Fixing Law Reviews
Barry Friedman has an excellent new paper out about improving the selection and editing process for law review articles. I agree with many of the paper’s suggestions, but I was shocked by one fact that Friedman discusses at some length. Many legal scholars submit incomplete papers to law reviews, which get accepted based on their promise, the reputation of the author, or the reputation of their school.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” I said to nobody in particular. Serious people do this? Shame on them. While articles get edited after acceptance (either through the author’s self-reflection, student comments, or both) and citation errors/typos get corrected, my thought is that what I submit should be the final paper. If not, then I wait until the next window for submissions. Outsourcing scholarship to students, whether though research assistants, whom I rarely use, or law review editors is deeply wrong.
I wonder whether more informal peer review would cure this problem. I’ve done a few such reviews for article committees, and if I ever saw something incomplete like that (so far, I have not) I would tell the student editors to throw the thing in the trash.