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Law Review Subscriptions on the Decline

Not surprisingly, law review subscriptions are on the decline, reports Joe Hodnicki, at The Law Librarian Blog -- another casualty of  technology, along with the typewriterbike messengers and law libraries. As discussed in "Law Review Circulation," a recent paper by George Mason law professor Ross Davies, the combined number of subscriptions for eight major law reviews declined 66 percent, from 29,083 in 1983-84 to 9,897 in 2007-2008.

Hodnicki ponders the reason for the significant subscription reduction. Of course, technology is a factor; with more law review articles available online through services like LexisNexis, Westlaw or Hein Online, there's less reason for hard copy subscriptions. And there's also the "irrelevance factor." Hodnicki writes:

Maybe law review articles simply are not as relevant to members of the bench and bar as they once were. Maybe it is time to cast aside the law review publishing model and replace the 200-some titles with a handful of peer-review law journals.

There's another factor that has made law reviews less relevant, and that's blogs. With so many law professors offering timely, if not seat-of-the-pants analysis of recent cases and current legal issues, there's less reason for reference to stale law review content.

Still, I have to admit that I'm partial to law reviews. I don't subscribe to them, but when I go to the law library, it's a treat to pore through the articles from 60 or 70 years ago and read about the law as it used to be. Eliminating law reviews may save money, but does it come at the cost of saving the profession's scholarship and history?

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on February 18, 2009 at 05:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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