Articles in law reviews have certainly become more obscure in recent decades. Many law professors seem to think they are under no obligation to say anything useful or to say anything well. They take pride in the theoretical and in working in disciplines other than their own. They seem to think the analysis of actual statutes and court decisions — which is to say the practice of law — is beneath them.Many law professors seem to think they are under no obligation to say anything useful or to say anything well. That's my favorite Adam Liptak quote of all time -- though it still can't beat the Jacobs quote for post title. Now, there's a quote!
But the big question is do the judges read lawprof blogs?
The assembled judges pleaded with the law professors to write about actual cases and doctrines, in quick, plain and accessible articles.(Hi, judge!) I'll have to make a note to comment on more cases in a "quick, plain and accessible" way.
“If the academy does want to change the world,” Judge Reena Raggi said, “it does need to be part of the world.”
To an extent, her plea has been answered by the Internet. On blogs like the Volokh Conspiracy and Balkinization, law professors analyze legal developments with skill and flair almost immediately after they happen.
And on the theory that I've got some judge and law clerk readers, let me put in my request that they write their damned opinions in a quick, plain and accessible style. Because I'm getting pretty weary of their obfuscatory, evasive, rambling scribblings myself. Unfortunately, I don't have the option of just not reading. Their work is imposed on us. Talk about an obligation to say something useful and well!
As for those professors, how much should we worry about their disinclination to stoop to the level of quick, plain accessibility for the purpose of talking to judges? Do you really think these characters who opted out of the practice of law should have more influence over the law that affects real life? Maybe you should be glad they've cocooned themselves within an academic discussion that harms no one.
Do you feel sorry for the law review editors who work so hard on what the professors write? The editors still get their editing experience. They get their lustrous credential to put on that résumé that will land them the judicial clerkships where they will get more experience working on judicial opinions -- those lengthy, obfuscatory judicial opinions that fail to cite law review articles.
If the very persons who just spent two years working closely on law review articles don't find a way to work law review citations into the opinions they draft and edit, that says a lot about the value of what they chose to publish.
Hey, law review editors, why don't you start choosing "quick, plain and accessible" articles that judges will read and be influenced by? I think we know very well that the prestigious journals reject such things instantly. It's not what their lofty lawprofs write and respect.
It's a vicious dynamic, no?
But judges could change the whole dynamic if they started rejecting law clerk applicants whose law journals published the kind of articles they don't read. So quit complaining and use your power to change things. Or are you so beholden to the law professors whose work you don't read that you have to hire their darlings, those law students who publish the articles you don't read?