I took a seminar on employment law during my last semester of law school in early 2012. The final grade for that class was based primarily on the writing of a law review article. For my article, I chose the topic of Kentucky employment retaliation law, something I was familiar with from my clerking for Clay Daniel Walton & Adams attorney Dan Canon (once my boss, now my colleague).
The paper took weeks to research and write and I got a good grade on it. My teacher, UofL Law professor Ariana Levinson, encouraged me to seek publication. I was wary because I was never on the law review during school and my topic was very narrowly focused on recent case law in just one state. How many law reviews would be interested? Perhaps just three (each law school in Kentucky has its own review, and Northern Kentucky had previously published work similar to my own).
I graduated, took the bar exam and passed, then got busy working as an attorney. The paper sat dormant for months. As a survey of recent case law, the passing time made the paper less accurate the longer it remained unfinished.
Finally, in late 2013, I picked it up again and began revisions. I had worked on more retaliation cases since I began my law practice, so had a better understanding of the issues and impact of each case I discussed. I had also improved my legal writing (at least in my own opinion). The revision and updating process took a few more weeks. By January of this year, I felt I had sufficiently polished it to try for publication.
I submitted the paper to the three main Kentucky law reviews - Louisville, Kentucky, and Northern Kentucky. I heard nothing for months. Then, in June, I presented the paper and associated topics on retaliation law at the annual Warns-Render Institute conference here in Louisville. My talk (with the help of Mr. Canon) was well-received.
Shortly after, I finally got the news I had been waiting for: the University of Louisville Law Review wanted to print the article. I gladly accepted their offer. The article, Navigating Kentucky Employment Retaliation Law in the Wake of Brooks v. Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority, was published this week.
Academic articles are the domain of law professors. Their career success partially hinges upon how much they write and how often they are published. Attorneys in private practice publish far less often, however, usually due to a lack of time and fewer professional incentives to do so.
There is one nice incentive, though: CLE credit. In order to remain in good standing with the bar, attorneys in Kentucky must get a large number of CLE credits each year. Conveniently, the Kentucky Bar Association awards up to six Continuing Legal Education hours for published legal writing. That's a nice bonus to the intellectual glory of appearing in a scholarly journal.
Because I am aggressively literate, I have another academic paper in the works. And because I am busy in my law practice, it sits dormant most of the time, gathering whatever the digital equivalent of dust might be. Hopefully soon I'll be able to get back at it. I'm the kind of weirdo who loves this stuff.