The Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal, sponsored by New York Law School and edited by Rick Marsico and Stephen Ellmann, is a part of the Legal Scholarship Network, which in turn is part of SSRN, the Social Science Research Network. SSRN is a website on which scholars from around the world post their work, including works-in-progress and also published pieces, so that their scholarship is readily available to other scholars. In other words, it is a way of bringing scholarship to others’ attention, not only because we all want our work noticed, but also so that readers can learn from the pieces they download and authors can learn from the feedback they receive.
We will be happy to post any work of clinical scholarship, from clinicians in the United States and elsewhere. There is no fee to either the authors of posted works or to those who download them. Anyone who is presenting a paper at a clinical conference, such as an AALS workshop or a regional clinical meeting, or at one of the clinical scholarship workshop series now meeting in various parts of the country, would be welcome to post his or her work; so would authors who simply have drafts which they would like others to be able to read.
Please do not hesitate to contact Rick Marsico if you have any questions about the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal. If you have a piece you would like posted, please contact Natasha Neystmith (212-431-2312, Natasha.Neysmith@nyls.edu) at New York Law School. She will be happy to take you through the quite modest steps involved in posting your article.
If you are new to SSRN, you may be interested in a PowerPoint presentation created by Associate Professor of Law Susan Duncan at the University of Louisville. The presentation, “Demystifying the SSRN Process,” is available on Professor Duncan’s blog by clicking here.
There is more to say about how the eJournal, and SSRN, work. Continue reading below for frequently asked questions. Simply click on any question to see its explanation:
Who can post articles through the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal?
Anyone. We expect most people posting with the eJournal, or downloading from it, will be clinical faculty in the United States and other countries, but other faculty, and practicing lawyers, are very welcome to post their clinical scholarship too.
What is clinical scholarship?
Whatever the abstract debates about the meaning of this term, we understand it broadly, to include articles about clinical pedagogy; clinical models for the practice of law; and clinically-based appraisals of legal institutions and rules. Perhaps the most ambiguous category is the last of these. An article on the nature of practice in family court, growing out of a clinician\’s experience in a domestic violence clinic, would be a clinically-based appraisal of a legal institution; on the other hand, an article on a particular point of substantive family law doctrine, even if its roots lay in a clinician\’s experience working with that legal issue, most likely would not. While it is our responsibility to decide whether a piece is or is not clinical scholarship, we will be inclusive rather than exclusive in making these decisions, so if you feel your piece is clinical even though it does not seem to fit these definitions, please get in touch with Rick and we can think this through together.
How do I post?
Please contact Natasha Neysmith at New York Law School (212-431-2312, Natasha.Neysmith@nyls.edu). Ms. Neysmith will ask you for contact information; an article abstract (this is necessary whether or not you post the text of your article); and a modest amount of additional information. Although the SSRN website offers a button for “Abstract & Paper Submission,” every piece submitted to SSRN for inclusion in the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal will be forwarded to us for substantive review and technical processing, so it will save time if you start right away with Ms. Neysmith!
Must an article be finished to be posted?
No. In fact, the ideal time to post an article is probably before it is finished, when interested readers can make comments to you before you publish it. Unpublished manuscripts do have copyright protection, and we think that in general we can rely on each other not to make any improper use of the ideas in posted, but not-yet-published, articles.
Can published articles, as well as not-yet-published ones, be posted?
Yes. Please keep in mind, however, that a published article can only be posted with the explicit permission of the copyright-holder, typically the journal that published the piece. We expect that this permission will usually be forthcoming, but you will need to make sure that that is the case for your paper.
If I post a work-in-progress and then make revisions, can the revisions be posted?
Definitely. We will be happy to replace your initial version with a later one if you want.
Can I post just an abstract of my work, rather than the full text?
Yes. If you do this, then people who want a copy of your manuscript or published article will be able to contact you, using the contact information that will be included in the posting. But we encourage you to post the full text, since that is the quickest way to bring your manuscript to readers.
Are posted articles still publishable in hard copy?
Yes. SSRN and the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal do not claim any copyright in your articles.
Even if posted articles are still theoretically publishable in hard copy, does posting a work-in-progress make it less attractive to publishers?
It should not, and we do not think it normally will either. SSRN publication is not hard-copy publication. The fact that a draft article excites interest via SSRN should, if anything, suggest that the final version will excite interest too—and, realistically, it seems unlikely that law journals\’ hard copy sales are going to be directly increased or decreased much by the availability of essays on SSRN. We think SSRN\’s Legal Scholarship Network complements hard-copy publication. In addition, we are glad to be able to say that the editors-in-chief of the Clinical Law Review, in particular, support the establishment of the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal. One other step that SSRN is able to take would further reduce whatever anxiety journal editors might have: SSRN can block access to the text of articles being published in a particular journal around the time of the hard-copy publication. That way, whatever special interest there might be in hard copy can be tapped by the journal (aided by your abstract, which will still be available on SSRN), and after this interest has waned, the full text of the article can be made available again on SSRN. Finally, though we think very few journals will ask you to do this, if necessary you can even have a paper that you’ve already posted be completely removed from the SSRN site, if you ultimately publish with a journal that wants you to do that.
Posting your articles makes them readily available to a wide audience of people interested in clinical scholarship. As of August 2006, the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal has nearly 800 subscribers, a number we hope to increase. In addition, authors who post their articles can use the eJournal site as a link through which to make their work accessible to nonsubscribers, for example, by including the link on their faculty webpage.
What does subscribing to the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal mean?
As articles are submitted for posting through New York Law School, SSRN compiles them into the electronic equivalent of issues—typically, sets of about five pieces. The abstracts of these five pieces are then sent in an email message to all eJournal subscribers. If the posting includes not only the abstract but the text of the piece, the email message will include the URL (the website address) for downloading, and subscribers can click directly to it.
Does a piece posted with the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal get announced only to eJournal subscribers?
No. Each author posting a piece can designate up to four other journals within the Legal Scholarship Network in which the author would like his or her article to also be distributed, and the issues of these journals in turn are sent by email to those subscribing to them. (Each journal, however, makes its own decisions about including articles, as the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal does.) Again, subscribers will be able to click directly from the article abstracts to the SSRN site for downloading any articles that have been posted in full text.
Who can subscribe?
Anyone. We hope that every clinician will be interested in subscribing; the more subscribers there are, the more widely the posted articles will be distributed.
How can people interested in the eJournal’s papers subscribe?
Because New York Law School sponsors the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal, there is no fee at all for subscriptions. This is true, by the way, even if your school doesn’t have a site license with SSRN (though a great many law schools do have these licenses, which enable individual faculty to subscribe without charge not only to free SSRN sites, such as the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal, but also to others that do have a subscription fee). The SSRN website, from which to start the subscription process (which is not elaborate), is at http://www.ssrn.com; there you will find a “subscribe” icon at the top of the page.
Can non-subscribers also access and download eJournal papers?
Yes. At the SSRN website, http://www.ssrn.com, you will also find a button for “Search & Download Papers.” Free registration with SSRN, which provides a number of benefits including free downloading, is available through http://umgt.ssrn.com.
How can I locate an article in the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal collection?
First, the eJournal already has its own URL, http://ssrn.com/link/Clinical-Law-Teaching-Practice.html. Clicking on this link will take you to a page listing all eJournal postings to date (198 as of September 4, 2013, downloaded a total of 33,306 times (including downloads from the eJournal site and from other SSRN postings of these papers)) . You can also reach the eJournal\’s page by clicking through several steps from the SSRN homepage. Second, SSRN\’s full library can be readily searched by author name, and by keywords in the article title or abstract. Again, the starting point is the SSRN home page, http://www.ssrn.com.
How can authors use their SSRN postings in connection with their own webpages?
If you have a webpage, for example through your school, at which you describe your work and/or list your publications, you can include on that page a link to your author page at SSRN. Every person who posts with the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal will have his or her own URL (website address) for such an author page. That URL will bring people to a list of all papers the author has posted with SSRN, and in turn to the abstracts and downloadable texts of all articles which the author has posted. Clicking to the abstract will also bring up information on how many times the abstract has been viewed, and on how many times the full text has been downloaded. The author\’s contact information is also included.
Can other organizations link to the Clinical Law Teaching & Practice eJournal site?
Yes. We hope, for example, that clinical conference organizers will encourage participants to post their papers on the site, and that the conference organizers will include a link to the eJournal\’s site in their own websites or other publicity. Anyone interested in setting up such a link should get in touch with Rick Marsico to make arrangements.