Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Click, Click, Submit: How to Become a Legal Scholar in Less Than Ten Minutes

As I get closer to graduation in May, it's becoming more and more obvious that ....

     A. Even after two clerkships, an externship, and a volunteer job at a legal clinic, I still have very little experience in the law.

     B. The importance of networking with lawyers and other members of the legal community cannot be underestimated.

     C. With just five months to go before graduation, I need to find ways to leverage my forthcoming J.D. and make it look as impressive as possible.

     D. All of the Above.

The answer, of course, is D. And if law school has taught me anything over the last three years (in addition to answering all questions with "it depends") it is to find creative solutions to problems, which brings me to my Discovery of the Day: how to become an instant legal scholar using SSRN, the Social Science Research Network. Most students go to law school to become lawyers, not scholars. Why not be both? You can create an account using SSRN and use it to publish that obscure 25-page tome that you cranked out for your writing requirement. Assuming you've already written the thing, the publishing process only takes about ten minutes (your submission has to meet certain requirements, which you can read about here).

I credit Dean Jim Chen with the SSRN idea. This morning, I posted an abstract for a law review note I finished a few weeks ago. One of the cool things about SSRN is that you can share writing that has not yet been published in hard copy. Chen, for example, just posted an early version of a forthcoming article titled "A Degree of Practical Wisdom: The Ratio of Educational Debt to Income as a Basic Measurement of Law School Graduates’ Economic Viability." You can read the abstract by clicking here, or check out the full version by clicking on the "download" link at the top of the page. As soon as my exams are over, I'm planning to post the 42-page monster of a law review note that I wrote last year about medical marijuana and the military. The Veterans Health Administration, a key source for the note, still has not responded to my year-old FOIA request, and last year's journal editors ultimately rejected the note for publication (less than half of all notes are actually accepted). Now, however, it's going to see the light of day, and I'll be a published (sort of) legal scholar two times over. 

In the coming months, I'm going to write more about networking and job hunting. Got your own nifty idea? Post it in the comments field below, or email me at acdavi07@louisville.edu. 


  1. The full text of my note on the history of law reviews was accepted by the editors at SSRN. You can now find it at this link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1968932

  2. A piece by our own Dean Chen on the viability of a law school education made a Wall Street Journal blog this morning. Check it out: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/12/13/are-you-law-grad-economically-viable/

  3. Congratulations on your article, Alex. I'm pleased to download it from SSRN (even though I had a copy of my own).