Tuesday, April 05, 2016
How Does My Research Fit Within the Types of Legal Scholarship? (Jr. Law Prawfs FAQ)
A number of junior (and aspiring) law professors have reached out with a common question: How do I conceptualize where my research agenda and/or methodology fits into the larger legal literature? Fortunately, Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow has already provided a terrific starting point, in an essay entitled Archetypal Legal Scholarship: A Field Guide, which was published in Journal of Legal Education in 2013. Here's the introduction:
It has been my pleasure to be a sounding board and advisor to many people who consider becoming law professors and yet it has not always been easy to introduce people considering their own research projects to reflect on how their ideas connect with the varieties of legal scholarship. One day I decided to write up a “field guide,” meant to be rather like the guides to birds that offer pictures and descriptions to assist the casual or serious birdwatcher. After sharing it and revising it, I have learned that this “guide” now travels underground and electronically, so I thought it time to give it an official publication, and the Journal’s editors kindly agreed. The explosion of interdisciplinary research in law contributes to the variety of legal scholarship. So does the contrast between “inside” and “outside” thinking in law schools where we try both to equip people for practice and effectiveness within existing institutions and for roles as critics, institutional reformers, and scholars who may explain and analyze in terms quite different from those in the minds of actors operating within existing legal systems. So here with an invitation for supplements, critiques, and revisions is my Archetypal Legal Scholarship: A Field Guide.
Definitely go give the full essay (all five pages!) a read here. Tomorrow I'll return with my next FAQ on whether book reviews in law reviews are still a worthwhile pretenure endeavor.