The Teaching/Research Tradeoff in Law: Data from the Right Tail

Tom Ginsburg & Thomas J. Miles:

There is a long scholarly debate on the tradeoff between research and teaching in various fields, but relatively little study of the phenomenon in law. This analysis examines the relationship between the two core academic activities at one particular school, the University of Chicago Law School, which is considered one of the most productive in legal academia. We use standard measures of scholarly productivity and teaching performance. For research, we measure the total number of publications for each professor for each year, while for teaching, we look at the average teaching rating. Net of other factors, we find that, under some specifications, research and teaching are positively correlated. In particular, we find that students’ perceptions of teaching quality rises, but at a decreasing rate, with the total amount of scholarship. We also find that certain personal characteristics correlate with productivity. The recent debate on the mission of American law schools has hinged on the assumption that a tradeoff exists between teaching and research, and this article’s analysis, although limited in various ways, casts some doubt on that assumption.