A very interesting paper from Tom Ginsburg and Tom Miles, both at Chicago, explores "teaching v. research" debate. In The Teaching/Research Trade-Off in Law: Data From the Right Tail, the authors test the (long-assumed) "trade-off" hypothesis with the benefit of 10 years of data from the University of Chicago Law School. A summary of the paper's main take-away follows.
“There has been much debate about whether the performance of American law schools is failing, according to various metrics. Critics argue that U.S. law schools subsidize useless research, taking resources away from the core activity of educating students. Our own school is alleged to be a part of the problem, as it is part of a set of elite schools that ‘‘set the market’’ for the legal professorate. A key assumption of these critics is that a trade-off exists between teaching and scholarship: That the time and energy spent on research impair the quality of teaching or that professors proficient at scholarship (or scholarship that is not directly related to legal practice) are poor teachers of law…. The results of our study cast doubt on this assumption, at least at one elite school. Our analysis of 10 years of data encompassing nearly 50 faculty members over almost 500 courses reveals no strongly negative relationship between the volume of scholarship and the amount or quality of teaching.”