HLS adds resources for aspiring academics
By Seth Stern '01
When Pamela Foohey '08 wanted to discuss a potential career as a law professor, she knew just where to turn.
She sat down with Akiba Covitz, who, as director of Harvard Law School's Office of Academic Affairs, is offering advice to students and alumni interested in legal academia.
Foohey also is among the first batch of fellows in a post-graduate research program at HLS that gives recent graduates access to the law library and online databases they need to pursue scholarship.
It's all part of the school's effort to ease the path for students and alumni who want to become law professors.
Harvard Law already leads the nation in the number of law professors it has produced. But the goal, says Professor Daryl Levinson, who is heading the effort, is to make sure there's more structure in place to help those who want to follow in their footsteps.
Levinson and Covitz have held information sessions for students and alumni—and even created a video ("So You Want to Be a Law Professor") available online that serves as an orientation for those mulling that direction.
"The goal is to make sure anyone who wants to consider this as a job opportunity can have it as an option," Covitz said.
Much of their counseling is individualized. Since taking up his new role in January, Covitz has counseled everyone from current students to alumni who graduated years ago and may now be in the Foreign Service or on the cusp of partnership at law firms.
Carrie Griffin Basas '02 turned to Covitz for advice this year as she prepared to enter the legal academic job market for the first time. He offered suggestions about how to handle interviews and offers. She got a job at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Brett Dakin '03, an associate at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, is on a similar path. He recently accepted an offer to begin a research fellowship at Columbia in September.
Foohey says Covitz helped her plot a road map for after she graduates and begins a clerkship with the Delaware Bankruptcy Court. She hopes to become a law professor with a focus on the interaction of bankruptcy and family law.
Covitz helps prospective law professors understand the process and think about which Harvard Law faculty members might serve as references. He emphasizes that producing scholarship has become the key to getting hired. "The key driver in getting academic jobs is your writing," said Covitz. He said candidates are expected to have "a really good article in significant draft" and a "tight research agenda" that lays out their future scholarly plans.
That's why HLS has developed a series of new research fellowships aimed at giving alumni the time and tools they need to produce legal scholarship. The fellowships give 30 recent alumni who are starting clerkships or legal practice access to the library and online databases.
"It's a great way to go out into the working world without having to worry about access to the tools you need to continue research you started in law school," said Foohey.
Harvard is also offering an ever-growing variety of residential fellowships. The Climenko Fellowships, for example, enable recipients to teach first-year law students and also focus on research and writing.
Residential fellowships have become an increasingly important springboard into legal teaching, says Levinson, who noted that half of the people hired at HLS have gone through a fellowship program. "It's almost mandatory, especially if you do not have a Ph.D.," Levinson said.
The school is also offering new visiting assistant professorships for candidates with significant practice experience who haven't had the opportunity to research and write scholarly articles.
Several fellowships for aspiring law professors are available at Harvard Law School. For a list and more information, go to www.law.harvard.edu/academics/fellowships. For more information about teaching opportunities, go to http://internal.law.harvard.edu/ocs/Teaching/.