The Language of Law Professors

The Language of Law Professors project is supported by ABF funding and a supplemental grant from AccessLex. This project examines law professors “in their own voices,” using more sensitive linguistic methods than in standard interview studies, in order to tease out subtleties in how the professors understand their situations. At a time when law schools are under much public scrutiny, accused of failing their students, this set of extended studies will help us understand how current pressures are affecting professional identity for law professors. We also analyze intersections of gender and race — as well as the many clues that individuals give us, through their unfiltered accounts, about what is important to them in building new generations of lawyers. How would they tell their stories in their own words? This project addresses that issue by focusing on three specific areas:

  1. law professors’ freely written autobiographical accounts (in published materials) as compared with their survey and interview responses;
  2. in-depth career interviews and selected online observations with a small subset of professors;
  3. and, finally, observation of regular institutionalized interactions such as faculty seminars.

Using innovative methods, we not only obtain a deeper view of today’s legal academy from the inside, we also learn how to study the voices of professionals whose perspectives have yet to be heard.