August 08, 2005
Interesting, but Unethical, Business Plan
Posted by Christine Hurt

All of us law profs at Marquette today received an interesting business offer in the mail today.  A male Wisconsin resident claiming to have a J.D. is offering the following scholarly services to me:  editing, proofreading and writing of "scholarly articles."  The following definition is also instructive:  "Writing consists of writing and all necessary research to complete the assignment.  The estimated fee for writing a scholarly article is "$500-$2,250."  I have clearly wasted my summer.  For less than I pay a babysitter, I could have had someone write my article.  (Estimated 300 or so hours of writing saved by the maximum price of $2,250 -- you get what you pay for, so I'd want the best).

As this entrepreneur tells me in the letter, "A well-written law journal article can bring tenure, expert status, career advancement, and notoriety in the legal community."  I'm pretty sure that if I paid someone to write my articles, I would undoubtedly gain notoriety in the legal community.  (As Inigo Montoya said, "I do not think this word means what you think it means.")  He will also "Bluebook" an article for "$150-$1000.  Heck, I'll Bluebook your article for $1000.  (And I'm "notorious" in the field of legal citation.)

So, Gordon, did all Wisconsin law profs get this solicitation or just us urbanites?  He describes himself as "a former law review staff writer and editor," but we have no records of him having attended our institution.

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Comments (13)

1. Posted by Gordon Smith on August 8, 2005 @ 15:48 | Permalink

This is bizarre. I did not receive this email, and I hope that he isn't a Wisconsin alum. "Notoriety." That's classic!

2. Posted by alta charo on August 8, 2005 @ 15:54 | Permalink

another uw law prof here, to say that (a) i didn't get it either, thank goodness, and (b) OMG do the Marquette folks think those of us living in Madison are ruralites as opposed to urbanites?

3. Posted by susanna on August 8, 2005 @ 16:34 | Permalink

Is your objection solely about the impropriety of a professor passing off the work of a ghostwriter/researcher as his own? Or do you also object to a professor collaborating with a professional writer to produce a journal article that is genuinely the professor's considered, scholarly thoughts on a matter? I know there are academics and researchers who are excellent at theory and research but not so good at making themselves clear in writing. They need help communicating. Where do you draw the line?

4. Posted by David Hardy on August 8, 2005 @ 16:39 | Permalink

Excuse me for intruding with this unusual proposal, but obtained your name from a list of law professors, and wish to approach you with an idea that must be held in absolute confidence.

I am Baghava Gita, research clerk to Prof. Mindu of the College of Law of the University of Nigeria. Prof. Mindu unfortunately was killed in an airplane crash on April 22, 2005, and my attempts to contact his family have been to no avail.

Prof. Mindu left, in finished form, twelve law review manuscripts which, he indicated to me, were certain of acceptance at Harvard L. Rev. or Yale L.J.. The topics concern the hottest legal issues of the day, and his thoroughly-documented conclusions run contrary to the prevailing wisdom in each field.

The law reviews in this country, to which I have submitted them, indicate that that, while they are works of genius that would surely earn tenure at an Ivy-league college in the US, they are uninterested in articles on American law, so I must get them out of the country.

If you will advance the modest costs of blue-booking them and shipping, I will be happy to allow their use under your name. Please contact me with your bank account number so that we can complete this transaction. Again, this proposal must be held in absolute confidence between us and anyone who reads this posting on the world wide web.

5. Posted by Gordon Smith on August 8, 2005 @ 17:11 | Permalink

Thanks, David. That was fun.

Susanna, the line between research assistance and authorship can get blurry, but the person who wrote Christine's email was not playing in the blurry area.

Alta, I completely missed Christine's referance to urbanites. She probably wrote that because I am forever talking about living amidst silos and dairy cows.

6. Posted by Fernie on August 8, 2005 @ 17:11 | Permalink

All of us law profs at Marquette today received an interesting business offer in the mail today.

With sentences like that, perhaps you should have someone do your writing.

7. Posted by Citizen Grim on August 8, 2005 @ 17:51 | Permalink

Ha! I love the Inigo Montoya reference...

8. Posted by Eric on August 8, 2005 @ 18:23 | Permalink

"With sentences like that, perhaps you should have someone do your writing."

Have you considered suicide?

9. Posted by rey on August 8, 2005 @ 18:24 | Permalink


10. Posted by Christine on August 8, 2005 @ 18:43 | Permalink

I could hire an editor for my blog posts ($30-$100), but I like to keep it real with my colloquial phrasing and intended awkwardness.

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