Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Many of you probably have already read the article in the NY Times about the decreasing significance of law review articles to judges. The folks over at Law School Innovation have linked to much commentary on the topic here. Mark Osler tiptoes gingerly around the issue elsewhere, writing:
Here are the dumb things law professors are doing to make sure that their work has no impact on the broader society, solves no problems, and avoids relevance to anyone save those in the legal academy:
1) Too many articles are obsessed with topics which lack any realistic nexus to a real-life problem. For a while, many top academics were fascinated by "shaming" punishments, while many ignored the sentencing guidelines and state practices. Shaming was never going to come back; meanwhile injustice permeates much of the sentencing structure in many jurisdictions and no one cares much.
2) There is no dialogue betweeen the legal academy and decision-makers. Many professors send their articles to other professors, but few send them to judges, congressmen, and practitioners. Their audience is not anyone with power to create change, but a handful of other law professors.
3) Law articles are far too long. That is one reason so few people read them. It simply isn't true that an article under 100 pages isn't "serious."
4) The fervency for substantiation is silly. 800 footnotes to other law reviews does not make an article more true-- it just means someone else made a similar small point previously. The text should be more important than the footnotes, because that is how people read.
5) The cycle of writing to publication of an article is one to two years, making it impossible to address an issue which moves fast.