Research assistants needed, spring/summer 2019

Updated March 27, 2019 to include application process.

If you are a student at Texas A&M University School of Law interested in how lawyers and judges cite and use court opinions in their arguments, you may be right for an opportunity as a research assistant working with me in spring/summer 2019. There are many options for scheduling. (See below.)

Technically, you don’t have to be a student at A&M, but I can’t pay you if you are not. In either case, you get valuable experience understanding the arguments and writing of lawyers and judges, and you will get a nice resume entry and probably a glowing letter of recommendation from me. I can’t promise the last; much depends on how you perform.

You can work on this project “virtually,” without ever being in Forth Worth. You can work on your own time and schedule, though you should expect to have to conference with another coder or me about three hours out of every 20 you work. You should be prepared to conference for some initial training, too.

And I can work with your schedule. For example, you might have 30 hours you are available in one week, and that’s it. Or you might have three hours a week all summer. Or something in between.

Among other things, this empirical project examines some of the theoretical claims I’ve made in a forthcoming article. The work involves reading segments of attorneys’ briefs and court opinions that have been prepared for coding and recording your assessment of how they are using cited cases according to a coding guide. The coding guide (available at SSRN) describes the process for preparing and coding text artifacts. (RAs will focus mostly on the work described in Appendix D.)

To qualify, you must:

  • Have finished your first year of law school.
  • Have received at least a B- in your last legal writing course (if you are finishing 1L, you might not know your spring grade yet–that’s fine).
  • Be interested in how lawyers write arguments.
  • Be willing to carry out the tasks described in the coding guide.

Because the text artifacts for this project involve fair use under copyright, you might like the project better if you have an interest in copyright. But then again, my previous RAs on the project did not start with a particular interest in copyright, and they seem perfectly happy.

If you have questions, you can reach me via the email “larson” on the domain “” (email@domain), or just post a comment below. If you’d like to speak to a current RA about whether I’m some kind of task master, that can be arranged. We welcome your questions.

If you wish to apply, send the following to me at the email “larson” on the domain “” (email@domain):

  • An email expressing your interest.
  • Your resume or CV.
  • An unofficial transcript showing your last grade in LARW (if at Texas A&M) or legal writing (if elsewhere).
  • An indication of which weeks you are available for the summer and the number of hours you are available. For example:
    • “Week of May 13: 10 hours”
    • “Week of May 20: 40 hours”
    • “Week of May 27: unavailable”
  • For purposes of this project, the “summer” consists of May 13 through August 16. If you do not yet confidently know your schedule for summer, that’s fine, but you should indicate at least 30-40 hours during which you are sure you will be available (otherwise, it will be pointless to form the relationship :-). You can always say, “I’d love to do more if my schedule permits, but I don’t yet know.”

I’ll consider applicants on a rolling basis, but I expect to make final decisions by April 15, 2019.

Image: “Old Laws” Copyright 2002 Keith Robinson. Creative Commons license BY-NC-2.0

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