Recommendations for fixing law reviews

Here’s the abstract for Barry Friedman, Fixing Law Reviews, 67 Duke L.J. 1297 (2018):

Very few people are happy at present with the law review publishing process, from article submission and selection to editing. Complaints are longstanding; similar ones emerge from faculty and students alike. Yet, change has not occurred. We remain locked in a process in which neither faculty nor students are happy.

This Article recommends wholesale changes to the submission and editing process. The first part details the dysfunctions of the current system, including everything from lack of student capacity to evaluate faculty scholarship—particularly under the gun of the expedite process—to faculty submitting subpar work in light of rigid submission cycles. It then turns to a perverse defense of the current system. In light of technological change, law reviews play a very different function at present than even twenty years ago. Most faculty publish their work on electronic databases prior to submission to law reviews. Law reviews serve as the final resting place of those articles for archival purposes, while ostensibly providing students with a sound pedagogical experience. Even so, the system has huge and unacceptable costs; student editors scramble over one another to accept manuscripts, often wasting time on rejected submissions, while faculty labor with student overediting, all in the service of articles that for the most part are rarely or never cited.

It is time to change the present system, to produce better published scholarship, at lower cost to faculty and students. This ought to include blind submission, elimination of submitting articles to one’s own school, and some form of peer review. Authors should be required to limit submissions, or to accept the first offer they receive. And the editing process should be simplified, as the present system is far too elaborate, and fails to make scholarship the best it can be.

Interesting. — Joe

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