Episode Notes

We consider it a great honor to serve as an adjunct professor at a law school, but is the juice worth the squeeze?  

In this episode, Stephanie talks with Markus Funk about the investments lawyers make and the benefits they receive when they agree to teach. They also explore ways for adjuncts to make the most of their experience for themselves and their students.  

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  • 8:58. Reasons for hiring adjuncts
  • 25:58. Stratification and Integration in Law Schools
  • 29:58. The Need for Better Support and Recognition



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts 



Zack Glaser (00:35): 

Hey y’all. I’m Zack. 


Sara Muender (00:36): 

And I’m Sara. And this is episode 511 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Stephanie talks with Markus Funk about being an adjunct professor. 


Zack Glaser (00:48): 

So Sara, I have some exciting news. I don’t get to do this all the time, but one of my jobs here at Lawyerist is to rate and talk about and write about legal technology products. So we’ve got a lot of different portals on our website, law practice management software portal, CRM portal portals for products that are integral to running your law firm. And we compare these products. We have features that you need questions about ’em, ratings on them, from users, from me, from our other legal tech advisor, Jeff. So we’ve got a lot of information on legal tech products as it relates to small to medium sized law firms. And it’s been a while since I’ve released a new portal. And now that AI is all over the place, we have sent another one into the internet. So we have a new portal that is rating all sorts of artificial intelligence products as they relate to the legal field. 


Sara Muender (01:49): 

So let me ask you a question then. Is the portal itself powered by ai? Very meta there, isn’t it? Yeah, short answer, probably No, but Oh 


Zack Glaser (02:02): 

Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, you got me. No, it’s not. I feel like I’m lacking. But really the beauty of these portals, and I’m glad you asked that question, because the beauty of ’em is that they’re done by hand, they’re done by people. Me, my team and the other legal tech advisors here really, really dig into these products and we spend some time comparing them and figuring out what features are necessary. And frankly, we spend a lot of time iterating over these portals as we go. So no, you won’t find any artificial intelligence giving you the information, but in this scenario it’s probably a good thing. 


Sara Muender (02:42): 

Absolutely. I mean, that’s a good point. Well, first of all, I want to congratulate you on getting that up and launched on the Lawyerist website because I know that was a big project and it’s also extremely valuable. So basically, long story short, for those who are looking for a new AI tool for whatever, they can just basically go to whereas.com, and is it kind of obvious to find or do we just navigate to product reviews? 


Zack Glaser (03:08): 

So you navigate to product reviews, and then in the dropdown you’ll see artificial intelligence. You can also just search for AI tool for Lawyerist on our website, but it’s there with the other reviews as its own separate portal. And frankly, it’s not just for somebody that’s looking for a specific artificial intelligence tool, it can also give you an idea of the landscape that’s out there, what type of tools are out there. And so we expect to have some more usage, some more usefulness coming up as we go, but we really wanted to get this product out there so people could start to look at the AI products out there. And frankly, I love it when people leave reviews. If you log into Lawyerist, if you’re a subscriber to Lawyerist dot com, then you can leave a review and tell us what you think about some of these products. We use user ratings in our own ratings as well. So it’s very helpful to me to see what people who are boots on the ground using these products, think 


Sara Muender (04:03): 

Real life people about artificial intelligence, 


Zack Glaser (04:06): 



Sara Muender (04:08): 

We’re turning on them. 


Zack Glaser (04:12): 

Well, I hope people go to it and get some use out of it. But before that, we have Stephanie’s conversation with Markus about being an adjunct professor. 


Markus Funk (04:26): 

Hi, I’m Markus Funk. I’m a partner at Perkins Coie. I am a former federal prosecutor and I’ve been an adjunct at law schools around the country and overseas, including Oxford, university of Chicago, Northwestern, et cetera. 


Stephanie Everett (04:38): 

Hey Markus, welcome to the show. So today we’re talking about adjunct professors and some research that you did in this area, which I found fascinating, have to admit. It wasn’t something I’d thought about recently. 


Markus Funk (04:52): 

Well, the funny thing is we hadn’t thought about it that much either. In other words, my co-authors, Andrew Buttross and I have been adjuncts for many years, decades at this point, and we’re just sort of talking about the adjunct experience. It was triggered by my having to pay, I think a $4 parking fee and asking for reimbursement or something like that and giving, it didn’t go as smoothly as I thought. And then we were lucky enough to be able to persuade Eugene Bock, formerly at UCLA now at Stanford to join us and give us his perspective as a full-time law professor. So these are all topics that frankly, until we wrote about it, we looked around, we couldn’t find anything really. I mean, every aspect of a law student in law school has been analyzed 50 different ways, but this is what I consider to be a rather important one had been looked at almost not at all. And so we, from our perspective, at least plowing fresh ground, 


Stephanie Everett (05:43): 

And I think one of the most notable things right at the top is just how many adjunct professors there are and what the makeup of a typical law school looks like in terms of full-time faculty versus an adjunct. So maybe you could just kick it off by sharing some of those findings with us. 


Markus Funk (05:59): 

Yeah, sure. I mean there by our calculations, and mind you, all of our calculations are a bit of a back of the envelope by necessity calculations because University of Colorado was great in sharing information, but pretty much no one else was. And so we had the benefit also of some other kind of insiders helping us out. But overall, by our calculations, there are roughly 12,000 lawyers who are either currently adjuncts or have been adjuncts, and that’s based on listings on law school websites, et cetera. And so the interesting thing there is they teach roughly 45% of all classes. And the A BA has a standard 4 0 3 that requires every law school that wants to be a accredited to have 50% of more or more of all of the credit hours being taught by full-time professors. And so the way that law schools do this is they basically, and we all remembered if we went to law school, is the first year classes tend to be taught with big kind of auditorium style classes. 



Criminal law torts are taught by full-time professors almost never taught by adjuncts anywhere in the country. And you might wonder, well, why is that? Is there something specific? Part of it is because those are the core courses and they’re not sort of bespoke or very specialized, which is what adjuncts are really good at. And part of it is that law schools want to make sure that they meet the standard 4 0 3. And so if you look at second and third year, by and large, most classes, by most I just mean the majority of classes are taught by adjuncts. So those are some of the statistics just on the overall sort of the breadth of adjunct teaching at American Law schools, again, roughly 12,000, that’s a two to one ratio by our calculations of adjuncts versus either full-time professors that can be tenure professors or associate professors, et cetera. 


Stephanie Everett (07:43): 

Yeah, I was surprised by those numbers quite frankly. I was like, oh, wow. But then when I thought about it, I was like, yeah, I mean that kind of resonates. That makes sense. And you sort of touched on this, but why or when might a law school consider giving a class to an adjunct professor instead of someone on staff? 


Markus Funk (08:01): 

Yeah, I mean basically, unless we’ve missed one, every single law school in the United States has adjuncts and uses adjuncts very extensively. That goes from the Yales and Harvards of the world all the way through the a hundred ninety six hundred ninety seven a a accredited law schools. So by and large, they tend to use adjuncts for bespoke classes like I mentioned. In other words, if you have a very specialized class of, for example, I teach a class co-teach a class with Chelsea Kirkman on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and internal investigations, that’s something that most scholars don’t have a lot of experience in. And so it’s a type of thing that is very well suited. Practice type classes are very well suited to adjuncts, but a lot of adjuncts also teach highly theoretical classes or courts. I remember I taught a course on the international criminal court and victim’s rights at the International Criminal Court, which is a little more, not just specialized, but a little more scholarly at the time that ICC was still kind of getting off the ground. 



So it really depends on the law school. I mean, what’s the motivation? I think most law schools do it because they want to give students a wide variety of experiences. A lot of law professors don’t like teaching. That’s one of the not so secret secrets of academic life. And so they’re not too sad about having adjuncts come in, although there can be some territorial disputes about, Hey, this person’s teaching essentially a criminal law class and I’m a tenured professor and I’ve been teaching the same class for 40 years and I want them to stay off of my turf, particularly if they do a good job, because then you might find that the students vote with their feet and the attendance goes up in the adjuncts class or down as the case may be. And then of course there’s the financial component, and that’s a huge one. I’m pretty well convinced. I think we’re all convinced that if adjuncts went on strike, law schools around the country would basically go belly up. I mean, they couldn’t afford to continue teaching. They don’t have the person power to teach all the classes they don’t have. And again, the financial aspects, which I’m sure we’ll talk about are such that makes adjuncts extremely attractive to universities. So I think there’s a blended group of reasons why adjuncts are so popular. Those are sort of the three primary components. 


Stephanie Everett (10:11): 

I had the opportunity to teach at Emory Law School as an adjunct. I did it for two years, a class we kind of made up, we called it the economics of a law firm. They asked me to come in and they were like, assume that our students are going to go to big law and they don’t know anything about how the firm operates financially. They didn’t want me to do it from the stance of starting a law firm. I was like, okay, that’s fine. So it was an interesting experience and one thing that struck me is how little resources they really provided to me. I mean, the dean sort of gave me this overview. Basically what I just told you was what he said he wanted me to cover. And then they told me how many hours I needed to fill and they were like, go forth and do this thing. And I’m just curious, is that a typical experience or does some schools give a little bit more support to the person teaching? 


Markus Funk (11:00): 

I think what you experienced, Stephanie is in fact a very typical experience. Most law schools, they’re selective as to who they choose to teach. They typically, and I always say typically and in general I’m using these terms, but part of the reason is we have a lot of folks, and in the article we actually go through a lot of the feedback we got on an earlier draft, both positive and negative and challenges to our kind of approach. So we have a lot of insiders that are nameless, or at least not named I should say, but most law schools are very picky as to who they have teach. Now, things can go off the rails quite easily with adjuncts who are not familiar with academic environments, and sometimes they make missteps more often than tenured or other call full-time faculty is better term than tenured. But typically the experience you had is the standard. 



Certainly the experience I’ve had at all, I think six or seven law schools I’ve taught full classes on, and then I guess lecture at Yale and Harvard and Georgetown, a bunch of other places on occasion. But the full-time classes, they might take a look at your syllabus to make sure you’re kind of on point. They might visit your class. They audit classes often, particularly for the newer adjuncts. But beyond that, very little is support is done. I mean, you’re kind of relied upon to get it right and to teach the right materials and to teach it in a way that’s comprehensible. If your reviews come back after your first year really badly, in other words, people just really didn’t enjoy the class, you might find yourself uninvited quite quickly in a way that you wouldn’t if you’re a full-time faculty member. And you may not get a whole lot of explanation for why that is or if there’s some other reason they just don’t want the class or need the class anymore. 



But typically, and the experiences for most adjuncts, very transactional, you show up, you look at your calendar, you’re like, oh, got to teach tomorrow. You get prepared, you go, you walk into the building, you teach your class, you leave the building. Not a lot of adjuncts hang out and make use of the faculty lounge and use any secretarial sort of support or really anything else. And that’s part of the economics of this whole thing is that universities in part law school is getting even better deal out of adjuncts because they use almost no resources. The better they do as adjuncts, the less resources they’ll use. And so I think your experience is really representative of the experience of most, maybe not all, but certainly my experience. But most adjuncts 


Stephanie Everett (13:24): 

And I’ve since people listening, maybe thinking maybe they’ve always wanted to be an adjunct because it does still seem like a very prestigious opportunity. And I think that’s why lawyers often will jump on it if they are asked. Was that what your findings are? Is that 


Markus Funk (13:40): 

Yeah, absolutely. lawyers love being adjuncts. They love going back to school. It’s a break from their normal workday for better or for worse. And I think it’s for both. A lot of them are from big law firms that support kind of adjunct teaching. It helps furnish your credentials. It can be a good marketing tool, it can be a good referral source. It can show expertise that a university or law school would choose you to teach. This class is almost a sort of objective endorsement of your skills. So there are a whole bunch of reasons why people do it. Some people just love to get the feedback. I mean, these student reviews can be quite unflinching. And for a lot of folks, particularly people transact, one of the things you wrote about is that litigators, we get a lot of feedback. We get feedback from judges, we get feedback from jurors, we get feedback from a lot of people because what we do tends to be sort of in the public eye, whereas transactional lawyers typically don’t get that same kind of feedback. 



And so for them having a student respond to how they’re able to convey information if they’re doing a good job, teaching can be really valuable and allow them to change things or maybe again, have an objective lens on it. But I mean, one of the things of course the law schools could do a better job of is integrating new adjuncts with their faculty and into the fabric of the law school. But by and large, and this is one of the arguments that we addressed in the Texas Law Bureau piece from a associate dean at a top five law school, which is, Hey, we’ve got a queue of people waiting outside to teach a class. So if you don’t like it, you can leave. And if you do like it, you should stay, but don’t come to us with your economic analysis or your other complaints because the market forces have spoken and people want to teach and they’ll teach for peanuts and they’ll be happy with it. 



And so that’s an argument that has been made. We obviously had responses to that, but I think people teach for a whole host of reasons. And again, maybe blended grouping of reasons. That’s certainly why I do it. I love being in kind of an academic environment, teaching students and getting the feedback from students. It’s a great break from what I do every day, and it’s something I started as a full-time professor, and so I left academia to go to the US attorney’s office and then the big law. So I kind of did it in a little bit of a reverse fashion, but that’s one of the reasons I’d like to stay connected with the academic world. 


Stephanie Everett (15:57): 

If someone’s listening and they think, I’ve always wanted to do this, I would love the opportunity. Is it something that you have to sit around and wait for a law school to reach out or do people ever proactively approach the school with an idea or a class or suggestion for them to teach 


Markus Funk (16:13): 

Super unscientific answers? I would bet that 80% of the people who teach have some relationship with the school, whether they know people there, they know professors there, they attended, et cetera. I’ve never heard. I’m sure it happens, but that they reach out and say, Hey, you have a really interesting area of law. We’d love to have you come teach a class. By and large, yeah, people write in. That’s how I initially got linked up with all the law schools that I’ve taught at with some exceptions. I mean, Oxford, I was there for getting my PhD in Northwestern, I attended there, but the others, I might’ve known a professor and said, Hey, I’m kind of interested in teaching a class and here are the topics I’d like to teach. Then there’s a little back and forth to determine if you are overlapping with something that’s already been being offered. 



And they do an interview, but it’s a little bit like getting hired for a summer associate job. I know you send your resume in so to speak, they give you a general check over and meet you and make sure that everything seems right. And then you have your first year of teaching, and that’s kind of your summer as a summer associate. And if they like what they see, they keep you on. If they don’t, they don’t. And it’s can be pretty arbitrary, but that’s certainly my sense of it. And I think that’s the sense that we’ve gotten from the others both within academia and within the adjunct community. 


Stephanie Everett (17:28): 

Yeah, I was fortunate they were kind of trying out this class that I did. I don’t think the program lasted very long, but it should because more people need to learn about that 


Markus Funk (17:37): 

Stuff in law school. It can turn on a dime. I mean, that’s one of the things that, because you spent a lot of time setting up a course, as you know, right, Stephanie, you putting that first syllabus together, thinking about the reading should be how long they should take. Are you over or under? Are the readings balanced for the number of credit hours? That first class takes a lot of time and then not teaching it very many times after that can be a really heavy sunk cost that you bear uniquely. No one else can help you, and then you can maybe try to shop the class to another institution. But you’re right, we’ve all had experiences where for whatever reason, the school doesn’t want to repeat a particular class and then that’s the end of that. 


Stephanie Everett (18:17): 

Yeah, I think, and you’re kind of touching on it, but just to be even more direct, while it is a very prestigious opportunity that a lot of us want to do, there’s a lot involved. That was one thing that the paper really also kind of struck me with is really pointing out how much time a typical adjunct will spend preparing a class. And you guys even broke it down, I think, into some numbers, right? 


Markus Funk (18:42): 

Yeah. I mean these numbers will vary by person and will vary by how many years you’ve taught a class. In other words, at this point I prepare less. I’m in my ninth or 10th year teaching the same class. But you’re right, I mean our rough calculations are like a hundred hours to prepare for the class, travel to grade papers, to talk to students afterwards. And that’s probably a pretty conservative amount. I mean, I think typically it’s much more than that, but that explains also the great return on investment. I mean, for what law schools pay, they get a 21 times ROI by our calculations. In other words, typical. I think that my pay is typical for a one hour class per hour, like $1,500. Some schools pay quite a bit more, but still no one pays more than $10,000 for a three hour class that I’m aware of. 



And that’s an amazing return on investment when you think that any full-time professor gets paid roughly seven times that per class. And that’s not accounting for any overhead stipends, vacations, bonuses, secretarial assistants, all the other office space, all the other things are not calculated in. That’s just based on basic salary analysis. And of course at the major law schools, you can get paid $500,000 or more if you’re a star professor. But even at the schools where professors are not as heavily compensated, they’re still on average, they’re getting 21 times what they pay us out of us in terms of what the students are paying for their coursework. And that’s seven times more than they pay a professor. So you’re not doing it for the money if you don’t love it, you’re at the wrong place. And unlike in a lot of other academic fields where being an adjunct can be a pathway to becoming a full professor, very few adjuncts ever either want to or can become associate professors and then be considered for full professorship, but that’s not a pathway to a full-time academic job. 



It’s a purely a sideline. But those are the basic economics and it’s a pretty darn good deal for universities. And I think it’s still a good deal for adjuncts. But the risks of course, and this is something lik talks about a lot and has written about a lot, are reputational. It doesn’t take much to run afoul of student sensibilities these days, and it doesn’t take much to get an article written about some big scandal that happens. And luckily, I mean, never happened to me, I’ll put that out there, but I’ve seen it happen to colleagues and friends, and the concern that Eugene raises is, look, you’re getting paid fairly little. This is not part of your regular job. You’re not going to necessarily do better or worse in terms of your salary. So for a thousand dollars, 1,500 or $3,000 a semester, why would you risk personal and professional reputational damage by putting yourself in an environment that’s not familiar to you? Also, we don’t always swim in these currents, and so we’ve got to get used to speaking to students in a different way than you speak to a colleague or a client. And so there are certainly risks associated with taking on an adjunct role, but the basic economics, the basic amount of time, it’s a huge amount of time that you put in. And again, if you don’t really love it, and if you’re not doing it because you really want to give something back, you’re probably at the wrong place and doing the wrong thing. 


Stephanie Everett (21:57): 

Yeah, I’ll confess, I was a little shocked when they told me the pay. I mean, it was right in line with what you’re saying. It’s not for the money. It was like, oh, wow. Yeah, this is a couple of hours of my typical billable rate. It’s shockingly low. And I think your point about the potential risk, someone should think about that. I mean, I will say there was no other feeling like being called professor the first time when a student came up to me after class and referred to me as professor. It was kind of a thing where I was like, oh, yeah, I’m the professor. That’s pretty cool. 


Markus Funk (22:33): 

It is pretty cool. Although I’m probably happy, I can’t remember the guy’s name, but I read an article just recently where this professor was conveying against the use of professor for an adjunct and going through all these reasons why adjunct should not ever be called professors, whereas full-time faculty should, and it shows you sort of a certain amount of pettiness. I could care less personally professor, not professor, doctor, not doctor, but boy, this one full-time academic certainly felt pretty strongly about it and did not want us lowly adjuncts being referred to as professors. 


Stephanie Everett (23:07): 

I mean, that does not shock me. And yeah, it’s a lot of work and it’s a lot of time. So I think if you’re listening, that should be something that you just consider. Is this the best use of my time? And to your point, is this going to line up with my values with if you’re giving back, you want to teach that next generation. There’s value for that for sure, and it’s needed, but you just need to know what you’re getting into. 


Markus Funk (23:33): 

Yeah, 100%. And it wouldn’t, I mean, you talked about your experience, it really isn’t that hard to make it a little more enjoyable. I mean, that’s one of the fun parts about writing this article is that we’ve gotten a lot of feedback and a lot of the feedback more recently has been from members of administrations of university and the law school administration saying that they’ve adapted or adopted or in some cases almost all of the recommendations, 17 or 16 or whatever, some odd number of recommendations we came up with to make the life of the experience more enjoyable. And those are simple. I mean, my goodness doesn’t, it’s funny, I’ve got a couple bugs now because it’s one of my recommendations was that at the end of teaching your class, they should send you a mug or a T-shirt or I don’t know, paperweight, I don’t care. 



It’s not going to cost ’em too much. I mean, again, 21 times ROI, it’s not going to kill you to give someone a $5 mug just as a little sign, a little external validation, invite adjuncts to graduation ceremonies when you have a visiting professor speaking on a topic, a lunch, brown bag, lunch type deal. Invited the adjuncts to attend. Whether or not they show up is on them, but invite ’em to attend whether you have faculty meetings. It would also not be crazy to have a member. I mean, you have members of almost every kind of subgroup and subgroup and law school campuses that have a seat, at least at some tables within the law school environment. As far as I know, no law school I’m aware of has adjunct representative at any kind of meeting, even though they make up, they teach the majority or at least about half of the courses depending on how you calculate them. 



They typically teach smaller, like 35 and less students course as we talked about the outset. But yeah, incidentals, pay the $5 for parking, don’t make the adjunct pay five bucks. Not that the $5 are going to make or break a person’s year, but that’d be a nice little touch. And then introduce new adjuncts. When Stephanie started your course, were you introduced to other people on the faculty that might be interested in the course that you might want to have as a guest lecturer in your class that you might want to be in their class as a guest lecturer or just it would be nice to get to know and have coffee and say, Hey, I’m new here and this is what I teach and see if there’s some opportunities to collaborate together. That’s another thing that’s done rarely, if ever, but all of these things fortunately have started. 



I mean, I’m not saying that we’ve sort of kicked off some revolution in law schools, but a number of law schools, again, from all across the bands have reached out to us individually and said, Hey, really enjoyed the article. We’re doing a number of 1, 5, 10, and 12 of your recommendations. And we’re working on integrating additional ones because they are all honestly super low cost. They’re just sort of little bit higher eq. And as you know from law school life, it is incredibly stratified. I mean, for places that are very egal proclaimed to be very egalitarian, which is law schools that are all very progressive in their ideological and moral approaches. They are incredibly stratified and they’re tenured professors on top, and then there’s the untenured professors and then there are associate professors. Then there’re legal writing professors and clinical professors. And if you actually get to know these folks pretty well, you find out that there are big tensions between the different groups and sort of the hierarchies. 



I mean, it really is like you’re in Old England or something like that where you have these different hierarchies within the institutions. And that’s been part of the problem. And part of the challenge is breaking through that a little bit and just saying, look, how do we make this a better institution? Forget about making it better for this or that class of academician. How do we make it a better institution? How do we bring adjuncts into the fabric of a law school because convinced, and there’s some law schools at the tip top of the ratings tables that are really good at this. I mean that really treat adjuncts. University of Chicago did a great job. I mean to this day, I didn’t attend University of Chicago. I get alumni newsletters. They have a website with your page on it, which is pretty basic most places, but a lot of ’em don’t have it, right? No pictures or anything like that. And University of Colorado is doing a great job where I teach now, but there are other schools that just, they’re not particularly interested in it and they don’t want to hear any kind of complaining from an adjunct. They say, well, if you don’t like it, we can get rid of you and get another one, which is not the right mentality I think. 


Stephanie Everett (28:00): 

No, I agree. And to your point, what low cost touches that can really help? I mean, honestly, having my page, having my picture up on a university website, that’s great. SEO juice too for my regular practice that people, and I want people to find that. I want people to know about it. So I think that’s a super low cost, almost free thing they can do. So I think it’s good. I think if anything, you’re starting this conversation, I’ll be the first to admit that before reading your paper and knowing you guys were doing this work, it just really didn’t dawn on me. I just did it. I did teach this class. I did have the experience. We have a lot of people that in our community, a lot of lawyers I work with are teaching, and I think people are just doing it and they’re just like, oh, this is just how it is and what I should do. 



And honestly, it never even occurred to me to go seek it out. I could have taken on the initiative to say, Hey, can I get introduced to some other professors? Maybe I could get some tips. I’ve never taught a class before. Maybe there’s Who’s your best teacher? Who do the students love? I would love to go have coffee with that person and maybe learn some things that I could do differently. So I could have done a better job, but I just instead, I just kind of was over here in my lane making it up. It went, I think, okay. It was fun, but I love that you’re helping us. 


Markus Funk (29:16): 

It’s a good point. I mean, I also realized that this is not all on the universities, it’s also on us. And I realized that, hey, I’ve been at this law school for a while now and I have not met any of the people who teach criminal law. So I actually went on sort of a charm offense of trying to send emails to people saying, Hey, I’ve been here for a while. We kind of teach overlapping topics. I’d love to get to know you and introduce myself and have coffee. And I don’t know. I’m at about 30% hit rate so far in terms of people actually responding and meeting with me. But you’re right, I mean a lot of it is on us to take the initiative and try to make the law schools a better place for ourselves because then you really enjoy it. You really enjoy being at a law school when you feel like you’re part of the community, part of the fabric, and you’re valued. 



I mean, if you think about no law firm in the world, I mean, this is obviously an area that you’re super expertise in, but no law firm in the world would have a group of people at the law firm who are really important to the law firm, let’s say associates, and treat them largely as just sort of people that come and go with very little recognition given or appreciation shown towards what they do. Unlike adjuncts, law firms pay associates pretty well, especially these days as we know. So the big ones, at least the big law firms pay enormous amounts for associates and have all sorts of bonuses and little things to make it nicer and more fun. Whether that’s giving ’em simple things like branded materials to retreats and the managing partner calling them and checking in and having meetings. If there’s a law school where the dean regularly calls adjuncts and just checks in on how they’re doing, I’m not aware of it. 



There’s no such place. And so I think you’re right. If you go in there and you get to know the professors that really do well and what it is about them that makes them so persuasive and interesting to the students, that’s a great thing to do. And frankly, if I were running a law school, I would say, Hey, let’s take our four or five star professors. The deans are busy, and have them essentially maybe even do a class for adjuncts and say like, Hey, here’s what works really well for me. Here’s what didn’t work. There are a million things you can think of that are semi creative and not high cost that could really address a lot of these issues. And hopefully we’ll see more and more law schools do those. 


Stephanie Everett (31:30): 

I agree. And everything I was just thinking about too is this applies too to our people teaching CLEs. I mean, it all kind of translates. We have this idea that we’re supposed to keep learning after law school, and yet we often ask people to teach CLEs that aren’t great speakers, they’re boring. They read from their slides, and by the way, they’re often also asked to do this for little to no money. So no wonder you get what you pay for. Sometimes it’s like people just kind of throw presentations together. I think maybe part of my takeaway of this is we could all do better, being a lawyer is about lifetime learning. So it starts in law school, but then it continues, and certainly we could do better as teachers and up our game. 


Markus Funk (32:13): 

Yeah, for sure. I mean, the point of the article is not to bash, although it might sound like it, and sometimes when I talk about it, I’m sort of like some aggrieved person who’s like, here’s my list of wrongs that were done to me. And that’s not it at all. I mean, I love teaching, but I think you’re right. This is not, law schools aren’t doing a good enough job. They should do better. This is more of a, Hey, law schools here are some easy things you guys can do to make it better for everyone, the students yourselves, the adjuncts, and really create a flourishing community. And here are things adjuncts should do, right? Here are the things adjuncts should be aware of and ask for perhaps that have not occurred to administrators who have a lot on their plate already and don’t need to get another bunch of complaints from untenured sort of visitors to the law school, as we’re often viewed as. But no, so I agree. I think there’s something to be done and learned by all sides involved, from administrators, to faculty, to adjunct, and hopefully we’ve sensitized all of these different stakeholders and the net result’s going to be a better community on law schools and a better experience for the law students, which are the ultimate consumers of what our services are there. 


Stephanie Everett (33:21): 

Yeah. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I feel like this is the start of a conversation that we often forget about, but it’s a good one because we’re involved in it, and if people out there are thinking about being an adjunct, for sure, I say go for it. Try it. It is a lot of time, but it’s also very rewarding. I still think about some of the stories with those students, what they taught me. I mean, you just learn so much about how they think and what’s going on in their lives. So I would encourage everyone to do it, and we’ll make sure to link the article in the show notes if people want to read more about your findings and recommendations and how they can up their game. 


Markus Funk (33:57): 

Sounds great, Stephanie, and you’re spot on all of your takeaways and look forward to continuing the conversation. 


Zack Glaser (34:05): 

The Lawyerist podcast is edited by Brittany Felix, are you ready to implement the ideas we discussed here into your practice, wondering what to do next? Here are your first steps. First, if you haven’t read the Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the initial chapter for free at Lawyerist dot com slash book, looking for help beyond the book. Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities are right for you at the Lawyerist dot com slash community slash lab for more information. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

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Stephanie Everett

Stephanie Everett is the Chief Growth Officer and Lead Business Coach of Lawyerist. She is the co-author of the bestselling book The Small Firm Roadmap Revisited and co-host of the weekly Lawyerist Podcast.

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Last updated June 26th, 2024