Adam Liptak has a new piece in the New York Times today entitled “Law Scholarship’s Lackluster Reviews” and it paints a dismal picture of student-edited law reviews in the United States. Given the relatively recent back-and-forth on student-edited law reviews in different places (see, e.g., here & here), the Liptak piece was a bit surprising in its re-hashing of fairly unhelpful observations. For example, it’s not really clear who should be surprised by U.S. Chief Justice John Robert’s deliberate inattention to contemporary legal scholarship. To my mind, it’s just #potkettleblahblahblah for an author of jurisprudence like Roberts’ to characterize U.S. law reviews as out of touch.
But this is not to defend the modus operandi of U.S. law reviews—far from it. I may expand upon this in future posts but, in short, I think much of the submissions and acceptance process is corrupt and something that the legal academy should be absolutely horrified and ashamed of. On that note, what I meant to blog about today was my recent sojourns to the annual conference of the American Society of Comparative Law, as well as the annual South Asian Studies conference at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Both conferences were great, but I’ll hold off on a more in-depth discussion; for now, it’s worth pointing out that a number of conversations at both conferences circulated around the impossibility of getting U.S. law reviews to accept, much less seriously look at, the vast majority of articles concerning comparative law or ‘foreign’ law. This reality is one reason I see the U.S. law review business as corrupt, but it’s also a symptom of much deeper problems.
I digress. What I really want to ask readers of this post, and particular those in law faculties and law school administrations, is this: What are you doing to help solve the problems with law reviews? In other words, let’s talk about short-term solutions instead of the constant repeating and rehashing of complaints about student-edited law reviews. And as a starter, let me suggest the following: Every U.S. law school should have a written policy disallowing their own faculty from submitting articles for consideration to any law review edited by that school’s students, unless it is a symposium issue or there is some other ‘legitimate’ reason. Simultaneously, every student-edited U.S. law review should have a policy automatically refusing consideration to any article submitted by any faculty member of the law school to which that law review belongs, with caveats such as those just mentioned.