At top law schools, law profs with PhDs and little legal experience become more common
The nation’s top law schools are increasingly hiring professors with both JDs and PhDs, according to a new study.
About 29 percent of the tenure-track faculties at the nation’s 26 top-ranked law schools hold JDs and PhDs, according to the research by University of California at Los Angeles law professor Lynn LoPucki. In recent hires, the trend is accelerating. The Vokokh Conspiracy (sub. req.) summarizes the findings.
LoPucki’s study found that, from 2011 to 2015, 48 percent of entry-level hires at the top law schools had both degrees. Since the beginning of 2014, 67 percent of the schools’ entry-level hires had both degrees.
From 2011 to 2015, entry-level hires with both degrees had slightly less than a year of legal practice experience on average, compared to 3.6 years on average for those with JDs only. If clerkships are combined with law practice experience, the new hires with both degrees had 1.7 years of experience and the JD-only hires had 4.8 years of experience.
“Those hired on the JD-only track are increasingly likely to have legal experience (defined as law practice plus clerking) and likely to have more of it,” LoPucki writes, “while those hired on the JD-PhD track are decreasingly likely to have legal experience and likely to have less of it.”