Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Remind Me: What's the Point of Law Reviews?"

In the past, I have questioned the continuing existence of student-edited law reviews.  They are expensive to publish, and they use time that students could be using on more relevant tasks.  C. Steven Bradford also recently questioned the value of law reviews on the Business Law Prof Blog.  (here)

Professor Bradford asks, "So, in a world where articles are publicly available and read long before they appear in law reviews, what exactly is the value of law reviews? Most of their content is stale by the time it’s published."

His points:

1. "Law reviews certainly don’t do much to filter 'unworthy' publications. Law reviews have proliferated to the point that almost anything can be published in a law review somewhere."

2. "The law review in which an article appears may signal the article’s quality; if so, that signal usually comes too late. By the time an article appears in print, I and many others have already decided whether to read it. And reading an article’s abstract and introduction usually provides a much better sense of its quality than the journal name attached to it."

3. "Law reviews provide editing, but, in my experience, that editing is as likely to reduce the quality of an article as to improve it."

4. "Once articles are published in law reviews, they’re available on Westlaw and Lexis, and thus more broadly accessible. But there’s no reason why availability needs to be tied to law review publication."

5. "I see little value in educating students in the fine minutiae of Bluebook citation form, and most actual editing is done by students with little or no professional instruction or supervision. Advanced courses in writing, editing, and legal research could provide better instruction more efficiently."

(Scott Fruehwald)

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