Author: David Schraub


Articles Editors Dos and Don’ts

I promised one more post before I said goodbye. So I spent most of my time here giving my best articles editor advice to professors looking to submit their articles. And I hope that was helpful! But, let’s be real: there are plenty of problems on the law review side that need to be addressed as well. Some of the complaints folks have about law review editors are unfair — either because they don’t take into account important information from the student side of things, or because they put upon the students obligations that really ought to rest with the professors (most notably: if you want a peer-review system where third year law students aren’t reviewing your pieces, you are entirely free to start your own journals and submit to them exclusively. It is not the students’ responsibility to voluntarily cede power). But there are plenty of things — perfectly reasonable things — law reviews could do much better.

I’m assuming a “classic” law review model — student-edited, not blind, no peer review. Obviously, those are important potential areas of reform, but they’re beyond the scope of the advice I’m giving here.

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Who Says Law Review Articles Have To Lag?

My time here at Co-op is drawing to a close. I was hoping to close the circle and announce where my first post-graduation article would be published, but no such luck as of yet. But it’s only be a few weeks. In the meantime, it has been a true pleasure visiting here, and I hope that my Q&As have been of use.

And indeed, it apparently has for at least one person: it is already garnering its first citation in a law review article (David Groshoff, The Wrong Track, Baby – How Damage to Gay Youth was Borne this Way: Via Ideologically Bound Law Reviews Publishing ‘Hopey Changey Stuff’, __ Cardozo Women’s L.J. __ (forthcoming 2012))! Incidentally, this increases the cite-count lead my blogging enjoys over my actual scholarship to an 8-1 margin.

I have one more post I plan to write before I depart for good, but I wanted to again thank the Co-op folks for having me over. You can always catch me at my home blog, The Debate Link.


My First Class

I taught my very first class today, and let me tell you, it was nothing like what I anticipated. Contrary to my expectations, I did not simply stare at my students blankly for an hour. Nor did I break down crying or throw up. Indeed, I thought we had a very nice, intelligent, lively discussion on how questions of identity are and are not relevant (and are and are not dangerous) in resolving important social justice questions.

Right now, my evaluation of teaching is that is equal parts exhausting and invigorating. Despite the aforementioned success in not running out of things to say in the first half-hour, my main concern continues to be making sure I pace myself properly (this isn’t helped by my tendency to talk at something approximating Mach 3).

I do want to say that, while between many years of being a student and a few scattered experiences as a guest-teacher I had some inkling of what I was getting into — no, really, I didn’t. It is exciting though. And practice makes perfect. So next week, it’s back into the breach once again.


Putting the Shoe on the Other Foot

Today was a milestone day for me. I have initiated my first true law review article submission. I’ve actually dipped a toe into these waters before, but this is the true, real deal — going on ExpressO, checking off a bunch of journal names, being a professor and thus a real candidate to have my piece actually read — the whole shebang. I feel like I’m applying to college all over again, except with the expectation of a 5% acceptance rate. I need to work on a better metaphor….

Anyway, the piece is entitled Sticky Slopes (you can download a copy on SSRN). A sticky slope is the opposite of a slippery slope: Whereas in a slippery slope a shift in policy lubricates the path towards other, perhaps more controversial, reforms or measures, in a sticky slope a social movement victory acts to block instead of enable further policy goals.

The article actually originally started its life as a blog post following California’s 2008 gay marriage decision. At the time, Eugene Volokh wrote that the case proved true conservative fears that various gay rights advances — things like civil unions and employment discrimination protections — would create a “slippery slope” towards gay marriage. In making its ruling, California relied in part on the presence of such laws, which (in the court’s view) showed that anti-gay discrimination is no longer tolerable, that social views have evolved, and that the general structure of equal protection now must be understood to include marriage equality for gay and lesbian individuals.

California was indeed an example of a slippery slope. But the example rang a bell for me, because I recalled a similar passage in Maryland’s gay marriage decision, Conaway v. Deane. There, too, the court recited Maryland’s litany of statutes, regulations, and judicial opinions which bolstered the equal status of gay and lesbian persons. But unlike California, the Maryland court pivoted to use these as an argument for rejecting the plaintiffs’ claims. The presence of these pro-gay provisions, the Maryland majority argued, demonstrated that gays and lesbians were well-protected in the political arena, and that courts should thus step aside and allow the democratic process to control. Same basic factual predicates, opposite outcomes. And this new dynamic — where the prior victories by the gay rights movements were used to stymie future advances — I termed a “sticky slope”.

The article expands well beyond the case of gay rights, however. It articulates the conceptual underpinnings of a sticky slope and the different manners through which it can occur, traces several types of sticky slope as they have appeared in American law (particularly anti-discrimination law), and then tries to answer the all-important question: Do sticky slopes matter (spoiler alert: yes, I think they do)?

All professors have pieces they like more and those they like less, but I can honestly say I’m very enamored with this one. It’s gotten wonderful (and useful!) feedback at various workshops and conferences, and seems to fill a void in naming a concept most people intuitively understand but that, until now, had not been truly explored. It’s a project that I anticipate returning to even after this article is published, as it opens the door to several different research paths and points of inquiry that I’m eager to explore.


Overcoming Articles Adversity


There’s a persistent theme in legal academia that certain types of articles, written by certain types of professors, are disadvantaged come submissions season. Is that correct? Well, yes. But the commonly articulated pitfalls — non-sexy topic choice and letterhead bias — can be mitigated considerably.  Below, I’ll give my impression of the lay of the land, and some tips for reducing their impact as much as possible.

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Critical Jewish Studies?

The first two areas I could say I had an actual scholarly interest in were Church/State law and Critical Race Theory. This wasn’t an accident — I got interest in CRT because the method of analysis it used really spoke to me as a Jew. It seemed to do a better job of capturing the various problems and barriers faced by members of marginalized groups beyond the standard, thin liberal story.

When I finally got access to Lexis as an undergraduate at Carleton, one of the first things I did was run a search for something approximating a “Critical Jewish Theory”. And I came up with … virtually nothing. With one very notable exception — Stephen Feldman at the University of Wyoming (I know, I know: Jewish studies in Wyoming — could it get any more cliched?) — it was a virtual dead-end. Even Professor Feldman’s work, which I admire and has influenced me greatly, focuses primarily on the American Church/State context. An important topic, to be sure, but hardly the only one which intersects with Jewish lives and areas of concern (international law, in particular, seems like a gimme).

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The Answers to the Ultimate Questions

Thanks to everyone for posting such interesting questions. I’ll give my best stab at answering them below (I’m going to basically give my best truncated summary of each of the questions); if you have follow-ups or didn’t get a chance to ask, I’ll be happy to continue the conversation in the comments (but since I am moving apartments tomorrow, I may be only to hop on to this site sporadically).

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Ask an Articles Editor!

First of all, I want to thank all of the folks here at Concurring Opinions for agree to have me aboard this month. I’ve been a reader of this blog since it began, and have long appreciated its contributions to the legal blogosphere. In particular, I’ve very much enjoyed the symposium that ran for the first week of the month — so much so that I delayed this post in order to stay out of its hair!

As noted in my introduction post, I’m going to be starting my very first academic gig in a few weeks (I’m actually moving to Champaign on Monday). So part of my guest-blogging stint may focus on some very early “new prof” thoughts and questions. And part of it may be the usual scholarship/academic fare.

But the hook I used to dupe convince the good hosts of this blog to invite me this month was the fact that, up until a few month ago, I was an Articles Editor at The University of Chicago Law Review. And I figured, while I have my first real experience on the submissions side of the law review game, there are probably a lot of people who have questions about what I imagine remains quite an opaque process inside our “hallowed” offices. Some folks were lucky enough to be Articles Editors in law school themselves, but many folks were not so fortunate to have that inside scoop, and even the ex-AEs among us might like an update on what’s trending inside the law review office. I know that are a lot of repeated concerns about things like letterhead bias, topic issues, gender and racial matters, making your piece stand out, expedite tactics, etc., and while most of the (generally good) advice I’ve seen comes from professors speaking from long experience submitting pieces, I think speaking in the voice of an Articles Editor could help complete more of the puzzle.

So consider this open season to ask me anything. I’ll do my best to answer openly and frankly (my boss last year, James Tierney, did a similar thing with an international law focus at Opinio Juris a few months ago, but I’m aiming at a more general audience). Obviously, there are limits to what I can reveal — particular insofar as they touch on specific decisions we made — but I think there is a lot of room to cast some light. I’ll read over and organize the questions over the weekend and the move, and then I’ll put up a post with answers early next week.