Are Law Reviews Withering on the Vine?
February 23, 2006 at 10:30 AM
The online version of the Wall Street Journal published an excellent story this week on the viability of law reviews, which is a "must-read" for law review editors and faculty. According to the article, "law professors are looking beyond law reviews, moving relevant and timely commentary to the Internet and blogosphere." As the article points out, the academic legal community is starting to take aim at law reviews. By now, most of us have read Richard Posner’s piece, "Against the Law Reviews," in which he states that "too many articles are too long, too dull, and too heavily annotated, and . . . many interdisciplinary articles are published that have no merit at all." And Professor Rosa Brooks at the University of Virginia asked in a recent LawCulture post, "Is there any good reason, post-tenure, not to eschew law reviews for books and other less stultifying genres, on the theory that people beyond my immediate family may then read what I write?" Some journals are responding by moving content online, developing blog-like online communities such as The Pocket Part, and insisting on shorter articles. I don’t think that the journals will vanish quickly -- after all, scholarly publications are part of law school tradition, and law schools tend to move fairly slowly when it comes to dispensing with traditional features of the law school experience. However, I do believe that scholarly journals are going to have to become more tech-savvy if they want to appeal to a wider audience. It seems like discussing some of the measures described in this article would be a great place to start.