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Grants Reports

After Tenure: Post-Tenure Law Professors in the United States (GR 11-02)

by Elizabeth Mertz, American Bar Foundation, University of Wisconsin Law School; Frances Tung, American Bar Foundation; Katherine Barnes, University of Arizona; Wamucii Njogu, Northeastern Illinois University; Molly Heiler, American Bar Foundation; and Joanne Martin, American Bar Endowment

Executive Summary

The After Tenure study, jointly funded by the American Bar Foundation and the Law School Admission Council, is the first in-depth examination of the professional lives of post-tenure law professors in the United States. It combines a national survey of post-tenure law professors with a set of follow-up interviews conducted with a subset of the survey respondents. A total of 1,175 professors completed the survey; an additional 49 answered substantial parts of the survey. Their responses provide the basis of this report, which contains descriptive statistics from the first quantitative analyses. Future reports and articles will provide further quantitative and qualitative results.

Initial findings show that tenured law professors are generally satisfied with their work situations, but that minority professors and white female professors are significantly more likely to be unhappy. Additional findings included in this report give a detailed picture of the post-tenure law professoriate in terms of geography, age, parents’ educational levels, religion, school status, and many other factors. For example, a high proportion of law professors’ parents have pursued postgraduate education, even though a substantial minority of law professors come from less privileged backgrounds. The majority of the nation’s law professors teach in private schools, and more than 38% teach in the 50 top-ranked law schools (out of 187 then-accredited law schools). Despite some disparities in satisfaction and patterns of social interaction, a high percentage of tenured law professors from all demographic backgrounds reported feeling loyal to the law schools at which they taught.

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