7 comments

  1. I guess I’ll have to get the ball rolling here.

    I happen to think the author of this article is a bit unfair in his depiction of the value of law reviews. Yes, circulation is down. Yes, going web-only provides a whole bunch of practical advantages like “saving on printers,” and “not having to hold back an announced issue because one article runs late.” But, I think the author either misunderstands or willfully (yes I did) mischaracterizes the purpose of law reviews when he compares them to for-profit newspapers or magazines looking to maximize circulation/readership.

    As the author (pejoratively) notes, “Harold Havighurst nailed it half a century ago: ‘Whereas most periodicals are published primarily in order that they may be read, the law reviews are published primarily in order that they may be written.’” Havinghurst is correct to point out that law reviews are published in order that they may be written, but that fact should not rouse a sneer or scoff. Rather, the unique process involved in publishing a law review is exactly what makes it of value. Law reviews provide thousands of students an apparatus to develop unrivaled editing, writing and researching skills, which ultimately makes them better attorneys and more effective writers in general.

    Law reviews should embrace technological advances and adapt to provide timelier, more-compelling content, absolutely. However, they definitely should not cease to exist merely because the old publication model may be antiquated.

  2. Certainly, it seems law review journals are published so they can be written. Knowing your note or comment might be published while your in law school is a great accomplishment. I never thought I would be published during my time at law school. Not that I am going to be, but regardless, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to try. I do not think I would have felt the same way about writing my comment for law review had my option to have only had it published online. To me it would have seemed no different than writing for this blog. Publication subscriptions are down, and I am sure law review journals are costly, but they need to be saved as it is an important part of law school history and opportunity.

  3. “No law school wants to give up and go web-only because it seems unprestigious.” Are best selling novels available only online? No. As a law student conducting legal research constantly, I find law review articles to be a great starting point especially when you are unfamiliar with an issue. How do you find these law review articles? I login to either Westlaw or LexisNexis and search the database. Essentially, you locate the article online and print it.
    Putting the issue of online only law reviews aside, it would be devastating to the legal community if law reviews were completely abolished. As a member of a law review myself and a research assistant to a professor who is constantly publishing law reviews, I truly understand the need of law review notes and comments by both professors and students. All law students at one time have used a law review article to verse themselves in legal terms and issues. In the legal community, what more recognition and prestige can you get than being published in a law review. Law students, paralegals, lawyers and scholars around the world may stumble on your own article for their research and may cite you as an authority.

  4. […] Adam Kusovitsky and colleagues, Pace International Law Review: Havighurst is correct to point out that law reviews are published in order that they may be written, but that fact should not rouse a sneer or scoff. …Law reviews provide thousands of students an apparatus to develop unrivaled editing, writing and researching skills, which ultimately makes them better attorneys and more effective writers in general. […]

  5. Abolishing law reviews in their entirety is not the answer. I think PILR over the years has fused the traditional practice of bound publications with an online presence. Our blog allows law students and attorneys to discuss imminent legal issues in the headlines, our Online Companion provides readers with monthly content that is up-to-date, and our bound publication gives us more room to publish a variety of topics at a slower pace. All three ways of producing content are what makes our law review unique, provides a constant flow of information, and is most likely where law reviews are headed. Will law reviews slowly transition out of bound editions and solely publish online? Maybe, but for now, we will still maintain the tradition of holding our journal in our hands.

  6. I echo the sentiments above of my fellow law review editors. Law reviews give students, professors, and legal scholars the time to identify and investigate emerging legal issues. They afford writers the time to fully develop their thoughts, interests, leanings, and life’s work without worrying that someone else might log online and blog before them. Olson’s main issue with law reviews seems to stem from the length of time it takes to hold a publication in his hands. When compared with an online blog, sure! The editing and publishing process of a hard copy work is certainly longer; yet, does that hurt its quality? Probably not. In fact, student editors, like those of whom I am privileged to work with on Pace’s International Law Review, take pride and particular care in our review’s work product. If anything should be under scrutiny, it should be those “edited web outlets” that allow users and administrators to edit the submitted content of others. Should quality be sacrificed for a blogger’s ability to deliver instant gratification in a paragraph or two? If you think so, then I would recommend you avoid subscribing for law journals and concentrate your efforts on perusing the web instead.

  7. I have mixed feelings about Olson’s article (interestingly, an internet-only article that we are discussing on an internet-only forum).

    I disagree with the tenor, methodology, and ultimate conclusion of this piece. In our field, law reviews exist as the main outlet for scholarly discourse; and we, as law review members, are the gatekeepers. As Adam eloquently states in his comment above, “the unique process involved in publishing a law review is exactly what makes it of value. Law reviews provide thousands of students an apparatus to develop unrivaled editing, writing and researching skills, which ultimately makes them better attorneys and more effective writers in general.”

    That said, Olson is correct to note that any such value becomes diluted by a marketplace in which many schools publish six or seven journals: law review theoretically separate the best from an already strong group of students, but employers can afford to be as picky as they want these days, and so, are not trusting law review experience as much as they once did because law schools publish six or seven of them.

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