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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Advice to Law Journals: Part 5

After reading the cartoon (yes, literally, its made up largely of a cartoon) essay on legal scholarship in the most recent Journal of Legal Education, I realize I need to continue with advice to law journals. At some point I'll talk about that interesting piece (William J. Aceves et al., "The Orthodoxy of Format: Some Sketches of Legal Scholarship,"56 JLE 636 (2006)); I expect it'll get some attention.  Most surprising piece of it all?  I didn't realize that there was a cartoon version of Hayek's Road to Serfdom, until I saw it cited in note 6!  Get this--it was published by GM in its "Thought Starter Series."  Now that's something I'd like to know more about; bet that's a great source for intellectual history of the U.S. around the time of the New Deal.  (OK--I know this is far afield from propertyprof, but in 1938 Time had  a riveting discussion of GM's marketing man, Henry Woodfin Grady, who developed the "Thought Starter Series.")

While I'm all in favor of expanding the boundaries of legal scholarship, I have to wonder whether cartoons will enhance the apparently declining fortunes of legal scholarship among judges.  I think there are great reasons for experimenting with new forms of scholarship--great reasons--but I'm not sure this move will reach more judges.  Anyway, here's installment five.  (And, come to think of it, maybe I need to tack on one additional entry at the end on cartoons....)

Publish book reviews.  Based on some data that citations guru John Doyle's been running, it looks like book reviews aren't as useful as articles in getting citations (not surprising here)--though I'll let John blog about these at some point.  But I think book reviews are great ways of getting readership, helping create discussion, and recruit some pieces that will get some attention.  We too infrequently talk to one another in the legal academic business and reviews are great ways of engaging people--of getting thoughtful commentary on an extended argument.  Clash of ideas--now there's something we need in the legal academy and may actually get.  And this, as another piece of advice to younger scholars, write book reviews.  They're a great way of getting involved into a debate without writing something that takes years.

Next installment will have some advice on things to avoid--or at least be cautious of....

Alfred L. Brophy
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