Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Law Review Esoterica

Professor Bainbridge offers an opinion as to why law review articles tend to be so long: they have to be so that the students who actually run the law reviews (Yes: for you laypeople out there [and only lawyers and, sometimes, doctors have the audacity to routinely call all non-practitioners of their laypeople] students actually select the articles appearing in and edit law reviews without, in most cases, any faculty involvement) can understand them. Fifteen years have passed since I was a student-editor of a legal journal (one I am quite sure you have never heard of) and, from the vantage point of time, I now tend to agree with the good professor. We didn't have a clue what we were reading about. If not for the exhaustive (and I do mean exhaustive!) footnoting, we wouldn't have been able to tell if the writer was serious about his/her topic or whether the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. Really. Now, I'm being a little facetious here, but not much. How knowledgeable can you expect a generally 24 or 25 year old student to be? Now, to be fair, I am going to add that its hard to be knowledgeable in some of the esoteric topics that pass for legal scholarship these days, but it really was presumptuous on most of our parts to believe that we understood the premise of most of our submissions, let alone the nuances. Time does have a way of correcting this situation, providing additional knowledge and, more importantly, wisdom and maturity. Notwithstanding, I don't see this changing anytime soon inasmuch as it is woven into the fabric of the lawschool experience. However, I believe that there has been an increase in faculty-moderated publications and it may be that, over time, the more thoughtful articles will find their way to those outlets.
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