Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

Top Law Reviews To Limit Length of Articles

The American Constitution Society Blog reports that 11 top law reviews (but not California, Chicago, and NYU) have agreed to limit the length of articles:

The flagship law reviews of Columbia, Cornell, Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Michigan, Stanford, Texas, Penn., Virginia, and Yale have joined the following statement regarding the growing length of legal scholarship:

In mid-December, the Harvard Law Review conducted a nationwide survey of law faculty regarding the state of legal scholarship. Nearly 800 professors completed the survey and submitted their feedback. Complete tabulations of the survey will soon be available on the web. Importantly, the survey documented one particularly unambiguous view shared by faculty and law review editors alike: the length of articles has become excessive. In fact, nearly 90% of faculty agreed that articles are too long. In addition, dozens of respondents submitted specific comments, identifying the dangers of this trend and calling for action. Survey respondents suggested that shorter articles would enhance the quality of legal scholarship, shorten and improve the editing process, and render articles more effective and easier to read.

The law reviews listed above are very grateful for the constructive feedback and wish to acknowledge a role in contributing to this unfortunate trend in legal scholarship. To the extent that the article selection or editing process encourages the submission and publication of lengthier articles, each of the law reviews listed above is committed to rethinking and modifying its policies as necessary. Indeed, some have already done so. The vast majority of law review articles can effectively convey their arguments within the range of 40-70 law review pages, and any impression that law reviews only publish or strongly prefer lengthier articles should be dispelled. Ultimately, individual law reviews will have to decide for themselves how best to resolve these concerns. Please know, however, that editors across the country are cognizant of the troubling trend toward longer articles and are actively exploring how to address it.

As the statement implies, several of these law reviews will be limiting their articles selection process only to articles 70 pages in length or less. All 11 are committed to reducing the length of legal scholarship.

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Tracked on Feb 8, 2005 9:09:23 AM


Well if the article is good and meaningful
than length of article really doesn't matters..

Posted by: John | Apr 23, 2006 9:53:25 AM

It doesn't matter whether you keep the length of article lenghty or short, does it?

Posted by: Winslet | Oct 3, 2005 4:51:48 AM

Law Review Articles have gotten longer, not better. Go to the stacks and pull some law reviews from the 40s or 50s. Articles, some of them very famous and very influential may have been 10 to 20 pages long, with only 2 or 3 footnotes per page. No algebra, no French philosophers.

Why so long? Why are contracts that used to run 10 pages now 60 pages? Word processing is one answer. Its a lot easier to throw words on to a page. Research assistants. Too many professors have them now digging up too many cases for too many foot notes, which their hyper-anal student editiors demand. Tenure committees. Obviously. In the 50s it was a good old boys world -- fewer committees.

We have not gotten smarter, just wordier.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz | Feb 9, 2005 5:48:03 PM

This is ridiculous. Quality can't be determined by quantity -- this is going to exclude some good, long pieces of scholarship, especially those which incorporate lengthy social science analysis (eg, James Liebman's work on the death penalty.) Those kinds of authors might start taking their work to social science journals or, alternatively, just self-publish on the web (as Liebman did initially for Broken System II).

The real problem is the ridiculous, byzantine, overredundant law review editing process, which operates to lengthen the articles themselves (the compulsion to footnote) and simultaneously makes the editing process for longer articles neigh-unbearable.

Full disclosure: I'm a Columbia Law Review 3L staff editor who had nothing to do with the decision to call for shorter articles.

Posted by: maura dundon | Feb 9, 2005 11:52:35 AM


Posted by: Shag from Brookline | Feb 8, 2005 3:47:57 AM