Monday, November 19, 2012

10,000 law review articles are pubished each year--most of them useless. Meanwhile law school tuition has gone through the roof.

Let's write more law review articles!
John G. Browning published an essay in today's Inside Higher Education (www.insidehighered.com) criticizing law reviews. Browning points out that 600 law journals publish 10,000 law review articles each year, and 43 percent don't get cited by anyone.  And these articles are not cheap. Browning estimates that the cost of a law review article written by a tenured professor at a top-tiered law school is around $100,000!

I have written a few law review articles myself, and I have been cited more than 100 times in the law reviews, including Harvard Law Review. I admit, however, that most citations to my work are in law students' articles, not articles written by law professors. I suspect the law students cite me to demonstrate that they did a superhumanly exhaustive review of the literature: "See, I even cited an obscure article by some nobody College of Education professor from Texas!"

Professor Browning cites one article as an example of how esoteric most legal research is: "Historic injustice and the Non-identity Problem: The Limitations of the Subsequent-Wrong Solution and Towards a New Solution." But there are many law articles with similarly obscure titles. How about this 2004 essay: "Sarbanes-Oxley, Jurisprudence, Game Theory, Insurance, and Kant: Toward a Moral Theory of Good Governance."

It is shocking that law professors churn out articles at the rate of 200 a week, most of which have little or no value, while law-school tuition is going through the roof; and the market for law graduates has shrunk.  As a bankruptcy judge pointed out in a recent opinion, the law schools will turn out around 45,000 graduates a year in the coming years for a job market that only needs 25,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, so far this year, the federal government has garnished the Social Security checks  of 120,000 elderly student-loan debtors who defaulted on their loans. One might hope that at least one of the 10,000 law review articles that will published in 2012 will recommend that this practice be stopped. But don't count on it.

References

John G. Browning (2012, November 19). Essay criticizing law reviews and offering some reform ideas. Inside Higher Education, www.insidehighered.com






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