Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016


This Article reports on an empirical study of the prevalence of Ph.D.s on law faculties, the rate at which J.D.-Ph.D.s are being hired by those faculties, the impact of that hiring on faculties’ legal experience levels, and the likely resulting future composition of law faculties. Approximately 29% of the tenure-track faculties of the top twenty-six law schools currently hold Ph.D.s, and 67% of those schools’ entry level hires in 2014 and 2015 are J.D.-Ph.D.s. Recent hiring has separated into two tracks. On the growing J.D.-Ph.D. track, both legal experience and preparation time is declining. On the fading J.D.-only track, legal experience and preparation time are increasing. Preparation time for a law teaching job is now slightly lower on the J.D.-Ph.D. track. If current hiring trends continue, a majority of the members of top twenty-six law faculties will hold Ph.D.s by 2028, and a large majority of them will have no experience in law practice. Although Ph.D.-hiring is strongly correlated with school rank, this transformation to discipline-based law faculties will not be confined to the top schools. Already, 11% of tenure-track faculty hires in the bottom quartile of law schools have Ph.D.s. When this transformation is complete, the disciplines will effectively control the scholarly agendas of American law schools.