Submitting articles to US law journals – Part 1

In many countries legal academics face complex questions about where they should publish their scholarship.  The choice between peer and non-peer reviewed journals, book chapters, monographs, web-based publications and so on all present different challenges, obstacles, benefits and opportunities.  One of the goals of this blog is to consider those issues.

In this post, the first in a series looking at US law journals, the simple question “how to publish” in a US law journal will be introduced.  That question is the first presented as the window for submissions is fast approaching, and so it is best to present the “how” information for those that have already decided to submit their scholarship to a US journal.

Very simply – the “how” is well presented here by the law library of the University of Washington (the subject of law library services, roles and mission will also eventually be discussed in this blog). The additional links at that page will prove highly useful to anyone considering the US law journal publication route.  Given the likelihood of successful submission peaks for February to March submissions, it is as well that anyone looking to publish in a US law journal in 2014-15 look now at that page.

This post should not be read as an encouragement to publish in a US law journal.  That more difficult question will be introduced in a later post.  Suffice to say there are many “cons” and a few “pros” on that issue for legal academics outside the United States (it is clearly a different calculation for American-based legal academics).  Until then . . . .

By Colin Picker

Preparing law students for IT in the workplace

According to this article, competition among law firms is heating up and those that are using Information Technology (IT) as a collaborative communication tool may have an advantage. The article looks at some technologies that law firms are harnessing to enhance lawyer-client interactions. This allows greater flexibility in access, leading to greater client satisfaction. The article begs the question of whether universities are preparing students to use technology as collaborative, communication tools? Are universities a strong link in the chain between students coming into the university with strong IT skills, and the changing nature of the workforce which is also utilizing the tools that IT has to offer?

By Thomas Molloy 

Things aren’t what they used to be – so how should we review the LLB curriculum?

Helen Carr and Kirsty Horsey, Kent Law School

How do we find ways to increase access to and success in law, a subject often regarded as closed to those from more non-traditional backgrounds, while at the same time maintaining pedagogical and institutional standards?

Academics agree: there has been an extraordinary shift in the nature of the undergraduate student body over the last 15 years and pedagogy in higher education has struggled to respond. Political and social initiatives aimed at widening participation in higher education have caused not only the number of applications to universities to rise, but also a broadening of the range of students. Perhaps surprisingly the recent introduction of substantial fees (currently £9000 pa) for studying at degree level in the UK does not seem to have had a very significant impact on student numbers.

Law schools, providing an in-demand subject which is considered prestigious by prospective and current students, their parents, and a wide variety of potential employers, are at the centre of these changes. 

There is a tendency to blame the students for the consequences of change. The story goes that they are not as engaged, lack cultural capital, are risk-averse and are instrumental in their approach to education. At the same time, technology has worked some sort of possibly malevolent pedagogical magic, transforming expectations of the presentation and presence of teaching. The consequence is that the core law curriculum is ‘dumbed down’, remedial skills are compulsorily delivered and research-active staff increasingly distance themselves from teaching undergraduates – particularly core modules. Those who do teach are expected to be permanently accessible to students via email. Presentation becomes as important as substance; students, positioned as consumers, rate their lecturers. Lecturers respond by entertaining students, and provoking responses rather than thought. There have, of course, been alternative approaches. York Law School, with the benefit of a clean slate, has devised a problem-based curriculum. Other law schools use specially designed tests to filter out students who do not demonstrate the necessary aptitude for traditional pedagogy.

Like many law schools, KLS decided to respond to the challenges set by increased student numbers and diversity (in all forms) by revising its curriculum: Continue reading