May 26, 2011
Law Review Articles
Two things worth reading
1. I just read a great article on the choice between mark-to-market and historical cost accounting: Richard A. Epstein & M. Todd Henderson, Do Accounting Rules Matter? The Dangerous Allure of Mark to Market, 36 J. Corporation Law 513 (2011). Well worth reading if you have any interest in accounting issues. The Journal of Corporation Law has not yet posted the article on its web site, but a draft is available here.
Here’s a list of the symposium articles:
- Government Ethics and Bailouts: The Past, Present, and Future-Nicole Elsasser Watson
- The Financial Crisis of 2008-2009: Capitalism Didn’t Fail, but the Metaphors Got a “C”- Jeffrey M. Lipshaw
- Who Benefited from the Bailout?-Jonathan G. Katz
- Fiduciary-Based Standards for Bailout Contractors: What the Treasury Got Right and Wrong in TARP- Kathleen Clark
- Compromised Fiduciaries: Conflicts of Interest in Government and Business- Claire Hill and Richard Painter
- Government Governance and the Need to Reconcile Government Regulation with Board Fiduciary Duties-Lisa M. Fairfax
- Uncomfortable Embrace: Federal Corporate Ownership in the Midst of the Financial Crisis-Steven M. Davidoff
- Dodd-Frank: Quack Federal Corporate Governance Round II-Stephen M. Bainbridge
- Corporate Governance in an Age of Separation of Ownership from Ownership-Usha Rodrigues
Some real heavy hitters on that list. I’m looking forward to reading the symposium.
Law Reviews Generally
Finally, since we’re talking about law reviews, I simply must quote from one of Steve Bainbridge’s recent posts. Prompted by a Prawfsblawg comment about the difficulty of publishing speciality topics in law reviews, Steve expresses his view on law reviews in general:
I've reached a point of general frustration with law reviews. Getting jerked around on publication by third or, worse yet, second year law students. Being obliged to request expedited consideration as though I were a supplicant asking royalty for a favor. Having some wet behind the ears editor practically rewrite my article. Not getting paid. Frak the law reviews and the horse they came in on. Books or self-publish on Kindle.
To that I can only say amen. After a hiatus from student-edited law reviews, I have finally returned. But I agree that there has to be a better way. (Special irony points to the first commenter to notice who has an article listed in the Minn. symposium above.)
By the way, why are mainstream courses like tax and business associations considered “specialty” topics, unlike the constitutional law and jurisprudence articles that seem to fascinate law review editors so much?
I emailed the following to Prof. Bainbridge in response to his post on frustration with law reviews and specialty topics (have received no response): I would submit that this is precisely the reason for specialty journals. I was the Editor-in-Chief of the NYU Journal of Law & Business, and not only did we accept numerous articles on topics relating to law and business (i.e. the entire journal), we also had staff editors and board members who were specifically interested in the very topics those articles were written on. Perhaps some academics have various reasons for preferring certain law reviews over certain specialty journals (perceived prestige for example), but I can tell you with certainty that there were a number of corporate academics I would have accepted for publication (obviously depending on the article, but assuming it was of their general caliber), whereas the Law Review editors reviewing articles for acceptance did not even know who those academics were. Specialty journals were created because students with great interest in particular topics want to spend their time studying those subjects and working on articles relating to their chosen topics. Law Reviews are generalist journals. Just something to consider -- I'm not sure if you have tried getting published in specialty journals, but I believe you would have a very different experience.
Also, I agree with you completely in questioning why courses like Business Associations are considered "specialty" topics.
Posted by: Specialty Journals | May 26, 2011 3:56:51 PM
Those law professors and attorneys who complain about student-edited law reviews have simply forgotten what it is like from the other side of that coin. As an Articles Editor for a law review currently, I can tell you that it's not all grins when I get an article that has massive citation mistakes and grammatical errors, but I do my job and fix it, while keeping the author's original writing and analytical integrity as my primary goal. It is not an easy one, but good communication with my author before hand eliminates any conflict ninety percent of the time.
Regardless, top law review journals at top schools do have a fascination with broad, national perspective articles (often focusing on constitutional law, etc.). Perhaps you should consider publishing in a less known (nationally)law review, but still a very prominent law review in your state? That is where my law review falls. We have a very prominent presence in Texas, however, on a national perspective (although cited often) we do not fall in the top fifty most cited law reviews (as per SSRN, and other statistical analysis).
For example, our law review conducted a UCC Symposium on Article 2 revisions last semester. It was a big hit and has generated a lot of attention. But I respectfully resent the fact that you lump all law review journals into one category. Many are not like that, but you have to look outside your usual channels of publishers. If you have a good article and idea, it will find a place for viewership.
My suggestion is when looking for publication to seek journals you might not have submitted to normally and specialty journals. There is NOTHING wrong with either, and they are a great way to test out different viewership for your articles. Why would anyone want the same group of subscribers reading their publications year-in-and-year-out? Personally, it seems more logical to seek a diverse background of publications. And then once your articles are selected, to make sure you establish a good foundation of communication with your assigned article editor. If you tell them up front what your expectations are on changes, and they let you down, well . . . that is another story. But if neither the editor or you have established those boundaries? Well, that is on YOU too, sir. And frankly, I disapprove of the one sided burden to remedy this inequity. If the author does not make any effort to discuss their expectations clearly with their editor, the BLAME is on that author as well.
I have never had a complaint, and generally try to stay in touch with many of my authors, even after publication. They like me because I make the effort to let them know that their article is my ONLY priority. I serve as an advocate for my author on anything related to my law review's publication of their article. Thankfully, good communication and great authors has given me a great experience as an ed. board member. But I cringe when I see criticism of my peers in law school right now, when I suspect that the problem is simply a LACK of communication. If your editor doesn't communicate (I promise you, they want to) it may be because they are pessimistic like me that the communication will result in any benefit, REACH OUT to them and say you would like to discuss your expectations. I promise, they will breathe a sigh of relief. Editing an article blind (with very little communication with the author) is a very stressful process that should not EVER happen. Unfortunately, people get busy, and it is sometimes a problem in our business.
Posted by: Articles Editor | May 29, 2011 10:25:26 PM
I never said I don't publish in specialty journals. I have done so on several occasions. I have also published in regionally prominent law reviews. The problem isn't limited to "national" law reviews.
My experience with all types of journals has been mixed. I pulled an article from a faculty-edited specialty journal because it was clear to me the professional editor didn't like the article and was unhappy that the editor-in-chief had selected it. I had a horrible experience early in my career with a student-edited journal, which made substantial edits between my final review and publication and didn't bother telling me. And, occasionally, I have had very pleasant experiences. An editor added a line to a humorous article I wrote that I consider brilliantly funny.
But, all in all, the idea of a second- or third-year law student making a substantive evaluation of an article that someone with 20 years of experience in the field has written strikes me as incredibly odd. Correcting grammar and citation errors is another thing, although I have found that some of the law review editors I have worked with have mistaken notions of good grammar. Of course, there will be exceptions, but the average law professor is going to be a better writer than the average law review editor.
At this point, however, my primary view on law reviews is that, like print journals generally, they're mostly irrelevant. Most of the articles I read come straight from SSRN, long before the article is published in a law review.
Posted by: Steve Bradford | May 30, 2011 6:28:58 AM
I agree with your previous post. But remember, there are some of us out there that still work hard to keep the author's originality in tact! Part of the reason I stress personal relationships with your editors rather than choosing based on the law review alone. I would like authors considering publication with my law review to have a conversation with me and learn about my process -- so they can make a fully informed decision and when they get my edits back, their expectations will have been met and hopefully exceeded.
My stance is I would NEVER change the substance of an author's work without cautiously having a conversation with him or her about their thoughts on any change. I am in no position to impose my opinion on someone who has made a living for years keeping their original thoughts at the forefront of this profession. Maybe I am just lucky that I have been inducted into the only law review that sees our job this way? I do not know, but generally speaking, my job is BLUEBOOK and GRAMMAR (Chicago Manual of Style & Texas Law Review Manual on Usage and Style), and I absolutely refuse to allow any changes to an article (that was not student written) UNLESS I can justify it through a generally accepted rule out of one of those three books.
And I definitely agree that law reviews have becomes wholly irrelevant. From my perspective, "law review" is a conclusion; it is a publication in hard print of recognition that an article and author have probably already received. Most of the articles I read come from SSRN as well. Law review is just a stamp in the history books that this article/idea did in fact exist in print, at least somewhere. That may be the only use a law review has anymore, however, I still see that use as something with value.
I would say, however, that you have left out the greatest benefit (although I can see why you would not consider it a benefit from some of your general experiences with law reviews) from a law review publication--you get your article edited to Bluebook and grammatical perfection. It gives you an objective viewpoint on your style and your citation, one which is more in depth than any friend or single editor could ever provide, as it is a team of editors who tackle your paper. As a very passionate writer myself, I believe is critical to finalizing an article and ensuring that your readers do not lose track of the article's thesis because of confusing and unclear writing style. And to the extent grammar and citation can confuse, I think the law review editor's job is critical. It's not my job to change substance, nor should I consider myself important enough to do so. And if you have had editors change substance as the rule and not the exception, well, perhaps I have just never experienced this -- I know I would never and my team of 5 articles editors would never -- but I have no experience outside of my own law review.
Thanks for the reply.
Posted by: Articles Editor | May 30, 2011 4:42:39 PM
Steve Bainbridge has posted a follow-up to the original post I quoted. It's here:http://www.professorbainbridge.com/professorbainbridgecom/2011/05/law-review-editors-and-why-i-keep-thinking-about-self-publishing.html.
Posted by: Steve Bradford | May 31, 2011 1:32:37 PM