Research Law Professors Before Choosing Law Schools

Law Professors

Law Professors

Prospective students often examine their potential law schools in fine detail, looking at the reputation of the school, the kind of curriculum they specialize in, the cost of the law school, the location and so on. However many don’t research what is arguably the most important element of a law degree – the law professors teaching the degree.

Law students can have much different experiences at law school than they expected simply because they have a law professor that they don’t get along with. The best law professors will engage with their students, push them to become good lawyers and also work hard alongside the students to deliver a great education. If you have a despondent law professor who does the bare minimum for his students, it can provide a very poor experience.

Luckily there are a number of websites where students discuss the performance of their law professors and share information on the teaching styles of various law professors. Websites like http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ can offer somewhat superficial reviews of law professors, but some web forums have in depth discussions of which professors offer a great educational experience and describe their teaching style in detail.

Some books can be of use also, like the soon to be released “What the Best Law Teachers Do”, by Sophie Sparrow, Michael Hunter Schwartz and Gerald Hess. In the book they say the best teachers “distinguish themselves by their thoughtfulness, caring about their students, high expectations, commitment to student learning and ability to engage their students”. The authors visited the top law schools and spent time with professors that have done well helping their students excel.

The authors would also look at how much time the law professor was willing to spend with students to ascertain how hands on he or she was. They also looked at how engaged the students were in class, were they attentively listening to the professor or distracted and not paying attention. A great educator will see a classroom of students listening to their every word, being excited about the material and interested in what the professor says.

You should also see if the law school helps students find employment after the completion of their degree. Many law faculties will help students land their first job in the legal world, but some do not. If you think you would like some help with your professional development, understanding how the faculty can help students is essential.

Law school is very challenging and having the right law professor can make the difference between failing and passing as well. A good professor will explain the material carefully and help you understand the intricacies of the law while a bad one will leave it all up to you and increase the pressure you have to deal with to do well in the class.