Ranking Law Reviews as the August Window Opens

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4 Responses

  1. Frank says:

    I think you’re right here; I’d add one more reason why people aren’t investing more time in rankings of law reviews independent of USN&WR. The real assurance of quality is beginning to be done post-publication, in the reception of articles among “scholars in the know.” Mike Madison proposes a way of memorializing or concretizing this process (via a version of “tagging” or “wiki’s”) in this piece:


    I think this responds to your sense that scholarship is now “hyperspecialized.”

    But I will say that I think there needs to be some sense of whether a law review has in the past actually:

    a) proofread

    b) edited

    c) given some substantive feedback

    d) published on time

    I’ve had a situation where none of the above was done, so I think there would be some value in setting up some sort of wiki where best (and bad) practices were praised (and criticized).

  2. Scott Moss says:

    I like Frank’s suggestion — sort of a Consumer Reports for law reviews? I think that’d be useful. One limit on its utility, however, is that student editors change every year, so today’s craptastic crop of editors may give way to a stellar board the next year. I think some journal strengths/weaknesses will carry over year-to-year, but I’m not sure of the exact extent.

  3. From the editors’ perspective, “rankings” become clear when we see to which journals authors expedite offers from us, and from which journals authors expedite offers to us.

    For the most part, Duke Law Journal has moved away from the “exploding offer”; we want authors to have an enjoyable experience publishing with us, and that starts from the minute we extend an offer. That may result in a few lost articles, but I think that cost is worth the benefit in collegiality.

    A related issue is timeliness. We recognize that even a well-regarded journal like DLJ becomes less appealing (particularly to younger authors, whom we seek) when the publication schedule can’t be relied upon. To that end, we’ve worked hard this summer to get back on schedule. We’ll publish the last three issues of Volume 55 in the next month, and then be on time in October.

    While I’m posting, I’ll draw your attention to the Call for Papers for our 37th annual Administrative Law Conference. Please take a look: http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dlj/symposia.html

  4. Sam Bagenstos says:

    I still think it’s a bit silly for folks to use US News Law School rankings as a proxy for law-review quality. A lot of people read law reviews in print — they ask their library to circulate the new issues, or they read them in the faculty lounge. The law reviews that people ask to get circulated, or that appear in faculty lounges, don’t change with the US News rankings. So I’d bet, for example, that the William and Mary Law Review is more widely read than the Washington and Lee Law Review (though both are fine, fine reviews!) — even though W&L is ranked 5 places higher than W&M in the USNLS rankings. I’m not sure how much this matters, anyway, but I wouldn’t let US News dictate where I sent my pieces.