It can be quite confusing!
Also, since each law school is different, a person with a particular title at one law school may have different responsibilities than a person with the same title at another law school.
You may ask, "Why should you as an LL.M. student care about faculty / staff titles or designations"? "Why do you need to know who is who"? "Does it really matter"?
With titles and designations come responsibilities. Each faculty or staff member has certain responsibilities vis-a-vis international students, particularly LL.M. students.
If you have a question or a problem, you need to ask the person with the appropriate title who is responsible for the issue(s) important to you.
To give you an example, there may be many people at a law school who have the word “Dean” in their title or designation. How do you know which “Dean” to reach out to?
Do you know the different between and among “Dean”, “Special Assistant to the Dean”, “Vice-Dean”, “Associate Dean”, “Executive Associate Dean”, & “Assistant Dean”?
These are things you need to know!
Click "Read More" below for tips on Who is Who at U.S. law schools....
- Who at the law school helps you choose your classes?
- Who helps you find a job post-LL.M.?
- Who monitors your internship or externship?
- Who ensures that you comply with U.S. immigration rules?
- Who is responsible for big picture curriculum issues at the law school?
- Who is responsible for handling LL.M. student emergencies?
- Who is responsible for student disciplinary matters?
- Who should I contact at the school if I have a problem with my off-campus housing, insurance, or finances?
- Which person is higher in the law school hierarchy than the next?
- If you receive conflicting advice or directions from an Assistant Program Director, an Assistant Dean, and an Assistant Professor of Law, which should you follow?
- If one faculty or staff member cannot solve your problem, whom should you turn to next?
- What exactly is the order in this hierarchy?
You might wonder why........
- Why are there so many different types of “Professors”?
- Why are there so people with the word “Dean” in their titles?
- Why are there so many types of Directors, Chairs, Scholars, Fellows, and other categories of people?
Well, as you will see below, many of the titles or designations are very similar to each other. Many of the job responsibilities overlap. All schools have many of the titles. No school has all of them.
The key for you: If you don’t know, ASK!
Don't guess, ASK!
Ask your LL.M. Program Director to explain all the different categories staff / faculty at your law school. As what their responsibilities are. Ask which person should be contacted to solve whatever problems you may have.
The only mistake you can make is to not ask.
Be sure to ASK!
(NB: These lists are not in fixed “hierarchical order”!)
Clinical Professors (Rank)
Other (at & outside the law school)
A Final Note:
The Buck stops with the Dean (the “Big Dean”). That is, the Dean assumes all responsibility for the successful operation of the law school.
That doesn’t mean that you should go to the Dean with every problem you have! There are many other faculty and staff members, aside from the Dean, who should be able to handle all of your problems and issues.
However, if someone is not answering your questions, or your reasonable expectations are not being met when dealing with faculty / staff lower in the hierarchy, yes, you should approach the Dean and present your problem or concern. The Dean should either resolve the problem for you, or direct you to the person he or she believes should be able to help solve the problem.
Unfortunately, sometimes the Dean may point you towards a person who already proved unable to solve your problem! What do you do then?
Go back over your list of law school faculty / staff. Start the inquiry process over. If necessary, go back to the Dean. This time, hope that someone gets it right!
PS: My own current titles / designations at Indiana University McKinney School of Law include the following:
- Special Assistant to the Dean for Inter-Governmental & Non-Governmental Organizations and
- The C.M. Gray Professor of Law and
- Director (Founding), Center for International Human Rights Law and
- Director (Founding), Guantanamo Bay U.S. Military Commission Observation Project (MCOP) and
- Director (Founding), United Nations Special Consultative Status Project (SCSP) and
- Affiliated Faculty Member, Center for the Study of Global Change, Indiana University, Bloomington
...And I'm just one faculty member / administrator at one law school!
...And I didn't even list all my titles / designations!