Legal careers: Academia

Almost all professors in law schools have law degrees. Traditionally, this was the only academic credential necessary for teaching in law schools, but in the last 20 years or so, a growing percentage of law professors are expected to have PhDs in addition to or instead of JDs—roughly half of all new tenure-track teaching positions in law schools in 2019 went to applicants with PhDs. Some may have LLMs – a master’s degree in law.

For teaching law in four-year undergraduate liberal arts institutions, however, a JD is generally insufficient. Almost all such professors have PhDs, most often in the social sciences. Among professors in law-related pre-professional programs (such as paralegal certification programs) or in community colleges, JDs (without a PhD) are more common.