Law Professors Ranked Among Top Jobs In Annual Study

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.

Source: Careerist as first seen on ABA Journal.

23 thoughts on “Law Professors Ranked Among Top Jobs In Annual Study”

  1. Most airline pilots don’t make all that much. Consider the commuter pilots flying the turboprops and smaller jets. Yes, pilots flying the heavies make good money, but there is a lot of love of flying in most aviation jobs or they wouldn’t have very many pilots at all. In other words, there is quite a bit of suckage in the pay scales for new pilots with no seniority.

  2. “However, the “lifestyle” ranking seems to be code to “little work, high pay.”

    Wow. My father (and my wife’s father, for that matter) is a now-retired airline pilot. They could not be more wrong as to the hours worked. Hours that you get paid for? Yeah, because airline pilots only get paid for the time the plane is actually in the air. But for every hour that plane’s in the air, the pilot typically spends two to six hours working.

    There’s a reason that a LOT of airline pilots don’t live too long into retirement. They get worked to death. Yeah, they make good money, but when the majority of pilots die within two years of retirement, what on earth is the point?

    Reminds me of the folks that insist that teachers get three months off a year. What a crock.

  3. “Between these sabbaticals and the summer vacation, most professors work nearly 400 hours less than the average U.S. employee.”

    I don’t know about law professors in particular, but most professors I know don’t have much in the way of “vacations” at all. Sabbaticals and the summer break are filled with catching up with research, preparing next semester’s lectures, and preparing and giving talks. And that’s not even a choice, they are required by their contracts to do so. Actual vacation times are not much different from other jobs, and most of them don’t even take that.

  4. My friend in the Fifth Grade got caught taking money from the dish getting passed around at church. He had just heard the sermon about the Lord Giveth and Lord Taketh Away. They charged him with some crime and the court appointed him an attorney because he is a kid. The lawyer appointed is some schmuck teacher in the law school here in NYC. This schmuck could not bark his way out of a paper bag and George got convicted. So the guys in the Fifth Grade took up a collection and sent it over to the law professor. We paid him to take his name off the free lawyer list. So far we have not heard back.

  5. What is really sad is there probably is a law Professor like the one JT is describing. I would just schedule the student-teacher time during finals, so no one would show up. Also cicadas show up every 17 years or so. I really like number six.

  6. Liberty 1st your post made a lot of sense until you mentioned KKK and Hugo Black. To quote Hugo Black: “I would have joined any group if it helped get me votes.” What if Black joined a Communist or Nazi group? Would Liberty1st feel that this would give him “roots in the heart of America”?

    I call Bullsh*t and I rarely use even partial curse words here.

  7. My perspective of law school teaching and so called professors comes after 38 years of graduation and my acquaintence with the job since that time. My view is tempered by my reading of Abraham Lincoln and others who did not attend law school and “read” for the law–or served what might be termed an apprenticeship. A few of those who taught at my law school could have written a brief and argued it before an appellate court. Of those, about half could have not written the brief had the issues not be winnowed down by a trial lawyer. Of those, about five percent could have successfully tried the case to a jury. Of those, about one in four could have picked a good jury panel. Of all of the teachers, I would want none on my jury. The best teachers of the practice of law are former practicing lawyers or better yet, those currently practicing law. Constitutional law is overlooked by law schools, and by students, as the most important topic that lawyers need to have an intense knowledge of. The highest ranked law schools are good at producing law professors but not good trial lawyers. Some of the worst teachers and those far removed from the practice of law are simply hired right out of Ivy League schools.

    Law professors who obtain appointments to the appellate bench are dangerous to the civil rights cause. Fellow jurists might bow to their wisdom of a case such as Jackson v. Virginia and its applicability to a criminal case where the defendant alleges a circumstantial case did not meet the threshold of submitting the case to a jury. Law professors who have been elevated to an appellate court can roll over to “unreconstructed” viewpoints– the attitude that “we dont need no 14th Amendment down here”. “Down here” can be any state south of the Canadian border. Law professors who get appointed to appellate jobs have never tried a criminal jury trial in their lives and roll over when their colleques (who have trial experience) scoff at their naive views.

    Our Supreme Court of the United States is laden with law professors or professorial types who have never tried a criminal jury trial. Almost all of the current bench graduated from Harvard or Yale or both. Listiening to an oral argument of the Court is akin to listening to the accents of the subway workers of NYC at their union meeting.. The Supreme Court Justices on the present Court are far distant from the realities of criminal trial work or the injustice that occurs day to day. The present Court can not fathom or uphold the strictures of the circumstantial evidence rule of Jackson v. Virginia. This term the Court sent the case of an innocent person back to the Ninth Circuit with the admonition to jail her.

    In sum. Our Innocence Projects need to start with the law schools in their respective states and make them their first project. Law students must temper their elation on graduation day with the realization that they just got out of law Kindergarten. States should stop subsidizing lazy law “professors”. Our President should appoint the likes of Hugo Black to the bench and not the law professors like Scalia. A little KKK in the background and some roots in the heart of America made Hugo more understanding of the Bill of Rights than that which is taught at Harvard and Yale to the East Coast elites. The fact that law professors are in this catagory of today’s poll only demonstrates that the job is cushy, over subsidized, and uninspiring. Thanks for posting this. Pardon my grammer, I was not a law professor.

  8. I had a friend who was an airline pilot. His attitude toward his job:”I’d pay them twice what they pay me just for letting me fly their airplanes.” He didn’t share that with the airline though.

  9. raff,

    It is kinda funny the way the exclamation looks….At first I thought it was a syntax error….”Maybe we should add newt to that tool list”….

  10. Amen Mike. I can’t think of anyone who does less productive work than Fox News Anchors. Maybe we should add Newt Gingrich to that list too!

  11. Just wait until the kids are grown, educated, and permanently in a dwelling other than yours. Don’t retire and await the arrival of grandchildren. You think it’s good now … it’s even better then.

  12. Actually these rankings are skewed. I would imagine “no show” construction jobs rank slightly above airplane pilots, below the work of Texas Governors and the work on FOX Commenters who are Ex-Governors.

  13. FYI:

    Robert Carter, civil rights pioneer from N.J. dies at 94
    Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012, 9:30 AM Updated: Thursday, January 05, 2012, 9:38 AM
    By Ted Sherman/The Star-Ledger

    “More than 50 years ago, Robert L. Carter stood before the U.S. Supreme Court and helped argue the landmark case against racial segregation that forever changed public education.
    “My mission was to expand the law against discrimination of blacks as much as possible,” he explained in an interview decades later.
    Carter, a former federal judge who grew up in New Jersey — and served as a key member of the NAACP legal team led by Thurgood Marshall that worked to end school segregation — died Tuesday in New York from complications of a stroke. He was 94.”


  14. I would comment but it is time for my nap. I stacked some papers on my desk and now I am worn out. Did you ask if I read them? You have to be kidding. That is why they are stacked. If I read them I would have to file them and that would keep me from my nap and barber appointment.

    As soon as I finish my nap I will restack the papers and move them to the other side of my desk. That way the secretary will know I have been working and why I needed to leave the office early.

  15. While focused on law & higher education many of those rules aer words to live by 8-{D

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