If anyone has insight…
How does one go about doing extensive research for an academic-style paper without unlimited and free Westlaw and Lexis access? (I’m not looking for someone to say, “Go to the books!” One, I have no time for that and two, my topic isn’t caselaw based.) Obviously Google, FindLaw, Hein (which I still have access to), and other free resources are useful, but they all have their limitations. How do future academics do this?
Update: Um, not sure why comments were off. They’re on now.
After some helpful advice (thank you, ^k^, I don’t know why I didn’t ask The Boy first), and some close rereading of emails, I chose the offer I wanted to accept, and did. Now all I have to do is sign and send back the publication agreement.
I’ve been musing on how different it is to be on the author side of this journal thing. I’ve had many, many dealings with authors as a journal editor, and I know what sorts of authors make editors’ lives hell. I want to avoid being that kind of author. At the same time, the article in question is now my work, so I have some newfound sympathy for authors who reject student edits. I’d like to try to strike a good balance between being an author who refuses to accept any edit without a fight, and an author who lets student editors have their way with her work without question. My topic is a bit arcane and I would be shocked if the students editing it had any expertise with the issues discussed, so I want to make sure their edits don’t change the substance of my argument, but I also don’t want to reject edits that might make my arcane subject a little more accessible.
The entire process of submiting—and getting so many offers—was such a confidence booster for me. That’s why it’s surprising to me that law journals have a large gender disparity in authorship. I’ve seen some commentary recently about the dearth of female authors. Orin Kerr believes (and I tend to agree) that this is the result of fewer submissions rather than of some bias by articles editors; the question then becomes, why do fewer women submit? I think attributing the submission disparity to a fear of rejection is simplistic, but perhaps it plays a bigger role than we might hope. I hear this argument made about law students in general—students at top law schools are generally unused to rejection, having been at the top of their undergraduate classes, high scorers on the LSAT; they tend to have good relationships with professors, they tend to experience less rejection in the job search (whether from law firms or from judges). I think there may be gender differences with respect to sensitivity to rejection (I don’t have any data on this, and I don’t know that anyone has really tried to make this argument). But even if there are, I don’t think fear of rejection can fully explain the gender disparity in submissions. I knew I’d get rejected from many journals—and, indeed, I did. ((In fact, the expedite process seemed to bring on more outright and less politely worded rejections than my original submission probably would have. Note to journal editors: Don’t make the subject line of your rejection email “We cannot publish “Title.” It’s just rude.)) But I accepted rejection as a fact (as I did when I applied to law school, applied to law firms, and when I applied for clerkships. Rejection is not fun in any of those contexts).
I find more resonance in what one author calls a lack of “chutzpah“: “[P]ofessional women do less than men to draw attention to their accomplishments.” ((This latter observation is actually attributed to an international study of professional women.)) I find networking to be one of the most difficult things I am expected to do. I find it extremely difficult to toot my own horn, as it were. I hate to feel as though I am bragging. Yet what I consider bragging is exactly what I have to do—as a lawyer, an author, and a potential academic—if I want to be successful. I do think there are some women—and men, to be honest—who don’t need to advertise themselves in this way; their accomplishments and talents are so evident that success finds them despite themselves. But the rest of us? We mere mortals? We have to market ourselves. And I think women are not as good at marketing ourselves as men are. ((I’ll note that I hate these sorts of blanket statements. Obviously some women are exceptional at self-marketing and I am sure we can all think of more than a few off the tops of our heads. But I don’t think it’s unfair to say that as a whole, women generally are not good at marketing themselves.))
But I said I found the gender disparity surprising. And I do. Consider: On a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being least and 10 being most difficult), I think the difficulty of submitting this paper registers about a 3. It took some time, some research into which journals I wanted to submit to, a little bit of money, and I won’t deny that I experienced some angst while comparing offers, but it wasn’t hard. The hard part came first—writing and editing the damn thing. And I suspect the next few months will be hard, as I revisit my writing during the editing phases. But that several journals thought my paper was worthy of publication? There’s nothing tough about that. I was left feeling really good about myself after the whole process, full of confidence in myself and my talents, and eager to try it again. ((Indeed, I’ve already got a new idea percolating. The muse, she strikes!))
So. I’m on the road to publication. It’s exciting!
So I have a problem, which is not really a problem, and I sort of hesitate to even post about it because I hate when people do this kind of thing, but I genuinely want advice and I’m not posting this as a means of being falsely modest or getting people to shower me with praise or anything.
I submitted my big paper out for publication a few weeks ago. And my submission was successful—successful beyond my wildest dreams. Which isn’t to say that the Harvard Law Review came begging me to publish with them (they wouldn’t need to beg), but it is to say that I have received multiple offers of publication from specialty journals.
And that’s sort of where the problem lies. All of my offers are from journals with mostly similar “stats” as tabulated by the law journal rankings database. But I don’t know whether those rankings are what I should be focusing on in trying to figure out where to publish. Because, let’s be honest—at this point, what I care about is the best possible placement for my article, with the widest academic readership, and the most “wow” factor for my resume. ((Not that I’ve mentioned it in a while, but I do still think I’d eventually like to teach.)) Sure, had I only received one offer of publication, I would have accepted that offer and been thrilled—my writing, in print! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! But that’s not what happened. Instead, I have multiple offers (from journals in more than one specialty area), and now I have to choose between them.
In choosing, do I consider the school as the most important factor? Or the “stats”? Because at least one of the journals offering me publication is located at a lower-tier school, but it’s also the one with the best stats. How much of a difference does the specialty area make? (I’m looking at Communications and Law versus Law and Technology.)
I know, I know—this is not a problem. And I am not posting this as a sideways way of saying, “Hey! Look at me! I’m special!” I’m genuinely perplexed. There’s not a lot of advice out there for this particular situation, particularly when the journals involved are all, more or less, of the same general caliber and reputation—basically, middle of the road. Are there any meaningful differences I should be considering other than the stats? Or should I just resort to some sort of game of chance to help me decide (“Spin the wheel of fish!”)?
Bar/Bri continues apace. Today’s lecture was WAY too long and the lecturer spends too much time repeating the stuff in the notes instead of highlighting the nuance. He is, at least, entertaining. I have given up on the Paced Program for the time being and am instead just trying to keep up with the reading.
Work is heating up—I have four cases on my desk including two court appearances scheduled for Monday, and everyone keeps giving me more responsibility. It’s actually very cool—people seem to trust that I can handle the matters they’re giving me and that gives me confidence that I, well, actually CAN handle the matters they’re giving me. 🙂
Also, my last set of grades came in today, which means I can no longer procrastinate on my clerkship applications. This weekend, therefore, is set aside not for doing practice questions but instead for writing cover letters, polishing up my writing samples, and building my online applications. Right now, it doesn’t feel quite real—I’ve been telling myself for months that I’ll send my applications once grades come in; well, grades are in, so I guess have to back that up. ((I realize this makes it sound like I don’t actually want to apply for clerkships. I actually DO want to apply for clerkships; it’s just the reality of actually having to write the cover letters and get my writing samples ready that I balk at. I think cover letters are just another opportunity to screw up, and as far as writing samples goes, I hate that I have lots of really good stuff that’s either cowritten, and so inappropriate to send, or too long, or not doctrinal enough, or is just too short. I have been looking for that perfect 10-12 page writing opportunity forever, and I have never quite achieved it. Everything I have that length is cowritten or or casual memo. Gah.))
Oh, and yes, grades are in, which means I am officially done. Even though my degree audit doesn’t actually indicate that I’ve completed my last two requirements, I know I have and I know I’m done. I am officially a Juris Doctor. Hallelujah!
Bar/Bri sucks the life out of me. It’s bad enough that I have ANOTHER sinus infection; do I have to sit through videotaped lectures for four hours a day, too? But they tell me that this is the way to pass the bar, so I do it.
Because of the aforementioned sinus infection, though, I have not felt up to jumping into the Paced Program. (Oops, Paced Program™.) I haven’t summarized any of my notes; I haven’t done any of the recommended testing drills, and I am not currently working on the essays I’m supposed to work on today. Maybe tomorrow. Or maybe not. If I could get a solid night’s sleep, I’d definitely feel more up to doing actual work, but I haven’t accomplished such a thing in days. I slept better last night than since Saturday night, but I was propped up on pillows so I could breathe, and I don’t sleep well when I can’t roll around and flop onto my stomach, so I still don’t feel really rested.
Tomorrow, my afternoon class gets lucky and gets a live lecture (whoo-hoo!) but that means it’ll be packed, since the morning kids have to come to our class, too. And we have class on SATURDAY, which is vile—another live lecture, and that one with the morning kids AND the evening kids. I am dreading trying to find a seat—and save enough seats for my Bar/Bri pals.
Because, after all, while law school is like high school, Bar/Bri is like middle school. People save seats for each other, pass notes in class, and generally act like they’re in the early throes of puberty. (For instance, today, some skeezy guy sitting next to a married friend of mine decided her wedding ring was a challenge to be overcome. I mean, ew. Not appropriate.)
So, basically, Bar/Bri sucks, especially when you’re sick, and I can’t believe I have another eleventy-million of these lectures to attend—not to mention actually doing some self study and then TAKING THE BAR EXAM. And somewhere in the next few weeks of figuring out this whole Bar/Bri Paced Program self study stuff, I need to put together my clerkship applications and send them—and that includes doing some additional work on The Task since I’m going to send it out as a writing sample for at least some of my applications, and I doubt any judges will be impressed by the handful of citations I have that read “String cite to all those articles on Google.” Granted, that’s work I’m going to have to do that anyway, if I’m sending it out for publication in August, but I’ll have to do it EARLIER rather than later for clerkship applications.
Anyway. My summer is shaping up to be just fantastic—and I haven’t even started my summer job yet! (To be fair my summer job should be the best part of my summer; it’s just that it will eat away another four hours of my day that I’m already not spending studying. Gah!) More updates to come.
I was planning to write a sort of lengthy post about the end of law school and all of the myriad emotions I’ve been feeling since taking my last exam, and about wandering around the city feeling unemployed, and how sort of strange I felt today, particularly.
But I’m not going to write about that because, today, after I got home, my graduation gift from Mr. Angst was waiting for me and I’ve spent most of this evening playing with it. Mr. Angst has even joined me.
We’ve formed a band.
So you’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little preoccupied for the next few weeks before Bar/Bri starts (and before my summer job starts)—what free time I’ll have away from revising The Task and from finishing up journal stuff may well be spend honing my guitar skills. (Yes, it’s ironic—I’m the guitarist and Mr. Angst is the singer. I am not really sure why or how that happened except that it’s my graduation present and, at least if I play by myself, it’s more fun to play the guitar than to sing. I actually think I’ll spend some time tomorrow starting a solo career.)
Excuse me—I have to run. Mr. Angst is singing Don’t Fear the Reaper, solo. I want to watch this.
I’m really in the home stretch now, and I’m starting to feel it.
That’s mostly because I just got comments back on my second draft of The Task. I’m really proud of what I’ve written, astonished that I cranked out 21,000 words and that most of them don’t suck, and, most of all, gratified that my advisor thinks it’s a great paper.
Despite the fact that I still have an exam to take, I’m really feeling the oncoming end to this thing called Law School. This paper has been a very consistent theme for me this year—it’s influenced what news I’ve read, what I think about some really interesting current events, and even how I think about an entire area of law and regulation. This, from a paper that started as a very small germ, in the vein of “I think I want to write about this particular entity,” that didn’t even really have a conclusion until two months ago.
So seeing it wrap up has me a little emotional. It represents a whole year that has been one of the hardest of my life, both personally and academically, and its success represents that all of it has been worth it. It’s exciting and sad and overwhelming all at the same time.
Of course, I say all of this knowing full well that I intend to send it out for publication in August, and will be working on it all summer, too—sending it out for comments from some of the authors I cite, revising the language, tightening it, expanding it, contracting it. I guess the distinction, though, is that it won’t be Law School this summer—it’ll just be me, writing about something that I find really, really interesting.
But for now, The Task represents an emotional end. It’s not bittersweet—I am, actually, completely ready to graduate—but it’s emotional.