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Monday, October 13, 2008

Follow up to "Is There a Place for Non-Traditional Scholarship?"

Yes!  There is!  And more than one!  See the comments for direction.

Thank you all for your advice on placement, as well as for the positive feedback on the piece.

Some follow-up points upon reflection:

I think that Howard and "anon." are probably right that legal academia is not quite as confining in this respect as I made it out to be (and thought it was).  Indeed, it turns out that blogs, online companions to journals, and various alternative publishing venues offer many different publishing opportunities for non-traditional writing.

Nevertheless, I do think that the meat market and tenure process indoctrinate and acculturate us into a certain set of assumptions about what kinds of publishing and writing are worthwhile.  This 2500 word piece will not get me tenure, nor should it (though please call me if you'd like to offer me tenure on account of this piece).  But putting aside this particular piece, suppose some very interesting, short non-traditional piece reaches a greater number of readers than the average law review article?  What if it makes a few more people understand, think about, and question the issues in the field?  What if it raises and addresses a novel issue?  Shouldn't that be entitled to some professional reward? 

This applies to other things like publishing co-authored pieces (which I have also done) and essays, writing fiction that makes serious legal points, or appearing before legislatures and other policy-makers.  There are some professional rewards for these activities, depending on the school and the context, but does it make sense to treat them as secondary or tertiary to the main job of publishing standard, turgid law review articles (which, of course, I have also done)?

Surely there are some personal and professional rewards here: you get your name "out there," you have something to talk about with other people, you have a teaching tool, and you generally get the benefits of being productive.  But the push towards a particular kind of publishing inevitably disincentivizes other kinds of writing and activities.  Is that a good thing?

Posted by Hillel Levin on October 13, 2008 at 02:35 PM in Hillel Levin | Permalink


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Professor Levin,

Could you contact me immediately? We would like to make an offer of publication on your article.

Niro Rrek
Chief Articles Editor
Harvard Law Revoew

Posted by: Niro Rrek | Oct 13, 2008 4:06:05 PM

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