralized mass-hiring process that starts      fundamental change in legal academia, says         Plus, at law schools, as opposed to other
every August, explains Berman. Interested          Berman. It is “well nigh impossible” to get        areas of study at colleges and universities,
candidates submit materials to the American        a tenure-track teaching job at a law school        Berman says, tenure track leads to tenure in
Association of Law Schools. A first cut is         without having published written scholar-          a more direct way. Tenure is more of a sure
made, and then candidates flock to Wash-           ship, says Berman; but it did not used to be       thing for law professors than for those teach-
ington, DC, in late October or November for        this way.                                          ing in other fields, who might get a tenure-
interviews. Then there are “fly-backs,” or                                                            track job, but find themselves denied tenure
second interviews, and hiring decisions are        A generation ago, getting hired as a law pro-      nonetheless. At a law school, says Berman,
made.                                              fessor was a matter of academic background         getting a tenure-track job is very close to
                                                   and success adhering to a pretty basic             just getting tenure itself, so job offers on that
If a recent J.D. finds a position as a visiting    formula. Attend a top law school (Harvard,         tenure track are becoming harder to get at
assistant professor, but it is a one-year gig,     Yale); have an excellent academic record,          the outset.
then he/she is spending her first semester         including law review; clerk for a judge for a
on the job scrambling to get his/her teaching      year after receiving the law degree, prefer-       All this leads to the visiting assistant profes-
legs under him/her and applying for perma-         ably for the Supreme Court, but another            sor trend. The school gets a teacher to whom
nent jobs at the same time, notes Berman.          appellate court would do; apply to teach; and      it does not have to offer any permanent
And even though part of the point of a visiting    get the job. Law teachers were hired based         guarantees up front, and the teacher gets
assistant professorship is to develop written      on “evidence of smarts,” says Berman.              paid to teach, but also to produce scholarship
materials expressing the person’s advanced                                                            and pursue publication that could lead to a
legal scholarship, the one-year positions          Now, standards for hiring law professors           tenure-track job down the line.


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