Sunday, June 3, 2007

Yes, legal writing professors write.

Brian Leiter has announced his annual study to figure out which are the most productive law faculties in the U.S., in terms of scholarship.  He is very clear that his rankings will exclude legal writing professors:

"The faculty lists include only academic faculty (an effort has been made to exclude clinical, adjunct, and legal writing faculty, since these studies will focus on scholarly output)."

(emphasis original)

I'm not entirely sure what the term "academic faculty" means, except of course that it does not mean clinicians, adjunct professors, or legal writing professors.  I am sure, however, that most full-time clinic professors and legal writing professors consider themselves "academics."

The suggestion that legal writing professors do not produce scholarship shows how mired in the past Leiter is.  There has been a veritable explosion of scholarship produced by legal writing professors in the last two decades.

Some places to find the scholarship of legal writing professors include:

- the Appendix to the second edition of the ABA's Sourcebook on Legal Writing Programs, which became so large the only practical way for the ABA to publish it was on-line;

- Terrill Pollman & Linda H. Edwards, Scholarship by Legal Writing Professors: New Voice in the Legal Academy, 11 Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute 3, 59-212 (2005) (listing the scholarship of many legal writing professors, covering both legal writing and a wide range of other legal fields);

- Terrill Pollman & Linda H. Edwards, Scholarship Project: Publications by Teachers of Legal Writing & Rhetoric;

- Donald J. Dunn, Legal Research and Writing Resources: Recent Publications, a regular column in Perpectives: Teaching Legal Research & Writing, a West publication.

This explosion in legal writing professors' scholarship is all the more remarkable given the lack of support for and extra challenges to writing that many legal writing professors encounter.  For more information on the situation, see my article on The Quest for Scholarship: The Legal Writing Professor's Paradox, 80 Oregon Law Review 1007 (2002). 


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I have posted about Leiter's current rankings on my legal blog, Kierkegaard Lives.

The post is at:

I referenced your post about, as well as some other materials, concerning the flawed nature of Leiter's rankings.

Thank you!

Posted by: IMKierkegaard | Jun 5, 2007 6:06:43 AM

I find it sad that the Leiter study has chosen to ignore the assurances of the federal judiciary that traditional law review articles have little or no impact on their decision-making. I am paraphrasing the New York Times article from March. The same article in which the judges pleaded with law professors to do scholarship that has more relevance to the actual practice of law. Apparently the best way for Leiter to respond to that request is to exclude and deny the very scholarship that does exactly that? He excludes the very scholarship that impacts the practice of law. How, then, does Leiter's methodology answer any truly open questions?

His exclusionary tactics are not an example of bad scientific method but are also bad persuasion.

Posted by: Ruth Anne Robbins | Jun 7, 2007 8:08:45 PM

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