Larry Solum's talking about an exciting new program from seven leading law reviews--Cornell Law Review, Duke Law Journal, Georgetown Law Journal, New York University Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and University of Chicago Law Review . They're calling it the "The Legal Workshop" and it's already up. The idea is that the on line magazine will have short versions of articles appearing in those seven journals and sometimes responses that will not appear in the print version (it looks like Richard Epstein's recent piece replying to Abraham Bell falls into this later category). The articles I've seen so far have little in the way of footnotes, but you can link to the full articles from the website.
The content is governed, I take it, by the journal that publishes the primary article. They also deal with responses. As the website notes about submissions, "Content on the Legal Workshop website is primarily based on content selected for publication in members schools’ print editions. If you would like to submit a formal response to any content printed on the Legal Workshop, please contact the Legal Workshop Editor at the journal responsible for posting the original content."
Solum has some characteristically thoughtful remakrs about the workshop. I would add that this may give those of us who're interested in skimming a lot of pieces a nice executive summary--more than a brief abstract, which usually isn't enough, and less than the evening-long detailed read a lot of these pieces require. Of course I think this also raises the possibility that articles should, by and large, be shorter--more in the 3000-5000 word range. A well-crafted essay can convey a lot in a short (or relatively short by law journal standards) compass.
I applaud every move to get us talking to one another and taking each other seriously. This is the primary reason I love book reviews and am troubled by their apparent decline. Also, this may signal a shift towards yet shorter pieces in law journals--a change I by and large welcome. But the fear one has about this is that it leads to more slip-shod, fast analysis. You'll recall the movement for slow writing is gaining some traction in other areas of the academy.
Apparently the leading forces behind this are the Stanford Law Review and the NYU Law Review. And a lot of work went into planning this. Though it's on-line, this has been in the works for a couple of years. The workshop's website reports: "The idea for The Legal Workshop was originally conceived by Joe Ross, Volume 59 President of the Stanford Law Review. He and Erin Delaney, then Editor-in-Chief of the New York University Law Review, first solicited potential members for The Legal Workshop in the spring of 2007."
You can also choose subject areas to search, such as legal history--though I see there is as yet only one article in the legal history category. But, hey, that's one more than appears under "Trusts and Estates." Further evidence, I suppose, that I write in the wrong fields! History of trusts law--the piece I'm working on right now (or that's sitting on my desk, waiting to be worked on anyway)--I guess is at the intersection of two tough areas to place in a leading law journal.... But then again, I'm still holding out some hope that this piece (on an empircal study of probate in antebellum Alabama--what sounds like a real snoozer of a topic) will cause people to go back and think there might be some interesting data in those old records--about the relationship of the market to slavery, the centrality of trust law to the market (even earlier than John Langbein and other trusts scholars have thought), and about the centrality of family and property in the lives of those long-dead people.