Dean Dan Filler and Professor Emily Zimmerman recently published an essay titled “One Challenge Facing the Discipline of Legal Writing: The Connection Between Discipline and Status” in Legal Writing: The Journal of the Legal Writing Institute.
The article grew out of a panel the two participated in at the 2018 LWI Biennial Conference: “Promoting Legal Writing Within the Legal Academy: Perspectives from the Dean.” Filler and Zimmerman consider law schools’ inconsistent support for scholarship by legal writing faculty a major challenge facing the discipline. They write that “structural and cultural impediments within law school—to put it bluntly, lack of status—deter scholarly productivity.”
The authors suggest two interventions to help with this problem. First, legal writing professors must have the time necessary to produce scholarship—something that is currently lacking due to the time-intensive nature of legal writing instruction. Second, these professors also need support from their institution and their peers, both tangible—“summer research grants, funding for research assistants, and funding for conferences and workshops”—and intangible—being “recognized as being capable of scholarship.” In short, legal writing professors need to have the same status as their doctrinal peers.
Dan Filler has served as Dean of the Kline School of Law since 2017, and is a nationally recognized expert on criminal law, the death penalty and sex offender community notification laws, whose work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court. Emily Zimmerman is a tenured professor of law and has served on the Professional Development Committee of the Legal Writing Institute, on the board of Academics Promoting the Pedagogy of Effective Advocacy in Law, and as co-editor of the Legal Writing Journal of the Social Science Research Network.