This debate has been going on forever, and according to The National Law Journal, there is a new article that expounds on the various reasons that the current law review system needs to change. The article is “Do Law Reviews Need Reform: A Survey of Law Professors, Student Editors, Attorneys and Judges," in the latest edition of the Loyola Law Review, 59 Loy. L. Rev. 1 (2013).
"The eight authors queried 1,325 law professors, 338 student editors, 215 attorneys, and 156 judges about how they view the current system, the quality of law review articles, the way articles are selected, and how they would like the system reformed."
The ideas for reform include:
- Blind peer review
- Shorter articles
- More student training
"The law professors responded that law reviews frequently select articles based on the author’s credentials instead of the quality of the submitted article, and that law reviews don’t give adequate consideration to articles before making a decision on whether to accept them (in other words, the students don't always understand the law at the level the professors are writing). Law professors also were the most negative about the quality of editing that law review articles receive at the hands of students."
This is another law review reform article in a long list of many, and "[d]espite the intense debates about law reviews and the hundreds of articles that have been written about them, the vast majority of law reviews have not substantially changed since they were first created in the late nineteenth century."
The authors of the article hope to start another conversation about the need for reform. The good news is that some law reviews have started to heed these types of suggestions. I know that my school's law review is receiving much more substantial training in the editing process, and the editors ask professors to help select articles if they don't fully understand the content. Our law review has also started to favor shorter articles that are 20-30 pages in length. At least we are moving in the right direction.