Category: Law School (Law Reviews)

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Georgetown Law Journal, Issue 99.2 (January 2011)

GLJ-logo.jpg

Articles

How International Financial Law Works (and How It Doesn’t)

Chris Brummer

The Origins of the Privileges or Immunities Clause, Part II: John Bingham and the Second Draft of the Fourteenth Amendment

Kurt T. Lash

In Defense of Bailouts

Adam J. Levitin

Explaining Plurality Decisions

James F. Spriggs II & David R. Stras

Notes

The Barracuda Lacuna: Music, Political Campaigns, and the First Amendment

Sarah Schacter

Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead: Arguments for a Federal Parent–Child Privilege and a Proposal To Amend Article V

Catherine Chiantella Stern

Masters of Their Own Eminent Domain: The Case for a Reliance Interest Associated with Economic Development Takings

David S. Yellin

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Iowa Law Review, Volume 96, Issue 2 (January 2011)

Iowa Law Review

Articles

The Coercion of Trafficked Workers
Kathleen Kim

IP Misuse as Foreclosure
Christina Bohannan

Consent to Retaliation: A Civil Recourse Theory of Contractual Liability
Nathan B. Oman

Automation and the Fourth Amendment
Matthew Tokson

Essay

No Middle Ground? Reflections on the Citizens United Decision
Randall P. Bezanson

Notes

(Potentially) Resolving the Ever-Present Debate over Whether Noncitizens in Removal Proceedings Have a Due-Process Right to Effective Assistance of Counsel
Walter S. Gindin

Princo, Patent Pools, and the Risk of Foreclosure: A Framework for Assessing Misuse
Phillip W. Goter

Holden Caulfield Grows Up: Salinger v. Colting, the Promotion-of-Progress Requirement, and Market Failure in a Derivative-Works Regime
John M. Newman

Is Senator Grassley Our Savior?: The Crusade Against “Charitable” Hospitals Attacking Patients for Unpaid Bills
Amanda W. Thai

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Credit Where Credit is Specifically Due

An Andy Rooney-esque musing to close out the week: Why do we tend to acknowledge useful feedback from colleagues in a single “thank you” footnote at the beginning of an article, instead of at specific points throughout? The former seems to be the preferred practice, but the latter seems more appropriate in many cases, and I’m not sure why it’s so rare.

My own impulse is to treat colleagues and outside readers just like any other source, and to drop footnotes indicating their specific contributions. If someone gives me an idea that I would have footnoted had it been a published source, it seems that the person should get credit in precisely the same way—that is, at the spot in the article where the idea appears. And while my impressions are admittedly totally unscientific, it seems to me that such footnotes (i.e., “Many thanks to X for bringing this point to my attention.”) are pretty rare.

Maybe the single “thank you” footnote ensures that all the people who contributed to the article will have their names noted by casual readers, who are unlikely to scan any footnotes beyond the first. Or if the purpose of footnotes isn’t so much to give credit as it is to help interested readers pursue their own research, maybe it’s less troubling when a human source goes uncited, since readers are presumably unlikely to follow up with individual people directly. Or perhaps most feedback from colleagues and outside readers is not specific enough to be attributed to any one part of an article.

All of those strike me as plausible explanations, though I’m not sure any of them accurately explains why authors do things the way they do.

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Columbia Law Review, Volume 110, Issue 8 (Dec. 2010)

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The Top Law Reviews (Eigenfactor)

The latest way to measure scholarly influence is the eigenfactor, a term to describe various algorithms used to quantify aspects of knowledge.  The linked web site enables people to find top lists using assorted measures, including the top law reviews using article influence proxied by citation histories. 

According to this measure, the  following are the top-25 student-edited general interest law reviews published in the United States.   The list looks congruent with my sense of generally accepted understandings among law faculty of law review standings.  At first it may make one wonder whether tools like this are useful because they verify knowledge or useless because they don’t tell us anything new.   But, on second thought, people new to this profession may neither know nor want to ask.  Read More

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When Law Reviews Compete, You Win!

Ok that’s actually a rip-off of the gimmicky slogan of “Lending Tree,” but I have been thinking recently (as many do at this time of year) about the law review submission process. In particular, I have been thinking about the expedite element, and why it happens. One answer is that we are all prestige-whores (er..lovers) and that the only thing we value is the rank of the school where the law review is housed.

That may be true, but here is a somewhat more charitable reading: from the point of view of the submitting authors Law Reviews offer authors a relatively undifferentiated product and thus we gravitate to the main axis of differentiation – law school/journal rank. I say “from the point of view of the submitting authors” advisedly, because there are many axes on which law reviews differ. Even in my short time as an academic, the reviews I have worked with have varied significantly as to the quality of substantive comments, the likelihood they would stick on timeline, whether they use track changes to make it easy to review their alterations, etc. The problem is that these are all things I have only discovered AFTER working with them.

This is in some ways similar to health care purchasing by an individual consumer – quality is opaque, and gathering the necessary information would be too costly to do on my own (there is a further problem with health care that even when information is available such as report cards for hospitals created by state agencies, as I discuss here, many patients tend to ignore them and/or privilege word of mouth appraisals). Further, there is an additional inter-temporal problem in that each law review’s board (and thus quality) and policies changes on a regular basis such that information becomes stale quite quickly. Even in an institutional-memory-obsessed journal like the Harvard Law Review with a long tradition, there is a period called “transition” when the 2Ls take the reigns and as a body can change many of the facets of the reviews process, including things like the number of stages of editing, etc.

Is this problem intractable? Yes, and no. Law reviews could advertise and contractually commit themselves to particular types of terms as soon as the submission season starts – for example, issues will come out within one month of issue date, to give one example.  (I put to one side other kinds of differentiation – for example accepting longer articles when other journals do not, since that will change at most to whom one submits, and even then most of us are risk-averse enough to be likely to shorten our papers to fall within the guidelines of the larger number of journals). True, it is very very unlikely that any of us would sue a law review over the failure to meet that term of publication date, but even the promise itself might be enough to satisfy us and set up a more desirable norm. Are there enough of these kinds of terms on which journals could compete that would counterbalance the incentive to merely pick the best ranked journals? I am not sure, it seems plausible it might matter within rough journal peer groups, but I would be curious if others have ideas of what kinds of terms they would like to see law reviews compete or converge on? Indeed perhaps some enterprising law review editors may be reading this very blog…

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Author Order in Law Reviews

Other disciplines don’t kid around about the ordering of authors in publications.  In political science and economics, alphabetical or reverse-alphabetical ordering is the dominant approach, even though it distorts hiring decisions.  In science, the first and last names matter – woe to the middle men!  Harvard is so concerned about the trend that it instructs its faculty to “specify in their manuscript a description of the contributions of each author and how they have assigned the order in which they are listed so that readers can interpret their roles correctly [and] prepare a concise, written description of how order of authorship was decided.”

In law, lacking a tradition of co-authorship, there appears to be at best a weak norm that the first author is the primary contributor. That results in a set of interrelated problems:

1)  To law audiences, the first author did the most work, and is rewarded in two ways.  The first is qualitative, and pops up at tenure, promotion, and lateral review — “he was the driver on that piece,” or “she was just the second author.”  Quantitatively, the bluebook foolishly permits multiple author works to be et al’d, meaning that the second through nth authors never get to see their name in the citation print.  Given the rudimentary nature of impact citation analysis in the legal academy, this mean that people who are listed first get the citations and the people who aren’t don’t. This might be less troublesome if the “first author” norm was correct — that is, if first authors in law reviews actually did more work. But my bet is that given letter head bias, many co-authored pieces list as the first author the most prominent author (or at least the author at the best-ranked school).  The upshot: first authors in law reviews are rewarded for being first in both qualitative and quantitative terms, though it’s not clear they ought to be.

2)  To other disciplines, this is fundamentally screwy and is another reason not to publish in a law review.  But interdisciplinary co-authored work published outside of the law reviews becomes that much more difficult as a result.  If a law professor and a non law professor were to publish in an economics journal, my sense of the norm is to alphabetize. [Correct me if I’m wrong here.]  Non legal audiences look at this and understand that it doesn’t signify relative contribution.  Law audiences don’t have that filter on, and the result (again) is that the second author is punished, here for having a last name at the back of the alphabet.

3)  Making sense of this mess requires coordination, which is quite hard because we lack a learned society that is sufficiently respected to impose change from above.  We do have, however, a few very strong journals that have had remarkable success in changing otherwise intractable scholarly pathologies like article bloat.  If the Harvard Law Review could -almost singlehandedly – impose a 25,000 word limit, surely it could fix this problem too.  In my view, the top few journals (HYS) ought to, as a part of their blue-booking project, agree to impose something like the Harvard faculty author order guidelines on folks who are publishing joint projects in their pages. The default ought to be reverse alphabetical listing.  Each article should state the respective contributions of the authors and, to the extent that they have deviated from the alphabet, why.  Finally, HYS ought to reform the bluebook to insist that the first citation of any work include the names of all contributors to the piece, rather than permitting et al. treatment.

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Tell me, how long, how long

So you sent out a regular article in the general submission process to mainstream law reviews this season or last (not an essay, a short symposium piece, a sidebar piece, a reply, a book review). How many pages was it? (If you sent out more than one of different lengths, you can select more than one option).

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