Monday, January 14, 2008

The Hell If I Know

(This started as a comment in response to Aspiring Law Prof's comment on the previous post, but it's far too long and shall be its own post):

If I knew anything about grabbing an entry-level, tenure track position that wasn't absolutely obvious common sense (publish! submit that you-think-it's-crappy article and publish! PUBLISH!) then I would soooo post that knowledge. As it is, I can barely do the obvious common sense thing. So I guess that's why I often post research-and-writing posts, because that's what I'm focusing on. Researching and writing! And then publishing!

Publishing is the way into the academy of course, but there are things I have learned too late to help me, about "gaming" and "money-lawing" it all. Planning at the age of 19 to do a J.D./Ph.D, for example. Figuring out a coherent "package" and "toolkit" of methodologies and disciplines.
Some people have even told me how they gamed the market by finding the gap in the law that's underwritten. Tax policy, for example. I had no idea. Well, at least my field isn't overly saturated...yet. And I have wisely decided to leave constitutional law on the back burner for now, because it's hard to come up with something novel and interesting (and not just doctrinal) that some brilliant professor (cough Cass Sunstein cough) hasn't said better. Also, networking. That this blog turned from my personal prententious Diary of a Disgruntled _____ (fill in the blank) into a social networking tool that has gotten me in contact with a nationwide network of scholars and students who seem to for some reason like me--well, that was sooooo accidental. Read the first three months of posts. That will tell you from whence this blog came.

But I am too old and too behind the game to be a 19 year old designing the Ultimate Path to Becoming a Law Professor, so I'm where you are--figuring out how to do my FAR form, trying to get lots of advice on how to "do" AALS, contacting my old law school and using my present law school's faculty development committees for more advice and mock interviews, figuring out how to "market" myself when I go on the market, etc. I check Leiter's reports on entry-level hires every year to see what the credentials and fields are of the incoming faculty, and look up their work to see how I stack up. This is an incredibly demoralizing task, and I do not recommend doing this if you have other reasons to be bummed out.

For now I'm still a couple of years away though (all of us J.D./Ph.D/S.J.D. bloggers are) from all that, and hence the focus on the research and writing aspect. Speaking for myself, I'm still figuring that part out--my work now, and my work in the future.

Actually, I hope this blog is not a "how-to" guide, but a "how-did-they" guide, or will be at least, years from now when we finally make it. Because right now we're all just figuring it out (sort of stumbling in the dark, like little children with their hands over their eyes) and we are figuring it out publicly. Do not take us as role models. You might want to take us as cautionary tales, in fact, a "how not to." We are excited to tell you about our work, but we are also willing to share with you our difficulties and mistakes. It is a mark of this blog to be honest about such thing. And I also want to keep it interesting and lively and fun. I don't want this blog to be a sanitized version of Auto Admit. I want it to be a not-too-pretentious Law and Everything Blog, generally always about the law and the legal academy, but also about politics, pop culture, poetry, and personal stuff. I like things that start with "P." And "L," because the masthead for this could be "Law, Literature, and Life."

At the end of the day, we're just doing our thing, and you get to read about it. But if we figure out any answers (a lot of us are having trouble just finding the research question), we shall share them with you.


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