Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Problem with Law Reviews

Daniel Shaviro has a good post discussing some of the specific negative consequences of the article selection process of law reviews. We've had this discussion a few times in the past year or so what with certain friends intimate role in the process. And just yesterday the new board was announced so it seems a reasonable time to have the discussion again.

For those of you (Nell and WF) who are not in law school and think you don't really care about this seemingly boring topic, let me correct your misconception. It really is an interesting scenario. Picture this: You graduated at the topp of your law school class from one of the most prestigious schools in the country after which you took a prestigious position as a circuit court clerk. After that, you worked for a few years at a big law firm working on cutting edge issues. You write some briefs, you make some waves, and then you get yourself a job as an assistant professor at a regional law school. At this point, your career depends on whether or not you can get some articles published in some law journals.

And here is the rub. Whether or not a particular journal publishes your article depends on whether three or four second year law students, with no real knowledge of your specialty (or any specialty), is convinced that your article consitutes a significant contribution to the field.

Personally, I find the whole thing rather funny. Of course, my career advancement doesn't depend on someone I'm way more qualified than deciding whether or not my writing is significant.

2 Comments:

Anonymous big brother said...

Me too. Actually I know my writing is sub-par, so I don't even have to worry about getting published in a law journal, that and I am not a Lawyer person or whatever you call yourselve. ;)

3:45 PM  
Blogger Expatriate Owl said...

FIshfrog, you career advancement actually DOES depend upon someone whose qualifications are inferior to yours deciding whether or not your writing is significant.

How do you spot such people? They sit on benches, wear black robes, and you address them as "Your Honor."

My experience has been that the law review editors are equal or better to the judges in spotting significant writings.

(At least 3 of my law review articles have thus far been cited by judges in their judicial opinions

10:30 AM  

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