Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Writing Process and ASP'ers

During the last few years I have been blessed with some writing opportunities that have taught me a great deal about putting words on paper while juggling a busy ASP office.  In addition to writing articles for the Student Lawyer and writing posts for this Blog, I have had the opportunity to publish Time and Workplace Management for Lawyers through the ABA this past spring. 

If anyone had asked me before these opportunities if I would ever be published in any format, I would have been skeptical because my full-time job is so busy.  Here are some of the tips that I can pass on to ASP'ers who might want to write but who are unsure how to get started:

  • Realize that you have something to say that can help law students and your colleagues.  ASP'ers may discount their expertise if they are treated as "just administrators" and peripheral to the law school experience in their own work settings.  ASP'ers are experts and with declining law school applications are becoming more important because of the changing law school populations.
  • Turn items that you already use with your law students into writing opportunities.  You may be able to use e-mail study tips, a series of handouts, a Power Point workshop, or other material as the basis for an article.
  • Turn presentation materials that you have done for a regional workshop or national conference into an article on the same topic.  Watch for conferences which are linked to publication opportunities with paper submissions linked to the sessions. 
  • Turn trends and observations that you have noticed about student skills or problem areas into possible research projects and later writing opportunities.  Remember, however, to clear any research through your institution's human subject research approval process.  Once you have collected and analyzed your results, consider whether you can turn your research into an article.
  • Look for opportunities to write articles in related disciplines.  Legal writing, balance in legal education, pre-law advising, teaching legal education, and student services are just some of the overlap areas that often have academic support writing opportunities.
  • Start out with smaller writing opportunities that seem possible within your time constraints: guest posts submitted to this Blog; guest posts for other blogs that you read; short articles (usually 1,000 to 2,000 words) or comments (roughly 500 words) to newsletters, web publications, and other publications; book reviews for publications.
  • Realize that many writing opportunities in the beginning are unpaid opportunities.  Once your material becomes known, you may be able to land a paid situation on a regular or occasional basis.  Even unpaid opportunities are beneficial!
  • If law review articles are your interest, then talk to faculty and ASP'ers who are already published to gain tips on submissions; look for mentors who will review your articles and make constructive comments during your writing process.
  • Consider starting your own blog or web pages.  You can use tweets to gain followers.
  • Consider posting your research papers on SSRN either as finished works or as working papers for comment.
  • Set aside time in your schedule to write so it will happen instead of staying just a wish.  Personally I work in the evenings and especially on the weekend when I have articles and book projects.  An article of 1,200 words may take me 8 hours of writing time and 2 hours of editing time.  My book on the other hand went through about 5 drafts during the approximately 20 months before the manuscript went to the publisher. 

Writing is not for everyone.  It is okay not to be interested in such tasks if you are not required by your law school to publish.  However, if writing appeals to you, make time for it.  Being published can add to your resume, your own feelings of personal accomplishment, and your credibility with ASP'ers, faculty, and students.  Most of all, enjoy the process and the opportunities.  (Amy Jarmon) 

 

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