Thoughts on non-traditional legal writing

At Prawfs, Hillel Levin has a post asking for suggestions on where to place a short, somewhat tongue-in-cheek essay that nevertheless explores important legal ideas (I am looking forward to reading the paper). He is looking for suggestions as to where to place the article, noting that the writing game is somewhat “confining.” I added my two cents on possible outlets in the Comments, but I wanted to break out a broader point.

Hillel received a ton of good responses as to where he could place this article. And I think that suggests that the rules for legal writing in the academy are not as confining as Hillel’s post suggests. There actually are a lot of opportunities to write and publish short and fun pieces such as this one that make creative (and often important) legal points. Many journals will jump at them. The expansion of outlets, both in the number of journals as well as the addition of on-line supplements (that really were intended for precisely this sort of thing), means there is a place for this type of work. One of my great frustrations was my inability to place this piece (like Hillel’s, it was short, tongue-in-cheek, but, I think, hit on an interesting idea about the law) in some law journal forum, settling instead for FindLaw.

Of course, something like this does not “count” if you are at a school that counts publications and are just trying to meet the statutory minimum for promotion and tenure. But I think committed and successful scholars just keep writing, doing many different types of projects for many different forums, all of which form an overarching body of legal writing. The short piece that Hillel is describing is a perfect example of the sort of things that should be part of that corpus, in addition to the traditional books and big law review articles. And that is why I do not believe blogging is anathema to legal scholarship–it is another way of exercising the writing muscles.

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