The Comparative and Absolute Advantages of Junior Law Faculty: Implications for Teaching and the Future of American Law Schools
Gregory W. Bowman
West Virginia University College of Law
Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, 2008
Mississippi College School of Law Research Paper No. 2008-03
In the ongoing debate about how to improve law school teaching, there is a general consensus that law schools should do more to train junior faculty members how to teach. That is certainly true – but it inadvertently leads to an implicit assumption that is not true: that in all facets of law teaching, junior faculty are at a disadvantage compared to senior faculty. Yet there are aspects of teaching for which junior faculty can be better suited than their senior colleagues. This Article reviews law teaching scholarship and identifies three teaching factors that generally favor junior law faculty: generational proximity to the student body; recency of law practice experience as junior practitioners; and lower susceptibility to the problem of conceptual condensation – extreme depth of subject matter knowledge that makes it difficult to see subjects from the students' perspective.
This Article employs the economic concepts of (a) economies of scale or productive efficiency and (b) absolute and comparative advantage to suggest how these junior faculty advantages could be harnessed to improve law school teaching. It concludes by discussing the implications of these recommendations for law school culture in general and for the legal profession as a whole.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: law schools, law teaching, classroom, pedagogy, junior faculty, law and economics, comparative advantage, absolute advantage
Date posted: October 3, 2007 ; Last revised: December 30, 2013