Lecturing - law
If you are interested in lecturing in Law you may find this post helpful; for those who are not here is a brief summary of the issues I discuss so that you can follow them up if you want or otherwise ignore this post:
1. Ph.D requirement now strongly desirable even for temporary lecturing post, moving towards essential for a permanent post;
2. Because of (1), less attention on the taught LLM - you may even (if constrained by time or funding) opt to skip this stage entirely (though I think that you will lose out, not necessarily on the employment level, but in other ways, as a result);
3. Professional qualifications no longer as relevant - I would even go so far as to say no longer relevant at all
4. in relation to publications, articles in refereed academic (rather than student) journals are what count.
I should say at the outset that I have never sat on a lecturing interview panel in my life and the comments below are based on my experience (and what I have heard on the grapevine) of applying for lecturing jobs rather than handing them out!
In this area the criteria for a lecturing post have changed a lot since I first entered college in 1991. At the time the focus was on professional qualifications, a Ph.D was relatively rare, and those lecturers with Ph.Ds had usually acquired them after obtaining a permanent lecturing position.
Most lecturers had LLM degrees or the equivalent and one factor in selecting staff was the perceived quality of the LLM programme to which the degree related. It was also desirable to take the LLM in an institution other than that studied in at undergraduate level. In 1991 the most highly regarded LLM degrees were the Oxford BCL (believe it or not, a Master's degree), the Cambridge LLM, the London University LLM or the LSE LLM. Master's degrees from Bruges or Florence were also highly regarded. We did have one lecturer without an LLM, but with considerable research experience; she had worked for a number of years with the Law Reform Commission and despite the absence of an LLM degree was an excellent lecturer and produced research of the highest quality.
Things started to change in or about 2000, when the Ph.D replaced the professional qualification as the sine qua non of a law lecturer. Before then, to have a professional qualification or to be studying for one (plus the LLM) was the key requirement. After 2000, the focus switched to the Ph.D rather than the professional qualification. This trend is likely to continue, in the universities at least, since funding awarded is based on attracting research postgrads, and staff with high level research degrees are essential for this.
You may want to take this into account in deciding how your (or your parent's) money for postgrad study should be spent. You may even want to consider skipping the LLM stage entirely, if you can get onto a Ph.D program or a research master's program providing for a Ph.D upgrade after a year or so However, I found a taught LLM abroad invaluable from point of view of broadening my view of law - it was also great fun. Once you have your Ph.D, it is difficult to go back and do an LLM later (though there were a few Europeans in my class who were doing just that!).
As regards the professional qualifications, it is expensive (and extremely time-consuming) to combine these with a Ph.D, though my view is that you should try to get these qualifications before starting a lecturing job in law so that you have options for the future if you wish to switch career. I also think that professional knowledge and experience is invaluable in teaching and researching in law, though because of the financial pressure regarding research this view is out of fashion at the moment. Of course, once employed as a lecturer, you may be able to negotiate with the institution who employs you to allow you time off, for instance, to study for the Bar (of course, if King's Inns brings back the evening course, this may not be necessary).
If it is any consolation, people with up to 10 years' experience or so in lecturing jobs are now under significant pressure to do Ph.Ds. I am currently struggling with one myself and (despite an excellent supervisor) wish I had got to grips with it at a younger age when my brain cells were fresher!
While you are studying for your Ph.D, try to build up your part-time teaching experience. Teaching experience is another factor that will be looked at even for a temporary full-time position. Again, often the focus is on length of teaching experience rather than quality, so better to start early. There is a focus also (often totally misguided) on the institutions where you have taught.
Although the standard of teaching in the private sector is in my view very high, the public sector does not always like to admit this. if you plan to apply to a public college and wish to avoid private/public snobbery, you may wish to combine your part-time lecturing in the private sector with (relatively ill-paid) seminars in one of the public institutions. Again, teaching law to law students is looked on by interviewers for law lecturing posts as preferable to teaching law to non-law students. I don't necessarily agree with this but this is just the way it is, so if you are doing some of this (again, well-paid and often very challenging and satisfying teaching) try to combine it with the dreaded seminars.
Ideally, you would do some teaching in the general area of your Ph.D and some in one other area - this shows you can work in more than one subject. My advice is not to do more than 4 hours' teaching a week during your Ph.D unless you absolutely have to for financial reasons. Teaching and all that goes with it can be very time consuming, particularly in the era of email. I would recommend starting with seminars only for your first year of your Ph.D/M.Litt and then move to lecturing as well for one of the two subsequent years.
In relation to publications, the focus, for better or worse, is often on the quality of the journal rather than the quality of the article. This presents a problem in Ireland since we have few refereed journals. Articles in the Irish Jurist would be highly thought of. I would also say the DULJ and the Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly. However, for a non-permanent position, articles in non-refereed practitioners journals and indeed student publications would also be relevant. The most user efficient way of dealing with the issue of publications is to get an article or two out of your Ph.D chapters as you are writing it, maybe also to get an article on another legal subject to show diversity. Get a few people (e.g. your Ph.D supervisor) to read the article in advance. Although you may be tempted to write a book (as there are so many readily available publishing contracts out there), the points a prospective starter lecturer applicant will earn for this in academic circles will not necessarily reflect the work put in. Believe me, I know!
The final thing that you have to do is network. Present papers at conferences like the IALT conference, at student workshops. Again, use your Ph.D for this. Go to book launches. Be polite and pleasant. Show that you are out there, and that you are looking for a job, or will be when you have finished your Ph.D (but you wouldn't say no to one in the meantime!). Part-time lecturing is useful for this. Talk to your supervisor about lecturing as well - they may be able to give you useful advice about when positions are likely to come up. You will also need them as a referee.
I hope this is of some assistance, and best of luck.
(Dept. Legal Studies, DIT)
Last edited by ruth cannon; 14-12-2006 at 23:21.