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Monday, November 16, 2009

Self-Promotion #5: Hodge Podge of Ideas

In this last post on self-promotion, I just want to throw out some more ideas about how you can obtain a better platform for you and your scholarly work.  If others have ideas that have worked in their own careers, it would be great if you would add them to the comments of this post.

So, in no particular order, some further ideas on how to promote yourself within the larger legal academy:

1. Involvement in Law & Society or other organization with a subject matter focus (other organizations revolve around empirical studies and law & economics.  The best thing about these conferences is that many of them are inter-disciplinary which means that you also will find outlets to collaborate with social scientists outside of the law.  Law & Society for one has a great collaborative research network which permits one to navigate this rather larger conference by subject area.

2. Similarly, you can get to know more people in your field by becoming involved in your relevant AALS section. Different AALS Sections work differently, but some are certainly open to younger scholars playing a leading role in setting up programs and publishing newsletters.

3. Starting a listserv or discussion list in your area of expertise might also give you the ability to get to know people you otherwise don't know. Although there are many listservs out there on broad topics like constitutional law, law and religion, and legal writing, consider setting up a list (with the help of your IT department) in a sub-area within your main field. I did this a number of years ago in the employment discrimination context with the empdiscr listserv, even though there was already in existent a more general labor and employment law listserv (worklaw).

4. Consider talking to your law review about hosting a symposium on a topic that you and four of your most fun and famous friends from your field would like to talk about and submit papers on.   The advantage of proposing a law review symposium is that you can really get to know those in the academy who have overlaps with your interests in meal setting or more informal get-togethers during the symposium.

5. Communities outside of the law might also bring you into contact with different law professors. Involvement in a political campaign or with a national civic organization might provide an idea venue for you to get to know scholars in fields outside of your normal reach.

6.  Think of putting together a law debate for the Federalist Society, ACS, or ACLU.  Students are very open to the idea of you participating in debates either with colleagues within the school or with colleagues at other schools. I know that the Federalists and the ACS provide a list of national speakers to consider and even provide funding in some circumstances to fly speakers in.

7.  Take advantage of posting your work on SSRN, bepress or similar legal paper database. It is still surprising to me how many come to know the work of other scholars through downloads on these services.  Law professors who have similar interests will get in touch with you once they see the scope of your own scholarship or you can get in touch with others to talk about their scholarship.

In any event, I hope this post and the previous four have given individuals some ideas about how to become better known in the large law professor world. As I told people over the years, especially when one starts out their law career at mid-level school in an out-of-the-way part of the country, it is sometimes necessary to "shout" to tell people you exist.  Assuming that once you get people's attention that you can also keep their focus on you with your research and scholarship, slowly but surely more invitations to symposiums, conference, and yes, even guest blogging stints, will come your way.

Paul Secunda

Posted by Workplace Prof on November 16, 2009 at 07:05 PM in Life of Law Schools | Permalink


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Hi Paul,

These are all excellent tips and ideas, and I'm sure that many newer (and not so new!) colleagues will find them very helpful. As always, you are generous with your advice and counsel.

I'd like to add a preliminary, but in my view, critically important step: Build a core body of work that you are passionate about, hopefully linked together by doctrine, theory, reality, or some combination thereof. Playing the game of academic self-promotion can become an exhausting, treadmill-ish, paper chase experience, unless you have a scholarly/law reform/pedagogical agenda that you care about.

Also, one sidenote that may be meaningful to some: If your scholarship has public policy implications, consider how to get your work before the broader public and relevant stakeholders. For me, the role of intellectual activist has been more satisfying than that of pure scholar. My core work has been around the legal implications of workplace bullying, and it has led me outside the academy as often as within it. Of course, this means there may be trade-offs in terms of academic recognition and networking. For example, last year I started a blog, Minding the Workplace (http://newworkplace.wordpress.com), and most readers are from outside the academy. Nevertheless, this may be the right path for those who want to influence law reform and public policy.

Best, David Yamada, Suffolk

Posted by: David Yamada | Nov 17, 2009 1:22:21 PM

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