Back to the future of law reviews?

Library stacks, via Concurring OpinionsThere are two things wrong with almost all legal writing. One is its style. The other is its content.

Fred Rodell “Goodbye to Law Reviews” 23 Virginia Law Review 38 (1936) at 38.


Leaving aside their citation styles, there may be a third problem with law reviews: their paper format. The Durham Statement on Open Access to Legal Scholarship, calling for the wholesalde abandonment of paper in favour of exclusively online publication, has been causing a small stir of late:

Objective: The undersigned believe that it will benefit legal education and improve the dissemination of legal scholarly information if law schools commit to making the legal scholarship they publish available in stable, open, digital formats in place of print. To accomplish this end, law schools should commit to making agreed-upon stable, open, digital formats, rather than print, the preferable formats for legal scholarship. If stable, open, digital formats are available, law schools should stop publishing law journals in print and law libraries should stop acquiring print law journals. ….

See Berkman | Goodson Blogson | Law Librarian Blog | Legal Research Plus | Legal Writing Prof Blog | Library Boy. This is not a new claim, and I agree that this kind of approach represents the future of law reviews, but this call strikes me as premature. The best response is from Binary Law:

The end of print?

We’ve been here before and each time the answer is no. There’s too much in favour of print to bury it prematurely. …

The prediction will eventually be true, but not just yet. This future for law reviews is not going to happen any time soon, methinks.

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