Law Professor Duties

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9 Responses

  1. Deven says:

    Great post. I want to think more on it but the contact hours idea seems overstated (or it is possible that I misunderstood what you were describing).

    Large classes are arguably less impact on a professor except at that final grading time. If professors are holding office hours such that all can come or are giving midterms, then contact hours may be actual contact. Contrast schools that have tenure track or tenured legal writing where a professor has say 25 students, 4 hours a week, and continual grading and feedback or an upper division class where several stages of paper development are evaluated during a semester to a large lecture and they may be more of a wash or lean towards the large lecture. The large lecture will have a ton of contact at a specific time, but during the semester the professor may be able to sequester teaching to a few days a week and then focus on research the other days.

    Again I may not be seeing what you mean by “conventional classroom teachers.” If so, sorry but could you clarify that please.

    In general, thanks again for the post and the data.



  2. Lawrence Cunningham says:


    Thanks. Contact hours are definitely an abstraction requiring a context to be useful. Spot on are your examples of intensive interactive pedagogy demanded in extensive writing courses (similarly with clinical training).

    Equally valid is how many law professors fairly and effectively contribute different value to the three aspects of professorial duty.

    Even so subject to how skewed contact hour distributions must be examined in context, decanal review can reveal information useful to promote collegial and institutional fairness and efficiency.

    More broadly, general appreciation of how individuals and schools struggle to allocate scarce resources among these three demanding duties seems illuminating.

  3. dave hoffman says:

    Great post. I think something else to think about is that the degree to which students actually approach professors will significantly affect contact hours. Thus, in a school like HLS, my sense is that no one comes into office hours. While, at Temple, office hours are often packed – possibly, as I’ve written before, because of a culture of intensive exam review.

  4. Lawrence Cunningham says:


    Thanks. Adding to your good point, among schools where students do take advantage of office hours, there is invariably much greater visitation and consultation with teachers of first-year courses compared to upper-level courses. This is probably related to relative uncertainties and stakes.

  5. Jason Mazzone says:

    I discovered that it makes a difference how my teaching hours are allocated between the fall and the spring semesters. If I teach a large course in the fall, I spend an enormous amount of time meeting with students in the spring about the exam. If I teach the same large course in the spring, very few students come to see me the following fall about their exams.

  6. Fair Compensation Fred says:

    Law schools might want to consider dividing salaries into thirds–one third for scholarship, one third for teaching, one third for service, with opportunities for bonuses for outstanding work in any field. To keep the thing budget-neutral: certainly some people who are rich or leisure-loving will forego, say, the service third or scholarship third, and that money can go to pay more to incentivize better scholarship, teaching, or service among those with more time to devote to these areas.

  7. Deven says:


    Thanks for a most useful post and discussion. As Lawrence notes the information starts to focus the various ways professors spend their time. And in summer, it allows me to remind folks that “summer off” is inaccurate.

  8. Felix says:

    The teaching load statistics are very interesting, but alas as posted above include only some law schools. I tried and failed to find a source for these statistics on the ABA website. Lawrence: Is the complete list publicly available somewhere? Thanks.

  9. Felix says:

    These teaching load statistics are very interesting. However, as posted above they include only some law schools. I tried but failed to find on the ABA website a source for these statistics. Lawrence: Are the complete statistics publicly available somewhere? Thanks.