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Taking the Road Less Traveled: Why Practical Scholarship Makes Sense for the Legal Writing Professor
Journal of the Legal Writing Institute (2005)
  • Mitchell J Nathanson
This article examines the issue of scholarship as it pertains to the legal writing professor. While the old adage that you should “write what you know” applies universally – to fiction as well as non-fiction and to scholarship written by the legal writing professor as much as it does to the doctrinal professor, the question this article attempts to answer is this: given that legal writing is a “skills” rather than “substantive” course, just what is it that legal writing professors, at least as compared to their doctrinal counterparts, know? Through the analysis of an original professional background survey of law teachers, this article first attempts to identify the relative area of expertise of the typical legal writing professor among her faculty colleagues. Next, this article uses these findings as the basis for a discussion on scholarship and the legal writing professor, focusing both on what a legal writing professor should (as opposed to can) write about and where she should (as opposed to can) submit it for publication. The article concludes that based on the depth of their post law school, pre law teaching experience, legal writing professors are the relative experts on practice-based issues on their faculties. Therefore, their scholarship should focus more on practical issues and less on theory than their doctrinal colleagues. In addition, because the audience for their scholarship should be the practicing bar, they should strive to publish in practice-based publications rather than traditional law reviews. Although practice-based and/or bar journal articles are typically afforded the least amount of scholarly respect within the legal academy, this article also examines the relationship between scholarship and status and concludes that these articles can actually be used to help improve the status of legal writing professors on their faculties. By focusing on the scholarly needs of the legal community, this article shows that practice-based scholarship is increasingly underrepresented in the traditional law reviews and that the legal writing professoriate is uniquely qualified to fill this void and help the legal academic community to fully discharge its obligation to serve the system of justice.
  • legal writing,
  • scholarship,
  • status,
Publication Date
September, 2005
Citation Information
Mitchell J Nathanson. "Taking the Road Less Traveled: Why Practical Scholarship Makes Sense for the Legal Writing Professor" Journal of the Legal Writing Institute Vol. 11 Iss. 1 (2005)
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