The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


"The Hidden Life of Law School Adjuncts: Teaching Temps, Indispensable Instructors, Underappreciated Cash Cows,"

"or something else?," now out in the Texas Law Review Online (by T. Markus Funk, Andrew S. Boutros, and me).


Check it out here. From the Introduction:

Every August and December, thousands of practicing lawyers ready themselves for the fall or spring (or in the quarter system, winter) classes they will be teaching at any one of the 197 ABA-approved law schools around the country…. [These a]djuncts are in most circles unquestionably perceived as a relevant part of legal academia. But amazingly, scholars and other commentators have written or said comparatively little about them.

Speaking plainly, the law school stakeholders accept the adjuncts' presence on campus as a given without much consideration being paid to: (i) what motivates them to take on these positions with little to no remuneration, (ii) the exceptional economic benefit this team of short-term instructors provides for their institutions, (iii) what makes for a positive adjunct experience, or (iv) how institutions and their students can fully integrate adjuncts into the law school community with the attendant benefits to both from doing so….

[In this article,] we will take a closer, though necessarily summary, look at the mix of incentives motivating both adjuncts and the institutions that employ them. From these observations, we develop a list of best practices calibrated to ensure that adjuncts, their law schools, and the all-important students (who are the ultimate consumers adjunct and law schools cater to) get the most out of this important relationship.