August 09, 2005
Catch 22: You Need a Publication to Jump From Practice to Professor, but Only Professors Have the Time and Resources to Write Articles
Posted by Christine Hurt

Kaimi Wenger at PrawfsBlawg is doing a series on writing an article while practicing law, something about which he seems to have first-hand knowledge.  I do not.  When I was practicing, I could barely make time to write a check for my mortgage, much less an academic article.  Kaimi's first post covers a good threshold question:  What client is going to pay for that Lexis/Westlaw research?  How do you get one of those cool unlimited L/W passwords?

Kaimi has one great suggestion:  ask your alma mater.  Also, if you are teaching an adjunct course anywhere, you are eligible for a password, so ask for it.  I asked a Westlaw rep a school or so ago if my husband could use my password for purely educational purposes, and she said yes.  I don't know if that's the official line, though, or if she just liked me!  Either way, when you do get permission, just use it for educational purposes, which can be tricky if you save your password on your computer.

My husband is sending out an academic article this week that he wrote while practicing.  It' has definitely been a huge time commitment, and I know he could not have done it while he was a junior attorney.  I am always impressed when I see that candidates have published while practicing.  I know that some candidates have taken a high-risk approach of really giving their law firms short-shrift while focusing on getting published -- acting like "short-timers."  I've never been a bridge burner, so I would not recommend that road.  Kaimi is going to post on the ethics of writing while practicing later in the week, so he may touch on that as well.

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Comments (2)

1. Posted by Prof in waiting on August 9, 2005 @ 18:54 | Permalink

The other problem for the practicing lawyer, which has been discussed elsewhere, is placing your paper in a decent review. Most law review editors have a distinct bias against anything not written by a professor. I'm curious how high a practicing lawyer can place a piece. Not high, I would imagine.


2. Posted by Unknown Professor on August 10, 2005 @ 8:45 | Permalink

I'm in a different discipline (Finance) than most of your readers, but the issue of whether "practicing" profs can write articles is closely related to the problems faced by profs at "teaching oriented" schools. At these schools, teaching loads are higher, resources are scarce, and there isn't a culture of research to support them.

Yet, some in these boats manage to publish regularly. I know of a few that even have published in top journals. When they got interviews at higher-ranking schools, their output was viewed in the context of their constraints. So, I'd definitely echo Christine's comment about people appreciating the time committments of publishing with constraints.

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