Notice & Comment

Resources for New and Aspiring Administrative Law Scholars

With the ABA Administrative Law Section’s launch event for the ABA Program for Prospective Administrative Law Scholars (PALS) on Wednesday, I’ve been thinking a lot about resources for new and aspiring administrative law scholars. This is an amazing and welcoming field, but entering a new profession or academic field can be intimidating. Over the weekend I did a quick Twitter thread on some resources, which I thought would be worth building out more in a blog post.

At the outset, I should underscore that I use “administrative law” here broadly to include not just conventional administrative law generalists but also scholars interested in administrative law issues in any regulatory field — such as antitrust, communications law, election law, energy, environmental law, food and drug, financial regulation, immigration, intellectual property, labor and employment, national security, privacy, tax, and trade—as well as adjacent fields like legislation.

Pursuing Academic Fellowships in Administrative Law

First off, if you’re an aspiring administrative law scholar who wants to do fellowship while maintaining your current job, definitely consider the ABA Administrative Law Fellowship that was launched earlier this year. This fellowship aims to diversify the cohort of legal academics in administrative law and regulatory practice by positioning lawyers currently in practice to be successful job candidates in the academic market. The fellowship is a two-year program that pairs fellows with mentors in the legal academy and provides other support for entry into legal teaching. Kevin Stack is leading this important initiative, so reach out to him if you have any questions.

There are, of course, numerous (too many?) full-time fellowships for aspiring legal academics at various law schools if you’d prefer a more immersive experience. In administrative law in particular, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) offers the Jerre S. Williams Fellowship, which is available for periods of time ranging from six months to two years. One advantage of the Williams Fellowship is that you’ll be working at ACUS (a federal agency) and interacting with dozens of agency officials and administrative law scholars in helping to carry out ACUS’s important work. ACUS also puts on terrific programming in the field, and if you have an empirical/on-the-ground project at federal agencies, it’s a great partner for such projects. To date, I’ve done two studies for ACUS, and I’m happy to chat more about that opportunity.

Publishing and Sharing Your Voice in the Field

When it comes to publishing traditional law review articles, each law school has a generalist law review as well as numerous specialty journals. The two main specialty journals in administrative law are the Administrative Law Review—the official law review of the ABA Administrative Law Section—and the Yale Journal on Regulation. Both are premier journals with terrific student editors. They have online companions, Accord and Bulletin respectively, for shorter work. And the Administrative Law Review also has a podcast, A Hard Look.

There are various outlets to publish shorter work, which could feature your full-length scholarship, review other scholarship in the field, or discuss current developments in administrative law and regulatory practice. The ABA Administrative Law Section partners with the Yale Journal on Regulation to host the Notice and Comment blog. We regularly publish guest posts from administrative law scholars and experts about a new article you’ve written (or read) or a current development in the field. More information on how to submit is here. But do not hesitate to reach out to pitch idea first before writing if you’d prefer that. Emile Shehada and I are here to help. On the Notice and Comment blog, we also host symposia on new books, developments, and sometimes even articles. Many of our prior symposia are collected here. Reach out if you’re interested in exploring that. This is a great way to engage other scholars in your work, and our readers love them!

In addition to the Notice and Comment blog, the ABA Administrative Law Section publishes a quarterly magazine, Administrative and Regulatory Law News (ARLN), which is distributed to the thousands of ABA Administrative Law Section members (definitely consider joining the Section here) as well as available on Hein, Lexis, Westlaw, etc. Dan Walters is the editor-in-chief of ALRN, so contact him if you want to pitch a short article.

Aspiring and newer voices often focus on sharing and amplifying their own scholarship, but another way to develop one’s voice in the field is to review and engage with other scholars’ work. You can always submit a guest post reviewing an article or book to the Notice and Comment blog. But the Administrative Law Section of Jotwell (the “Journal of Things We Like (Lots)”) is another place that publishes reviews. There is a group of regular contributors, but we also welcome guest contributors. Reach out to Miriam Seifter (or me) if you’re interested. You can also subscribe to receive an email version of the reviews here.

The Regulatory Review is another great avenue to feature your voice and new scholarship. Unlike the Notice and Comment blog where we do very light editing there, at the Regulatory Review you work with amazing Penn law student editors who provide excellent substantive and technical feedback.

Presenting Your Scholarship

The annual ABA Administrative Law Conference is a fantastic place to meet folks in the field. It’s my favorite academic conference of the year and regularly attracts more than 800 attendees, including academics, agency lawyers, and regulatory practitioners. This year’s conference is at the end of this week (details here). It’s virtual again this year, so there’s less opportunity to network. When it’s in person, the networking and career-development opportunities are so valuable even if you’re not presenting.

But you should definitely seek to present at the conference. Each spring we have a call for panel proposals, which we post on the Notice and Comment blog (here’s a prior example) and elsewhere. The ABA Administrative Law Section places a premium on new voices. This is a great opportunity to present your work to hundreds of regulatory nerds and invite more senior scholars to participate on panel and engage with your work.

Outside of the ABA Administrative Law Section and ACUS, there are so many centers and programs across the nation that regularly host conferences and events on administrative law. The list is extensive, including the C. Boyden Gray Center for the Study of the Administrative State (George Mason), the Center for Progressive Reform, the GW Regulatory Studies Program (George Washington), the Institute for Policy Integrity (NYU), and the Regulatory Transparency Project (Federalist Society)—just to name a few. Some scholars also host regular workshops and programming. For instance, Brian Feinstein runs a regular virtual Power in the Administrative State Workshop Series, and Neysun Mahboubi hosts a lively Clubhouse Law and Governance discussion group, sponsored by the Penn Program on Regulation, where scholars present research and receive feedback.

Finally, the Administrative Law New Scholarship Roundtable is a great opportunity for aspiring and newer voices in the field to present their scholarship. This year Nick Parrillo and Yale Law School hosted the roundtable. The roundtable is organized by scholars at a number of schools (and rotates locations among them), currently including Emily Bremer (Notre Dame), Kristin Hickman (Minnesota), Jeff Pojanowski (Notre Dame), Michael Sant’Ambrogio (Michigan State), Miriam Seifter (Wisconsin), Glen Staszewski (Michigan State), and Melissa Wasserman (UT-Austin). They issue a call for papers in late spring/early summer (last year’s call is here).

Following Developments in the Field

When it comes to following the field closely, definitely subscribe here to the weekly digest of the Notice and Comment blog as well as The Regulatory Review (the subscription box is in the right corner of its website). But there are a few more places I’d encourage all administrative law scholars to follow.

Over at SSRN, Bill Funk edits the U.S. Administrative Law eJournal. You can subscribe to the regular email distribution here. SSRN does a good job of adding almost all new administrative law papers to this eJournal, so the regular emails should alert you to anything new that’s been written in the field (and posted to SSRN). That said, when you’re posting a draft paper to SSRN I’d strongly recommend manually selecting the paper for inclusion in the eJournal to make sure everyone in the field sees it. SSRN also has subject matter eJournals for a variety of regulatory fields as well as the Comparative and Global Administrative Law eJournal.

Many of the centers and programs noted above have regular email distributions with updates in the field. I’m a big fan of the GW Regulatory Studies Regulation Digest, which is a weekly email that collects sources from all of these organizations and beyond. You can subscribe here.

For new administrative law professors, there are two great resources. The Administrative Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) has created a supportive community, with an internal email listerv, programming at the annual AALS meeting (including a new voices workshop), and now some more regular programming. If you want to get involved more, I’d suggest reaching out to Kati Kovacs. For years, Ed Richards has moderated the administrative law professor email listserv, which includes conversations on breaking news, recent developments, and pedagogical innovations in field. It’s a very friendly group, and you can be added to the listserv by emailing him (or I’m happy to introduce you).

Finally, Twitter has a vast and varied collection of administrative law scholars. I’ve made my pitch elsewhere for why legal scholars should be on Twitter. Part of the answer is that it’s completely fine to just consume and not produce. I’m not going to name folks to follow here, as there are just too many. But if you check out my follow list, I’ve tried to follow every administrative law scholar on Twitter. (If you’re an administrative law scholar—again, broadly defined—and for some reason I’m not following you, that’s a mistake on my part. Please direct message me so I can correct that.)

Concluding Thoughts

I am no doubt missing a lot of other cool opportunities for administrative law scholars, so please let me know what I’m missing and I’ll add it to my Twitter thread and update this post. Similarly, years ago I did a Junior Law Prawfs FAQs Series over at PrawfsBlawg, and the comments to those posts are particularly helpful for aspiring and junior legal scholars. It appears that others have added additional PrawfsBlawg posts to the series, collected here.

I’ll end on a more personal note: I joined the law faculty here at The Ohio State University in 2012, coming straight from private practice. It was intimidating to approach and interact with others in the field of administrative law—scholars I had read in law school and practice and engaged with their work in my own. Fortunately I had an amazing administrative law mentor at Ohio State (Peter Shane) who helped me meet folks in the field. And I quickly discovered how warm, supportive, and welcoming the scholars are in our field. It’s a wonderful community.

Not all of us are fortunate to have a mentor like Peter. And even if you do, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. Send me your work. Ask me anything. I’d love to connect you to others in the field who are working on similar projects. I’m happy to brainstorm with you the various avenues for sharing your work more broadly; set up small-group zoom workshops on your works in progress; or otherwise be a sounding board and resource.