Clinical Law Prof Blog

Editor: Jeffrey R. Baker
Pepperdine University
School of Law

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Clinical Law Review Writers' Workshop a Success!

Flights across the U.S. were snarled on Friday due to a fire affecting O’Hare, but system-wide flight cancellations and delays could not keep nearly 100 clinical faculty members from descending on NYU School of Law yesterday for a scholarship boot camp experience, but with kinder, gentler drill sergeants.  The annual event aims to support clinical faculty at all levels in their scholarship endeavors. 

As every clinical professor knows, publishing regularly is especially challenging in light of the significant supervision and practice-related responsibilities inherent in our positions.  The Clinical Law Review Workshop was created to help support clinical faculty in overcoming those challenges in order to become and remain high quality scholars.  The workshop is organized around small, thematically-focused groups.  This year there were fifteen groups ranging in topics from business law to juvenile justice to tax law.  All participants apply to participate in the late spring and commit to complete a draft of their articles by September 1, when they exchange drafts with their group members.  They read one another’s drafts closely and then spend most of the day together offering constructive critiques, asking provoking questions, and sharing thoughtful suggestions to help take each paper to the next level.  Every group is moderated by a more senior clinical faculty member with significant publishing experience.

At the end of the day, all of the participants come together for a gloves-off  session providing tips on how to keep writing and place the papers that will soon be finished.  Kate Kruse of Hamline presented the results of a study by Robert Boice on scholarly productivity that showed that professors who wrote every single day produced four times as much scholarship as a control group who wrote in blocks of time (64 pages versus 17 pages).  Those who wrote daily AND were accountable to another person for reporting their writing time were over nine times as productive as those who wrote in blocks of time (157 pages versus 17 pages).  Michele Gilman of Baltimore reviewed the submission cycle, submission strategies, and provided links to resources such as Writing for and Publishing in Law Reviews found here and a law review template to format one’s article before submission.  She even explained the influential power and significance of the asterisk footnote and why one might consider denoting on one’s CV or professional biography when one is writing for a symposium issue.

This is my ninth year as a professor and the second time I have participated in the Clinical Law Review Workshop—first as a junior professor and now as a mid-level professor.  Both times I received feedback that fundamentally changed the scope and framing of my research and learned submission and publication tips and strategies that I believe have and will continue to make a difference in my scholarship.  I will be back.

There are few professional experiences that are as positive and invigorating as a day immersed in our national and international clinical community—participants came from Croatia, Brazil, Poland, Arizona, Wyoming, D.C., Texas, Florida, Massachusetts, and many more.  As Mary Helen McNeal of Syracuse University observed on the clinic listserv today, ours is an especially “supportive and caring community.”  The Clinical Writer’s Workshop, under the leadership of Randy Hertz of NYU, is an annual reminder that these values and attitudes are not limited to how we treat our students and clients, nor is it limited to our teaching and supervision--it is how we treat one other and our scholarship.

If you have not yet participated in the Clinical Writer’s Workshop or have not done so recently, I strongly encourage you to keep an eye out for the application information next spring.  Keep in mind that, historically, the event has been free thanks to the generosity of NYU School of Law and there have even been a limited number of scholarships available to help offset travel costs, which helps to ensure that the workshop is affordable and inclusive.    

In the meanwhile, keep writing every day, remember to create accountability for your writing time with a friend or colleague, and know that there is a large and caring community here to support you, not just with your teaching and supervision, but with your scholarship as well.

September 28, 2014 in Conferences and Meetings, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Funding Opportunity for Law School Clinics

Our nation is currently witnessing headlines about the busing of hundreds of unaccompanied children across the Southwest from Texas to Arizona, where they are being warehoused, but there are tens of thousands more unaccompanied children in our nation who are not making headlines.  All need our help.  Tomorrow Gannett is publishing an op-ed I wrote about the need to provide legal representation for these children.  It can be found here

Law school clinics interested in this issue should consider applying for the AmeriCorps grants that the Obama administration announced on Friday to provide legal representation for these and other migrant children who are in similar circumstances (see NYT article).  Information about the grants can be found at this site.  The targeted jurisdictions for the grants are:  Arlington, VA; Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Bloomington, MN; Boston, MA; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Detroit, MI; El Paso, TX; Hartford, CT; Kansas City, MO; Las Vegas, NV; Memphis, TN; Miami, FL; New Orleans, LA; New York, NY; Newark, NJ; Omaha, NE; Orlando, FL; Philadelphia, PA; Phoenix, AZ; Portland, OR; San Antonio, TX; San Diego, CA; San Francisco, CA; and Seattle, WA.

If you need background in preparing your application, an excellent study about these children was just published by UC Hastings with the support of the MacArthur Foundation.  I recently wrote a brief law review article arguing for the appointment of government-funded attorneys and personal representatives to help unaccompanied children navigate the legal labyrinth they face.  If you would like to talk or need help with your application, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  You will also find tremendous resources among our our colleagues who are immigration law faculty.  They are a font of knowledge, passion, and commitment.  Good luck!     

June 10, 2014 in Current Affairs, Immigration, Job Opportunities & Fellowships, Juvenile Justice, New Clinical Programs, Scholarship, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Time for Summer Writing

By now, most of us have donned our academic regalia for commencement and wished our new alumni well on their bar preparations and the launch of their legal careers.  Time to take a deep breath, plan your well-deserved family vacation, and drop off that seven-pound load of professional clothes at the dry cleaner (finally!).  We now have twelve weeks ahead of us before we start ramping up for the Fall 2014 semester.

Twelve weeks?  Not coincidentally, twelve weeks is just enough time to write a high-quality law review article.  Now you might think that as clinicians we are not bound by scholarship obligations, and at your school you might be right technically, but the fact remains that we have chosen to work in a profession in which scholarship, not practice, is the coin of the realm.  Thus, regardless of your school’s published criteria for the advancement of clinical faculty, you should consider using a substantial portion of your summer for scholarship so that your purse is full of academic currency.

If you want to get "rich" this summer, academically speaking, here are ten basic tips for productive writing:

  1. Even though classes may have ended, do not change your schedule.  Go to the office every day, all day and write.  Our academic associate dean here at Willamette once told me that the first step to being a productive writer is putting your backside in your chair and keeping it there.
  2. Block your time and be disciplined.  I remember reading that we are only highly productive for a few hours per day.  Identify what those hours are for you and schedule your writing blocks during those periods.  During your writing periods, turn off email and close the Internet browsers.  ALWAYS.  Do not open them until your writing time has ended.  Use the other four hours or so for less demanding work such as reading, researching, and answering emails.
  3. Quantify your writing.  Some professors I know mandate that they write a certain number of words per day.  Others require that they write for a certain length of time.  Regardless of how you measure your output, set quantitative writing goals and allocate sufficient time to achieve them.
  4. Set qualitative writing goals.  It is not enough to write a lot or even regularly.  You must improve your writing through researching, outlining, developing, drafting, revising, proofreading, and external editing and feedback.  Develop a 12-week writing plan that includes all of these stages to ensure that your work is high-quality.  A resource to help you can be found here
  5. Don’t wait for days of uninterrupted time.  They will never come, or at least, not very often.  Even during the summer, requests for letters of recommendation and bar references continue to stream in, some clinic cases are still active, and many of us are engaged in summer teaching, supervision, and are presenting at conferences.  Do not let these prevent you from writing this summer.  When I first joined the academy, I read a book about how to be a successful professor.  It referenced a study that showed that professors who worked on their scholarship every day, even for just one hour, were far more likely to get tenure than those who wrote in blocks of uninterrupted time.  So write every day.
  6. Ask for (and offer!) help.  I suspect that many doctrinal law professors are introverts and many clinical law professors are extroverts (which is what makes our conferences such a riot!).  The consequence of this is that we may need to develop writing partnerships or even writing support groups with whom we can talk about our writing, set goals, exchange drafts, and hold one another accountable.
  7. Write your first draft from your own ideas.  One of the criticisms of my early academic writing is that my voice did not come through.  I was lacking confidence and so would hide behind third-party authorities and quotations from “experts.”  The suggestion of Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School, for overcoming this very common characteristic in emerging academic writers is that we should write the first draft without reference to resources.  Simply write your own ideas down and then build out from there.  That way, your voice and ideas form the core of your piece.   
  8. Tap into your passions.  At a workshop for new clinical professors, I remember being in a working group about scholarship led by Philip Schrag.  An intelligent young woman said that she did not have any expertise or ideas to share in scholarship.  Professor Schrag spent just seven minutes asking her about her experiences and background and identified 3-4 topics for law review articles based on her interests and experience.  Don’t undervalue your ideas and experiences.  If you need to brainstorm, call someone.  If you don’t know whom to call, call or email me (916-719-7796; wbinford@willamette.edu) and I will try to help you brainstorm or get you matched with a mentor.
  9. Remember that the prime submission cycles are August and late January/February.  Plan to submit your summer work during those periods for the best placement.  ExpressO is a popular portal for submitting law review articles to numerous journals simultaneously. 
  10. If you would like to present your article in a supportive and scholarly workshop before submission to a law review, consider applying to the Clinical Law Review’s Writers’ Workshop to be held at NYU Law on September 27, 2014.  The deadline for applying is June 30.  More information and the application can be found here.

Now, enjoy your summer and write on!

 

 

 

May 22, 2014 in Books, Conferences and Meetings, New Clinical Faculty, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

As a follow up to my blog post on Monday, "Do Women Professors Underperform" (http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/clinic_prof/2014/04/do-women-professors-underperform.html), I wanted to share a tweet I caught late last night from Karen Shook (@TimesHigherArts), the books editor for Times Higher Education: "I receive many confident emails from scholars recommending I cover their books. Some are novices, some are eminent. Almost none are women." Apparently, not only do we write and cite ourselves less, we also do not ask for reviewers to read our scholarly works. If we are uncomfortable because we view these acts as crass self promotion, I suggest that we form circles of support that include both men and women from within and outside our institutions and ask them to read our works and, if they like them, share and promote them with others. We know that women are generally better received when other people promote our work than when we promote our own, so as you are preparing for your summer writing, ask yourself, "Who comprises my circle of supporters?" If you don't have one, start building one. Just as importantly, ask yourself, "Whom can I support and promote?" And then build time into your schedule to do just that.

April 24, 2014 in Books, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Law as Vocation

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a vocation as "a strong desire to spend your life doing a certain kind of work." This definition of vocation implies a calling to a particular field of work, a devotion to a cause or occupation that is more than just a job - a vocation is something that is, by definition, imbued with meaning and a higher purpose.

I have always thought of my career in law in its various incarnations as a vocation. As a lawyer, counselor, activist, and teacher, the connection between my daily work and what I see as one of the main purposes of my life (the pursuit of social justice) has been rich. But like anything else, the law is a tool that can be used to accomplish various ends - or, as Charles Hamilton Houston famously reflected, "A lawyer is a either a social engineer or a parasite on society."

One of the reasons I wanted to not just become a law professor, but to become a clinician specifically, is because of my view of law as a vocation. It seems to me that our society, rightly or not, presents the "parasite" model of lawyering much more prominently than the "social engineer" model. While both models of lawyering are extreme, and the truth lies somewhere in the middle, I think this false dichotomy of what it means to be a lawyer causes us to lose something much more subtle and valuable - the notion that law is an honorable profession, and that lawyering can and should be more than just a job.

I am also aware of the temptation in our society to both romanticize (John Grisham) and sensationalize (Law and Order) the practice of law. My reflection of law as vocation is meant to get at something a bit different. At its core, law is a healing profession. If law is a vocation, lawyers are not merely hired guns - we are problem solvers. Lawyers are counselors and advocates - we stand by and walk with our clients not just because the rules of professional conduct require us to, but because our vocation calls us to do so. This is what I have learned from my teachers, colleagues, and students over the course of my career, and is ultimately part of the vision of lawyering and legal education that I hope to contribute to.

April 24, 2014 in Clinic Students and Graduates, Community Organizing, Current Affairs, Religion, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Do Women Professors Underperform?

“April is the cruellest month,” wrote T.S. Eliot, and he was not even a woman.  This April has witnessed an especially heavy torrent of conflicting statistics, studies, articles, and posts on how to be a successful woman.  As with parenting, everyone seems to be an expert.  Not even women in the academy—the highest concentration of experts in the world—are spared.

Following the signing of President Obama’s executive orders highlighting that women in the U.S. continue to be paid just 77 cents for every dollar made by men (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/09/us/politics/obama-signs-measures-to-help-close-gender-gap-in-pay.html?_r=0), The Chronicle of Higher Education published a blog post arguing that the gender pay gap for men and women of equal rank at doctoral universities is far more narrow:  90 percent, 93 percent, 91 percent, 88 percent, and 96 percent, for full professors, associate professors, assistant professors, lecturers, and instructors, respectively (http://chronicle.com/blogs/data/2014/04/11/there-is-a-gender-pay-gap-in-academe-but-it-may-not-be-the-gap-that-matters/).  Overall, however, academic women are paid an average of 78 cents on the dollar.  How could that be? 

The problem is representation.  According to the analysis in The Chronicle, men outnumber women 3-to-1 at the full professor level, while women outnumber men 3-to-1 at the instructor level.  The overrepresentation of women at lower ranks in the academy and underrepresentation of women in the higher ranks skews overall earnings of academics in an almost identical disparity as the national economy (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-truth-about-the-pay-gap.html).

Where do these disparities in representation come from?  On the one hand, a recent article in The Atlantic reminds us that women today earn more college and graduate degrees than men do, so the issue isn’t competence (http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/04/the-confidence-gap/359815/).  Instead, The Atlantic article blames the skewing at least partially on findings that men are more confident than women, and that women’s lower self-confidence holds women back professionally. 

However, just last month another article, this one in The New York Times, warned that women who are overly confident may alienate others because they are not “sufficiently feminine,” and cited the story of an academic who was offered a position as a philosophy professor, but the offer was subsequently rescinded after she tried to negotiate a list of “nice-to-have” items that would “make [her] decision easier” (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/25/your-money/moving-past-gender-barriers-to-negotiate-a-raise.html).  Apparently, we have to be more confident, but not too confident. 

“We are asking women to juggle while they are on a tightrope,” according to Professor Linda Babcock, founder of the gender equity program at Carnegie Mellon University.  “The research could not be more clear in that we tolerate more aggressive or assertive behavior by men more than women.” 

Professor Kelly Ward, who holds a chair in the College of Education at Washington State University and researches academic leadership, attributes the disparities in representation not just to discriminatory workplace practices, but also to women’s parenting choices and their focus on teaching and service over scholarship, which in turn can lead to being passed over for promotion to full professor.  These “choices,” which alternatively or additionally could be framed as biological imperatives coupled with societal expectations, could lead to what The Chronicle identified in 2012 as a gender gap in scholarly publishing (http://chronicle.com/article/The-Hard-Numbers-Behind/135236/). 

Women comprised just 24.5 percent of scholarly authors in the field of law from 1991 to 2010.  The study concluded overall that “women do not publish scholarly articles at rates equal to their presence in most fields” (http://chronicle.com/article/New-Data-Show-Articles-by/143559/).  Subsequent studies document that women’s academic articles are cited less frequently than those written primarily by men (http://chronicle.com/article/New-Data-Show-Articles-by/143559/), and men are far more likely to cite their own scholarship than women, which, in turn, leads to lower rates of citation for women scholars (http://chronicle.com/article/New-Gender-Gap-in-Scholarship/145311/).

So what does this labyrinthine of research mean for women professors?  Are we less productive scholars than our male colleagues?  Is our scholarship less relevant or lower quality?  Do we suffer from the “Imposter Syndrome”?  Are we paying the “Baby Penalty”?  Are these findings a result of external values, biases, or restraints?  Is it some combination of the above?  Most importantly, now that we know about these disparities, what can we do to ensure that professors of both genders are able to fulfill their potential as scholars?

April 21, 2014 in Current Affairs, Scholarship | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)