September 13, 2006

"Is that a prediction, or a statement of the status quo?"

I like that zinger from Andy, commenting on a post at Prawfsblawg, which quoted David Luban saying maybe "a few years down the road":
... the question whether hiring committees should count blogging as legal scholarship might transmute into the question whether hiring committees should count law review articles as legal scholarship. If the best students and many scholars perceive the action shifting to cyberspace, law reviews will become less important repositories of at least one variety of scholarly ambition. Law reviews will concentrate on interdisciplinary, fancy-theoretical scholarship relatively disconnected from the flow of real-time political and legal events.
Luban seems to think lawprofs aren't much good at fancy theory anyway. (Is it just me, or did the expression "fancy theory" go out of style maybe like... five years ago?) I hear some professorial chortling as he repeats the quips that "there are no geniuses in law" and that lawprofs "make better kibbitzers than theoreticians." Does this poke at a sore spot or does it seem to whisper liberation?


Dave said...

There's an interesting debate between Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, and the editor of the Encyclopedia Britannica about which is the better model in the digital age.

Reason excerpts part of the interview.

JohnK said...


As a practicing lawyer in both the private sector and government for nearly 10 years now, I rarely find law reviews to be of any actual use beyond writing other law reviews. If you are doing real research and advising a client, you need case law, regulations or maybe treatises. Law review articles are of limited use. Honestly, who ever reads these things besides lawyers and professors who are writing other law reviews? Yeah occasionally there will be a article sited by the Supreme Court or an influential lower court on this or that novel issue, but that is very rare. In all of my time as a lawyer I can't remember one time I ever sited a law review in a brief or legal opinion.

The question I have is why do professors and lawyers keep wasting their time writing things that mean nothing and that no one ever reads? I know why, because being published is the only way to get tenure. I have always thought that the purpose of a law school was to educate lawyers. Silly me. The purpose currently seems to be to provide employment as professors to otherwise smart people with no interest in actually doing the law or writing anything anyone ever reads. The whole system is just crazy.

Blogs really could be an improvement over this system. If you are an expert in say Federal Bankruptcy law, instead of writing esoteric law review articles no one reads, why not publish a blog commenting on the new cases in the area and their impact on the law. You could use the comment section as a forum for practitioners to discuss your points. That might, gasp, actually be useful to someone and to the profession as a whole. Of course it would prevent people from writing all of those great "Camus as a Bankruptcy Lawyer" and "Legal Views of Homosexuality as They Relate to Construction of Article 3 of the UCC", but I think the world might manage without them.