This year, I’ve been tapped to be one of Temple Law Review’s faculty advisors. I’m excited – the position will give me a platform to blather on to an even-more-captive audience on paramount importance of avoiding use of et al.
Quite apart from that Cato-ian quest, the advising position has caused me to think a bit harder about some advice I’ve written on this blog to law review editors. While I once believed that law review editors could successfully strategize to maximize their W&L impact factors, I no longer think this is possible. I never was convinced it was a good idea on its merits. Most law reviews–i.e., those outside of the top 20, variously defined–lack market power to reliably choose articles very likely to be cited. Therefore, strategies directed at W&L Impact, or citations otherwise measured, are unlikely to bear fruit. Neither the article-selection nor the article-citation markets are efficient: no one board can move the needle sufficiently to make it worthwhile. Worse, article selection strategies are going to make the people on boards feel terrible, because they are generally only tactical–reading only expedited submissions, looking at letterhead as a proxy for quality, applying short fuses on offers, focusing on random areas of law in an attempt to be counter-trend. But everyone is doing that now. It’s like law review glossy publications seeking to bump USNWR reputation scores. The game is rigged. The only alternative is not to play.
So what should you do? I’ve already suggested how boards can escape the citation rat race by opening up the fire hose and closing their eyes. Now I’ll go further – what can the board to do improve the law review as an institution, not merely as an article selection and publication machine. Here are three concrete ideas: