We’ve hit a new low in legal academia.
Tulane University Law School is advertising a new adjunct faculty position, a move that seems normal enough. But there’s a real kick to the gonads for anyone who is currently or strives to one day make a living teaching wannabe lawyers what they need to know to get that coveted Esq. after their name — the law school is only looking for volunteers.
Certainly many in the legal industry from the private sector to federal judges to the DOJ have taken advantage of JDs desperate enough for experience (and the means to survive without getting paid for their work) to fill important roles, but this Tulane advertisement expands the market for unpaid work beyond just internships.
While it may be true that in the legal sector, in particular in the adjunct realm, faculty often have other jobs — and are touted for their real-world experience — this exploits people looking to break into academia and relies exclusively on those with the means to be able to do quite a bit of unpaid labor. While Tulane styles the position as a volunteer opportunity, you can see from the full job description (posted via Twitter user @anandypaul who characterizes the move as “genuinely offensive”) that this reads exactly like every other adjunct faculty position, just without the payday.
And this isn’t some feel good, public interest opportunity for an organization struggling to stay afloat. Let’s not forget Tulane Law is ranked at a respectable 52 on the U.S. News list and charges students over $56,000 for the privilege of attending the school — a good deal higher than the average law school tuition (per Law School Transparency ). Adjunct faculty play an important role in rounding out a law student’s education. Tulane should pay them like the valuable asset they are.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter ( @Kathryn1 ).