Friday, September 08, 2006

Yale Law Journal on the Future of Legal Scholarship

The September 2006 issue of the Pocket Part, the online companion to the Yale Law Journal, features a series of papers about the future of legal scholarship.

The papers discuss the challenges that the Internet and public blogs can pose to scholarly debate:
  • A Blog Supreme, by Christopher A. Bracey: "... those in the academic vanguard appreciate online scholarship, first and foremost, as an organic contribution to the world of ideas, and perhaps secondarily, if at all, as a commentary or critique of prevailing modes of scholarship. Although online scholarship takes shape within and against prevailing modes of scholarly production, it has developed, like jazz, into a distinctive idiom of intellectual engagement with its own cultural aesthetic, norms, and the like. And like jazz, it retains a certain mystery and mystique that proves compelling to proponents and confounding to its critics. In this Essay, I relate the work of free and avant-garde jazz artists to the work of online legal scholars. I employ this jazz metaphor to advance a deeper understanding of online scholarship and its relationship to conventional modes of scholarship and the scholarly enterprise in general."
  • Law Reviews, the Internet, and Preventing and Correcting Errors, by Eugene Volokh: "Law reviews work hard to prevent and correct errors. They exert prodigious cite-checking, editing, and proofreading efforts to make sure their articles are as error-free as possible. They also try to prevent errors by readers: they publish articles aimed at correcting existing errors, and they edit articles with an eye toward eliminating misleading statements that might unintentionally lead readers into error. Yet new technologies can let law reviews do more to prevent and correct errors, without a vast amount of extra work."
  • Let the Law Journal Be the Law Journal and the Blog Be the Blog, by Ann Althouse: "Law journals, distinguished by depth of scholarship and dedication to detailed and accurate support and citation, occupy a unique niche within the legal profession, and to preserve this important tradition may take all the energy you law students have. You are now seeing some glittering things luring you away from this difficult and worthy path. Law professors seem to be amusing themselves endlessly with their high-flying blogs and their experimental new vlogs and their hoary old e-mail lists. And you may have arrived at the Journal with a heavy Internet habit and perhaps even ace web-designing and programming skills. Yet nothing you can do in the form of transitory innovation can begin to compare to the sacred trust that has been handed to you by the generations of law journal devotees who have preceded you."
  • Online Legal Scholarship: The Medium and the Message, by Jack Balkin: "On July 13, 2006, my fellow blogger, Marty Lederman, sent me a copy of a proposed surveillance bill drafted by Senator Arlen Specter’s office. For months, Marty and I had been covering the controversy over the National Security Agency’s (NSA) domestic surveillance program on our group blog, Balkinization. We argued repeatedly that the NSA program was illegal (...) Within a few days, reporters began portraying the bill quite differently. Responding to mounting media criticism, Senator Specter defended his bill on the editorial page of the Washington Post (...) But it was clear that somebody had read what we were writing, and by process of osmosis, our arguments had reached congressional staffers and journalists who covered the NSA controversy. Hence Congresswoman Harman’s remarkable decision to reach a particular policy audience by blogging on our site. The NSA controversy continues. We have no idea how it will end. But blogging by legal experts has intervened in the debate in a new way, helping to inform not only the public but also the mainstream media and key players about complicated issues."
  • The Long Tail of Legal Scholarship, by Paul L. Caron: "Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, has attracted enormous attention since its publication in July 2006. His insight is that technology and the Internet have transformed the focus of America’s culture and economy. Whereas pre-Internet firms turned out a small number of 'hits' or blockbuster products (the 'head' of the demand curve), today’s Internet-era firms offer a broader range of niche products (the 'tail'). This Essay argues that the long tail theory can help both explain the current state of legal scholarship and chart its future."
  • That’s So Six Months Ago: Challenges to Student Scholarship in the Age of Blogging, by Stephen I. Vladeck: "The days of the case note—and of student scholarship focusing on current developments in the law more generally—may well be numbered. With the proliferation of 'legal development' blogs (...), rare indeed is the important legal development that goes unnoticed in its immediate aftermath. The debate over the viability and utility of such instant legal commentary notwithstanding, it is beyond question that law blogs have accelerated the pace at which we learn about new issues in the law. But at what cost?"

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:40 pm


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