Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Are Law Reviews Irrelevant?

The Chronicle of Higher Education News Blog commented yesterday on a piece by the New York Times legal correspondent Adam Liptak who argues that the influence of law reviews is on a sharp decline [one has to register online to read the Times piece]:

"Meanwhile, the law-review articles have become less readable and less relevant, as the best legal writers and legal minds have reserved their analyses for blogs or for supporting briefs they file in cases that interest them. Summarizing a recent discussion at Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law about the dwindling influence of legal scholarship on the courts, Mr. Liptak says nearly all the judges in attendance agreed the articles had minimal impact on jurisprudence. And he quotes one judge as saying of his law-review articles, 'As far as I can tell, the only person to have read any of them was the person who edited them'."

Earlier this month, I posted an item entitled What Are Supreme Court Justices Reading?. It referred to an article by Simon Fodden in The Court (Osgoode Hall Law School blog) that analyzed the "Authors Cited" sections of Supreme Court of Canada judgments for 2006. If Fodden's analysis is a representative picture of judicial life here in Canada, it may not be too much of a stretch to say that law reviews may also be declining in relevance on this side of the 49th parallel.

Among Fodden's findings:

  • 206 separate works were cited, but only 47 (23%) were from academic or professional journals
  • "Of the 47 journal articles cited, over half (26) were a decade old or older, 15 were published within the last five years, and the remainder fell in between. The articles came from 30 journals, of which two-thirds were Canadian and one-third foreign (essentially American)".
  • "The most frequently cited Canadian law journal was the Canadian Bar Review (9 times), followed by the McGill Law Journal (5 times); 9 of the articles cited from these journals were a decade or more old".

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 5:46 pm


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