Three Out of Three Commentators Agree: Law Reviews Have Made Themselves Irrelevant

Well, I don’t know. Did I hit on something that was already percolating in the zeitgeist a few weeks ago when I addressed the increasing irrelevancy of law reviews in a post, or does someone at the New York Times read my blog? You will recall that, after having, as David Rossmiller pointed out, eaten my Wheaties before sitting down after breakfast to fire salvos at the law review/law school industrial complex, I had pointed out that law reviews have simply made themselves irrelevant to the practicing bar and the judiciary.

Echoing the themes of my earlier post, The Times today declares in a piece entitled “When Rendering Decisions, Judges Are Finding Law Reviews Irrelevant” (which you have to become an online subscriber to get access to) that “articles in law reviews have become more obscure in recent decades and the legal academy has become much less influential.”

I am pretty sure that’s what I just said, in my not too long ago post on the subject.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog chimes in on the topic today as well, declaring that “Judges Are Ignoring Law Review Articles” and commenting on the Times article.

I don’t know, but maybe everybody who managed to get through law school pretty much knows this little secret about the overwhelming majority of law review articles, that they really add no value to the legal community and are written simply because they are the coin of the realm for advancing law careers. Frankly, the last time I can remember coming across a law review article that was relevant to the judiciary’s and the bar’s development of a particular cutting edge point of law was twenty something years ago, when a Columbia law student published an influential note on the subject of the essential facilities doctrine in antitrust law. To my recollection - this was something I last worked on in the 1980s - the article was regularly cited by courts presented with that then novel theory as authority summing up what the elements of a cause of action under that theory are if in fact the theory is even operative. In all the years since, I can’t recall a law review article that played a central part in the development of any particular line of jurisprudence. And if law review articles are not playing a central role in that development, then should we really be cutting down trees to publish them?