Christine Schleppegrell

Leverage Your Judicial Clerkship for a Successful Private Sector Career: Clerks Who Publish, Part II

This post continues our discussion from last month on publishing an article during a judicial clerkship.

Tenth, submit your cover letter and article after going through several iterations.  If you are running behind or there has been a major change in the law ask the publisher if s/he will consider you for the next submission deadline. This works best with monthly publications and might not work with law reviews, some of which only accept articles twice a year.

Eleventh, be productive while waiting. You will have more fun with the publication process if you view it as just that, an iterative process through which your work, your thinking, and ultimately you as a professional will improve and become more marketable. That being said after you submit your cover letter and/or article to your list of first choice publishers continue to revise your work. Make sure that your research doesn’t stop when you start writing. Instead, continue to search trade journals, legal news, and Lexis/Westlaw for updates on your topic. Periodically incorporate these updates into a revised version of your article so that even if you are rejected from all your publishers you will be able to quickly turn around and target other journals with an updated piece of work.

Twelfth, publicize your article. Unfortunately when you are starting out your career you must act as your own editor, cheerleader, and public relations department. The goal being that one day you can work for a firm that will sing your praises and shoulder some of this responsibility. If you are accepted for publication in a journal available in hard copy and online via the publisher’s independent website (and not just “online” in the sense that the journal is available on Lexis and/or Westlaw) then consider linking the article to any online profiles you maintain, such as LinkedIn. Email your article to friends and colleagues who practice in this particular area and/or know an attorney who does. Consider applying search engine optimization techniques such as tagging key phrases.

Thirteenth, use it as a writing sample. Consider using your article as a writing sample for your future job search. After your work has been published consider asking the editorial staff if you can obtain a copy of your article in a PDF file with the publisher’s heading displayed at the top. Often times articles are spread over several non-consecutive pages in a journal and it is helpful to have a writing sample in an accessible format.

Fourteenth, navigate the editorial process. If this is your first time publishing you might have a difficult time accepting changes made by your editors. These changes may be as minimal as italicizing certain words or as significant as reworking your title. Roll with the punches as best you can and keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to see your name in the publishing lights! If the editors make typos that appear in the hard copy version of your work ask the editors to provide a grammatically correct copy in PDF form so you can at least have an accurate writing sample.

Next time: it gets easier…while you may face a difficult time finding a “home” for your article as a judicial clerk this will be an easier process once your are in private practice. Some publishers approach large law firms with topics of interest and attorneys at the target firm can accept or decline the opportunity to submit their work. Hopefully, after you overcome the hurdles of shopping your article on your own you will fully appreciate this opportunity some day. Even if this opportunity does not present itself, it is easier to publish after you can credibly state that you have been published before.

The Future: Publishing opens doors. It allows you to make connections with editors and realize the strength of your professional network as you reach out to friends and colleagues for advice. Is it time-consuming? Yes. Is it rewarding? Absolutely. Publishing can also expand your career opportunities when applying for full-time, part-time, or adjunct professorships. 

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