It is oft said that those who can’t, teach. Well, a new AOL study finds legal teaching to be the second best job in terms of lifestyle in the United States. Airline pilots come out on top. After my continuing failure to land the job with the Chippendale dancers and the Chicago Bears offensive line, the study could not be more welcomed. However, the “lifestyle” ranking seems to be code to “little work, high pay.”
The ranking is based on Bureau of Labor statistics. Even with the need to secure a higher degree, the study found “the time spent seems well worth it. Besides the generous salary, they enjoy unique benefits including access to campus facilities, tuition waivers for dependents, housing and travel allowances, and paid leave for sabbaticals.” Here is the kicker: “Between these sabbaticals and the summer vacation, most professors work nearly 400 hours less than the average U.S. employee.”
Judges and Magistrates just make the list of the top ten. Here are the winners:
9. Judges and Magistrates (Hours: 1,935/Median income: $119,270)
8. Occupational Therapists (Hours: 1,902/Median income: $72,320)
7. Principals (Hours: 1,846/Median income: $86,970)
6. Librarians (Hours: 1,819/Median income: $54,500)
5. Dental Hygienists (Hours: 1,802/Median income: $68,250)
4. Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists (Hours: 1,736/Median income: $66,810)
3. Speech-Language Pathologists (Hours: 1,638/Median income: $66,920)
2. Law Teachers, post-secondary (Hours: 1,608/Median income: $94,260)
1. Aircraft Pilots, Copilots and Flight Engineers (Hours: 1,090/Median income: $103,210)
By the way, the worst jobs are truck drivers, farm equipment mechanics, motor vehicle electronic equipment installers/repairers, supervisors/managers of retail sales workers, parts salespersons, and emergency medical technicians. Our medical counterparts are also losers — working an average of 2,835 hours per year — the equivalent of five more months over the 2,006 hours the average American works.
Obviously, those sloths over in speech-language pathology are breathing down our neck. The differential is presumably greater for tenured professors. After I received tenure over twenty years ago, I placed a bucket on my desk with a piece of deadwood floating on the top to inspire me in my new job security and lifestyle. I am proud of the
lack of work of my cohorts in bringing down our work rate closer and closer to that of a perimysium. However, we can do better by doing less. In the name of Charles Kingsfield, we can do better. For my younger colleague, here are a few tips to reaching employment equilibrium (and nirvana):
1. Class notes should be updated at a “natural rate,” should as the return of the Cicada every ten years. Any updating of class notes before the turn of the decade only makes you look “trendy” and insecure.
2. You can minimize student contacts by scheduling office hours during arbitrary times like 2:00 am to 3:00 am when the school is closed.
3. In class, you should discourage any questions about recent cases (handed down in the last decade) and “still developing authority” that has not run its course. Marbury v. Madison is considered a recent case worth reading and discussing in class.
4. Before finals, you should encourage students to seek out your colleagues with review questions by emphasizing the shared areas between subjects. Thus, when asked about proximate cause, you can say “that is a great question, but Professor Raven-Hansen would probably want you to consider the civil procedure implications in filing such a case before addressing the torts implications. His office is down the hall to the left.”
5. In grading, you should take the view of some theorists that “all law is arbitrary” and therefore randomly assign grades to reflect that deep-seated philosophical view. After grading, you should resume the philosophy that all law is static in class.
6. Your tranquility is often shattered by phone calls from students who received arbitrarily high grades and want recommendations from you for clerkships and positions. You can first discourage the request by responding “What? They entered an A? I will have to look into that.” If they persist, you can write a single line letter reading “I cannot say enough good things about this student to secure this position.”
7. In applying for sabbaticals, it is essential to name a project that cannot result in a publication, such as “I intend to research the interdisciplinary connections between legal and taxidermy and consider how that relationship has influenced tax policy in Eighteenth Century America.” You then sent a note at the completion of the sabbatical that you were unable to find any meaningful connection.
8. Never, ever serve on an appointments committee. You can accomplish this by expressing random discriminatory thoughts about every ethnic and cultural group like “I would love to serve on the Committee. Frankly, it is time we cleanse our ranks of the mudbloods and other undesirables.”
9. Never, ever speak in a faculty meeting. Such comments only encourage further interaction and committee assignments. Simply adopt a Buddha-like appearance of understanding and interest while mentally arranging your sock drawer by thickness and color.
10. Never retire. It is too much work.