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Women, Writing, & Wages: Breaking the Last Taboo

Jan Levine & Kathryn Stanchi

This Article breaks the silence that shields American law schools' decisions about salaries for legal writing teachers and offers explanations of how we arrived where we are today. It explores the history of data collection efforts in the field of legal writing with a focus on changes in program design and salary reporting, and suggests that the admission of women into law schools in the 1970s, and the mid-1980s boom in law school admissions, may have triggered the phenomenal growth of second-class status legal writing faculty positions. This Article is the first compilation that analyzes salary data based on an individual professor's law school graduation date, the number of years the professor has been teaching legal writing, gender and whether the law school is public or private. It is the only compilation that adjusts salaries based on the cost of living in the city in which the law school is located (or the closest metropolitan area). This Article is also the first to directly compare the salaries of legal writing professors with those paid to professors of doctrinal courses, and to compare the legal writing salaries to the prevailing salaries paid to new law school graduates in the cities in which the employing schools are located. There are three goals of this Article: (1) to expose just how shamefully low some legal writing salaries actually are, (2) to demonstrate the links between the existence of the field of legal writing, the low salaries paid and the predominant gender of writing teachers and (3) to empower legal writing professors to negotiate for (and receive) salaries that more closely reflect their work and merit. Moreover, by publishing the salaries and their bases in the gender politics of the legal academy, this Article takes a step toward making law schools accountable for inequitable and discriminatory decisions. The result, we hope, will be a turn toward greater fairness and equality in the teaching profession.

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