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The process of becoming a law lecturer is very different depending on where you live and the market you are intending to enter. In the United Kingdom, you can become a law lecturer with little more than a background in the law and a passion for teaching. The job is almost always full time, and lecturers are expected to dedicate their careers to educating future barristers and solicitors. In the United States and Canada, however, it is usually only possible to become a law lecturer with significant prior experience — and even then, the job is typically available only on a part-time basis. North American lecturers are usually expected to be working experts who lend a few hours a week to teaching advanced students.
Much of the difference in process owes to the difference in job description. In the UK, lecturer is a law career of someone who teaches full-time in a university. For U.S. and Canadian markets, that same person is called a professor or assistant professor. American and Canadian law schools have lecturer positions, but these are usually reserved for subject-matter experts. Lecturers in this setting are more like part-time law professors or adjunct professors, often teaching no more than one course at a time while continuing to practice. The job requirements for each position are very different.
In order to become a law lecturer in the UK or Ireland, you must typically have a degree in law, some experience practicing as either a barrister or solicitor, and a passion for teaching law students. Universities typically advertise open positions in the late summer or early fall a year in advance of when the position will actually become available. Prospective lecturers should watch different university postings, and apply for jobs that seem attractive.
Most of the time, law lecturers start out as entry level professors. They often teach one or two electives in their area of expertise but spend most of their time on general and foundational courses. Each progressive year of service generally leads to more flexibility, job security, and course tailoring.
The process to become a law lecturer in the United States and Canada is markedly different. Lecturers in these settings must usually be established experts in their fields, often with 10 or more years of national-level or otherwise renowned experience. Schools often contact desirable experts directly about potential law professor positions, and lecturing jobs are rarely posted externally.
Just the same, there are ways to become a law lecturer in the US and Canada without an invitation. Networking with law school deans at legal events and fundraisers is one way to get your name out. It is also possible to contact schools directly about lecture positions, but you will need to be ready with a course proposal and an articulate explanation of how your expertise will further the law school’s mission.
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