Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Are Law Review Articles A Waste Of Time?

LawProfBlawg (Anonymous Professor, Top 100 Law School), Are Law Review Articles A Waste Of Time?:

Recently, Professors Carrissa Hessick, Eric Segall, and others continued the debate that started out at LawProfBlawg’s Loyola University Chicago Symposium on the Future of Legal Scholarship.  ...

Professor Hessick lobbed the first volley on Profsblawg.  Hessick rejected the notion that law review articles are too long or that the investment in writing them could better be placed in alternative formats like blog posts.

Segall responded on Dorf on Law.  He criticized the notion that longer law review articles communicate more information than shorter ones given the obscene amount of footnoting.  He also called into question the hierarchical nature of law review placements.

On Twitter, Hessick responded to some of my own concerns by suggesting that professors are better able to position themselves as experts if they have written law review articles on the topic, or if they have serious practice experience.  ...

I think that there are some serious problems with law reviews, and they do not have to do with the size of the articles.  The problems with law reviews have to do with how articles are selected, the hierarchy’s meaning for people’s careers, and the true value of the scholarship endeavor.  So let me add a few ideas to this Scholarly Debate on Non-Scholarly Fora about the meaning of Scholarship.

Are Law Review Articles A Waste Of Time?:Are law review articles too long? Do I care? ...
Do the rankings signal quality, asked the prof who claims to come from a top 100 school? ...
The blogger then asked: Should law professors be writing things other than law review articles? ...

Do we want to start telling law professors how to maximize the advancement of their career?  Who gets to be the judge of the value of my writing, regardless of format?

Hopefully the answer is: My work, regardless of format, is evaluated on its merits by readers, based upon the merit of the idea, not where I come from, what I look like, where I graduated from, and what my credentials are.  If that isn’t the standard for law reviews, maybe we should just agree we are guilty of perpetuating a hierarchy.  Some of us do that out of one side of our mouths, all the while boasting of our placements out of the other.  To quote Omar: It’s all in the game though, right?

Scholarship, Tax | Permalink


The way articles are selected is disheartening to be sure but maybe the students have an excuse. On the other hand, citations are also determined by the identity of the author, where he or she has published, or where he or she teaches or went to law school. I am not sure what the excuse would be for that.

Posted by: Jeffrey harrison | May 2, 2018 12:03:33 PM

As a practicing tax attorney, I will say that law review articles on topics of practical application to attorneys outside of the academy are worthwhile and appreciated. Finding that in-depth paper on the issue confronting you can be quite helpful.

However, the multitude of articles on the various social justice topics and other political issues really do not contribute anything to the profession. Does anyone really need yet another Marxian analysis of ABC? Or the 500th critical examination of XYZ? Certainly not out here in the real world.

Posted by: Todd | May 2, 2018 10:04:20 AM