July 03, 2008
What Law Professors Do
Posted by Gordon Smith

Former Glom guest blogger Larry Cunningham is now guest blogging at Co-op, and he has an interesting post about how law professors (might) spend their time. The list of teaching burdens is useful, but the more useful number, as Larry observes, is "contact hours": the product of credits and student enrollment. Larry notes, "It may not be uncommon, for example, for a school to have 1/4 of its faculty members bearing, respectively, 100, 250, 500 and 700 contact hours."

I have never seen the contracts hours of any faculty, but that would be interesting data. I had exactly 500 contract hours last year, which seems pretty typical for me. Thinking back over the years, I am usually in the 400-600 range, depending on whether I have a seminar or the large or small Contracts sections. I cannot even imagine how much writing I could do with 100 contract hours per year, but I think I would miss having a large number of students ... except at grading time.

Finally, I will turn to Larry for the understatement of the year: "For some such teachers, annual contact hours can exceed 1200. That makes it more difficult for them to discharge their other duties in scholarship and service." All of a sudden, multiple choice exams look very attractive.

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