Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Reforming the Structure of Law Reviews?

In this brief essay forLegal Affairs, Posner suggests the world of student-run law reviews to be one in which "inexperienced editors make articles about the wrong topics worse." Of his arguments, I most appreciated this comment about the inadequacy of typical law review editorial boards to respond to the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of law.

[The] work [of publishing law faculty] now draws very heavily on sources other than legal doctrine, whether it is economics, history, political or moral philosophy, psychology, statistics, epistemology, anthropology, linguistics—even literary theory. The use of insights from these fields in analyzing law has given rise in recent decades to a cornucopia of interdisciplinary fields of legal studies ("law and . . . " fields), ranging from law and economics (the largest and most influential) to feminist jurisprudence and critical race theory. Except for the rarefied set of Ph.D.s who go to law school for a J.D., the disciplines on which these fields draw are generally not ones about which a law review editor will be knowledgeable, except by accident. This might not matter much if the analytical core of such fields were legal, but it is not. "Law and economics," for example, is the application of economic theory to law, not the application of legal reasoning to economics. So the law review editor cannot get much mileage from what he or she has learned about legal reasoning.

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